Design developments for construction projects

Software products enable the principles of lean manufacturing to be applied to refinery construction projects

AVEVA Solutions

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Article Summary

Faced with relentlessly increasing pressures for earlier, consistently on-time delivery of ever more complex assets, the plant industries have for many years cast envious eyes on the performance gains of the ‘lean manufacturing’ revolution. But the key enablers of a corresponding ‘lean construction’ revolution have proved elusive – until now.

The lean philosophy embraces every aspect of an enterprise’s operations, not just engineering. It comprises three key principles:
• Eliminate waste, of whatever nature
• Maximise value-adding efficiency
• Empower people.

These are deliberately open-ended concepts; how you apply them depends on the nature of the enterprise and its particular business processes. The capital engineering industries have the advantage of being able to learn from the ways in which lean manufacturing both required and drove the development of new ways of thinking and of new types of tools and processes.

Lean construction sees tight integration of engineering, design and project management processes extended to embrace fabrication and construction in one seamless, closed-loop process. Recent technology advances now enable this. Atkins, for example, one of the world’s leading design, engineering and project management consultancies, has recently chosen Aveva Everything3D (Aveva E3D) and Aveva Laser Modeller software to support lean construction processes.

Atkins has executed many successful projects using Aveva PDMS and is keen to increase its delivery standards with E3D. Key capabilities that persuaded Atkins to migrate to E3D were its BubbleView laser scan imagery and the tight integration of Laser Modeller, which enables laser scans to be readily converted into intelligent, as-built 3D design models.

Laser scan data that is available across the entire project life cycle can greatly reduce discrepancies between designers, contractors and fabricators by enabling them to quickly and correctly respond to changing circumstances. Engineers can position new designs and run clash checks against the existing plant. This, in turn, will minimise rework, drive quality and directly benefit the returns realised across the project (see Figure 1).

Integrated Engineering & Design
Many project teams still struggle with a variety of mutually incompatible applications for the engineering and design tasks of the various disciplines. Apart from maintaining artificial barriers within the project team, this variety creates opportunities for error through duplication of information, the inability to share a common, validated dataset, and the inability to control and understand the maturity of evolving information. Although the design phase of a project accounts for only a small fraction of its total cost, it absorbs costly resources and the quality of its deliverables directly affects the speed, cost and quality of the fabrication and construction phases.

With Aveva’s solution, it is possible to import or create engineering information in a database that forms part of the project’s common dataset. This, for example, enables process engineers to create and maintain control over the development of intelligent P&ID schematics, and to make them visible, at defined levels of maturity, to the other project disciplines. Piping designers can work with this information, creating 3D layouts that automatically generate material take-off information for use by their procurement colleagues. Multi-discipline collaboration becomes easier and more transparent.

Another important element in this is known as the ‘Compare & Update’ functionality. Each discipline makes continual changes to its own work as the design progresses. This could result in engineers and designers trying to work under a blizzard of changes, not all of which would be of direct relevance to them. Managing the visibility of maturity status reduces the blizzard to a drizzle, but can still leave each discipline distracted by a great many changes. Compare & Update enables a discipline to periodically compare the status of its own work with that of others and, importantly, to decide which changes to accommodate, and when. Workflows become more efficient; non-compliances do not hold up progress but they remain highlighted until closed out in an orderly manner.

A typical example is the collaboration between plant layout and structural steel design. Common practice is for the basic structural design to be exported to specialist steel detailers who use dedicated software for the purpose. This software is usually incompatible with the 3D plant design solution. Steelwork must progress in advance of the rest of the plant, so the two aspects of the design diverge early and rapidly. Reconciling changes on each side is a laborious and mostly manual procedure with considerable scope for errors. Often, clashes and inconsistencies only become apparent during construction, with the inevitable costs and delays of on-site rework.

With the incorporation of powerful structural steel detailing software into the Aveva solution, both disciplines can work with their own specialist design tools but the steelwork can be periodically reimported for a Compare & Update operation. Clashes caused, for example, between gussets on the steelwork and pipe runs in the plant layout can be immediately identified and informed decisions made as to how to eliminate them. Accepted changes to the steelwork can be readily incorporated into the master project model.

Compare & Update is one embodiment of the empowerment principle, because it enables each discipline to keep control of its own workflows while collaborating effectively with the rest of the project team. In contrast, a technology that sought to rigidly enforce compliance with design rules at every step, far from enabling ‘right-first-time’ design, would actually reduce productivity by requiring designers to react immediately to every imposed change while also preventing them from creating provisional, non-compliant solutions to requirements. Design is an iterative, evolutionary process and engineers must have the freedom and flexibility to set priorities.

Aveva’s Integrated Engineering & Design approach improves project efficiency and reduces engineering and design costs through complementary developments that draw on common processes, disciplines and deliverables through a single managed information model. MAN Diesel & Turbo presented at the Aveva World Summit in 2013 on its successful implementation of Aveva’s solutions. The implementation, which started in late 2012, followed a competitive bid process and comprised PDMS, Aveva Engineering, Aveva Diagrams and Aveva Global.

This implementation created a fully integrated solution that enables the standardisation of 2D and 3D engineering applications across all disciplines within MAN Diesel & Turbo’s Power Plant business unit. The company launched an internal project called PIPE (programme for integrated power engineering) to target the optimisation of its engineering processes. This programme addresses a number of market challenges, including the need to remain competitive through clearly defined, measurable and integrated processes across basic and detailed engineering. The engineering applications which the company had been using had not kept pace with changing needs. The new software will enable MAN to cut project times and to achieve substantial cost savings on initial deployments.

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