The annual ECC (Engineering and Construction Contracting) conference went virtual this year, with the theme “From Talk to Traction” emphasizing the need to move from ideas to action in response to the current global situation.
With the release of AspenTech’s V12 edition of our Performance Engineering software, we have officially gained traction and are now moving fast on delivering on our commitment to provide robust support for our EPC and owner operator customers’ digitalization initiatives. Here are three new capabilities that leverage digitalization to drive step-level change in the process industries.
Concept design is paramount, and it just took a major leap forward
Early design is the most critical and important phase of a plant’s entire lifecycle. Major decisions about the engineering approach, equipment selection, sizing, and materials of construction define how much the plant will cost, how much energy it will require to operate and how it will successfully meet the owner’s objectives for the next 30-50 years.
Enter “Multi-Case Analysis,” a new capability, now available as part of both Aspen Plus® and Aspen HYSYS.® Multi-case will transform the way these early decisions are made. Previously, engineers would define these critical parameters using limited data from just a handful of potential operating cases and conditions. Imagine designing an iPhone with such a limited set of data, never mind a complex, bespoke, $5 billion process plant! And yet that’s been the standard of practice.
Multi-case helps engineers optimize those early design decisions based on consideration of hundreds or even thousands of operating conditions and cases. Leveraging AI and high-performance computing (on the desktop or in the cloud), designers can now rely on a significantly broader set of data to fine-tune their designs. From varying ambient weather conditions to the many different grades of crude oil, this improvement in understanding how a potential design would perform in real-world conditions can result in across-the-board improvements, from materials of construction and equipment sizing, to the type of utilities and even plant location. These decisions have a significant impact on the plant’s capital and operating costs, as well as the overall fit for its intended purpose.
Bridging the real and the theoretical to solve complex problems more easily
Use of first-principle models for defining and predicting performance and outcomes is standard in the process industries. However, there are some processes that are more difficult to predict, such as polymerization, catalyst degradation, bioprocesses and crystallization. Today, these processes are often managed through less-precise techniques such as operator experience or rules of thumb, resulting in suboptimal performance.
Enter Aspen Hybrid Models™ which bring together first-principle models, operating data enhanced with machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) to simulate more complex processes and predict a wider variety of potential outcomes. These combined models are not only easier to create, they are also more easily sustained for longer periods of time, increasing their utility for optimizing a variety of operating conditions from catalyst replacement intervals in reactors to separation efficiencies in columns.
Additional applications include creation of fit for purpose reduced order models that are easier and faster to build and maintain throughout the asset lifecycle, use of ‘virtual sensors’ to predict properties and attributes for which there are no hard sensors, and able to simulate large complex operations such as crude oil to chemical plants.
Estimating is reaching into the C-Suite where transparency can unlock value
Estimating has become one of the most important core competencies of an EPC firm. There are multiple examples of global, marquee EPC firms that have lost their footing of late due to bidding and estimating problems, especially on competitive, lump sum projects. Margins are so thin that contractors can perform well on nine projects, but still report a financial loss due to overruns on the tenth.
Enter Aspen Capital Cost Estimator (ACCE) Insights, our new visualization and workflow management solution which connects data across the enterprise and provides users with actionable information to help foster collaboration. ACCE now enables critical estimate information to be more easily shared outside of the estimating team. Estimators, project managers, engineering leads, executives and procurement professionals can now visualize, analyze, benchmark and share data to increase speed and transparency while managing bidding risk more effectively. Benchmarking and the re-use of corporate data can also be incorporated to improve the bidding outcome.
Additionally, easy-to-read dashboards quickly convey key metrics for the estimate, including areas of potential overruns or unacceptable risk. Milestone “snapshots” visually track the estimate as it is developed, helping management identify issues before it’s too late. The result is a more agile, collaborative, more informed estimating process with fewer surprises for executives.
AspenTech continues to lead the way
The time for talking is over when it comes to how software providers support their customers’ digitalization initiatives. With our new V12 edition of software, AspenTech continues to lead the field, providing much needed traction that helps the industry keep moving forward. For more information about these and other important new capabilities, visit our website.
To learn more about how you can leverage our technology to achieve operational goals, please read our executive brief Optimize Asset Design and Operations with Performance Engineering.