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Automated and Integrated Design: Unlocking the True Value of Project Data

The pressure is mounting as industrial facilities find themselves in a constant loop of upgrading to keep pace with new technology. To remain competitive and financially responsible, facilities of all types are faced with challenging questions—what to update and when.

Rio Hidayat, who works as a Head of Engineering and Support Services in the industrial facility space, has more than 16 years of experience in operation and maintenance. He shared an example of the constant loop industrial facilities face today: “In our distribution control system, we might budget for certain technologies and then a few months later—or a few years later—new technologies become available that have more safety precautions and enable for an increase in accuracy,” said Rio. “That improvement in accuracy and performance can help us with our plan, but it impacts our budget.”

Efforts to upgrade technology, equipment, and even processes will always be met with restrictions for both budget and resources. Because of this, industrial facilities have the added responsibility to balance their budget with modernization and operational updates.

Another area to consider—how long the downtime might be to implement new tech and train employees on new processes. According to new research, the cost of downtime for the manufacturing industry averages $260,000 per hour . This number has risen at least 60% since 2014 . With an average of 800 hours of downtime every year, upgrading or updating processes, software, or other areas of the business can add even more downtime annually.

The bottom line for industrial facilities? The design process is always ongoing. It’s a constant process in the life of an industrial facility.

Manual processes continue to be challenging

Manual processes continue to be a problem for industrial facilities, contributing to inaccuracy, inefficiency, poor quality, and smaller margins. However there is an evolution happening in the industrial facility space. While manual paper processes may contribute to unquantifiable errors and inefficiencies, the businesses that are successful are moving to (or have already moved to) a digital process. “The quality of production has improved in my own business to 70% since our shift to a digital process,” said Rio. Prior to moving to an automated system, Rio’s employees were manually transferring data from one system to another.

These manual processes present a few problems:

● Manual processes create more work for employees. When workers are copying and pasting or entering data manually, it’s time wasted that could be spent on other tasks.

● Manual processes create opportunities for data inaccuracy. When a process isn’t digital, automatic, or connected/ integrated, the data is more likely to be entered incorrectly.

● Manual processes struggle to build useful reports. If your team is gathering data from multiple sources, those data silos contribute to issues with reporting, severing trust between departments, employees, and leadership.

Rio shared, “With an automated system, my business isn’t relying on employees to manually transfer data from one system to another, whether that’s typing in data from another system or even copying and pasting. Now, with an automatic integration, our systems are speaking to each other and removing the additional workload that we used to rely on with manual processes,” said Rio. He also added, “Now that we’re not gathering data from multiple sources, the data is connected and easier to report on.”

Integration is critical to a best-in-class design

Rio believes integrations are critical to help with asset efficiency, performance, and safety. “In our current state at my power plant, we integrate 14 different systems to deliver one output to our customers,” said Rio. “If those were not integrated, we wouldn’t be able to deliver efficient results .” To facilities looking at integrations for their own processes and tech, Rio recommends that all systems have the same language—or a way to speak to each other—in order to produce accurate data for other teams or employees to take action.

Standardizing the threshold for accuracy is also important. Every system should follow the same standard. If your electrical system has a calculation for accuracy set to 3 percent and your steam generation system is set to 5 percent, your inaccuracy between the two systems jumps to 8 percent. “This leads to inaccuracy of decision making,” said Rio.

Data accuracy is critical to a successful output for any industrial facility

When facilities are faced with delivering customer projects or deliverables, data accuracy is critical to success. It’s important for industrial facilities to make sure data accuracy is considered from the beginning—the beginning of product production. “I believe we must start at the beginning,” said Rio. “You have to start with the design all the way down to the delivery of the project. And if you don’t have accurate data collection, you’re going to have greater possibilities for errors. This will impact your deliverables.”

Rio’s advice is simple—get clear on the level of accuracy you’re comfortable with at your facility. “In a genuine design, you need to standardize what level of accuracy you’re comfortable with,” said Rio. “What percentage error are you comfortable with? Is it a 3 percent error? 1 percent error?”

Another tip Rio shared—ensure you have a strong data bank that will help you with your quality of data. “If you don’t have good information coming from a strong data bank, you cannot expect one team to deliver accurate data to the next team,” said Rio. If one department delivers inaccurate data, the next team works with a product/data that isn’t living up to your standard (and this new team is likely introducing new inaccuracies as part of their process). When you get to the end, the product can’t hit the target you’ve set and it’s likely off budget or off timeline.

Best-in-class facilities move away from reactive practices and into data-driven insights

Adoption and proper data use are the way forward for facilities that want to see data-driven insights. From the adoption perspective, this must come from the top down. Rio recommends that management must align new technology updates to the mission of the company. It’s critical to implement good practices for adoption throughout the company by every employee.

And to ensure proper data usage, Rio recommends implementing audits to make sure technology is used the right way and insights can be gathered appropriately. These check-ins are necessary for industrial facilities to realize real ROI on technology updates. Rio shared, “Companies need to implement audits to review any updates to technology. These can help the company accelerate innovation and keep pace with competitors.”

Ready to learn more about accelerating your journey to a smarter, more efficient industrial facility? Check out our eBook here to elevate your operational design processes and operations.

Rio Hidayat (Hidayattullah)
Head of Engineering and Support Services,

Rio Hidayat is a well-versed operations leader with more than 16 years’ of experience in plant operation and facility management. He is the Head of Engineering at one of Malaysia's largest operation and maintenance providers in the District Cooling & Co-Generation industry. Rio is responsible for overseeing the strategy and performance of the operations and maintenance department. He holds a BA Hons degree in Technology Management and an MBA in Strategic Management.