A great philosopher, Heraclitus, once said, “Nothing is permanent, except change!” I self-published a children’s book earlier this year to teach kids, especially my son, how to deal with changes. We all acknowledge that it has been difficult for everyone to deal with the unprecedented changes brought on by the pandemic, but it has been even more difficult for energy, chemicals, and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies to deal with inevitable changes because there is a price that must be paid for every change!
With that, let me share with you my business perspective on change.
The most recent global regulations and emission targets have challenged both owner-operators, including energy and chemical companies, and their engineering firms, to improve engineering processes while delivering sustainable designs and remaining profitable. These companies are evaluating sustainable design concepts while dealing with the financial risk associated with expensive capital projects. Any changes on these large and complex projects can be costly and unsettling with various disciplines and stakeholders collaborating on decision-making. Yet change is inevitable, and companies need to adjust quickly and efficiently to save time and money.
Is Digitalization the Key to Success?
Increasing inefficiencies and pressures to improve engineering processes for sustainability have forced companies to digitalize their businesses. Most of the engineering and owner firms are now looking into digital initiatives that were not significant over past decades. In a traditional approach, multiple disciplines, including but not limited to process, mechanical, piping, instrumentation, estimating and safety engineers, who work in silos when compiling a process design package. This keeps the data and deliverables isolated in different spreadsheets, documents, or disconnected modeling tools. Sequential engineering leads to a process that is both time consuming, error prone and makes it difficult to efficiently accommodate changes, causing unavoidable delays and suboptimal results for the project!
Companies are realizing that improving engineering workflows through digital initiatives can improve overall performance while maintaining sustainability and profitability benchmarks. These companies are noticing a greater benefit if their digital initiatives are applied at an early phase in the process. Better informed early decisions, especially when enhanced with collaboration, consistency and data reduce project risk in both sustainability and cost impact.
Aspen Basic Engineering™ (ABE) enables efficient management of engineering data for projects at early stages of conceptual and Front-End Engineering Design (FEED). ABE allows different disciplines to collaborate around a single project database encouraging an integrated working environment. Changes can be broadcast through a common platform and reflected in dependent key deliverables such as process flow diagrams (PFD), utility flow diagrams (UFD), design data, heat and material balances (HMB), equipment lists and datasheets. The digital handover enables more efficient workflows, so both owners and EPC firms can quickly understand the impact of changes on an existing or new concept at an early stage. This central repository of information facilitates multi-disciplinary collaboration for faster FEED, improves productivity with automated mapping of unit operations, and reduces errors with accurate data transfer across disciplines and offices. ABE provides security and allows the project data to be stored for years to come. When reusing an existing design, the stored data can accelerate time to delivery for repeat projects.
Implementing ABE Advances Customers' Successes
Eni’s engineering arm, EniProgetti presented at our OPTIMIZE 2021 conference in May highlighting how digital tools have helped them reduce project engineering hours despite extensive change requests from clients, which lead to significant rework and slow progress due to inefficient data transfer. ABE has helped EniProgetti expedite fast-track engineering projects to completion with less effort while fostering collaboration between disciplines.
Another licensing company adopted a data-centric project delivery platform to deal with scope changes leading to high rework time. The company turned to digital tools to reduce manual data transfer and improve productivity. ABE offered a common digital database for easy sharing and circulation of changes, eliminating the need for redundant reviews. This allowed the company to reduce their process design package delivery time by 50%. Additionally, ABE’s security and backup functions ensure project information is protected and retrievable in the future.
It is evident that owner-operators and their engineering firms need a solution to productively collaborate on FEED, but it doesn’t end there! Once a digital FEED database has been created, it becomes critical to effectively transmit engineering and cost data to the detailed design phase to visualize overall plant performance. At this point, ABE becomes an essential element for concurrent engineering. AspenTech’s Concurrent FEED solution spans disciplines and project phases and presents a proven path for companies to achieve accelerated improvements in design and delivery of new and existing projects. ABE’s integration with process simulation through activated datasheets and cost estimation tools, aids the concurrent engineering workflow. Also, the ability to transmit data to equipment layout and other detailed engineering tools enables efficient handover of the data to detailed design.
ABE allows companies and their engineering teams to work collaboratively and consider more design alternatives at an early stage, fostering early decisions and ultimately delivering a higher quality, more sustainable plants without risking their financial resources! To learn more about how owners and EPCs are enabling collaboration and leveraging the concurrent approach to improve project outcomes while dealing with changes brought upon by government regulations, read our recent executive brief on "Achieving Better Design and Sustainability Outcomes with Concurrent FEED."