When it comes to planning and prioritizing your modernization efforts, the best starting point may be the installed base evaluation, or IBE. The IBE is a great investment. It is surprising to sit in on a typical “after IBE discussion,” where you may hear:
“How did that even get there?”
“Those drives should have been replaced years ago.”
“We really need to get that MCC in the capital plan.”
Things change as years pass by. People retire, lines are rearranged, new equipment is installed, and ultimately things are forgotten. It happens. That’s why an IBE is important, because it defines a necessary truth that enables prioritization and planning for the future. It is a foundation to build from, and also a great piece of mind.
IBEs come in a variety of flavors depending on who provides them and what the objectives are. Large manufacturers of equipment, such as Rockwell Automation, conduct extensive IBEs at automation component levels. Eaton, for example, conducts a Power Chain Audit of the power system from source to load. These services can cost $15K or more depending on scope, and are well worth the investment.
Equipment vendors and service contractors also provide IBE services, though the scope may be more specific. The choice of IBE provider really comes down to objectives and hurdles. IBEs may target a system, subsystem, equipment grouping (i.e. PLC cabinets) or more broad portions of the entire electrical infrastructure. Common electrical groupings include:
- Electrical control panels (enclosures)
- Motor Control Centers (MCCs)
- Power distribution enclosures (panelboards)
- Network assement (see part 5 for detail)
The storeroom is a great place to start, as it should be highly reflective of the base and is easy to access. But it will not reflect gaps and omissions, so at some point you have to get out in the plant. Whatever you choose to focus on, the objectives are usually a combination of the following.
Modernization IBE Objectives:
- Assessment of risk due to obsolescence failure.
- Assessment of condition:
- Thermal rise in enclosures
- Environmental protection
- General physical and operating condition
- Assessment of asset protection – short circuit, overload, coordination.
- Criticality assessment – what defines a critical asset, and what are they?
- Identification of:
- functional improvement opportunities.
- surplus and obsolete inventory.
- Gaps in critical spares.
- Prioritization of capital and activity.
There are hurdles to conducting an IBE, beginning with equipment access. Depending on the objectives, panels may need to be opened for inspection, which will typically require deactivation (down day). You will also need to designate people to support the project, as IBEs are typically done in teams, matching plant personnel with vendor personnel. It helps to plan in advanced with experienced professionals who have a methodology and can help you define expectations.
Defining Outcomes for your IBE
Your expectations in terms of deliverables and post IBE support should be very explicit. Reports should be organized in a manner of your choosing, such as by line, machine, control panel, etc. Summary reports should detail your installed based by product and provide categorization such as:
- Current – product is considered “current” by the manufacturer and has a support path.
- End of life – product is under support but needs to be considered for future replacement.
- Functional risk – installation may not work as intended.
- Obsolete and unsupported – it’s over.
There are other deliverables to consider, such as a detailed list of recommended upgrades and associated costs. If a criticality assessment and critical spares planning was conducted, then it is good to not only request a detailed summary but an after action review as well.
You can use the completed IBE as a blueprint to begin planning and prioritizing upgrades, which in many cases will be very straightforward. But make the most of every upgrade, incorporating smart devices where possible to help your progression. Your IBE can also be used as a basis to evaluate the impact of incorporating “smarter” devices into your upgrades.
Our next post will explore step two of our recommended three-step process: the Smart Tech Review.