MRO Magazine

A Need to Communicate: Integrating plant control and mobile technology with CMMS


October 4, 2010
By PEM Magazine

Plant-control and SCADA systems offer real-time information on equipment operation to provide condition-based maintenance (CBM) alerts to CMMS systems. These alerts can drive proactive maintenance initiatives, reducing maintenance manpower and 10 to 20 percent of the maintenance spend. By being able to view the degradation of equipment between scheduled maintenance intervals, planners can schedule the right maintenance at the right time, and operations would be able to work with maintenance.

Additionally, operators can use mobile technology to record manually collected information during rounds. Through this, plant control or SCADA system operators, management and maintenance planners can gain insight in the 20 to 30 percent of the plant that is not instrumented, bringing operator-driven reliability into play.

Connecting SCADA systems, mobile operator technology and CMMS systems has been problematic, owing to a difference in the purpose of the different systems and the variety of vendors and technologies. CMMS systems have largely been an IT application, requiring mostly manually input information to schedule and manage maintenance activities. There are reasons to consider CBM and mobile technology as a solution to increase operator and asset performance, and to integrate the above systems. Standards exist that make real-time and mobile manually entered data available to CMMS systems.

CBM vs. Scheduled Maintenance.
To wring more performance out of existing equipment and reduced manpower, industrial operations can move from scheduled maintenance to condition-based maintenance to extend production and equipment maintenance. Actual running hours, comparisons of equipment operating characteristics such as vibration and other manually collected readings can improve maintenance decision-making.


Hidden Data.
Plant control and SCADA systems monitor a large number of data points from remote assets via a range of technologies: RTUs, PLCs, DCS systems, flow computers and more, over phone lines, radio and other communication systems. Within each system, a tremendous amount of real-time data about the operational status of equipment can be found, but without historical storage, it’s easily lost. Further, the observations of operations staff doing rounds can be collected in a mobile management system that can be synchronized with plant data and available for all. A historian is required to store and process the large amount of this real-time data into alerts for the CMMS.

From Reactive to Proactive.
The shift from reactive to proactive maintenance is driven by the principle that unplanned downtime is more costly than early detection, corrective action, and planned intervention. With remote assets, scheduled maintenance can lead to unnecessary or premature maintenance, resulting in unnecessary expense and loss of equipment availability. Predictive and condition-based technologies improve the access to the right information to make better decisions.

Misdirected Maintenance.
• Unproductive work: According to the ARC Advisory Group, in a typical plant, the maintenance department averages only 30-percent wrench time, and best practice can be significantly increased to 50 percent with CBM. In fact, one analysis showed that 63 percent of all instrument work orders did not result in corrective action. According to Mtelligence, a study of 230 valves scheduled for rebuilding during a shutdown found that only 31 percent needed service.

• Counterproductive work: Seventy percent of equipment failures happen shortly after initial installation or just after calendar-based preventive maintenance. CBM reduces this need.

Differing types of data collection.
The SCADA or control system is collecting data across multiple types of equipment, from rotating equipment (pumps, compressors, fans) to non-rotating equipment. Assets may be truck mounted. Some of the data collection may be manually collected or manually entered by operations. All these forms need to be scanned for abnormal conditions that indicate upcoming maintenance.

Move and Massage Data.
What’s necessary is some standardized way to turn SCADA and manually collected data into condition-based alerts that can be automatically pushed to a CMMS system. CMMS systems are looking for a relatively small number of equipment alerts as they are better suited to manage a database of assets and manage workflow or work-orders. The SCADA system should have a historian (tools to collect and analyze long-term historical events) or some processing engine that analyzes the volumes of real-time data for certain abnormal conditions.

Operators have collected readings on their rounds and need this data entered into several systems: regulatory, SCADA, analysis, CMMS and for other reporting purposes.

Open Operations and Maintenance Standards.
Open Operations and Maintenance (OpenO&M) standards can allow interoperability between SCADA and plant-floor automation or mobile systems, and CMMS applications. The OpenO&M initiative involves multiple industry standards from industry organizations collaborating to provide a harmonized set of information standards for the exchange of operations and maintenance data.

MIMOSA (Machinery Information Management Open Systems Alliance) is a trade association dedicated to developing and encouraging the adoption of open information standards for operations and maintenance. It provides a common communication model, built on other standards such as ISASP95 and XML, for maintenance applications to integrate with plant or SCADA systems and enterprise applications such as CMMS systems. This means that any number of SCADA, plant control or mobile systems may be able to communicate effectively with a number of CMMS systems without the long-term complications of upgrades to the various components. The MIMOSA system provides a standard architecture to map asset IDs to other data types. Each system needs to be MIMOSA compliant and the MIMOSA interface vendor requires a connector for each type of system.

  • MIMOSA gives operators and field service techs complete visibility into the maintenance status from the CMMS system without having to leave their operator SCADA stations;
  • maintenance planners receive key leading asset information to guide their maintenance planning, saving maintenance dollars;
  • production stoppages for maintenance reasons would be significantly reduced, increasing production; and
  • plants can do more preventative maintenance with the same maintenance staff, in the right areas at the right time.

The combination of operator-generated and automatically generated maintenance work orders enables the planner to focus maintenance efforts on the equipment that has potential upcoming issues. Also, because maintenance personnel are informed of equipment issues proactively, maintenance becomes less reactive. Operators contribute to operator-driven reliability.

Marty Bince ( is the vice-president of Wonderware PacWest. He acknowledges contributions of OpenO&M, ARC, OPC Foundation and Mtelligence. For more about the initiatives surrounding OpenO&M, visit This was originally published in REM magazine.