Optimizing Global Collaboration in Engineering and Design

October 31, 2017

Like most of you, I read and watch the news often, through both broadcast news and business publications. It is interesting to see how current events and issues on the national stage here in the U.S. are, in many cases, the opposite of broader global business realities.


The reality of lower-for-longer oil prices and continued competitive pressures means that most engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firms can’t afford to work as individuals or small groups divorced from the greater whole. Cowboy tactics and rugged individualism in this market environment will only go so far, so leading EPCs are leveraging global workforce coordination and cooperation to service their owner operator contracts.


Winning EPCs have found the global workforce — properly deployed, managed and technology-enabled — saves time and produces financial benefits. The approach is superior, and it’s really the only way to bid to win, but it is not without its own challenges.


Engineering, procurement and construction companies manage a vast amount of complex data when working on all stages of the engineering workflow process involved in bringing a large capital project like a refinery revamp online. Here are a few key areas where the right technology can help your front-end engineering and design (FEED):


  • Tap into the power of data sheets as a communication tool. A typical capital project can have thousands of data sheets, and with a solid plan in place, you will be able to make good use of the information contained within them. The plan should include document control, as project design objectives can change frequently, impacting project timelines and costs.
  • Develop a single source of truth. Delays in FEED cascade to other engineering disciplines, and that causes additional delays. Industry consensus is that automation in data handling can reduce FEED execution time by 50 percent because of the decrease in rework and error repair. Choose a system that is agile and can manage revision control on a real-time global basis.
  • Use the right tools at the right time. Beyond the need to manage complex global data that is populated within datasheets during FEED, you also have to consider the engineering lifecycle before and after FEED.  Think about integrated design-modeling tools as well as integrated project cost and estimating software before and during FEED to multiply the time and cost savings.


I work with many EPCs in my job at AspenTech, and this testimonial from Drew Dietrich, engineering systems manager at WorleyParsons, sums up my observations about cost and time savings within FEED activities:


“Today’s projects are executed across multiple locations and with extremely aggressive schedules. The ability for the whole team to be working with the current data is key to making timely engineering decisions. Having tools that are web-enabled like Aspen Basic Engineering (ABE) Version 10 allow for rapid deployment and access to this information across the WorleyParsons enterprise for any size project.”


Along with WorleyParsons, leading companies like JSR Corporation, DuPont, Alcoa and Honeywell’s UOP have seen significant efficiency gains and financial benefits by using AspenTech’s ABE software to promote FEED collaboration. 


To learn more about this topic, please feel free to contact me.

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