Keeping an industrial plant running is not that easy. Operators are responsible not only for smooth production but also, and primarily, for compliance with a large number of legal and technical safety regulations. This involves a multitude of tasks: for example, system operators are compelled to carry out regular electrical and mechanical inspections on hundreds of components, each of which are subject to their own inspection schedules. Furthermore, the inspection results must be analysed and a proven inspection concept developed on that basis. To do this, the inspection status of the entire system has to be reviewed and the documentation of the safety strategy and inspections compiled and prepared.
A veritable jungle of rules
The requirements for functional safety and operating regulations generate a considerable workload of inspection obligations. In the case of equipment located in potentially explosive atmosphere, there are even more regulations and technical rules in addition to the complex, underlying set of standards. The German Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (BetrSichV, Annex 2, Section 5.1) prescribes inspecting of explosion protection at least every six years for systems in hazardous areas. Ventilation systems, gas warning devices and inerting equipment must be inspected annually (BetrSichV, Annex 2, Section 5.3) while safety systems and electrical and mechanical devices must undergo inspecting every three years in accordance with Directive 2014/34/EC (BetrSichV, Annex 2, Section 5.2).
To satisfy all these requirements, system operators have to collect data from various sources and incompatible systems – data that is often only available on paper. Nevertheless, they bear full responsibility for managing the entire life cycle of the system reliably.
PEC enables smarter working
The PEC (Plant Engineering Centre) software is an IT solution that makes it much easier to plan, organise and carry out inspections. It helps operators of technical systems satisfy the requirements laid down in laws and standards in connection with explosion protection, functional safety and operating safety and quality. The programme, which is sold by R. Stahl and was created by software development firm AGU, is designed for practical use on mobile devices.
The Plant Engineering Centre stores data centrally and integrates all interfaces required for existing IT systems. This ensures full data consistency, which minimises the effort for acquisition. The system also has other advantages: PEC includes an app (PEC Mobile) for Android and Windows. The software can be used either online or offline. Its precisely designed input screens make light work of inspections. The data is synchronised with the PEC server application via USB or WiFi. If desired, the programme can be set up for multiple users with different read and edit rights. Data is stored in PEC in accordance with auditing requirements, enabling efficient and completely paperless inspecting.
PEC generates time schedules for upcoming inspection tasks and outputs automatic reminders of deadlines, so that users always have a clear view of when a inspection needs to be carried out and which specific tasks are required to complete it. The programme evaluates the inspections, issues statements regarding the system status and archives data records, documents and inspection logs. Powerful search and reporting functions simplify audit and attestation discussions.
All objects to be inspected are entered in PEC. The operators retrieve device (or manufacturer) data from an integrated database, in which the data records for devices of the same design can be maintained centrally. PEC-EX, the module for inspecting explosion protection, automatically generates inspection texts for each device, system and/or equipments in accordance with its type of protection and the type of inspection (visual, close or detailed) as well as with the current BetrSichV and IEC 60079. The software can be scaled for all operating variables.
Various optional modules are available, such as PEC-FS for checking safety functions in accordance with IEC 61508, IEC 61511 and Namur or PEC-SQ for additional operational inspections. Templates exist for creating object-specific inspection plans with PEC-FS and PEC-SQ, which can be edited, customised and saved for reuse. Within PEC-FS, all phases of functional safety can be documented – from the safety requirement specification (SRS) and SIL calculation through the generation of the inspection plan, the inspection concept for the safety instrumented function (SIF) and the inspection object for mechanical and electrical inspecting to the scheduler and all the way to archiving of inspections. The PEC-SQ module, in turn, allows convenient processing of mechanical inspections on systems such as conduits and containers.
Consulting for system operators
The collaboration between R. Stahl and AGU combines the latter’s software and problem-solving expertise with the former’s vast experience in – and tried-and-tested technology for – system safety and explosion protection. R. Stahl’s Services division is focused on providing customers with comprehensive support in matters of explosion protection, functional safety or operational safety and quality in both safe and hazardous areas.
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