It takes money to make money, of course, but good investments generate far more revenue than they require, which makes AspenTech and its process optimization software and other technologies very good investments indeed. All of the company's solutions, updates and numerous users are on display this week at AspenTech Optimize 2015 at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel in Boston, Mass.
"We have three imperatives: innovation, the customer and market leadership," says Antonio Pietri, president and CEO of AspenTech in his keynote address on Monday, May 4. "For us, innovation is an idea that creates value, such as the project at MIT in 1981 that led to the creation of AspenPlus software for modeling and simulating chemical processes. But we've also had a larger vision and acquired 23 companies in the mid-1990s, which caused AspenTech to evolve into a process optimization company over the last 20 years.
"It's an even more exciting time for us now as we've gotten into molecular characterization, adaptive process control, acid gas modeling and countless other applications. We introduced our AspenONE licensing program in July 2009, which helps users design plant concepts and do front-end engineering; operate plants and drive value; and manage their supply chains. This had enabled customers like Dow Chemical Co. to use our AspenPlus and HYSYS software solutions to secure $65 million in profit per year with efficient plant de-bottlenecking, or helped China National Offshore Oil Co. improve site-wide energy efficiency by $16 million per year due to integrating designs and achieving a best-in-class energy intensity index (EII) performance that put CNOOC in the top 3% of refineries globally."
Pietri adds that AspenTech's plant design capabilities also helped Petrofac improve its gas plant capacity by 20% and improved estimating productivity at ConocoPhillips by a 10-to-1 ratio and reduced its estimating variance from 40% to 12%.
On the operate-the-plant side, AspenTech also helped Sinopec increase its production capacity by 3.4%; improved productivity at Valero by 75%; improved site-wide annual benefits at Chevron by $23-$55 million per year and improved Cepsa's refinery profitability by $30,000 per day.
As for supply-chain gains, AspenTech enabled a 12% increase in on-time order fulfillment for Momentive; increased eni's total margin by 4%; decreased Essar's run times for enhanced scenario analysis by 70%; and increased Saudi Aramco's revenue via supply-chain efficiency and optimization, saving it $550 million.
"Momentve gets about 1,000 orders per month, and its plant is split into five models, which have to make about 200,000 decisions," explains Pietri. "Our solutions helped it reduce overtime and tasks required by schedulers. As a result, Momentive achieved a more complete production schedule and significant gains in planning efficiency, including a 35% reduction in production workload. More visibility into the supply chain was achieved, and it customer-confirmed dates in advance of request dates improved by 7%.
"Overall, we estimate that our customers are creating $50 billion in total profit by using AspenTech's solutions. However, even as these products become more important to our customers' operations and success, their expectations are changing, and they're expecting a different level of engagement from us."
Pietri reports that AspenTech is undertaking 15 strategic initiatives to address these needs. They include an enhanced customer engagement model; better ease of doing business by allowing greater access to useful information; an expanded AspenTech eco-system with more partners to drive help value; improved customer insight program that gauges customers' feelings; better customer segmentation and digital enhancement efforts; and an improved product development process.
"We have about 2,000 customers, but the top 350 make up abut 80% of our installed base. Over our 34 years, many innovations have come from our customers, so we want even more involvement during alpha and beta testing," says Pietri. "To meet these increased expectations, today we're launching aspenONE Version 8.8."
On the engineering side, aspenONE V8.8 includes more alternatives onscreen to facilitate collaboration and better safety operations to comply with regulations. These improvements will enable refining reactor models to plan and optimize for increased profits; help upstream methanol partitioning application ensure economical flow assurance; and allow polymer solids modeling applications to save on energy costs. On the managed supply chain (MSC) side, aspenONE V8.8 includes Aspen DMC3 Smart Tune, which enables easier tuning and greater flexibility for more successful optimization.
"We wanted aspenONE V8.8 to best our best release ever, and everyone on our team says it is, largely because of all the feedback we've received from our customers. To help with verification and validation, it includes more than 700 enhancements—430 for engineering and 277 for supply chain management," adds Pietri "This was a test coverage increase of more than 300% in engineering and more than 200% in MSC. As a result, aspenONE V8.8's performance is 16-25% faster in engineering and 20-60% faster in MSC. We also completed 30-250% more simulated user testing than we did with V7.X, and had more than twice as many customers participating in V8.8's alpha and beta testing."
Beyond its software and service innovations, Pietri adds that AspenTech's acquisitions during the past two or three years also continue to fuel its market leadership and ability to advance its industries. These acquisitions include PSV Plus, Blowdown, Dock Scheduling, Solid Sim Engineering and Sulsim.
"We've been doing process modeling and simulation, optimizing process units and improving scheduling and demand management since the beginning, and now these acquisitions are helping us become even more pervasive and relevant," adds Pietri. "That's why we're also talking about smart flowsheets, unified planning and scheduling, and cloud computing in the process industries, and we're investigating solids, safety, environmental, offsites and other non-typical process modeling applications. We're starting to fill the entire plant space, and we're going to continue that push. In the future, we're going to bring design, operations and maintenance even closer together. This is because AspenTech is uniquely positioned to achieve asset optimization by converging hardware and software."