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Success Story: Dearborn Industrial Generation

How modern, digital rounds are helping three facilities save money
and improve equipment reliability

The Challenge

Operators at Dearborn Industrial Generation performed rounds manually using paper and clipboards. The data they collected ended up in storage, providing no value to plant operators or managers.

The Solution

With AssetSense, operators can log rounds using intuitive mobile apps. The data automatically goes to a central cloud platform that is easy to access. Now, plant operators and managers have years of asset data at their fingertips and can use this information to better predict failures.

The Results

  • Save time and money
  • Avoid failures and outages
  • Improve operator effectiveness

The Customer: Dearborn Industrial Generation

Dearborn Industrial Generation (DIG) is a 770-megawatt (MW) natural gas and waste gas cogeneration power plant located in Dearborn, Michigan.


The Challenge:

Paper Logs Made It Hard to Predict When Assets Would Fail

To stay profitable and competitive, power plants must keep their equipment operating in top condition.

But outdated, manual systems make it hard to know when an asset is about to fail and cost millions in repairs and lost production.

Just ask Thomas Wiegman, General Manager at Dearborn Industrial Generation (DIG).

“Our operators performed rounds manually and logged readings using paper, pens, and clipboards,” said Wiegman. ”Then, they would enter the readings into Microsoft Excel so we could use the data to plan asset maintenance. But this method was highly inefficient.”

  • Since many of DIG’s assets are outdoors, the paper readings got wet when it snowed or rained.
  • The paper logs were often incomplete and inaccurate.
  • DIG lacked historical data that would help operators predict future failures.
  • After the paper logs went into storage, no one looked at them until they got shredded.

“We had years of asset data sitting in storage boxes that were difficult to access and search,“ said Wiegman. “Digitizing our rounds would make our data accessible so that we could use it to predict failures and optimize plant performance.”

Wiegman had made a previous attempt to digitize the plant’s rounds, but the process didn’t go as planned. He purchased barcode scanners that operators could use to perform rounds electronically. However, the system quickly became outdated and failed. Operators had to revert to paper and clipboards, putting them back at square one.

The Solution: AssetSense Brings Dearborn Industrial Generation’s Rounds Into the 21st Century

Wiegman started to look for a new digital rounds solution and found AssetSense.

AssetSense is a cloud-based asset performance monitoring platform that improves equipment reliability in power plants. Operators can log rounds, capture vibration data, view real-time performance analytics, and perform predictive maintenance using a single platform. AssetSense also optimizes asset maintenance by automatically flagging problems, generating work orders, and keeping everyone on the same page.

“We looked at a few solutions, but AssetSense was the best because it would eliminate our old-school manual processes and move our plant into the 21st century. It puts years of asset data at our fingertips and helps us better predict failures.”

Here are three more reasons why Wiegman chose AssetSense:

User-friendly mobile apps make life easier for operators

AssetSense includes mobile apps that operators use to perform rounds. Instead of carrying awkward clipboards, operators collect data with their smartphones or tablets. AssetSense automatically uploads this information to a cloud platform that plant employees can access whenever they want to analyze equipment performance.

Customizable trends help DIG operators track what matters the most.

DIG do track every aspect of an asset’s condition within AssetSense. For example, operators can monitor transformer temperatures to make sure that equipment isn’t running too hot. Plant employees can even specify that the transformers’ core temperatures should rise during the day and lower at night when the load decreases. If something goes out of range, operators will receive an alert so they can quickly correct the problem and prevent a potential failure.

DIG can drive more value from its existing technology investments

AssetSense believes that plant technologies should work together instead of against each other. With AssetSense, DIG doesn’t need to rip and replace its existing systems. Instead, they can connect AssetSense with their historian and other mission-critical technologies. Once connected, plant operators and managers can view historical trends that provide insights into how assets will perform in the future.


The Implementation:

Monitoring Hundreds of Pieces of Equipment Across 3 Facilities

The DIG team began a pilot with AssetSense in September of 2019 and digitized their rounds in three stages—starting with the air compressor rounds. AssetSense helped DIG determine the following:

  • The proper operating ranges for each tag
  • The instructions on how to handle if something is out of range When to generate alarms
  • Whom to notify if there is an alarm and how to inform them (e.g., email or text)
  • Whether an alert needs immediate action or can wait

AssetSense sent Wiegman a spreadsheet with the rounds so DIG could review and approve them. Once the AssetSense team received the go-ahead, they uploaded the rounds to the new platform.

DIG launched AssetSense across three of its facilities in May 2020. Now, 15-20 operators and managers use AssetSense to monitor hundreds of pieces of equipment.

“We use AssetSense twice a day, 365 days per year, to monitor every system in our facilities,” said Wiegman.


The Results:

Save Time on Rounds While Avoiding Costly Failures

Since launching AssetSense in 2020, DIG has achieved the following results:

  • Substantial time and cost savings

AssetSense made DIG’s rounds much more efficient and streamlined. Operators can collect data faster, as they don’t need to fumble with paper and clipboards. Meanwhile, managers spend less time reviewing rounds. They have real-time analytics and historical trends at their fingertips and don’t need to search through massive spreadsheets to find information.

“AssetSense saves us countless hours collecting and reviewing equipment data,” said Wiegman. ”This is critical, as time is money.”

  • Avoid failures with increased visibility into equipment health

Operators no longer need to manually determine if something is out of range, as AssetSense keeps track of everything. DIG’s team sets normal temperatures and other values in AssetSense. If operators enter a number that is out of range, AssetSense will alert them immediately. Armed with these insights, operators can identify problems early on and take proactive steps to prevent failures.

“AssetSense gives us greater insights into how our equipment operates, which helps us avoid outages and catastrophic maintenance,” said Wiegman.

  • Happier and more productive operators

One of the challenges of bringing in new technology is getting people to use it. Since AssetSense includes intuitive mobile apps that make it easy for operators to perform rounds, DIG’s team got up and running quickly. DIG’s operators love using AssetSense to collect rounds with their iPads.

“We’ve received very positive feedback about AssetSense from our operations staff,” said Wiegman. ”They say that it’s easy to use and provides them with better data.”

AssetSense has been such a success that Wiegman is considering bringing it to some of DIG’s smaller facilities. He believes that the platform will help operators across DIG streamline their rounds, make their asset data more reliable, and prevent costly failures.

And, since AssetSense runs in the cloud, Wiegman can get the platform up and running in other plants in just days.

“I recommend AssetSense to other plants that want to make it easier for operators to capture asset data and predict outages,“ said Wiegman. “AssetSense offers a high-quality product and excellent customer service. They provide prompt, solid support and are always there for us when we need them.“


About AssetSense

AssetSense elevates equipment performance in the energy and process manufacturing industries. Plant leaders use AssetSense to cut costs, increase productivity, raise product quality, eliminate breakdowns, and improve operational performance.

Our modern asset performance monitoring (APM) platform combines cloud-enabled predictive analytics, mobile applications, and industrial IoT into a single solution— providing real-time visibility across entire fleets.

Customers such as Vistra Energy, Fort Detrick, and Energy Systems Group rely on our premium product and unrivaled user experience. Our customer success guarantee is unmatched in the industry.

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