The most important opportunity to positively influence the design of an industrial process is in the early conceptual stages of the project, but more importantly, in managing the iterations between conceptual design, pre-FEED (simulation design Front End Process Engineering) and during FEED or Detailed Design. Engineering design projects that allow simultaneous collaboration between engineering disciplines have the best chance of optimizing the design. Most projects use a rigid set of engineering processes and follow a standard waterfall approach to project design. The problem with this approach is that each discipline adds a certain degree of caution and safety margin in the design. Often by the time project teams are making sub-optimal models, it’s too late to make changes without a significant financial or schedule penalty.
Engineering simulation of convergent processes
For treatment facilities, the physical design and the process design have been completely separate and distinct, and typically only come together at important project milestones or milestones. Engineering tools generally fall into two categories: 1. Process Engineering Simulation and 2. Engineering Design Tools (EDT) for plant design and infrastructure. The combined market of infrastructure, energy, process and marine comprises a significant portion of everything that is built in the world today. This includes buildings, ships, offshore bridges, urban infrastructure, roads and highways, rail transport, power generation and grids, industrial manufacturing plants, mining facilities, utility infrastructure, oil and gas installations and chemical and other processing plants. Unfortunately, the disciplines of process engineering and detailed engineering do not “speak” the same language. For example, a simulation flowchart is not a process flowchart (PFD). A PFD is not a piping and instrumentation (P&ID) diagram; a unitary operation is not an item of equipment. A flow is not a pipe, and a column stage is not a tray or packing section. For process simulation engineering, there are usually many “cases” of operation for a piece of equipment. Equipment types and plant topology change during process design. Many asset owners recognize the value of improving this discontinuous engineering workflow, but understand that project risk must also be managed.
Sequential to simultaneous engineering
The process engineering simulation tools ‘platform’ helps engineers create reusable workflows and automate data creation in a larger platform for simulation. The new work processes created allow people to focus on higher value-added activities and shorten the time required for design and optimization by moving from sequential engineering to simultaneous engineering.
In a scenario where models and platforms had to drive engineering activities and workflow, and if engineering had only one design tool, instead of two or three that could be used throughout throughout the life cycle of the plant? What if we could have multiple engineers working on the same model at the same time? What if we could use simulation to drive the process rather than letting the process drive the simulation model. While the process simulation used either a 2D flowchart style or calculation styles, there is no reason in the future that process simulation could combine with EDT / BIM. and become 3D process simulations. If the economics of creating agility between physical and process disciplines is real, then the simulation of process engineering and the engineering design tool will be impacted.
ARC is closely following the recent merger of AVEVA with Schneider Electric (SimSci) which represents a turning point in relation to the two markets, so far separate and distinct. For more information on the dynamics of the engineering simulation market and the evolution of engineering processes, please refer to the ARC study.