Conceptual Layout Creates New Value at the Front End

December 15, 2020

AspenTech has just announced the acquisition of OptiPlant, a California-based company and market leader in the application of conceptual plant layout and AI-assisted automated pipe routing. Layout and pipe routing are key levers driving capital costs in process plant and upstream oil projects. By adding these 3D conceptual layout systems to AspenTech’s already differentiated conceptual and FEED design software (Aspen Plus, HYSYS, Aspen Basic Engineering and Aspen Capital Cost Engineering), AspenTech extends its front-end engineering workflow. This delivers a highly differentiated digital asset design system, which is increasingly strategic in an economy where asset owners need to evaluate optimal capital alternatives to address sustainability-driven plant modifications, address oils to chemicals shifts in the market and make better and more rigorous capital allocations. OptiPlant is also available as a front-end plug in to Hexagon SmartPlant 3D detailed design system, serving as an important integration point between the AspenTech and Hexagon software, further enhancing the value of both systems to the many global asset owners and EPCs who base their workflows on both systems. 

I first saw a 3D conceptual layout concept, derived from a process simulation model privately demonstrated to me in a cramped tea-room in Nottingham, England by two visionary inventors. The date was February 1991. Three decades ago, it was an idea before its time. 

Now it is an exciting reality, and AspenTech is delighted to add OptiPlant 3D, a conceptual layout system, to our portfolio. In 2005 the OptiPlant product was created to bring to commercial reality that still important idea. With more leading global process industry companies adopting the OptiPlant conceptual layout approach, AspenTech is bringing that potentially game changing visual and AI-assisted technology into our performance engineering suite to bring more value to both design organizations and asset operators. 3D plant visualization for conceptual plant layout brings a new paradigm into the crucial front-end step of testing the feasibility of a design, ensuring and enforcing an organization’s design standards, providing the correct spatial envelopes for safety and sustainability design objectives for the demanding task of fitting complex designs into tight brownfield spaces, ship-bound modules offshore FPSO installations and space constrained mining applications.   

But more than that, there are exciting collaboration opportunities which will provide an important boost in the field of front-end engineering. When 3D conceptual layout (OptiPlant 3D) is combined with conceptual estimating (ACCE), the results can be startling. ExxonMobil, in a paper presented at OPTIMIZE 2017 by Don Victory, demonstrated how a conceptual design selection timetable can be reduced 50% in an LNG application by iterating between cost estimating, process modeling and conceptual layout to investigate modifications in the process informed by the 3D layout, moving process units to minimize piping and structural distances and bulks. Many such opportunities for optimization can be envisioned, especially as companies work to integrate and fit new technologies such as carbon capture, hydrogen electrolysis, biofuels conversion and pyrolysis of plastics into existing sites and processes. The optionality is becoming more complicated, and 3D layout is a crucial tool, together with AspenTech’s new multi-case design capability.  

Another collaborative opportunity is the use of the conceptual layout and auto pipe routing as inputs to the later stage conceptual estimate. Worley, in a video published on YouTube in 2018 described how it can accelerate front end design (FEED) and improve cost estimating accuracy through the integrated use of Aspen’s Capital Cost Estimator and OptiPlant.

Dating back to the days of the plastic model, which EPCs used to communicate with owners to ensure a meeting of the minds on the design intent, we believe that the conceptual layout tool is an important and high value arrow in the quiver of the asset owner. It ensures alignment between the owner and the engineering contractors at the earliest feasibility and pre-FEED stages of projects.  

Now, 3D conceptual layout enables the owner and the EPC to align in this important, visual way.

OptiPlant’s innovative team made that vision a reality, and with AspenTech will be able to help scale the adoption of this high value technology globally. For more information, visit our Hybrid Models solutions page.


There was a problem storing your subscription

Leave A Comment