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Industry 4.0: The latest developments in the industry
The industry has already undergone many revolutions in recent centuries with the rise of steam, electricity and digitization. In mid-2021, the 4th industrial revolution is in full swing and the production processes and factories will gradually undergo another transformation. Industry 4.0 has made its appearance and in this blog we will tell more about the future, the impact and the changes as a result of industry 4.0.
What is industry 4.0?
The last industrial revolution was characterized by the change of digitization. Computers and smart communication made its appearance and caused major changes in the production process.
Industry 4.0 is the superlative of digitization and will mean the change to ‘smart factories’. Connections and smarter communication between different machines and systems should give direction to these smart factories. Work can be done faster, more efficiently and auromatically. In this new way of working, the physical world will become much more intertwined with digital world and systems and machines will increasingly communicate with each other.
Connection and communication
The combination and communication between different systems and technologies is what makes Industry 4.0 so special. By using the Internet of Things (IoT), the Cloud and Artificial intelligence (AI), this Industry 4.0 will go further than the previous changes around digitization. The entire process is aimed at enabling computer systems, robots and other systems to communicate and work together. In this way, the production process in organized as efficiently as possible and processes can function more and more independently.
Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Big Data and AI will have a major role in industry 4.0. There is an enormous amount of data in the industrial environment. On the basis of data, more value can be obtained form business processes and patterns can be discovered that can contribute to optimization. In collaboration with AI, machines and systems can learn form experiences and can thus be trained to perform certain tasks independently.
Industry 4.0 and Cloud
By moving data and software to the cloud, existing data and documentation is centrally stored and managed. In this way, Single Source of Truth is realized and the necessary data is digitally accessible to everyone invloved.
Engineering project collaboration in the cloud with Meridian Portal
Project collaboration in the cloud
Recently, there has been a rise in owner-operators outsourcing their engineering, procurement, construction, and maintenance (EPCM) activities to external contractors and suppliers.
The outsourcing of EPCM activities causes several challenges for owner-operators to keep track of critical asset related information in engineering projects.
Outsourcing activities causes a diversion of ownership, fragmented responsibilities and uncontrolled engineering data. As a result, asset data integrity is at risk and inaccurate information leads to poor decisions. Incomplete and inaccurate engineering documentation can cause catastrophic accidents to occur, causing health, safety and environmental issues as well as unplanned shutdowns.
Owner-operators and contractors need a system where internal and external participants can contribute, deliver, review and approve asset information throughout the project lifecycle.
Meridian Portal is a system that provides a globally accessible and centralized source of technical information for extended project teams, increasing engineering, operations, and maintenance staff productivity. Meridian Portal facilitates the controlled exchange of document deliverables between all internal and external stakeholders, while improving the data quality by providing full project control and document compliance.
Additionally, Meridian Portal lowers the total cost of information management and distribution, so owner-operators achieve added savings through enhanced productivity and search time reduction. The availability of up-to-date operating procedures and accurate engineering documentation is crucial to improve safety and minimize the costs of outsourced engineering, procurement, construction, and maintenance activities.
Single Source Of Truth For Project And Asset Documentation.
Managing your project and asset documentation in a single source of truth is one of the most important components of efficiently managing engineering projects. Meridian Portal increases efficiency through time saved on document control, project management review and validation of project delivery, while eliminating lead-times due to offline or paper-based communication processes. A single user interface allows both engineering contractors and owner-operators to review, verify, and accept data.
Accelerate Project Execution
Meridian Portal is a multi-tenant Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, managing your engineering project performance entirely in the cloud. Using Meridian Portal improves collaboration, helping to focus on delivering the project on time and on budget with the correct data needed to operate and maintain your facility. Users are able to exchange work packages, review and approve documents online and offline; increasing productivity, improving data quality, and lowering document handling cost. By using an automated system like Meridian Portal, users can track deliverables and due dates properly to maintain control of their document flow throughout the project ensuring that nothing gets overlooked.
Internal And External Stakeholders Stay Informed At All Times
The automatic checks functionality within Meridian Portal helps organizations become more efficient and feel more confident about their data quality because nothing is lost or exchanged incorrectly. Automatic scans for matching documents, alerts due to missing or changed references and the addition of new documents helps facilitate engineering information handover process.
Predefine Project Roles With Associated Privileges
Meridian Portal allows users to set predefined project roles with associated privileges. A contractor shouldn’t be able to define project configuration and a document controller needs to be able to efficiently manage the flow of documents throughout the project.
- Project Owner – defines the project configuration and overall administration.
- Document Controller – manages the flow of documents through the project.
- Contributor – creates and modifies documents.
- Reviewer – participates in collaborative document reviews (‘squad checks’).
- Contractor – sends and receives documents via formal packages (transmittals).
Document Exchange Process In Meridian Portal
Step 1: Owner-Operators initiate and setup engineering, construction, modification or expansion projects with role-based access for internal project members, external contractors and vendors.
Step 2: All users connect the projects with secure authentication and strong encryption end-to-end.
Step 3: Contractor(s) gets access to specific projects.
Step 4: Contractor(s) retrieve work assignments through Meridian Portal and completes task.
Step 5: Contractor(s) uploads the new and updated document deliverables to the Portal.
Step 6: Meridian Portal automatically checks for matching documents, missing or changed references of CAD documents, and new documents.
Step 7: Project owner or document controller receives a notification and a link to the transmittal package in Meridian Portal.
Step 8: The documents are collected in review packages and shared with multi-disciplinary teams for approval and consultation.
Step 9: Reviewers review PDFs then upload the reviewed PDF; automatically merging comments.
Step 10: Project leader consolidates and finalizes any comments.
Step 11: Document controller returns rejected documents with comments and follow-up action to the contractor in a transmittal package.
Step 12: Approved documents are released for the master data environment.
Engineering Document Management Software: Everything you need to know
The Ever-Changing Landscape In The Engineering Information World Makes It Difficult To Know Which Software And Systems Will Meet Your Unique Needs.
Oftentimes, engineering departments are left scrambling to piece together information at the last minute to avoid being out of compliance or to simply justify the value of what their team brings to the table. The stress and inherent inaccuracies of these situations can be avoided, though, with a well-designed and properly implemented EIM system using the latest software and features.
But where do you start? We offer this guide to get you on the road to choosing the perfect EIM solution and to help you succeed at your overall information management strategies.
What Can An EIM System Do For You?
Section summary (click for quick navigation):
- Gain Efficiency in Engineering Projects.
- Centralize Mission-Critical Engineering Information.
- Break Down Information Silos to Ensure Plant Safety.
- Take Control of Regulatory Compliance.
- Stay in Control of Your Hazardous Area Classification.
1.0 Gain Efficiency In Engineering Projects.
Make Faster, More Accurate Decisions.
When using an automated EIM system, internal and external stakeholders no longer need to sort through endless amounts of paperwork and data. Instead, they can facilitate an efficient and controlled engineering document exchange. Organizations can track deliverables and due dates properly to maintain control of their document flow throughout the project. EIM software is designed for quick system adoption and usage because global contractors are no longer spending time on how and where to input the data with built in features including:
- Dashboard for quick navigation.
- Robust reporting capabilities.
- Simple and intuitive web interface.
Collaborate In The Cloud With Project Stakeholders.
Organizations often need to manage a global portfolio of projects and reliable, accurate information is crucial. A robust EIM system helps solve for these types of problems:
- Several organizations are managing those projects in disparate systems with communication silos.
- Organizations with global footprints experiencing inaccuracies from breakdowns in information exchange process.
- Lack of timely information from inherent problems with person-to-person exchange.
Automate The Distribution Process.
Organizations can reduce the workload of document controllers with an automated distribution process based on a distribution matrix increasing efficiency and ensuring great data quality because nothing is overlooked, lost or exchanged incorrectly. Furthermore, the review process becomes greatly improved with these features:
- Users can review and markup an engineering document or engineering drawing within the portal.
- Online and offline reviews can be merged.
- All actions within the system are traced and logged with a timestamp providing a full audit trail.
- All data (structured and unstructured) is accumulated and available for use in detailed dashboards and reports for actionable insight.
2.0 Centralize Mission-Critical Engineering Information.
By managing engineering information from a centralized location, organizations can:
- Improve collaboration between internal and external stakeholders significantly.
- Ensure that everyone is working from the same data.
- Allow stakeholders to know where to find the latest version of a document.
The centralization of engineering information can reduce the cost of directly handling engineering information and the a cornerstone feature of any company’s enterprise content management (ECM) strategy. Implementation of this level of control requires a robust EIM system software that includes the following crucial features:
Document Version Control
According to the IDC, a typical enterprise with 1,000+ knowledge workers wastes anywhere from $2.5 million to $3.5 million per year searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information, or recreating information that cannot be found. These issues typically stem from an organization’s inability to manage and access engineering information with properly configured document version control software. Without it, users are likely to find multiple, outdated versions of a document throughout the organization which can prove to be extremely costly in terms of time, money, and safety as users may be working with outdated information. In the worst cases, inaccurate versions of engineering information can lead to fines for noncompliance with industry regulations and to accidents. The best document management systems keep all versions of engineering documents accessible, but also include indicators and safeguards that ensure that the user knows they are using the most up-to-date documentation. This not only protects the user from potential accidents, but keeps workflows moving smoothly.
File Management, Security, Shareability.
Make Sure Everyone Accesses The Same Documents & Data.
There can be several challenges to ensuring that mission-critical information is available 24/7 and consistently up-to-date. Since engineering designs and documents are quite large, moving them from one place to another for changes can be an extremely cumbersome and slow process. This process can prove to be even more difficult if those engineering designs are referencing a wholly separate design file.
Keep Info In The Right Hands.
The security of an organization’s engineering information is an enormous challenge for organizations in asset-intensive industries. Whenever a company is handling information in a decentralized way across the enterprise, it can be overly difficult to share accessible engineering documentation to other internal departments or external contractors without exposing the data to potential security vulnerabilities present in formats like email and removable storage devices.
Remove Obstacles To The Flow Of Information.
Engineering document information stored within a user’s local hard drive often takes a manual process to share with other stakeholders in the business. Organizations must be able to access their mission critical engineering information anytime, anywhere, and without delay. This level of shareability in data management requires an EIM strategy that goes beyond what most engineering teams can produce on their own.
3.0 Break Down Information Silos To Ensure Plant Safety.
A lack of accurate engineering information can lead to operations and maintenance staff being at risk of getting hurt. The primary danger lies in there being multiple, outdated versions of documents stored in several different places, and the lack of a quick, secure way to access the right documentation. Issues like these can affect the overall safety of employees on-site and decrease staff productivity. The types of problems that may result from inaccurate engineering documentation include:
- Accidents due to the wrong maintenance procedures.
- Wrong spare parts ordered because of outdated documentation.
- Incorrect information to external parties which jeopardizes confidentiality and security.
- Production delays due to unplanned process downtime.
Choose The Right EIM Software.
To ensure a safer, secure workplace, consider implementing a software solution for EIM that ensures employees always have the most up-to-date information. The best engineering info management software provides the ability to:
- Access document revision histories.
- View previous versions of documents.
- Add documents to print queues for processing.
- Initiate requests for changes to documents.
Provide Mobile Capabilities For Accessible Engineering Information In The Field.
There is a growing desire among industry leaders to utilize mobile applications to boost safety for employees and increase efficiency in product development. Although the interest is rising, 61% of workers say that if their organization is not deploying enterprise mobile apps, then it is at a competitive disadvantage. These apps can help employees perform their jobs more quickly and effectively on a daily basis. Common problems engineers face in the field without access to mobile devices include:
Outdated, Inaccurate Engineering Documentation.
Typically, engineers need to predict which documents and drawings they will need on-site, and then print all relevant documents prior to a site visit. During this process, generally there is not a single source of truth, often leading engineers to guess and hope that all the information they will need on-site is accurate and up-to-date. This process can waste valuable time, especially if the information turns out to be inaccurate and does not allow them to perform their jobs as required.
Difficulties Providing On-Site Feedback.
If a maintenance engineer takes paper copies of drawings and technical documentation on-site, they will need to provide the feedback on the paper copies and then transfer that data into an online repository when they return to their desk. This process generally does not consider the high likelihood of the engineer losing track of individual paper copies of documents along the way. Without access to an engineering information management solution while on-site, engineers can be stuck waiting until they can access their desktop computers to approve the changes, in turn creating a backlog of work for internal and external teams
4.0 Take Control Of Regulatory Compliance.
It is mission critical for organizations to maintain a complete audit trail for engineering documents throughout its lifecycle. While organizations understand that complying with industry standards for asset information is important and required, the process can prove to be time-consuming and expensive. Some key problems include the following:
- Inability to keep track of constant changing regulations and shifts in technology and innovation
- Pressure from business stakeholders to extend the lifetime of their assets, while simultaneously confronting an aging infrastructure
- Risks of audits, cost overruns, and production delays from inaccurate document versions
Compliance Features To Look For In An EIM System.
To ensure a safer, secure workplace, consider implementing a software solution for engineering information management that ensures employees always have the most up-to-date information. Software for managing compliance with engineering documentation should always include:
Regulated industries, such as Life Sciences, require structured documentation to ensure completeness. During implementation projects an EIM system must lead the user through the maze of validation documentation to ensure compliance. When changes are required during implementation projects there must be a tested “configuration change management” procedure to ensure that all aspects of the proposed change have been thought through, documented, and agreed upon prior to making changes.
EIM software utilizes a central vault for documentation that ensures that everyone is accessing the most up-to-date version of their engineering documents and drawings. The best document management systems for compliance provide certain areas within the central vault that require higher security than others. In addition, role-based security allows the provisioning of access rights that fluctuate and shift by project and can be configured to allow single sign-on access.
One of the greatest challenges faced by companies that do not use a standardized central system to manage engineering content, is that the various locations, plants and facilities have often kept the same manner of tracking their mission critical engineering documents for decades, without regard to the numerous business changes that have occurred over the years. Flexible numbering, document naming and filing conventions help to accommodate multiple plants in one system, with acceptable differences between plants. With a flexible engineering document management system, you can start to standardize the building blocks, such as look-up lists and mandatory fields. Automated revision control also ensures that project changes undergo revision updates and released documents show the latest approved versions, providing peace-of-mind.
Proof Of Control.
In any facility where field changes must be controlled, the modification of engineering documents is critical. A controlled way to check documents out to certain projects and control who has privileges to modify and approve are necessary components of any EIM system. The proper configuration allows users to check out a document to multiple projects, as well as introducing checks and balances to ensure that modifications by users are not lost.
In addition to workflows on documents, EIM software should allow for workflows on projects, and for the projects to be linked. During approvals, a good system can also apply watermarks and electronic signatures and print stamps to ensure compliance with various electronic records regulations. This way, the user of these documents is always assured that they are using approved and current documentation. By using engineering document management software, users can establish control of engineering data changes, safeguarding accurate review and approval steps for effective change control while ensuring safety and compliance.
Unplanned downtime due to audit failure or non-compliance can negatively affect a company’s brand. By using an engineering information system, organizations can easily track who changed what, when they changed it and why. Uses can easily track the reasons for the change, the decisions involved, and the approvers of that change. Audit logs can be shown on a per-document basis, or, with sufficient privileges, the log for the entire vault. This ensures that organizations can be more confident during audits and decrease corporate risk as well as failed audits.
Integrations And Collaboration.
Data exchange with CAD applications includes active reference management and exchanging title block data. The best engineering information software ensures this can happen even if the user does not have CAD installed on their computer. This data exchange can also typically be extended to include other in-house systems and large enterprise maintenance management systems like Maximo, SAP, etc. It can also extend beyond the enterprise. When exchanging data and documents with contractors, ensure that the right data and documents are being sent and received with a good well-researched and properly implemented engineering information management software program.
5. Stay In Control Of Your Hazardous Area Classification.
Staying compliant with OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.119 “Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals” is a struggle for many organizations. Companies require significant effort from their internal resources that tend to be scarce, affecting the control of their hazardous area classification (HAC). Companies are also required to perform a five-year review cycle, placing a burden on the engineering team and hindering the ability to improve the plant. With a flexible software system designed to improve your documentation both in scale and quality,your engineering team will be more prepared and proactive for compliance and reviews.
Look For These Hazardous Area Systems Software Features:
Proactive Preparation For Reviews.
Typically, the review process is handled reactively, either when the review is due, or when the master documentation is evaluated and additional activities, such as on-site inspections, are scheduled. However, data quality can be improved when HAC is handled proactively as part of the engineering change. This proactive approach triggers re-evaluation of the classification creating a much more efficient workflow.
Readiness For Changes.
During an engineering project, an organization’s classification of an area may need to change. However, the informational handover process between Operations and Maintenance can be easier and cheaper during a project because engineers are more likely to remember various details regarding the project when they are working through it versus after a project has closed. Years later when a HAC review is due, the original engineers are working on other projects and many external contractors are no longer with the organization so inevitably, the project information is lost.
Management Of HAC Assessment Dependencies.
In reviewing the process of controlling your hazardous area classification in an engineering project, HAC assessment hinges on a number of key factors such as:
- Classification of materials.
- Presence of flammable materials under normal or abnormal conditions.
- Grouping of gas vapors.
- Temperature classification.
The documents that describe these key factors are usually mandatory deliverables in an engineering project. These factors are derived from engineering documents assigned to the change project, such as piping and instrumentation design, material safety data sheets, equipment data sheets, etc. If one of these deliverables changes in the project, the assessment factors may change. By defining documents that describe the assessment factors as project deliverables, workflows are triggered to update and review them. This process ensures that the review and update of HAC deliverables can occur as needed. Depending on the nature of the change, the involvement of specialists is targeted to cases where they are needed. Upon completion, organizations rely on up-to-date HAC deliverables which provides the foundation needed for HAC compliance.
Discover The EIM System Trusted By Engineering Teams Around The World.
Meridian helps over 350,000 maintenance, operations and engineering professionals keep their asset documentation up to date. Ensuring that data is easily accessible by the right people while maximizing staff productivity and supporting personnel safety.
2021 Document Management trends
And how Meridian can help
In the long wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations in asset-heavy industries are continuing to evaluate the short-term solutions they put together to “get through” lockdown while working to establish their long-term strategies and technological stack. In this context, certain things are a given – like the fact that digital transformation is a “have-to-have” and that technological agility is more important than ever.
That said, there are still many lingering questions, like which “COVID necessities” have become long-term shifts in operations and philosophy and where should organizations focus their energies moving forward?
Here are all the workforce, industry and document management trends to keep top of mind as you answer these and other pressing industry questions.
Top Manufacturing Industry Trends For 2021 And Beyond
When looking at the most important trends and best practices, it’s helpful to separate them into three buckets: workforce, industry and document management.
Manufacturing Workforce Trends To Look Out For In 2021
There are a few trends that have been brewing in the manufacturing workforce for several years. For one, there is a growing skills gap as over 2.6 million skilled workers – most of whom are Baby Boomers – age out of the workforce and 81% of UK manufacturers struggle to replace them. This will only become more prominent in years to come, and organizations will have to face this skills gap head-on and:
- Focus on recruiting highly skilled talent, including workers with automation skills, critical thinking skills and experience working with the latest technology.
- Adopt AI to execute low-level, repetitive tasks.
- Deploy effective knowledge management to make both structured and unstructured data easily accessible and readily available.
- Use technology and modernization to attract top talent, most of whom are uninterested in the manufacturing industry as it exists today.
Here, it’s important to emphasize that technology will not replace the manufacturing workforce in the coming years. Instead, occupations will shift as technology takes over easily automated tasks, while employees take on more advanced, skilled roles.
Manufacturing Industry Trends To Look Out For In 2021
Looking more broadly at the manufacturing and asset management industry, expect to see an increased focus in:
- Predictive maintenance: The idea of predictive maintenance is nothing new – and many organizations have been working toward creating a more predictive manufacturing environment for several years. That said, current technology — like equipment readers, comprehensive historical data and smart manufacturing tools powered by AI – have made predictive efforts more attainable than ever. The key here, though, will be to focus efforts and budget on your most important assets or manufacturing tasks.
- Green manufacturing efforts: In recent years, lean manufacturing strategies and improvements driven by AI and the IIoT have made green manufacturing efforts more attainable – and expectations have risen in turn. If you’re not already going green, you will likely have to be soon.
- The Internet of Things (IoT): If there is one thing that was made painfully obvious for many businesses during the pandemic, it’s that they were woefully behind when it came to IoT developments like remote monitoring and control of devices and systems. To prevent this kind of issue from arising in the future, remote communications and IoT technologies were deployed much more effectively throughout 2020 – and this will continue to increase in 2021 and beyond.
Document Management Trends To Look Out For In 2021 And Beyond
With mobile operations, cloud technology, AI and digital transformation, manufacturing organizations today have more data coming in than ever before. Those that capitalize on this data and utilize it to make informed decisions and drive revenue will find themselves at the head of the pack.
This will call for:
- A move toward cloud-based document management
- Well-connected document management systems
- Increased emphasis on sound document management security
- Scalable and customizable document management solutions
The Right Engineering Document Management System Can Help
A robust engineering document management system (EDMS) like Meridian can help your organization stay on track with these trends and best practices. More specifically, by providing a single source of truth for engineering documents, facilitating concurrent engineering, offering SaaS deployment options, and allowing for easy access to documents on mobile devices, Meridian can facilitate:
- Increased agility
- Improved health and safety
- Predictive maintenance strategies
- Cloud operations
- Scalability, and more.