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Plant Documentation 4.0: An ‘essential enabler’ for Industry 4.0

LiveDOK software suite from Rösberg makes plant data available digitally to engineers and plant operators, and can be administered, searched and corrected in real time.

Specialist articles on Industry 4.0 generally emphasise the feasibility of consistent, intelligent networking of machines, processes and personnel.

However, one aspect that is often overlooked is that digitalised plants can only be reliably managed if available documentation reflects the current status of the production processes.

Rösberg’s software suite makes documentation of large-scale plants available digitally to engineers and plant operators in a structured way on one unified, intuitive user interface.

Plant data can be administered, searched and corrected in real time – from planning to operation, anytime, anywhere via LiveDOK.

Manufacturing processes are continually adapted and optimised: failed components are replaced, software patches and updates are installed, process optimisation programs are developed, and much more.

As-built documentation – meaning documentation that reflects the actual state of a new plant – has always been required for commissioning, but the time and resources involved in preparing the relevant documents is always immense.

The bigger and more complex the plant, the greater this challenge. Plant Documentation 4.0 can make a vital contribution, especially if a system is also able to simplify the management of changes.

Christian Stolz, account manager plant solutions at Rösberg Engineering: “As well as maintenance, many other areas benefit from digital documentation: troubleshooting, large-scale revisions, project-related documentation, loop checks and the management of assets, the integration of package units, and know-how transfer.

“And when it comes to audits, it certainly pays off to have up-to-date, legally compliant documentation to hand.”

Current status of all built-in components – and much more

In sectors such as petrochemicals, chemicals, logistics, manufacturing, energy, and plant construction, production processes are generally complex, and plants often assume gigantic proportions.

These sectors of industry have had to rely on digital documentation for a long time now to keep track of the as-built status of their plants and manage the relevant interrelated processes.

Rösberg Engineering from Karlsruhe – already active in these sectors for decades – developed digital solutions many years ago in order to keep an overview of the flood of information in these types of plants.

Christian Stolz, account manager plant solutions at Rösberg Engineering, says: “With our I&C-CAE system ProDOK we primarily document the planning and construction of plants.

“However, it is also important to know the current status and components built in during the operational phase. Our software tool LiveDOK helps with the administration and documentation of changes.

“A main focus of the tool is to find documentation updates, enabling the changes to be made available to everyone quickly and easily.”

Various use cases benefit from Plant Documentation 4.0

When envisaging Plant Documentation 4.0, probably the first aspect to be considered is the advantages for maintenance. Here it is useful to know the current state of the plant and be able to easily document the changes.

Stolz says: “To do this, maintenance crews can simply enter the change on a tablet with a stylus, and it is saved together with the information about who made the change, when, and explanation if necessary.

“Workflows built into the system then ensure that the original documentation is reviewed regularly and stays clear and up-to-date.”

Troubleshooting, large-scale revisions and loop checks

When something goes wrong, every minute counts. In a situation of this kind, valuable time is lost if the current documentation status of the plant first has to be assembled.

In the worst case, inability to react fast enough may result in damage or danger to people and the environment.

In large-scale revisions, too, time is usually tight. Numerous employees need to be coordinated and very many changes made to the documentation simultaneously.

This makes it all the more important to ensure that everyone involved in the process has access to the current documentation at all times. Loop checks also involve the coordination of large numbers of employees and the structured execution of various tasks.

Managing assets and package units

Digital documentation is also beneficial for effective asset management – for instance, when a manufacturer discontinues an asset, making it necessary to know how many of the relevant components are built into the plant and where; or when compiling an overview of components that will no longer receive support in the near future.

Only a company managing its assets effectively can keep production running reliably. Another aspect that necessitates digital documentation is the trend in the process industry towards integrating Package Units, meaning the distribution of large plants into smaller units.

Project-related documentation and know-how transfer

When engaging in extensive plant retrofit or extensions, or for inspection purposes, many project-related documents also have to be immediately available as and when required.

If these documents only exist in paper form, or are only available from different sources and in assorted file formats, compiling them is effort-intensive and not overly efficient.

Another advantage of consistent digital documentation is that know-how can be preserved, because the knowledge no longer exists solely in the minds of experienced employees. This substantially facilitates knowledge transfer to new employees.

Stolz says: “In all these and many other use cases, LiveDOK has been proving its worth for decades now.

“With digitalization the focus was on the PC, but with Industry 4.0 the focus is on the Internet. This also applies to Plant Documentation 4.0. We have been creating digital documentation for a long time now, but we have consistently developed our concepts further, for instance regarding cloud enablement, in order to stay with the pulse of the times.

“Our customers get a tried and tested product that uses today’s state-of-the-art technologies to fulfill the technical and legal requirements of tomorrow.”

In the use cases described above, the documentation tool enables documents to be found fast and provides a realistic overview of the components built into the plant while helping to keep documentation up-to-date.

It also ensures standardization in documentation in line with current legal requirements and gives all involved in a project access to the documentation without media discontinuity.

Companies who wish to consistently implement Industry 4.0 cannot do so without digital, cloud capable plant documentation, especially where large plants are concerned.

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