At the risk of showing my age, I have to admit the Pointer Sisters' 80's hit "Automatic" is going through my head as I ponder the idea of Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) and its growing use in the chemical process or chemical manufacturing industries. Are we relying so much on automated systems that, well,
"No way to control it, I'm totally automatic, whenever you're around. I'm walking blindfolded, completely automatic, all of my systems are down, down, down, down. Autoooomatic, autooooomatic, autoooomatic, autoooomatic..." ?
Now, that I've got you groovin' (and you know you are), let's discuss.
Generically defined by Wikipedia: "The core of product life cycle management is in the creations and central management of all product data and the technology used to access this information and knowledge. PLM as a discipline emerged from tools such as CAD, CAM and PDM, but can be viewed as the integration of these tools with methods, people and the processes through all stages of a product's life.
Per CIMdata: "Product life cycle management is a strategic business approach that applies a consistent set of business solutions in support of the collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product definition information across the extended enterprise, and spanning from product concept to end of life-integrating people, processes, business systems, and information. It forms the product information backbone for a company and its extended enterprise."
In this month's issue of Processing magazine, is an insightful article by Tony Christian, director of Combashi, "How PLM is Relevant to Process Industries". In it, Christian outlines, "Product life cycle management is today a $3 billion market served by some of the most successful software companies on the planet. Indeed, the market is larger if services and support eco-system is included. However, adoption of PLM in the chemicals industries has been tentative - and perhaps with good reason."
Most definitions point to comprehensive software that collects, sorts and relays data.
Simply said, from where Fauske & Associates, LLC (FAI) sits, how can a computer software adapt to and remain vigilant in the delicate arena of safely mixing chemicals together?
Sure, there are "recipes". There are approved lists of certain compounds from list A that can be mixed with list B. But, what about under condition X? And, in which environment? How to transport or store, once mixed, if even possible? Without adiabatic and reactive chemical system testing, how do you truly know your safety risks?
Meeting ever changing regulatory requirements is another plus and minus with product life cycle management capabilities. While broad stroke information can be automated and supplied to meet standards by organizations such as ASTM, OSHA, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Registration of Chemicals), letting these requirements be the driving force may devalue the integrity of your unique safety program needs.
As Christian aptly points out, evolving cloud-based capabilities make a PLM an increasingly great tool, but nothing can replace the actual process safety lab for testing scenarios unique to your systems. "Automatic" was/is a great song though intended to describe one's unconditioned romantic response to another. Let's hope it has no application in our workings with chemical safety. Thoughts?
For more information on adiabatic tests, adiabatic calorimetry, reactive hazards and other chemical reaction system testing, dust combustibility, gas and vapor flammability, relief vent sizing and numerous other chemical process engineering and lab safety testing, please contact Jeff Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org, 630-887-5278