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The dos and don'ts of managing a controls project

11 March, 2013
pre-qualified operationally. 9. Shipping
Shipping, carriage and packing are too often taken for granted. Today’s control systems comprise many components that include sensitive microelectronic devices. Rough handling and transport of control panels can reduce the life of a control system due to shock loads experienced by miniature elements embedded in the main system components. Careful handling and transport methods are needed at each stage of the shipping activity. 10. Installation (optional)
Installation is rightly seen as a major part of a control system project. An efficient installation reduces the downtime burden, potentially reducing loss of production significantly. Planning, management and good documentation are key elements to this activity. The quality of the installation work also has a significant bearing on the ease with which future maintenance and support services are provided and the speed at which failures are found and resolved. 11. Commissioning Commissioning often feels like a frustrating delay getting into production, rather than the task that guarantees production reliability. There is always pressure to hasten this activity in the race to get production from a machine, often meaning that full process and material trials are left incomplete and deferred to a later date. This is inefficient. A comprehensive plan, agreed before commissioning starts, will set out the actions and parameters determined and agreed by the parties that, once met, are proof of compliance with the project specification. 12. Documentation Maintenance and support of any new machine or control system relies heavily on the depth and quality of the system documentation. It is rare to find many simple components in a modern control system. Manufacturers are constantly striving to develop their components with the aim of maintaining a market-leading position. This means that the availability and knowledge of control components are relatively short-lived. Self-sufficiency is therefore highly desirable in machine maintenance, for both efficiency and cost reasons. No engineer can support and fault-find on a control system effectively without comprehensive, up-to-date documentation. These activities rely on the professional development of control circuits using leading design tools (such as CAD) and custom software that is generated according to recognised industrial standards and with good documentation. 13. Sign-off
Obtaining the customer sign–off is a critical and sensitive stage for both parties. A commissioning plan helps this process greatly. Having a pre-determined schedule that is developed up-front is the professional way to address this activity. 14.  Training Training is a vital ingredient in machine ownership. Without controlled, educational exposure to the sometimes wide range of components with resident software, the ready uptake of ownership by the maintenance team is difficult to achieve. A confident engineer works much more effectively than one with limited knowledge and significant reliance on external agencies. Training is essential.

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