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Industrial audits identify improvement opportunities

19 November 2003 News

Although independent audits are generally regarded by the market in somewhat of a negative light, Keops Altech believes that this is a misconception as the main focus of any audit is to identify improvement opportunities and risks within the operation and to establish where the most value can be added utilising the minimum amount of time, effort and resources.

Keops Altech performed and successfully completed a number of audits on industrial control and information systems at various industrial plants of large mining and manufacturing companies over the past six months. This has already resulted in the initiation of projects that will exploit value and implement improvement opportunities on not only the control systems, but also all related systems and operations.

Some of the audits focused solely on the clients' control systems (hardware, software, networks and instrumentation), whilst the scope of others covered from instrumentation through integration into the ERP systems including: soft PLCs and PLCs; SCADA configuration; security access to all systems; distribution of data for management information systems; system look and feel; control room layouts and HMI; alarm set-up and configuration; system backup procedures; disaster recovery plans; documentation and change control; staffing levels; training and skills; standards and safety and lockout procedures in relation to the systems.

Although numerous systems were still functional, some were due for replacement with new hardware to facilitate greater stability, reliability and redundancy. Poor utilisation of systems was also identified.

Findings were varied, but in all cases three common areas of improvement were identified. Skills development and training of operational and technical staff had to be performed, disaster recovery and backup procedures needed attention and systems documentation had to be upgraded.

Says Keops Altech project manager, Dries van Schalkwyk, "All the audits we performed were requested by the client without having been approached by us and in all cases the client made available the necessary time and resources to enable us to conduct our business professionally. I believe that this is a pro-active way of managing an industrial business and that, as a result of a little effort now, the operational and financial rewards will be reaped very shortly."

For more information contact Dries van Schalkwyk, Keops Altech, 012 643 6900, driesvs@keops.altech.co.za





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