Intelligent Project Delivery: Only the Beginning

March 20, 2017
ABB project execution methodology pays further dividends through integration with electrical infrastructure, lays groundwork for Collaborative Operations

The process industries’ push to streamline the execution of capital projects is easy to grasp. Production assets have never been larger, more complex—or more expensive to build. Meanwhile, windows of opportunity open and close seemingly at a moment’s notice. And with some capital projects qualifying as multi-billion dollar bets, asset-intensive industries around the world understandably crave both speed and predictability in project delivery.

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As described in detail in the earlier stories in this series, ABB has led the charge to develop new technologies and best practices to reduce project risk by moving automation engineering off the critical path of project completion. These innovations range from automated software tools that seamlessly integrate digitally networked third-party skids to I/O solutions that preserve single-channel flexibility until just before system commissioning. Serial dependencies between automation hardware and software development have been severed, allowing these design tasks to be performed along concurrent, parallel paths. The need for physical marshalling of analog I/O signals has been effectively eliminated, along with its requisite panels, terminations and labor. Finally, increasingly modular, standardized software applications are now tested and validated against simulated processes and emulated hardware in virtual, cloud-based “factory” acceptance tests.

Intelligent infrastructure

While the future is indeed now when it comes to moving automation engineering off the critical path of project delivery, ABB sees such “Intelligent Engineering” as only one aspect of a lifecycle approach that also includes the integration of Intelligent Infrastructure during project delivery.

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This infrastructure includes the full range of ABB capabilities—from electrical substations and switchgear to safety instrumented systems and process chromatographs—managed and delivered by ABB in the role of main automation, instrumentation and electrical contractor (MAC, MIC and MEC). The company also oversees interface management of the engineering suppliers in this context and takes responsibility for data transfer among participants to ensure the effective integration of all components and systems.

In ABB’s calculus, such Intelligent Engineering and Intelligent Infrastructure add up to Intelligent Projects that take 50% less time to design, engineer, install and commission compared with traditional project execution methodologies. Further, the company estimates that the reduced risk and increased competitiveness inherent in this approach can cut capital and operating costs by 20-30%.

Collaborative Operations

But ABB’s vision of world-class execution doesn’t stop with project delivery. Rather, Intelligent Applications and Intelligent Services— which together constitute what the company calls a Collaborative Operations approach—take up where project execution leaves off.

The Intelligent Services aspect, in particular, is to take the form of the ABB Collaborative Support Network (Figure 2). This offering leverages secure connectivity and 24/7 remote monitoring to provide plant personel with the on-demand support of process and system experts. This network will consist of local and regional hubs complemented by global Core Competency Centers.

Project execution is indeed only the beginning of the asset lifecycle. And the foundation laid by a project partnership with ABB will pay ongoing dividends as attention shifts from managing project risks to exploiting new opportunities ahead.

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