Engineering Software/Digital Plant A Nerve Center for Engineering

Author / Editor: Anne-Marie Walters* / Dominik Stephan

Software solutions become the backbone of global engineering systems — Of the shelf products won’t stand a chance when a worldwide chemical leader needs a new engineering solution. Only tailor-made software suites can truly become the nerve of global plant project managements. But the extra-work pays off: Engineering, management, operation and maintenance all benefit from the edge of information theta modern software solutions provide.

Software solutions become the backbone of engineering.
Software solutions become the backbone of engineering.
(Picture: Bentley; © M.Gove - Fotolia)

Eastman Chemical Company, a Fortune 300 company with over US$ 9 billion in annual revenues and 14,000 employees, has achieved its success in part by investing in reliable, innovative solutions. For example, in the late 1980s, no drawing management system could meet its needs, so Eastman created its own. The result was the unique, industry-leading record drawing change process (RDCP) software that served the company well for 25 years.

But over time, Eastman needed better information security and reliability and a way to lower software maintenance costs. “Bentley’s expertise and long-track record of delivering powerful engineering solutions made it the vendor of choice,” stated Jan Shumate, Director, Plant Engineering Worldwide Engineering and Construction at Eastman Chemical Company.

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Bentley worked with Eastman to deliver a tailored solution using Project Wise that met all of the company’s needs, facilitating enhanced collaboration across the enterprise, and returned savings in excess of the cost of implementation due to the efficiency improvements.

For years, Eastman was able to keep records for engineered systems reliably up to date using its RDCP drawing management system combined with workflow management and company wide CAD standards. “We were successfully managing nearly four million files for 2,500 active users worldwide from areas such as engineering and construction, maintenance and reliability, operations and support, procurement, and real estate,” explained Shumate. But the growing need for better information security, improved reliability, and reduced maintenance costs motivated company leaders to look for a new information management solution.

“We needed an engineering information system that could grow with the company, deliver added value, contain lifecycle costs and meet all our functional requirements,” explained Shumate. In addition, they needed to improve information security with standard access control functionality, along with customized features to align with internal security policies.

At the same time, Eastman needed to maintain continuity with its existing engineering and construction processes, including its internal Microsoft Share Point environments and RDCP. The RDCP allows for multiple users to check out a copy of a master as-built record, complete updates and/or revisions, and check in with seamless updates. Subsequent updates to the same drawing are forced to recognize the most recent revision, which ensures that the master as-built file is always kept up to date.

Eastman also wanted to increase the company’s ability to adapt and expand to meet new business demands, increase information mobility, and improve system reliability and compatibility with a modern IT infrastructure. “For instance, due to our global growth, interoperability with other vendor applications and file types was also essential,” added Shumate. “And given the shift to data centric design processes and applications, it was critical that our solution be able to handle other types of information besides CAD drawings.”

Requirements Met

Project Wise offered a great deal of features and functions that aligned well with Eastman’s requirements, but the software did not meet all of Eastman’s needs out of the box. “We challenged Bentley to tailor the software to meet our requirements,” stated Shumate. The requested customizations to the software, included enablement of Eastman’s unique RDCP, integration with internal Share Point environments, and utilization of internal information security policies. Bentley also provided user training, and participated in rigorous testing, system migration, and enterprise-wide implementation.

“For example, Bentley developed customized security features to meet Eastman internal nomenclature and security policies — a significant upgrade from our prior software,” stated Shumate. These features allowed Eastman to maintain seamless integration with several external business partners who work within the Project Wise environment. They also maximized the collaboration between Eastman teams and external partners. Bentley and Eastman partnered to develop database migration programming that allowed for mapping of attributes and loading of files with maximum database integrity throughout the migration from Eastman’s legacy system into Project Wise.

The data integrity and smooth transition was of significant value to Eastman due to on-going capital projects, planned shutdowns, and overall reliance on the system to maintenance, and engineering activity. This represents thousands of views and updates every day. Working closely with Eastman’s Worldwide Engineering and Construction organization, Bentley delivered a tailored solution that met all of the company’s needs and expectations.

The solution was implemented for 13 of the company’s sites by May 2014. “We migrated all files over a period of 12 months during non-business hours,” explained Shumate. “Data integrity was of utmost importance as well as seamless transitioning and smooth system performance.” In between migrations, Eastman evaluated system performance and worked with Bentley to address issues to ensure optimal performance of the solution.

Sharing Information Worldwide

Today, Project Wise is an integral piece of Eastman’s new system for global sharing of engineering information. The software accepts numerous file types, supports interoperability across software platforms, and enables live linkages with external applications and processes, resulting in opportunities for significant business benefits. The Project Wise platform facilitates better collaboration across the Eastman enterprise. And because it runs reliably within the company’s modern IT infrastructure, IT can ensure proper backups, maintenance, and network performance.

The systems inbuilt collaboration tools ensure security enforced access to all types of information for employees and partners around the world. So, for example, engineers and designers no longer have to sit in close proximity or even be on the same continent to work together. “This virtual environment allows us to bring the best and brightest minds together across the enterprise to develop new and innovative project concepts,” noted Shumate.

Project Wise has also helped Eastman increase productivity and boost the bottom line. For example, its lifecycle cost is lower as it requires less IT infrastructure and support services annually. In addition, because users of the system can use it to work more efficiently, Eastman expects to see a return in excess of the cost of implementation.

“These efficiencies are calculated based on savings from single signon functionality, batch printing of large drawing packages, automatic uploads into capital project Share Point environments, and title block linkages between Project Wise and Micro Station environments,” commented Shumate. “Additionally, users can easily upload a wide range of file types and instantly make them available for secure access.”

Eastman also expects to lower overall client project costs thanks to Project Wise integration with Eastman systems and processes. For instance, integrated security features allow external business partners to seamlessly create and hand over deliverables into the Eastman engineering information system. Project Wise eliminates the need to manually reformat, re-number and otherwise convert the information, thereby saving time and reducing project costs.

Faster Project Delivery

Eastman also expects Project Wise to enable faster project delivery thanks to increased collaboration, secure access to project information, and integration with Eastman systems and processes. For example, Project Wise integration with Eastman’s Share Point site allows all Eastman’s internal users to transfer files directly from external contractors’ information in Project Wise — complete with all of the metadata automatically created in Share Point.

“In the future, we anticipate using Project Wise Deliverables Management to complete project workflows within Project Wise,” noted Shumate. “This will save time by eliminating the need to upload documentation into Share Point. Transmittal services will also help us achieve our goal of having a globally integrated information management system for approval routing, construction packages, and as-built responses that are fully integrated to the ‘live’ record stored in Project Wise.”

The implementation of Project Wise has drastically improved Eastman’s managed risk levels for engineering information. “Database integrity, server maintenance and reliability are no longer issues, as Project Wise has enabled the migration of our engineering information from dated server and database structures to a modern platform that is more easily managed,” explained Shumate.

“In addition, information security improvements made possible by Project Wise have reduced risks to intellectual property that is of significant value to Eastman and its stakeholders.” Eastman is currently implementing Project Wise for its remaining sites. As the company continues to grow, its management team believes that Project Wise can deliver greater collaboration, standardization, and process efficiencies for users around the world.

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