Increasing volumes of data, disconnected teams, documents in multiple locations and repositories, with inconsistent or incorrect tag data - the list of challenges faced throughout the asset lifecycle, continues.
Today, technology solutions are finding new ways to address these issues by improving the user experience for engineers. Through designing interfaces specifically for engineers that fit exactly with how they want to work and providing new and intelligent ways to link related engineering documents together, drawings, manuals and diagrams can be searched and navigated quickly and easily.
Steven Bruce, Director Development Operations for Opidis, discusses the challenges faced by engineers in finding and accessing related documents and a new solution that can help. He pinpoints the five key success factors that she believes are critical to driving down costs and improving engineers' productivity and how a single point-of-truth portal can help increase efficiency.
1. Leverage ECM investment
Companies have invested heavily in their enterprise content management (ECM) infrastructure and want to maximize the capabilities of their existing solution, without having to upgrade or replace it. However, the primary stumbling block to technology utilization is often user adoption. Document-centric solutions are not ideally suited to the ways an engineer searches for and navigates information which causes frustration when trying to find critical engineering documents and drawings quickly and easily.
Steve comments: "In response to these market challenges, we've launched a single point-of-truth portal for engineering content that complements and enhances your existing ECM, with all original content remaining in the source repository. Through intelligent tagging and linking of documents by using hyperlinks and hotspots, a single search brings together all P&IDs and documents relating to a particular instrument or piece of equipment into one interface so that engineers can view and navigate the content quickly and easily, regardless of original format or source."
2. Inbuilt quality
Searching for related documents and drawings by equipment tag is challenging. Often, these documents have been provided by the EPC or external supplier as scanned images. The quality and consistency of these documents can also be a problem. This is exacerbated by the fact that the documents could contain incorrect or inconsistent equipment tags. Often sets of documents referring to the same equipment use a mixture of different numbering conventions - maybe a dash rather than an underscore - so it becomes very difficult to link all related content together.
In some cases, companies tackle this by storing equipment tags against documents as attributes. This makes those documents searchable by tag but it is a costly overhead to set up and maintain and can be prone to human error. Once the document related to a tag has been sourced, it can be difficult to have certainty that you have the most up-to-date version.
Steven adds: "Our solution enables tags to be automatically validated and quality checked so that inconsistencies can be rectified and you can have tag consistency across your different document types and source systems. Consistency checks deliver confidence that tag data stored against documents is correct and has been validated against the master tag register. This validation is continuously carried out as part of the update cycle when new documents or new versions of documents are added."
3. Easy and quick access
All related engineering content should be searchable from a single portal and simple to navigate in a way that makes sense to engineers. Often, operations and maintenance teams can be disconnected from design teams, working in silos and using disparate systems. This impacts productivity and efficiency as time is wasted in searching for content related to a particular asset. Consequently, role-based applications are becoming increasingly important, not only to drive user adoption, but also increase productivity and encourage greater communication and collaboration.
"For example, by providing access through a customizable portal, such as OnLink, this lets engineers find drawings and associated documents by clicking on a geographical map of a plant, accessing the content for a particular pump in a specific location, through links on that map, and viewing all related content from one place. Alternatively, they have the option to search for that content for example by text, tag number or from within the drawing itself, with all the related content specific to that particular search displayed within seconds," discusses Steven.
4. Trust in your information
Having trust in your information is important, not least when in a heavily regulated and safety critical environment. When a critical document exists in multiple formats and in different repositories, it is vital that you have the confidence the document you are accessing is the most up-to-date one. Steven explains: "With the Opidis intelligent search solution, important documents can be accessed directly from an intuitive graphical interface, with quick links to access documents not only from the source ECM repository but other external repositories such as SAP, Maximo or Asset Suite. This ensures you are accessing the most up-to-date version, avoiding potential project delays and errors or incurring additional costs."
He continues: "However, keeping as-built documents up-to-date is always a challenge and having the ability to markup or add redlines to the documents, particularly when in the field, is essential. With Opidis, you can add any comments or annotations or to highlight any areas that need rework, ensuring that the as-built plans reflect what is actually happening in the field - with the annotations then pushed back to the source ECM repository."
5. Mobility, everywhere
Field engineers need access to the right information at the right time, often this is out on-site, in remote locations with limited or no connectivity. For engineers to remain responsive and to carry out their role, it is vital that they have access to all the related documents they need to carry out their tasks whether on their laptop or tablet.
Steve explains: "Opidis' portal can provide multiple users access to their content via the portal, with content periodically transferred to the remote site to ensure the latest version is always available. For lone workers, the solution can be installed directly onto a user's laptop or tablet for access in the field. The custom package of content needed for the site visit is loaded into the portal prior to their trip. This helps ensure operational continuity, workforce efficiency and QHSE compliance, even when offline. Working this way helps to avoid costly delays, maintenance rework and importantly, poor decision-making in safety critical situations."
To drive productivity, efficiency and ultimately make cost savings, companies need to look at new and innovative ways to leverage their existing ECM investment by providing engineers with an intuitive and easy way to search and navigate content. Opidis is designed for engineers, offering intelligent search and navigation by linking associated content together through tags, hotspots and hyperlinks so they can find all related engineering content from one single place. Leveraging existing investments, inbuilt quality, easy and quick access, trust in your information, and mobility are the five key success factors in making this a reality.