Growth in plant retrofit market a good sign for manufacturing

In launching its new Plant Design Suite 2012, Autodesk hopes to be able to tie all the parts of plant retrofit together from design stage to modeling to operation.


Part of the drive behind the new software launch is a growth in the plant retrofit market, as manufacturers begin to look for efficient ways to modernize and improve operations. Mark Strassman, VP of Plant and Construction, Autodesk, discussed the trend with CFE Media and how their product fits into this growing market:

CFE Media: What’s the retrofit market like right now for manufacturing? Do you see a lot of investment in infrastructure improvements in plants? And have those projects been more on the discrete or process side?

Strassman: Autodesk continues to see a significant amount of investment and work focused on the retrofit and revamp of existing process plants. This is especially so in the developed countries where: population growth and increased urbanization are driving greater demand for output, existing industrial process plants are aging and requiring upgrades, and the regulatory climate is becoming stricter with respect to environmental and safety standards.

CFE: Why does a plant design product make sense for facilities today?

Strassman: The Autodesk Plant Design suite offers a multi-discipline solution for designing and retrofitting facilities. It is particularly relevant in the market today where engineering and design efficiency is critical. There are large costs incurred when plants are offline and not producing at full capacity during a retrofit/revamp project. Increasingly these projects are “fast-tracked”, requiring multiple project tasks to be done in parallel with tight timelines. In this environment, it is essential that projects get done on time, on budget, and with minimal errors/rework. This can only be accomplished successfully with good collaboration and coordination. Moreover, for a low-cost, in-house engineers can collaborate more effectively with design teams to ensure the owner/operator input is reviewed early in the design cycle. With everyone using the same software, projects are easier to coordinate.

CFE: What’s the role of the plant manager or facilities manager in this kind of project? How does plant design software help leverage their knowledge on a retrofit project?

Strassman: Often, nobody knows an existing plant as well as the plant or facilities manager, and during a retrofit/revamp project, their working knowledge of the facility is important to project success. Autodesk Navisworks is the ideal tool for plant managers to review a retrofit/revamp project. With this tool, they can conduct a thorough, whole-project design review by walking through 3D models, simulating construction, and visualizing changes to the plant. They can then provide feedback, based on their knowledge, by marking up any errors or issues they see. It is a powerful and easy to use tool for owner/operators (and especially plant managers) to review the work of their engineering firms.

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Plant Engineering, 

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