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Data clarity key to successful business strategy

Digitalisation gives oil and gas operators unmatched access to actionable data insights, eliminating previous operational ‘unknowns’

There are many platitudes contending that only by passing into the unknown will one truly learn about oneself.  But when it comes to the engineering, construction, startup or operation of a multi-billion-dollar plant, it is not the time for romanticising the unknown.

It is not the time to proceed without the information you need to make timely decisions and to manage your risks. Uncovering the ‘unknowns’ that can potentially cripple projects or hamper operations has been a challenge that owner-operators and engineering, procurement and construction companies (EPC) have grappled with for decades. Today, an EPC 4.0 strategy can help tackle this. 

No longer adequate

In today’s climate of unpredictable commodity prices, demands for sustainability and expectations to leverage latest technology, it has never been more critical that plants are conceived, designed and delivered to meet increasingly challenging stakeholder expectations—ones that extend beyond simply delivering return on investment.

Stiff competition for investment dollars demands that business cases for new projects include strategies and tools to effectively manage risk on multiple fronts, from cost and performance to carbon footprint. The market is demanding predictability and mitigation of delays, cost overruns and production issues that have been problematic for industrial projects for years.

But now there is more to it than managing costs and schedules. Today’s plant owners also require continual insight into other measures of success, such as emissions management and sustainability of building components. Delivering projects today requires a shift from old practices.

New data-centric, cloud-based tools are giving EPCs and owner-operators unparalleled access to actionable data insights with the potential to virtually eliminate the ‘unknowns’, from industrial capital projects and operations—raising the bar in managing risk and enabling decision-making.

No more room for silos

Traditionally, teams have used documents and waterfall processes to pass data from one group to another—both time-consuming and error-prone. Working with data rather than documents enables agile/integrated workflows, such as bringing simulation data together with engineering data to instantly share information seamlessly between teams. This allows them to continually measure themselves against multiple key performance indicators.

In addition, this process helps teams identify areas of concern that can be quickly addressed before they become larger issues. With access to the most integrated engineering, design and capital project execution technology available in the market, teams can thoroughly interrogate, analyse and—most importantly—collaborate on trusted data.

Companies that have transitioned their unified engineering data identify thousands of potential risks before they occur and save millions of dollars by avoiding costly errors and schedule overruns. Storing data in the cloud is the next step in bringing data access and integration to entire project teams, even beyond organisational and contractual boundaries.

AVEVA’s EPC 4.0 strategy is central to optimising transparency across teams. It integrates and manages data in the cloud (or on-premise, if desired) from the conceptual design to front-end engineering and design and detailed design, through procurement and construction and finally onto operations, ensuring consistent and accurate information is seamlessly shared throughout the project in the form of a highly integrated Digital Twin. With visualised intelligence linking together 1D, 2D, and 3D data, teams can easily access critical project data all within a central hub.

The easy access to single trusted source of data not only saves hours of searching and corroborating relevant information and optimises collaboration, but also enables plant managers to run startup and operational simulations earlier and more often throughout the project to truly test and enhance plant resilience well before it is complete.

Five steps to optimising capital project transparency:

  1. Connect your people by removing operational and informational silos, empowering them to become a unified, high-performing workforce.
  2. Align your engineering, assets and operations data to maximise return on capital and improve profitability.
  3. Achieve new levels of excellence from digital services such as machine-learning, advanced analytics, early awareness, augmented intelligence and more.
  4. Optimise competency through Cloud-based learning to create a simulation of processes, enabling learners to quickly familiarise themselves with the plant and understand what is happening.
  5. Monitor multiple project dimensions to identify and mitigate risks by creating flexible, dynamic simulation models that can be combined with a distributed control system simulation for engineering validation, control system checkout and operator training.

The need to manage ‘unknowns’ to drive successful projects and operations has never been greater.  But technology is rising to meet the challenge. Unified data is not an option, nor a short-term lifeline; it is the way project teams and plant owners can gain unparalleled insights and control over their projects and operations, enabling better outcomes and avoiding surprises.

Watch the AVEVA Project Command Centre demo to see EPC 4.0 in action.

*Greg Pada is engineering plant solutions portfolio manager at AVEVA

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