Given competitive pressures, process manufacturers put great pressure on project teams to bring projects on-time, on-budget to capture revenue and payback the outlay of capital sooner.
Engineering efficiency is one of the keys to success. This efficiency is measured in output per cost and in the ability to shrink task timelines on the project plan.
I spoke with lead engineer Brian Crandall in our Life Sciences industry organization to gain insight on what areas can help drive engineering efficiency. You may remember Brian from an earlier post.
Brian boiled it down to three areas: design & implementation standards, project execution methodology, and project design tools. I’ve addressed standards and projection execution methodology based on the S88 model in earlier posts so we’ve focused this post on project design tools.
Tools can help eliminate the repetitive and low-value tasks. They can also reduce risk and improve quality by eliminating errors associated with manual tasks.
Brian likes to think about these tools in distinct stages of the project. In the detailed design phase, documentation tools automate the system configuration work to come later. As an example, the Life Science project teams use DeltaV Control Studio as a design interface to generate textual and graphical description of how code should be implemented. This generates Visio diagrams for process visualization and Word documents to help detail further actions required. Documentation tools can also provide easily-readable summaries of the automation system configuration for use in project reviews, and in the case of non-GMP projects, provide the final documentation deliverables.
Coding tools are those that help in the implementation phase of the project. The project teams’ see engineering efficiency gains in both batch and continuous elements of the project implementation including: units, phases, composite modules, recipes, equipment module sequence logic, module database elements, and I/O database elements. Using XML and SQL data standards helps move information between the external databases and the automation system configuration database. Tools like DeltaV Bulk Edit and other ones created by the Emerson project teams have increased efficiency during this implementation phase.
During the test phase of the project, execution tools can help the testers rapidly access and manipulate large amounts of parameter values to verify that proper the actual control matches the design. Excel spreadsheet templates connected to the system with an OPC-based Excel Add-in provide the ability to read and write large amounts of data and capture this data for historical viewing and analysis.
A final point Brian made is that these same tools can extend engineering efficiency beyond project commissioning. The combination of standards, methodology, and tools make ongoing changes and testing more streamlined and reduce the overall maintenance costs over the life of the plant operations.