Innovative tools of the trade
By Daren Maynard
Automation and facility management
Automating manufacturing processes and using building information management systems enhance operational productivity. These technologies require software to act as the graphical user interface. ABB Group has released Automation Builder for designing and controlling automation projects from start to finish. Allplan Connect is the new software service release for Allplan Allfa, the computer-aided facility management (CAFM) software from Nemetschek Allplan Deutschland GmbH. The release adds more documentation, planning and financial functionalities.
Automation engineers develop automation and robotics solutions for industrial applications, including control and motion systems based on PLCs, motion detection and control, robotics, safety PLCs and related components. Using different software tools for each component can be cumbersome and expensive. Automation Builder lets the engineer design the human-machine interfaces and programming PLCs in a standards-compliant development environment.
The software interface combines tools for configuring, programming, debugging and maintaining automation projects from start to finish. The engineer can work in the different automation systems: PLCs, integrated plug-ins, motion control, robotic systems and touch panels. A common database and functionality supports this interface across the various modules, reducing project complexity in terms of management and maintenance. The engineer can select different programming languages using a USB-ROM installation method for customer- or project-centric requirements.
Effectively managed facilities have a positive impact on any organization’s sustainability. Incorporating CAFM software as part of the facilities manager’s toolkit contributes to effectiveness. Browser-based software like Allplan Allfa releases the building manager from platform specificities as the software can be accessed via an intranet or the Internet. With CAD files produced by the architects, the building manager can operate the facility in real time as all the information associated with the building is stored in the data warehouse.
The software provides the infrastructure to manage occupancy, maintenance, energy efficiency, facility performance, rental contracts, operating costs and documentation requirements. Allplan Connect is an upgrade to its parent warehouse software, Allplan Allfa. Using the Allplan Connect, the facility manager can create and edit the attributes of the facility and its components. If the facility must comply with the GEFMA 198 – Documentation in Facility Management standard, the release covers this requirement.
The upgrade improves the graphics viewer capabilities, especially dealing with offset coordinates. Future facility planning can be executed using the timeline feature. The facility manager can access usage data and perform cost assignments to the organizational cost centers.
Daren Maynard is the portfolio management lead for Novus Tech Limited in Trinidad and Tobago. He has an M.S. in program and project management from the University of Warwick and a B.S. in industrial engineering from The University of the West Indies-St. Augustine. He is a member of IIE’s Young Professionals group.