Because of all this, manufacturers today are requiring a more rounded project team that includes IT people with the process engineers and control experts.
|SHARING PROCESS DEVELOPMENTS |
Comos FEED front-end engineering software converts a simulation into a Process Flow Diagram and a conceptual 3D model, and shares it with other users.
Distance may complicate the smooth running of project teams. Today, a project team is likely to be scattered throughout the world. “Collaborative engineering has become significantly important recently due to the shortage of skilled engineers, geographically dispersed sites, and the Internet,” explains Rashesh Mody, chief technology officer at Wonderware. “For example, enterprise customers are utilizing competence centers around the world based on their expertise. Web technology has definitely improved communication tools to achieve distributed development.”
When Fluor designed a gas processing plant, for example, it involved 50 engineers in six offices in the U.S. and Europe, all of whom had to work concurrently while sharing the same process data and knowledge.
“Certainly the diversity in location and culture has caused operational coordination problems, but these have been fixtures in the development world for more than 10 years,” says Paul Butler, vice president, Technology, Honeywell Process Solutions (www.honeywell.com
). “Access to the best talent in any field, independent of location or affiliation, is key to developing more intelligent and capable products and services.”
Finally, not using CCE can be expensive. A study by the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) says that $15.8 billion is wasted annually in the capital facilities industry. Of these costs, two-thirds are borne by owners and operators, who incur the costs during ongoing facility operation and maintenance, long after projects are completed.
NIST says these costs come from the lack of interoperability in most plantsthat is, the inability to manage and communicate product and project data between collaborating firms and within the company’s design, construction, maintenance and business process systems. Such inefficiencies include manual re-entry of data, duplication of business functions, and the continued reliance on paper-based information management systems. For example, trying to find the PLC documentation for the valve sequencing logic that was developed five years ago by a vendor who has gone out of business, oftentimes proves to be a major stumbling block for paper-based systems.
In other words, get organized. Get rid of the paper. Put everything into electronic files. Communicate better. Work together. And CCE can help.Improved Tools Make CCE Work
One reason that CCE didn’t really catch on in the past two decades is that no reliable tools were available to make it work. “In the early days of collaborative engineering, there wasn’t much of an emphasis on tools,” says Andre Babineau, director of Project Solutions Management at Invensys Foxboro, Foxboro, Mass. “It was more a matter of having as much presence as possible at the customer site. This was certainly beneficial and contributed much to the working relationship.”
“In the 1980s, the vision of electronic concurrent engineering was popularized, but it was the software, hardware, and Web that were not ready," says Tom Greer, industry analyst at Intergraph Process, Power & Marine, Madison, Ala. “And neither were people and the work processes they were doing. Cost/billing structures were based around hours and drawings produced, and many business models were constructed around traditional paper-based and CAD work processes. These models have persisted even in LST [Lump-Sum Turnkey] engineering, design and construction.”
“The concurrent engineering concept has been around for many years,” adds Kapadia. “But in this case, the technology trailed the concept. Products that were created to support the concept were too difficult to use productively. I'd say that the concept was placed on the back burner for a few years with some isolated cases where individuals continued to champion it.”
In recent years, CAD software companies have been making tools for collaborative design. With some CAD systems, design teams around the globe can sit in on a web-based conference, review designs, make changes, and discuss the changes and run models and simulations on the changes, all in real time via the Internet.
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"Language and language skills are fundamental, but you also must take time to understand the cultural differences.
Even though CCE has been around for a while, many process design tools are not as up to date as CAD systems. “The existing generation of plant design tools has many weaknesses, including constraints to reducing project schedules and optimizing designs, because this software imposes limitations on how work is organized and executed,” explains Bob Jones, vice president of Intergraph Process, Power & Marine. “The software itself forces many design activities to proceed in a series of steps rather than in parallel steps. Also, the existing tools are more difficult to use, require higher infrastructure costs, do not facilitate efficient global engineering, and provide little value over the lifecycle of the plant.”