Numerous Custom Applications from One Platform for Provider of Gases, Materials, and Equipment

8 min video  /  5 minute read

Project Scope:

  • Tags: N/A
  • Screens: 120
  • Clients: 50-300+
  • Alarms: N/A
  • Devices used: N/A
  • Architectures used: Standard
  • Databases used: 3 (SQL server)
  • Historical data logged: N/A

Project Summary:

The customer suffered from a classic corporate administrative problem: too many of its critical processes were managed by a hodgepodge of spreadsheets and paper records. Off-the-shelf products solved some of these needs but were too inflexible to be adapted to the custom internal procedures. Ignition allowed custom applications to be built to satisfy these needs and gain wide community acceptance and shape corporate policy and culture.



The initial driving force was to create an application to provide a preventative maintenance program that would create work orders for plant maintenance based on predetermined schedules. Several generations of custom-written products had come and gone, first based on Excel, then Access, then MySQL with browser interface. All had some level of success, but ultimately proved too limited and difficult to maintain. As an industrial gas company, the customer had seen the power and flexibility of Ignition HMI/SCADA as applied to 20+ industrial facilities with 3k-15k tags each. The ease and flexibility of programming combined with a seamless database interface led to an intriguing question: could this industrial SCADA application be the solution for a more business-oriented application that had nothing to do with plant operation?



The answer was a resounding yes. Ignition was able to solve this and many other problems. A preventative maintenance program was developed using Ignition and the company’s SQL server as a backend database. A series of scheduled tasks were developed based on calendar schedules, such as weekly, monthly, second Thursday of the quarter, etc. Transaction groups would execute to generate work orders based on these schedules for a 14-day future forecast every day. At the beginning of each day, the plant personnel could view/print the scheduled work orders for the next 2 weeks.

The tasks and schedules were highly customized to the customer’s internal processes. Most important was that the interface was designed to allow the users to create and schedule tasks, eliminating the need for additional programming. A concept of “Mandatory Tasks” was developed to allow a task to be created and applied to all facilities. Safety work permits, previously a tedious chore, were generated electronically and could accompany work orders at plant facilities.

The records of the work orders became permanent for all users to view. Work performed and information gained was saved and could be used to provide knowledge to future tasks. Attachments could be saved and accessed by all users to share information. Metrics could be viewed regarding completed work orders, overdue work orders, open, closed, by facility. An incentive system was developed based on a review of these metrics as a driving force for facilities to keep current with their scheduled work orders.



The massive success of the preventative maintenance component of the application opened the doors to conceptualize and develop many other business tools within the application. A purchase order system was developed to allow the project and procurement departments to create and manage purchase orders. A database of thousands of vendors is managed within the application. A database of spare parts is being developed to log all spare parts at all facilities to better share this information for more efficient purchasing.

An electronic Management of Change system (eMOC) was created to replace the paper system. This very flexible system records all aspects of the process. The eMOC is first created, and a department level assessment questionnaire is conducted. Based on responses to this assessment, action items are created, users are assigned to complete these action items, and reference documents are attached to the eMOC. Multiple approvers are assigned, for initiation and closure, and emailed when their approval is required. A sequential process is maintained to guide the eMOC through its life cycle. A collaboration tool is available for the eMOC participants to share ideas and develop solutions. A document bundle is created to be downloaded and completed, uploaded as part of the eMOC permanent record, and electronic signatures are recorded upon closure. An audit history is generated during the entire process to catalog the eMOC life cycle.

A Department Incident Report (DIR) system was created to allow record keeping of incidents. This records the failure, information regarding the initial investigation, developing a “Five Why” review, and an investigation conclusion and output. Action items are created to better allow prevention of the incident in the future. Attachments are kept of supporting documentation. Weekly reviews are performed using the application to discuss the DIR’s of the past week and share knowledge.

A Time Reporting system was created to replace the current off-the-shelf system. All company hourly employees log their time using this system for payroll. This allows applying time to multiple categories, and assigning time to specific projects. Time reporting is approved by managers and reconciliation tools are provided. A detailed audit log is provided to record every entry and activity. Bi-weekly reports are emailed to administrative personnel to process payroll.

A project management system was developed that allows record keeping of project activities during the life cycle of a project. This includes tools such as developing a project charter, recording project kickoff meetings and closeout meeting data. A system of recording project update data and emailing to participants was developed. A project journal log is provided to allow recording information during the progress of the project.

A department tasks system was created to generate tasks and work orders that can be applied to all departments simultaneously. This would include tasks that result from internal reviews and policy implementations or changes that can be rolled out en masse by this system. Attachments of supporting documents can be applied to assist with the tasks.

An analyzer calibration recording system was developed to replace the existing paper system. This allows recording calibration span and zero data, applying approvals, and storing historical records to view analyzer drift over time. A database of analyzers and calibration cylinders is maintained.

All tools make extensive use of report generation of the various data that comprises each tool.

    Project Information

    Created By:   Peak Control Systems Integrators

    Peak CSI is a systems integration firm that specializes in the industrial gas business. They have been in operation for over 30 years and have provided solutions for all major industrial gas firms worldwide. They have provided control systems for over 40 major industrial gas facilities, many smaller onsite facilities, and numerous non-DCS software applications. Ignition has opened up the possibilities that this type of software can satisfy and has grown the suite of applications provided by the company.

    Project For:   Matheson Tri-Gas

    Matheson provides complete customer solutions, offering everything from onsite air separation plants to portable cylinders and all services required to support these products and customer applications. Over 300 locations in the U.S. and more than 4,500 employees. Products/services provided: Industrial Gases; Bulk Supply Gaseous and Liquefied Gases; Specialty Gases and Equipment; Electronics Gases and Materials; Cutting and Welding Gases; Medical Gases and Equipment; Safety Products; Global Helium Sources; Pipeline Supply of N2 and O2; Onsite Air Separation Plants for N2, O2, and Ar; Onsite Plants for Hydrogen, CO, and Syngas Production; Gas Purification Systems; Gas Detection Systems; and Gas Handling Equipment.


    Posted on October 19, 2022