Plant documentation: complete and legally compliant

Valentin Ostarhild
Business Development
26.04.2019 | 5 min
Plant documentation is one of the most complex tasks in production plants, not least because it involves many different stakeholders – from suppliers to general contractors to plant operators. Numerous trades and components or devices must be brought together here and documented in as much detail as possible. This article explains why this is so and how you can simplify the solution of this task with the help of digital assistance software.
One system, a lot of responsibility
The planning and construction of complex plants requires a great deal of foresight, logical thinking and extremely good communication between all parties involved. Not only individual machines, components and all accessories must function smoothly and above all with each other. The associated documentation also requires great care. In order to prepare the complete documentation of the plant, the general contractor is dependent on the support of third parties in the first step; more precisely on the provision of the documentation of supplier parts.

The later operator of the plant usually carries out a large part of the design planning in-house, which means that many obligations under machinery law are transferred from the general contractor to him. It is therefore particularly important for plant operators to compile and maintain the overall documentation in a complete, legally compliant and comprehensible manner. This small sketch of the documentation process already shows that all participants have considerable duties.

Faulty plant documentation can have legal consequences
With the plant documentation, the plant operator proves to authorities and third parties that he has fulfilled his obligations and responsibilities. Any faulty, incomplete or missing plant documentation can have consequences under criminal law on the one hand, and consequences with regard to transfer of risk and warranty on the other. Several companies are usually involved in the construction of complex plants. Conflicts between the stakeholder groups often arise because there are different views and levels of knowledge on the applicable areas of responsibility. The operator of the plant is therefore well advised in every respect to set up and manage the entire documentation himself from the outset.
What does the plant documentation contain?
The technical plant documentation describes and documents the structure and function of a complex technical product consisting of several individual machines, devices and components. From a legal point of view, a plant is regarded as a complete machine for which its own legal requirements apply. Therefore, the quality of the plant documentation is of great importance for the legally compliant operation of the plant.
Complex and extensive document collection
Plant documentation can be very extensive. In paper form it would fill meter-long shelves, because the documentation does not end with commissioning, but is maintained and extended over the entire life cycle of the machine. In addition, there are contract documents from the companies involved, such as requirement specifications. In order to meet these challenges, many companies use digital assistance systems. These can facilitate many tasks by combining all processes on one platform, for example providing simple visualizations with the aid of images and videos that make complicated and long texts, e.g. in Word, superfluous. Multilingual translation can also be easily achieved via the platform. They also enable the direct input of values and media on a digital interface, thus offering better traceability and simplifying the fulfillment of verification requirements. Legally compliant archiving is done in the same step.

A digital assistance system simplifies document management and makes it child’s play to search for and assign certain documents. At the same time, all production and company knowledge can easily be made available to all relevant employees via tablets, smartphones and PCs – always in the latest version.

As mentioned at the beginning, plant documentation is one of the most complex tasks in production plants. If it is only carried out inadequately or not at all, it can quickly have criminal consequences. For this reason, comprehensive documentation is essential for every plant in operation.

Those who rely here on digital assistance systems instead of paper folders and filing cabinets build up a clear competitive advantage. Legal certainty and high-quality production results can only be achieved if plant documentation is always complete and up-to-date.

Find out how the cioplenu assistance system can support you in your plant documentation
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