Apps for Smartphones The Best Apps for Decision-Makers in the Process Industry

Apps for smartphones and tablets have become so commonplace that it is difficult to imagine working life without them. Gadgets which used to be seen as mere gimmicks are now helping engineers to plan automation processes and search for spare parts. The only question to be answered is how helpful the mobile applications are in routine tasks. PROCESS worldwide has been out hunting down apps for you and has found some which really do the business.

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Do you want to be able to access all the information about your facility on your smartphone? For many apps this is no longer a problem.
Do you want to be able to access all the information about your facility on your smartphone? For many apps this is no longer a problem.
(Collage: © mhp/© Sergey Nivens)

People who make operational decisions want to be kept updated on the status of their facilities at all times. Not just while they are standing over the boiler looking for a quick-fix solution to make processes more efficient, but also when they are away on business – they need instant access to production data and company reports. Smartphone and tablet apps like Smartglance are the perfect solution. These analysis tools can be used to produce graphs and to format data so that they can be compared with other statistics. It is also possible to send reports and snapshots by email and to link up with Excel, SAP and ERP systems.

The EDS mobile app (for Android) developed by Emerson Process Management Power & Water Solutions offers similar functions. The app can generate diagrams and automation systems and compare performance records. The user of the software can view calculations and readouts with the smartphone as well as respond to alarm signals relayed from the control room.

Project managers who are still hungry for more will like what is being offered by app vendor TPG The Project Group. The company is supplying three programs for project management in Microsoft Project 2013. TPG MTA Chart provides a clear overview of project timelines with its milestone trend analysis. If the schedule is tight because of time delays, the person in charge can identify measures which can be taken to ease the situation before it is too late. TPG Risk Chart provides a graphical analysis of the risks associated with any given project. Potential risks are flagged up with a traffic light color-coding system.

TPG WBS Chart provides a visual display of the project structure and a breakdown of the work involved. The user can view the entire plan at the click of a mouse or zoom in on details, hide and show different parts of the structure, and add color markings to indicate whether the status of a work package is in the green zone or the critical zone.

All the information at a glance

Endress+Hauser and Siemens show another way in which apps can facilitate the work of process engineers. A quick check on the stock of spare parts, a glance at the manual to look something up, or a bit of research to see if there's a new model due out – jobs which used to involve searching on the internet or wading through a pile of documents can now be done with the Operations app (for Android), which supplies important information about Endress+Hauser installations. Just enter the serial number or scan the data matrix code and there you have all the product information for the testing and measuring equipment. The functions of the software include a ”Device List” (history of last search) and the facility to download documents and share them with colleagues over the smartphone.