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Engineering Concepts Modular vs Megaplant

Modular vs. Megaplant: The Fight for the Future of Engineering

| Author / Editor: Dominik Stephan* / Dominik Stephan

Working for Scales

It’s one-nil for the modular system — or isn’t it? Not fully: In the area of bulk products, mega plants score by virtue of their sheer size. Economies-of-scale is the magic word — implying the scaling effects which help large plants reduce the specific investment costs for a given product quantity.

But the costs of setting up such giant projects require suitable engineering concepts: If earlier engineering tools were tailor-made for individual project phases, seamless data exchange and integration across the entire project will help avoid system breaches in the future. Even if the planning and design stage usualy only accounts for around 15 to 20 % of a project's total engineering expensive, the enormous scale of these multi-billion megaplants offers enourmous potential cost savings, experts agree.

Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking beyond individual process steps and trade has enormous potentials: A study conducted by research institute Fraunhofer IAO and the German IT sector association Bitkom predicts a potential value creation surplus of more than 30 % for the chemical industry — through the successful networking of product development, production and logistics alone.

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That’s why component manufacturers and industry service providers are already working hard to bring concepts like Industry 4.0 into the world of plant and asset maintenance: Tablet PCs and smartphones have already become standard equipment for turn­around specialists, just like blowtorch, wrench and clipboard.

Operational data or information about an assets type, age or condition are thus available in real time throughout the plant. Mobile Maintenance or iMaintenance are typical apps that help maintenance specialists to administrate and report tasks and assignments.

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