We live in an age of data. Everything from what you look at online to the number of people who cross a road on a specific day can be collected and cataloged for use. This information can be valuable if it can be accessed and utilized quickly, but if not, it will become irrelevant and forgotten.

Power plants are affected by these same principles. Data management and document management are critical to plant operations to quickly access drawings and asset information. If your management systems are cluttered, you may be wasting critical time and resources looking for the right information.

In today’s world of information highways and mega bandwidth portals, all your plant information can be organized and accessed quickly and efficiently based on any number of assigned criteria.

Many fleet plants were designed and built prior to the digital age. Old hardcopy drawings are typically filed in a records room or vault or scanned and cataloged on a server, showing a grainy document that is difficult to read and decipher tag numbers. The process for plant personnel to investigate necessary drawings for plant projects and retrofits is tedious and time-consuming, resulting in wasted hours to simply locate information. But there’s good news: Processes now exist to help eliminate much of the churn associated with document identification and retrieval for plant assets.

Imagine a system where documents can be scanned, redrawn and read to identify asset tagging and names. That same system can then identify the correlations between the asset and all drawings associated with it, providing a quick and easy way to pull necessary information for maintenance or service at a facility — all while standing by the asset. Data collection becomes a one-time process as asset information is stored for future accessibility.

On the cutting edge of innovation, Burns & McDonnell is developing these asset management systems and services to help your team eliminate the churn of searching for documents required for the installation of new or retrofit equipment. Reducing the manhours necessary to identify the necessary materials means that a project can proceed quicker with fewer downtime hours.

The process doesn’t stop once this service is delivered. This setup is expandable and can be layered to serve future needs of the plant, including tagging all equipment with QR code labels for quick scanning from a mobile device or tablet. Information from the plant asset management system can be brought into the interface to see if warehouses have necessary materials for repairs. Service reports and requests can be added so that project definition can be made easier in advance of year-end budget requests.

Stop wasting precious information in dated management processes. It’s time for power plants to take the time to embrace the age of data and the possibilities of an adaptable system today.


Power plant operators can also streamline systems to help plan plant upgrades.

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Bryan Durant is a mechanical engineer at Burns & McDonnell with more than 17 years of experience designing power plants. As the plant improvements mechanical business unit manager, he’s responsible for the identification, development and execution of small operations and maintenance and capital projects.