How to reduce the effort of maintaining documentation in operations

The first step an owner operator typically makes, beyond getting their documentation into a document management system, is to get all documents linked to the relevant tags. This is still the approach used in the majority of handover specifications incorporated into EPC contracts and equipment purchase orders today.

This approach makes sense from a project perspective, as data is static. A particular make and model of equipment is installed, given a tag location in the facility, and only one piece of equipment with a given serial number will be installed. This approach does not work will for operations.

During operations it is common to replace equipment with another of the same specification. During modifications one manufacturer’s model/type of equipment at a given tagged location may be replaced with another that is better suited for the duty at that location. In both of these cases the documentation linked to the tagged location has to be evaluated. In the first case simple “Replacement in Kind” documents linked to the individual equipment item, such as a pump performance curve or certificate, are replaced by the new equipment’s documents. In the second case, all the vendor documents describing the model/type of the replaced equipment need to be located and disconnected from the tag and replaced by the new documents linked for the new manufacturer’s model/type.

This is a resource intensive process, prone to error and not always done as well as it should because of limited resources available to manage documentation on operating facilities. As a result the original documentation for equipment is often lost or discarded, engineering staff resort to calling vendors to attain the information they need, and historical asset data is hard to locate.

The curse of multiple copies of vendor documents

The linking of all documentation against tags also gives rise to multiple copies of the same documentation handed over, thereby increasing handover cost and complexity. It is quite common for projects to agree to standardize on bulk equipment items such as valves, light fittings, motors, instruments, and many more from selected manufacturers and even selected predefined models and types. This standardization is done to simplify the work of requisitioning engineers, to get preferential discounts, and to reduce the cost of spare parts inventory. In such projects it is the usual case that each equipment package vendor will incorporate documentation for these standardized items within its vendor data books. This results in the same set of vendor documents for these standardized items being delivered from the original equipment manufacturer to each package supplier, for the document to be reviewed by each package responsible engineer and then be linked to the relevant tags within the package and be incorporated into the final documentation handed over to the owner operator. This leads to unnecessary costs and inefficiencies being propagated through the value chain which must ultimately be paid for by the owner operator.

How SmartPlant Enterprise for Owner Operators and EPCs (SPO/E) Core helps eliminate the problem

SPO/E Core simplifies the process by grouping the types of information into three areas, Tag, Model, and Asset. This provides the ability to link tags against manufacturer model/types of equipment and serialized assets. In this way design documentation for an equipment package such as P&ID diagrams and design calculations can be cross-referenced against the tag. Documents describing the manufacturer’s model such as the manufacturer data sheet and type certificated can be held against the model. Documentation related to a specific serialized rotable item (an item that can be repaired/serviced and set aside for re-use) such as pump performance curves, NDT tests etc., can be held against the asset.


When this is done, and data and documentation are handed over in this structure, the replacement of one serialized piece of equipment by another, or switch of one manufacturers model/type by another, just requires the relevant relationship to the model/type or asset be redirected to the new model/type or asset.

Reducing Package Equipment documentation volumes by 60 percent

This can be taken a step further by establishing a library of standard equipment documentation of the standardized model/types to be used on a facility. EPCs and package equipment vendors can be given access to this. Instead of providing this documentation in their final handover EPCs can simply provide a cross reference between relevant types and the model/type in the library which could be provided by a third party content supplier or maintained by the owner operator. The volume of vendor documentation for a complex equipment package such as a compressor can be reduced by 60 percent and the resulting documentation package is far simpler to maintain during operations.

How to implement a new approach for vendor documentation

Whilst SPO/E Core can provide an environment to address the issue of efficient structuring of vendor documentation it is not the only prerequisite. Firstly, a strategic decision needs to be taken to implement the necessary steps ideally during the FEED phase of a project, so that long lead items are addressed and the bid package is defined correctly. A detailed handover specification needs to be prepared for issue to EPCs and vendor package suppliers. The standardization on equipment model/types needs to be agreed upon and a library of documentation for the chosen model/types needs to be established either on a project basis or via a third party document content supplier. With these in place it should be possible to greatly reduce the volumes of vendor documentation handed over and increase the efficiency and reduce costs of managing change on operating facilities.

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Interested in how this looks in the software? Let us know! - See more at: