EPCs such as Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions realize that engineers spend 40 % of their time at installation sites looking for material and documents. Data inconsistency and changes cause 20 % of cost overruns and delays. The engineering companies want to exploit these opportunities and use digitalization to create new business models. One approach is to analyse existing databases
The technology company Linde has set up a dedicated digitalization team. Its role is to work with experts from the business units on development of digital products. One of the first projects is a new service portal for plant operators which greatly simplify the spare parts procurement process.
P&ID details are stored in the Linde databases, and that information is used initially to create an electronic marketplace for spare parts. In the future, data flows will be used to predict faults and generate maintenance plans on the service portal.
New Forms of Project Management are Required
However, the speed at which these developments are being driven in the digital world creates the need for a totally new approach to project management. While the traditional methodology was to define and describe all of the project goals in detail, digitalization projects in stark contrast get underway before all of the functionality of the product has been specified.
Thus, the project management needs a significant degree of agility to cope with these challenges. Established project management methodologies which provide that capability, such as the “Scrum” framework currently used in software development could supplement the tools used in engineering for project management.
Evonik is a case in point which shows the advantages of taking a critical look at the established approach to project execution, as a new methodology helped the company to reduce capital spending by 15 % on plant construction projects, officials state. The difference is as follows: Traditionally, the emphasis in project management has been on the execution phase. With the new approach, project definition takes place at an earlier stage, and greater attention is paid to the project risks. The scope of the project is based on the minimal business needs and not on the optional enhancements.
Chemical processes in Germany and Europe are based mostly on in-house technologies, so in the future process development and engineering will become an interrelated process. New strategies will cut process development time, with modularization and digitalization being key concepts in this context. Core processes can be based on modular platforms. Engineering as we know it today will be replaced by much simpler module configuration. The technical basis is now being put in place and evaluated in pilot trials. The chemical plant construction industry is operating in a changing environment. In response to more intense competitive pressures, EPCs are adjusting their business models, and service will play a greater role over the plant life cycle. New project management methodologies and business process digitalization are also being introduced. The latter will also provide the basis for new future business models.