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The isoPlan Story – A Collaborative Adventure

isoPlan® is digital process which enables users to generate “Lock Out Tag Out” task specific isolation plans directly from Computer Aided Drawings(CAD) and to store, update and publish isolation plans in a repository in the Cloud or behind users’ firewall systems.

This story is about Australian Professional Engineers working with Software Professionals and companies established in Western Australia and how they actively collaborated and produced an elegant solution and major improvement to an industry process in a very short period – from concept to fully worked commercial solution in 5 months.

This journey and successful outcome was founded on several key factors

  • The critical catalyst was the vision displayed by Momentum Owner and Director – Jon Laffer, who realised the potential of isoPlan and iSOL8 and commit significant employee time to take isoPlan from an idea to a working solution.
  • Trust, being open and honest with each other
  • Communicating face to face and getting to know each other.
  • Complementary but very different in-depth technical expertise and hands on experience
  • Sharing the benefits and recognition that comes with the isoPlan innovation patent,
  • Listening and respecting individual ideas and different disciplines and contributing to team discussions without fear nor favour.
  • No-one demanding a set piece of the action – glory and money
  • Being resilient and learning on the run
  • No command and control; but achieving a definite commitment between all parties.
  • All committing to a deadline (the AOG conference in early March 2018) without a monetary reward and completing tasks as promised.
  • Rising to and enjoying a challenge to the status quo.
  • All parties easily agreeing on and contributing continuous effort both in time and money to develop the prototype isoPlan System and Software and purchase the associated iSOL8 intrinsically safe hardware.
  • Recognising that isoPlan was innovative and was a point of commercial difference
  • Recognising that data sitting in CAD data silos could be extracted and used to provide a better solution to a significant industry problem.
  • The recognition by NERA that isoPlan and iSOL8 technology had relevance to the Oil and gas industry and sponsoring both iSOL8 Pty Ltd and Momentum Engineering at the AOG conference.

The isoPlan journey commenced from a conversation between two engineers – Mark Keenan and Craig Power, in September 2017, resulting in an outstanding and intensive collaborative effort between four small and medium size Perth based companies to produce a logical, elegant and fully worked software engineering solution by end February 2018.

Craig was attending the Engineers Australia breakfast presentation in September 2017 to receive his official recognition as a Fellow of The Institution of Engineers Australia.

Craig met Mark Keenan (Director of Momentum Engineering) in the Perth Arena lift and then on to the breakfast where Craig talked about his patented invention “iSOL8®” and was introduced to Jon Laffer (Owner of Momentum Engineering).

Craig posed the query of how to visualise isolation devices and their isolation status in real time directly from a P&ID and derive a task specific digital isolation plan directly from an Engineering drawing.

Jon Laffer organised a meeting where Craig met the Momentum Engineering Team – Chis Clayton and Jeff Snelgar.

iSOL8® was demonstrated and the benefits of modifying an engineering P&ID to facilitate the production of a task-based isolation plan was discussed.

Jon Laffer and his team immediately saw the commercial potential and a point of difference for Momentum Engineering to be involved in upgrading engineering drawings to meet the requirements of the isoPlan concept.

Momentum Engineering works in the WA Oil and Gas industry and were intimately aware of Isolation Management Systems used by this industry.

The work to produce a digital isolation plan involved the development of software and upgrading Engineering Piping and Instrumentation and General Arrangement drawings.

isoPlan provided obvious benefits to users by reducing time to produce an approved isolation (LOTO) plan and reducing the likelihood of human data transposition errors when compared to current manual and hybrid digital methods.

Steve Asher (CEO and owner of “Mineral Blue”) and Mark Chamberlain (Momentum Engineering – Digital Technology Manager) were asked to join the development team to initiate, design and test and finalise the development of the software to upgrade engineering drawings and produce the isoPlan system.

Steve Asher had worked with Craig Power since 2014 and developed the software and source code for the patented digital isolation management process – iSOL8®.

Steve had in-depth experience in digital “Permit to Work” Systems and designed and successfully implemented the “e-Permit” system in the oil and gas industry at St Fergus in the United Kingdom.

At the early stage of discussions in October 2017 – Steve Asher and Craig Power agreed that Momentum Engineering should be named as one of the co-inventors of isoPlan and included in the IP Australia innovation patent application.

Steve and Mark worked together and determined that the back-end data base of Computer Aided Drawing Systems could be enhanced to include the in-field readable digital electronic identification data field for each isolation device.

This was the basis of “isoPlan” which was named by Steve Asher.

There were several hands-on meetings held with key Momentum Engineering Personnel – Mark Chamberlain, Chris Clayton and Jeff Snelgar.

Both Chris and Jeff were very experienced in the isolation management systems used by the WA Oil and Gas industry and were intimately involved to ensure that isoPlan was a system suitable for field personnel – they injected the practical needs of the users into the isoPlan process.

During this period Steve Asher submitted the innovation patent application and designed the isoPlan Trademark which was also submitted to IP Australia.

Steve designed the isoPlan Data Model and the isoPlan Connector and Adaptor to integrate with CAD System – Plant3D which was used by Momentum Engineering for their design drawings.

Steve also designed the software to derive a task-based isolation plan directly from Engineering Drawings in a specified isolation and de-isolation sequence.

Jon Laffer suggested that isoPlan, conjunction with iSOL8 be demonstrated at the AOG conference in March 2018 as part of the Momentum Engineering Display. This was our target.

In December 2017 – Jon Laffer invited VR Consultant, Dough Bester – CEO of “Sentient Computing” into the development team.

Sentient Computing were able to apply their VR expertise to enable isoPlan and iSOL8 to be demonstrated in a Virtual Reality display at the Australian Oil and Gas Conference – 2018.

Further intensive consultation occurred between Steve Asher and Doug Bester in early 2018. They worked together to develop the software to mesh isoPlan and iSOL8 action data with Sentient Computing VR software and be able to display the change of isolation lock and tag status on a virtual reality display.

Chris Clayton was assigned the task of designing, setting up and coordinating the Momentum Engineering AOG display.

At the same time, intensive prototype testing of isoPlan and iSOL8 software and hardware was conducted by Craig Power and Steve Asher at Steve Asher’s offices in Mandurah as well as Sentient Computing and Momentum Engineering offices in Perth, followed by a dress rehearsal with all parties present at Sentient Computing Offices on the 8th & 9th March 2018.

The displays were set up and successfully demonstrated to AOG conference attendees

One of the key take outs from the Momentum Engineering AOG display was the in-depth involvement and ownership of isoPlan and iSOL8 demonstration by all Momentum Personnel – this was taken to the surprising extent where Momentum personnel demonstrated both systems without the involvement of Craig Power or Steve Asher.

Momentum Staff were interested, excited, challenged and committed – They were Locked and Loaded!!