Archive of Operational Consulting - MAVERICK Ideas

Who Will Be In Your Control Room In 2016?

Posted by Bill Tolrud on December 5, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

Control SystemsTake a look at the people in your control room: you probably see a lot of gray hair. How many of those individuals are still going to be there in another three or five years? To answer this question, we need to look at the retirement rate of the baby boomers that are now between the ages of 55 to 65. On January 1, 2011, the first baby boomers turned 65. According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, dated January 30, 2008, the retirement of baby boomers will affect the overall economy and our industries until the year 2020. The industries affected most will be those that have been part of the structure of the U.S. industry buildup: steel and primary m...

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Why Process Control Migration Projects Fail

Posted by Brian Batts on April 18, 2012 @ 11:37 am

Is fear of failure haunting your upcoming migration project? Engineers are pretty good with band-aids and bailing wire, so absolute failure is rare. But in process control, pitfalls like exceeding budget, operations rejection, and maintenance headaches could constitute failure. In migration projects, most of these pitfalls originate not from incompetence but from missed opportunities. Let’s take budgeting as an example. You didn’t want an unfundable, fat “budgetary” estimate, so you warned the vendor, “I need a realistic, FUNDABLE budget!” Unfortunately, your vendor’s interpretation was, “Give me the bare minimum.” After the project, you’ll have a functioning solution, but your operations team will be missing features they use every day in your current system. Was it avoidable? Could you realistically have noticed something was missing from the proposal as you went...

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Going Live with a New Application

Posted by John Clemons on February 1, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

OK. You’ve found a new manufacturing application you want to implement. It’s the best thing since sliced bread. You’ve configured it, tested it and tested it some more, and now you’re ready to drop it on the shop floor. It’s going to do lots and lots of wonderful things for the company, for manufacturing operations and even for the people there on the shop floor. Well, not so fast. Putting a new manufacturing application on the shop floor is a lot more complicated than you might think. You’re going to impact a lot of people and the way they do their jobs. You’re going to impact the actual manufacturing process itself. Even a small application can have a disparately large impact on the people and the processes. And, despite what a lot of people might say (including the people that sold you the application) there is no absolute guarantee for success. So what do you do? Fi...

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How Much Is Your Legacy DCS Costing You?

Posted by Jim Ford on January 25, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

Our last blog post, “DCS Migration Checklist”, addressed several important questions to consider during the initial planning stages of a migration project. We referenced a white paper written by one of our technology leaders, Chad Harper, entitled, “Upgrading Your DCS: Why You May Need to Do It Sooner Than You Think.” Among the most important reasons was that the cost of staying with an old system eventually outgrows the cost of migration. Now, you might be asking, “How can this be so? This new DCS is going to cost millions of dollars, in terms of new equipment, engineering costs, retraining, perhaps major infrastructure rebuilding. My old DCS is hanging in there. How can I justify its very expensive replacement to management?” The answer to this very reasonable question is found in a method of engineering, economi...

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Key Safety Metrics

Posted by Gene Niewoehner on January 18, 2012 @ 11:19 am

You can tell a lot about a company, by taking a quick look at their annual report and website. In today’s economy, it’s the results that count — that’s easy to understand —but leading companies take a more holistic approach to measuring safety. If you can only find results or lagging measures, look elsewhere; the lagging measures are functionally useless when it comes to evaluating a company’s future success. Instead, look for companies that provide results along with proactive or leading measures. When you find one, you’ve likely found a company known for its product or service quality, customer service, productivity and financial success. There are many ways to measure success, but I believe quality, service, productivity, financial, and environmental, health and safety are all linked through a company’s systems and culture. Break one link, and the company will exper...

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