shutterstock_1275497188_Much more than the sum of all parts

© Milcho Petrov Milev

Much more than the sum of all parts

Engineering consolidation creates automatic consistency

Households, businesses, supposedly even marriages can be consolidated. But engineering? Not only can you – you should! Especially if, like energy, procurement and construction contractors (EPC), you have to deal with a wide range of tools, standards and suppliers. Consolidation means "bringing together several parts to form something whole" or put simply: unifying. And, just as an artistic mosaic is created from different colours, materials and shapes cut to fit, bringing together the core and complementary disciplines in engineering results in an exceptionally comprehensive picture of the plant, with data consistency without any effort at all.

Consolidating input

Right from the start, EPCs juggle with diverse, different sources of information of highly varying quality: XLS files, PDFs and DOCs with default, capacity or documentation specifications and much more are collected in folders, document management systems or similar. But this way the information is only archived, it usually does not fit together, let alone be directly further usable. The diversity cannot be changed, but the usability of the data can. They can all flow directly into the Engineering Base (EB) cooperation platform. Ambient pressure data, templates, designation lists, functional structures – all this can be set up as an object in EB without having to create a single document. In this way, users consolidate the diverse input, and the original documents no longer need to be consulted.

Effortless consistency

As an authoring system, EB consolidates all inputs virtually by itself. As the platform is THE single source of truth (SSoT) for all parties involved – from the initial concept to process design, detail engineering and automation support – EB cannot do otherwise. For example, if PFDs and P&IDs are developed in different tools, they are never based on the same data, even if the tools come from the same manufacturer. EB, in contrast, saves active consolidation "by its very nature". All further entries automatically follow the structure once created and everyone sees the results of the other disciplines, without waiting times and transmission errors. In this way, "effortless consistency", EB's very special plus for EPCs, is created almost incidentally.

Automated consolidation

EB's consolidation principle also applies to the numerous complementary systems, such as 3D, RP and control systems or simulation tools. Since different chemical processes are simulated with sometimes very specialized tools, EPCs must also be able to handle this diversity. For large plants, certain sections are also simulated module by module. And different simulation configurations result in a correspondingly large number of scenarios that need to be compared. So there is plenty to consolidate. But transferring data "manually"? Putting tables next to each other and sifting through them? With EB, all that is history. The system takes over simulation and calculation results automatically and flags up the differences, nothing is overlooked. Modular simulations, for example, are consolidated into continuous flowstreams. And the finally selected scenario is already in EB for seamless further processing by the engineering specialists. Changes are seen immediately by everyone involved. All integrations and comparisons take place in EB's data model, which thus has central access to the entire plant knowledge, including the relevant external data. Thus, the extraordinarily comprehensive digital twin in EB always consistently reflects the current status of plant planning.

Neutral data hub

No matter how many simulation tools, phases and scenarios, how many calculations, which 3D, ERP or control systems are in use, EB "can communicate with them all", also thanks to the standardized EBML communication interface. And the platform passes on the consolidated information in a comprehensible way for each linked system. For example, EB combines different terms for the same object into one name or converts different units of measurement from various tools into neutral ones. Users do not need to know how other systems "tick", EB ensures consistency.

Data from the many suppliers EPCs have to deal with also needs to be integrated and consolidated. But the suppliers need a specific brief beforehand. For example, if an EPC wants to send a hardware request to different manufacturers, he pulls all the relevant specifications from EB's central model into a smart data sheet. Suppliers complete it according to their capabilities and the changes are immediately identifiable from the automated revision of the datasheets. With a document management system, the sheets would only be "filed" as documents, but the data itself ends up in EB – directly usable.

EB also passes on its neutral data to other systems, for example for calculations or control system (DCS) configuration. In addition, the platform can output signal assignment lists or "feed" a predictive maintenance system with the information that enables it to correctly interpret the signals from the running plant. AUCOTEC is currently implementing a further consolidation stage: project data from various suppliers can be automatically merged even if they use EB with different specific adaptations.

Consolidation therefore has many aspects, but always one result: an enormous gain in consistency and time through numerous synergies - with EB there's nothing to it!