From clogged filters to leaky valves or faulty compressors – no industrial plant is immune to wear and tear and the resulting need for repair work. The operators of large-scale industrial plants organise spare parts in much the same way as normal home owners replace vacuum cleaner bags or repair faulty heating systems. First, they check the documentation to identify the correct part. Then they have to find out who supplies the part, request quotes, compare prices and, finally, order the spare part. “A repair technician has to invest a lot of time and effort before they even get to the point where they can order a part,” explains Thomas Daffner, Product Manager at LINDE PLANTSERV®. “We wanted to reduce this effort for our customers, so we joined forces with the Linde digitalisation team and jointly developed and implemented LINDE PLANTSERV™ portal through an accelerator process. On the new LINDE PLANTSERV® portal, plants will be intelligently networked with their digital “twin”. Through the portal, operators will be able to organise repairs more easily, and source spare parts more efficiently and at competitive prices. This e-marketplace can be accessed from any web browser, offering impressive time savings of up to 90 percent to identify spare parts and up to 30 percent to get competitive quotes.”
Spare parts at a click of a mouse
Industrial plants are complex structures comprising tens of thousands of components. “LINDE PLANTSERV® portal is therefore built around plant-specific piping and instrumentation diagrams or P&IDs,” explains Pieter Prinsloo, Program Manager Digitalisation at Linde Engineering. “Once they log in to the portal, customers will find the P&IDs for their plant and from there, they can click on the spare part they need.” A pop-up window then appears with all of the component’s key specifications. The repair technician can then go on to request quotes for the selected parts at competitive prices.
“Other services offered by Linde Engineering through this e-hub include the verification of parts that come into contact with oxygen, as they must fulfil strict safety requirements,” says Daffner. “We assess these in line with our quality criteria, thus ensuring that the spare parts are fit for purpose.”
Step-by-step creation of digital twins
The online portal is the first service developed by Linde Engineering in cooperation with the digitalisation team at the Digital Base Camp and external partners. The success of the concept hinges on data quality: “All relevant information has to be available in digital form, updated regularly and follow a standard format so that users can gain the maximum benefit from LINDE PLANTSERV® portal,” points out Prinsloo. LINDE PLANTSERV® experts provide their customers with all the support they need to unlock the portal’s full potential – starting with the onboarding (data transfer) step. The eventual aim is for all plant documentation to be available in digital form through the portal. As some older plants only have paper blueprints or PDF files, the LINDE PLANTSERV® team joined up with an external partner to develop an algorithm capable of digitalising these documents where necessary.
Planning tool with forecasting functionality
“Digitalisation provides a valuable opportunity to simplify and improve things,” maintains Daffner. “It is not just a question of gathering more data, but rather of turning that data into useful insights.” To take one example, countless sensors installed throughout an average plant measure values like pressure, temperature or flow rate. If this information is linked to the P&IDs and analysed with intelligent algorithms, a detailed picture of the entire plant and its individual process flows emerges. In the future, condition-based monitoring will allow Linde specialists to identify incidents before they occur. Intelligent forecasting will also ensure that spare parts can be ordered in good time. Experts refer to it as predictive maintenance. LINDE PLANTSERV® portal is set to become a practical planning tool for plant operators, enabling them to plan turnarounds, maintenance and repairs more quickly and easily than ever before. According to Daffner: “This portal allows us to reach our customers more effectively and ideally support them during the entire lifecycle of their plant.”