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The costs of poor data quality

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Companies don't realise how much poor information management costs them, says Chris Cran of AVEVA.

You can look at operations as a pyramid, with expensive shutdowns at the top, and at the bottom, the cause being information which is inconsistent, incomplete or poor quality, says Chris Cran, solution strategy manager with oil and gas engineering software company AVEVA.

He was speaking at the Digital Energy Journal Kuala Lumpur conference in October, 'Reaping Operational Benefits Through Digital Technology'.

All process industries have a need to be safe, efficient and compliant.
To achieve this, 'engineering information needs to be accessible and we need to be able to trust it,' he said.

Operators are trying to make decisions based on the wrong information. 'It shouldn't be happening, he said.

People in oil and gas operations could be placed in 2 broad categories, one who understand information quality challenges - usually people who work at the front line, maintaining equipment and keeping operations running.

Then there's a second group who don't seem to understand there's an information problem, of don't seem to understand the challenges which poor information creates, he said.

There have been studies across many industries, including retail and manufacturing, showing the billion dollar business opportunity if companies could have better information, and how much time and money is spent re-creating and correcting information.

Studies showed that most senior management estimated the price of poor information quality to be under 0.1 per cent of total revenue, whilst it was actually about 10 per cent of revenue, the difference between profitability and loss making for many companies.

As an example, Mr Cran was once involved in one safety incident caused by poor information. His customer had a polyurethane ball stuck in a pipe. The company had a procedure for what to do, but the operations team were unable to find it, and were under pressure to remove the blockage.

Somebody had an idea to feed nitrogen into the pipe to force the ball out. The ball came out of the pipe at high speed. 'Luckily no-one was hurt - someone could have been seriously injured,' he said. 'If they'd found the procedure, they would have known to use water to clear it safely.

At the time, the near-miss was blamed on 'training', but actually it was because they couldn't find the information, he said.

Another example was a company which spent $250,000 on an item they didn't need - but they didn't know because of a single incorrect attribute. There was also additional storage costs.

'Three minutes or less'

Companies are trying to fix it. One example was an oil company which specified that staff must be able to find information in 'three minutes or less.'

This may not be a reasonable expectation. The company did an audit and found that there were 400 different software applications on 3 assets, and 7 different document management systems on one site.

'How can you find information in 3 minutes or less in that kind of environment? I can't even remember my own logins in 3 mins or less,' he said.

All in one place

The right approach is probably to get all of the information related to the physical asset, including 3D models, data sheets and certifications, all stored in one place, and referenced to the physical equipment.

A search for the equipment tag number will bring up all the documents related to it.

One plant has millions of attributes. People can make mistakes with attributes - but it is possible have automated systems to make checks, such as information that might be missing.

Companies set up their 'information standard', commonly called a 'class library', which defines what information you need in operations.

AVEVA has a product called Information Standards Manager which can be used to create and manage and information standard. It can run as a cloud software service, or on your own servers.

You can focus it on areas on more production critical systems first, or areas where you know there is a problem.

'When you get all the data in place, that's when you can create a digital asset. 'We define a digital asset as your information core for your operating physical asset,' he said.

'That's non-negotiable - it has to reflect what's happening in the plant.'

When you share it with the entire organisation it becomes really valuable. It starts enhancing operation and compliance.

Much of the work in building it is making information available from all of the silos in the company, he said.

All about caring?

Perhaps the most important issue is that there is someone who cares about the data. It doesn't matter why they care about the data, but important that someone does.

Mr Cran told a story of when he was previously employed at an engineering company, which received seven negative findings on an audit, due to information being inaccurate.

These audit reports were shared between project partners.

'We decided within our department we wanted to clear the audit findings and be the best in our company and be the best company,' he said.

'We did a data capture exercise. A colleague and me went to the site, and spent a week, five days of 12 hour shifts, capturing the information.

'It was a success, we were compliant at the next audit. We felt quite pleased with ourselves and helped the company become top of the league.'

'All we were really doing was capturing information that we had, verifying it and checking the quality, and making sure it was shared with the team,' he said.

The project captured all the data sheets, put together piping and instrumentation diagrams, working with onshore and offshore teams.

After it was done, Mr Cran found that other company departments saw him as a point of contact for finding P+IDs or vendor information.

'I started to realise, we'd become the digital asset, our team had become the reference point for all these other disciplines.

In order to get there, 'we need people who buy into the process and want to make it happen, and we need a process to achieve it,' he said.

AVEVA Engage

AVEVA has developed software 'AVEVA Engage,' which will 'bring a digital asset to people who weren't previously engaged,' he said.

All of the captured information, including 2D diagrams, laser scans, can be put together in a 3D visualisation 'that's powerful for engineering team.'

This could be a good way to get the sort of people who aren't aware of the value of good information more interested, he said.

When senior managers see it, they immediately recognise the value of it, he said.

The software can capture changes which happen to the asset. 'In my experience it's close to 100 per cent all the time that some piece of information changes [during construction],' he said.

'Information standards can help there, if you've got a standard that defines the information you need, that helps you.'

'You need a process in place. Sometimes it's as simple as capture a 'red line mark-up' on a paper document.'

'Or saying, we're going to push this out to a team in India and have them re-create these P+IDs.'

Associated Companies
» AVEVA Solutions Ltd


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