Hidden Software Assets: Configuration Change Management & Secure Document Control.

Published by Mark Steel on

In my previous post, I discussed the importance of Disaster Recovery relating to Automation, Control, Monitoring & Safety Systems Software within the Manufacturing, Process, Energy, Utilities and Transportation Industry as part of my 5 part Blog series.

Today, I will discuss the 3rd part of my Blog Series covering the Hidden Software Assets: Change Management (Fault Tracking & Document Management)

From Asset Guardian experience, many Enterprise Change Management Systems are a poor fit to manage change in relation to shop-floor Automation, control, monitoring and safety critical systems.

An example where challenges and risk can happen is during simultaneous changes to software configuration made at same time by different stakeholders across an enterprise, resulting in multiple versions of same software with potential costly consequences such as downtime, fix time, yield, profit-margin and worst case impact on safe operations.

Asset Guardian’s SolutionTake control and Control Change

Change Management  – by implementing an integrated change management & fault logging process, designed specifically for automation, control, monitoring and safety critical system software. To avoid simultaneous enterprise software changes, the system adopted should, as a minimum, include software “check in – check out” capability.  AG Software enables entry and tracking of any change requests or fault logs raised against a specific asset. It helps form a traceable audit trail for the asset.  When someone requires a change to an existing or new software asset, it is important that their request is rigorously checked for Compliance (Safety, Functionality and Requirement) before Implementation. Software Change must not be carried out blindly and without the correct standard operation procedures or best practice followed.

Although faults do not always result in a change to the software or to documents, they should still be logged. Even if a change is not necessary, a documented log of the fault helps form the audit trail and also records the symptoms and corrective action used to recover the system. This data is then stored for later use and can be used as a knowledge-base in the event of the fault recurring. This facility then decreases the diagnosis time which minimises plant downtime and increases plant productivity.

AG Software keeps track of any related documents and software that are modified and delivers a structured compliant workflow that can be modified to suit the specific needs of the individual Companies.

AG Software allows the tracking of any temporary bypasses, forces or overrides applied to software or hardware. It reduces the risk of temporary modifications becoming permanent. During commissioning, testing and operation, personnel are regularly required to temporarily force internal registers within a control system to values to initiate or enable specific events. In real life situations, for example: forcing a register, can mean the difference between a plant or process producing or not. In these situations, it is easy to forget that the force has been made until it is too late.

Document Management & Correspondence: AG Software allows for:

  • The entry, secure storage and lifecycle tracking of ‘asset related’ documents, drawings and procedures.
  • Enterprises or individuals to use a consistent approach to document control
  • Control aspects such as revision control, controlled copies and distribution
  • Document status and approval

All of this functionality is achieved within Asset Guardian Software through a familiar, easy to use interface and removes the need for paper logged ‘Design Reviews’. By using AG Software to store and control design reviews, the complete design audit trail of the asset is held and maintained in one central database. If the asset is subsequently transferred to another parent asset, the audit trail goes with it. You lose none of the important design information during the transfer

AG Software allows for the entry and secure storage of any correspondence relating to a specific Asset. This includes emails, faxed documents, letters and telephone journals and more.  From initial design, through commissioning to operation and maintenance—correspondence logged in AG Software helps build up a complete audit trail and history of work carried out on the asset. For example:

Don’t lose the email sent from a supplier about a replacement part! Simply select the email in Outlook and book it into AG Software and it will be stored securely and permanently.  AG Software will complete a detailed form automatically from the email. There is no requirement to enter the details manually as Asset Guardian software takes care of that for you.

In the next part of my ‘Hidden Software Assets’ Blog Series, I will be discussing Compliance Management. For more information on Asset Guardian Software, or request a demonstration, please contact:

Mark Steel
Business Development Manager

Alternatively, fill out the contact form and I will be in touch soon.

Written by Mark Steel. Mark Steel is a Business Development Manager for Asset Guardian Solutions Limited and cultivates relationships with existing and prospective clients in the UK, and is fully committed to increasing the profile of AGSL’s complete portfolio of capabilities, software products/solutions, and professional consulting services. Mark holds an MSc Degree in Manufacturing, Management & Technology from the Open University. He is an active member of Manufacturing UK, Manufacturing Execution Systems, Enterprise Software Sales Professionals, and Manufacturing Executives in the UK.