Reader David H asks:
In very large systems such as manufacturing plants, there are lots of different machines for lots of different reasons and they all have a complex list of subsystems, mounting locations, and connection points, this equipment is also often made by a variety of manufacturers, and much of the time we are buying something that we have no real control over the design.
Can this system (ISO 81346) be applied at the various levels of such massively complex systems?
For instance, the maker of a bottling system in one section of the plant has no knowledge of the larger overall system of the plant. That maker will label functions, locations, and products within his system. When it is installed in the plant, it now has a different, overall function and location that the original functions and locations will now live within.
Can that now be documented with all those levels of hierarchy?
Your answer is Yes and no….
First, the owner of the plant management needs to decide if they want to own and maintain a documentation system for the machinery in the plant, or not. I will be honest, I have seen many plants where management simply says that sounds like it will cost money and that’s the end of it. I assume because you are asking this question that you may have a need to create such a system and you want to know if this is one that you can use and have confidence in. I have total confidence that it can handle the most complex designs that you can think of BUT the problems that you will encounter using it are not often with the system, it will be with your current understanding of how to implement it and with others reactions to seeing it often simply because “they didn’t use it at the last place I worked” .
The scenario that you describe in your question is typical of the real world not a perfect world, in a perfect world all plants would be designed starting with a green field and there would be no unforeseen changes or additions of equipment over the lifetime of the plant, this of course is not reality.
If you are thinking about implementing such a system get comfortable with the fact that there will be some things you will have control over and many other things you will have very little control over, this is not good or bad just reality. By this I mean if you are creating such an identification system, you will have full control to identify all aspects of the machine to your liking only for the machines that you design.
For equipment that you purchase from another manufacturer you will very likely just design the interface circuitry around the machine and accept the internal circuitry for what it is. Typically for most equipment provided by others your Interaction will typically be limited to the main power feeds, an ethernet connection and a label with your identifier on the main cabinet, the rest of it will be treated like a black box where the internal details are provided by the manufacturers own documentation.
EPLAN’s Page Navigator combined with the page type external document can go a long way to simplifying your documentation management issues as make it very easy to add a PDF or Autocad sheet set to an EPLAN project so that everything you need is contained in the project database.