Obsolescence Management Interview: Iain Rennie, Operations Director at AGSL
There is a greater pressure across industries, to extend the operational life of assets through obsolescence management. It is highly inevitable that at some point, electrical components within your product will become obsolete. So you may be wondering exactly what this means for you and your company?
The standard IEC 62402:2007 states that: “the objective of Obsolescence Management is to ensure that Obsolescence is managed as an integral part of all design, development, production and in-service support in order to minimise cost and detrimental impact throughout the product life cycle.”
Assets are continually subjected to the product life cycle. Therefore, it is increasingly important to manage, collect and analyse data that will assist you in determining whether an asset needs replacing or retained.
Can you tell us about your engineering background?
My background is as a control systems engineer, with over 20 years of experience across many industry sectors.
This provided me with an understanding of the obsolescence challenges faced in the configuration management area of Industrial Automation and Control Systems software and hardware.
During this time, I went onto qualifying as a Chartered Engineer and for the last 13 years, I have taken my experience and applied it here at Asset Guardian Solutions Limited developing and managing the Asset Guardian software solution.
If you could summarise Asset Guardian in a sentence, what would it be?
Asset Guardian is a unique solution developed by control and automation engineers. It manages the software and hardware configurations of safety and critical control systems in compliance with the highest industry standards and best practices.
What does your day to day role consist of within AGSL?
I am responsible for all technical aspects of the Asset Guardian software development and I lead a team of highly skilled and dedicated technical consultants.
The technical team supports our customers by running projects to configure and customise Asset Guardian to meet customers’ requirements. They also continually develop, test and release upgrades to the Asset Guardian software solutions in line with our road map.
Tell us about the AG Obsolescence Manager?
Obsolescence Management has been integral to Asset Guardian’s functionality for many years. It is also of importance to our customers that is has merited a fully featured dedicated solution. This can either be complementary to an existing Asset Guardian solution or standalone for new users.
The Asset Guardian Obsolescence Manager allows our customers to manage their ageing equipment, reduce downtime through unexpected obsolescence issues and ultimately extend the life of their equipment.
What are the common issues faced in industries today?
It surprises me just how similar the issues are around configuration management of IACS software and hardware. This is particularly relevant for highly compliant and quality minded organisations because they are continually facing challenges.
Such challenges are around configuration management, software version control, change management, disaster recovery, cyber security management, and storing all that data in a central, secure but available repository. With Asset Guardian, we can take the best practices from all the industries we operate in and transfer that expertise to all our customers.
Is compliance an important aspect of Asset Guardian?
Compliance is the cornerstone of Asset Guardian and one of its biggest drivers for future developments. Keeping up with the latest Industry standards is of paramount importance. Asset Guardian helps our customers do that across a broad range of standards. This includes obsolescence management, functional safety and cyber security through to general quality management.
We have created a matrix that shows a number of relevant standards across multiple industry sectors, and cross references their clauses to show how Asset Guardian helps clients achieve compliance in that area.
How does obsolescence vary across different industries? Are there any similarities?
Obsolescence management is a very good example of taking best practice and expertise from one industry to another. Obsolescence is well understood and managed in the Nuclear and Defense industries in particular. In other industries such as Oil and Gas, it has a high profile and the risks and benefits are beginning to be understood. There is an increased awareness and drive to effectively manage obsolescence due to the increased life expectancy of assets within this sector.
Other Industries are just beginning to understand the challenges but in all these cases, AGSL can help by taking our expertise gained from working in the Nuclear industry, for example, and applying this to the other industries. In the end, the challenges faced are the same across all industries.
Do you have any advice for an effective obsolescence management strategy?
My key advice is to implement an effective management strategy for obsolescence from day one. Don’t wait because you think all your equipment is new and obsolescence does not affect you.
Any equipment can suffer from obsolescence issues. The biggest risk is not managing them properly and being caught out when a failure happens and you cannot replace or repair the failed components. Managing obsolescence means collecting the information, assessing the risks and mitigating the issues.
It does not necessarily mean large investments in expensive upgrades. However, it can help to reduce costs by managing the obsolescence of key components and therefore extending the life of the overall system. By Using AG Obsolecence Manager, our customers comply with the international obsolescence management standard IEC 62402.
How does the future look for obsolescence management?
I see obsolescence management becoming more and more wide-spread across all industry sectors as people start to understand the great benefits it can bring. Done properly, the investment in obsolescence management will save many times that amount in reduced downtime and reduced upgrade costs in the future.
Extending the life of existing equipment is becoming especially relevant in the Oil and Gas industry. Good obsolescence management can deliver that cost saving. Even more importantly, obsolescence management is the key to managing the the integrity of safety related systems, where continuing compliance to relevant standards is essential.
Are you interested in how you can implement effective obsolescence? Reach out to us today.