Geo Week News

November 7, 2012

E3D: ‘The marketplace is changing’


Aveva embraces 3D data with brand-new design/maintenance package

CAMBRIDGE, UK – There’s comes a time when an update just isn’t good enough. Such is the message being sent by Aveva leadership with the release of Everything3D, the company’s brand-new plant design and maintenance software package that embraces 3D data collection and with it the concept of “lean” construction and operation practices.

“It’s not a direct replacement for PDMS,” said Simon Bennett, senior product business managerat Aveva. “It’s more than PDMS. And we’ll continue to support and sell PDMS, with releases every 12 months that will include improvements as well. We want to insure our customers about that.”

For the near future, that means Aveva will take on the added cost of supporting both software packages, in terms of support and R&D, but Bennett and Aveva feel E3D’s benefits will become so obvious that the customer base will eventually all move over to the new package.

There are more than 2,000 of those customers, of course, and Aveva already make the claim that they’re the “fastest growing design software company for plant design,” so why now release a brand-new software package?

Bennett said there were three main factors that guided the decision. First, quite simply, “the marketplace is changing,” he said. “The pace of change has become unprecedented – oil and gas, mining, chemical, all these industries are under new pressures to extract and create in the most efficient way possible. Our operators are having to go into much more risky projects, like the Arctic regions, deeper water, and that risk is getting distributed to any of the subcontractors that are willing and able to take on that risk … Especially after Macondo and Fukashima, there is more scrutiny than ever – be it legal, political, or from the public domain itself. There’s higher pressure than ever on these projects.”

This pressure requires the virtual elimination of error. Which leads to the second main driver behind E3D’s release: A software package that embraces in its core point cloud data. “We’ve expressed to our EPCs that there’s never been a greater opportunity to take advantage of laser technology than right now,” Bennett said. “As all the vendors are locking horns, pricing is going down, and it’s easier now to justify the use of laser capture for design and revamp.”

Finally, Aveva realizes that their customers’ workforce is turning over; engineers are retiring and their institutional knowledge and workflows are retiring with them. Further, “we’re seeing a glut of new engineers coming through in emerging markets,” Bennett said. “They’re keen to be plant designers, but they don’t have the experience yet. We have to manage both communites.”

But just telling people that software has new capabilities isn’t enough, Bennett said. That’s why they’re pitching E3D as a way to embrace the tenets of lean construction, which means designing it right the first time, building to the design, and reducing waste and rework along the way as much as possible. Aveva feels 3D data capture goes hand in hand with that kind of workflow and that the cost and times savings it can help realize will be a good impetus for people to look into E3D’s capabilities, which are capable of running in parallel with PDMS for those who’d like to sample.

“Image that a fabricator has their own scanning tools and laser devices for dimensional control,” Bennett said, “and that as a routine part of the handover it’s mandated that once the steel is cut or welded, they would scan it, send it back to the designer, and make sure it fit the model. It creates a feedback loop in the form of 3D laser data.”

Gary Farrow, Aveva VP 3D data capture business management, came to Aveva with the purchase of the LFM point cloud handling software and knows well the way that’s been integrated with E3D. “We think there are some very big carrots available,” he said. In the case of the above fabricator, he noted that any errors could possibly be accommodated in the design space before the steel even reaches the construction site, which might save even more money than simply catching the error and fixing it at the fabrication site.

Maybe it even becomes best practice at the time of handover to the owner operator that the constructed site be laser scanned and compared against the design to make sure the contractor built what was supposed to be built.

Aveva also understand that customers will likely only believe all of this is possible when they see it. “We expect some of our customers to start folding their arms and saying, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah,’ but we’re sharing this as our vision. We think this is a good way to think about the future of plant design efficiency and we want to make these capabilities just come out of the box in our software.”

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