Tying plant design and construction to Lean principles

Plant Engineering talked with Simon Bennett from AVEVA about the best ways to adopt Lean working practices in engineering, design and construction.


At its recent World Summit in Paris, AVEVA announced the launch of its Everything3D project, which the company said is designed “to provide a new vision enabling customers to adopt Lean working practices spanning engineering, design and construction. This will speed overall project execution and reduce wastage.”

"Our customers are facing many new challenges," said Bruce Douglas, SVP Strategy and Marketing, AVEVA. "The pressure to extract more energy and mineral resources is resulting in larger and more technically challenging projects. An aging population of engineers in mature markets and an abundance of inexperience in emerging markets is driving plant design software to be easy to use, quick to be trained on and offer a faster time to production.”

To expand on that issue, Plant Engineering talked with Simon Bennett, senior product business manager, engineering & design systems at AVEVA, about better plant design, modeling and commissioning through Lean principles: 

PE: Plant design and construction is not always perceived as a precise process. How do you tie Lean principles into plant design through the use of better modeling?

Bennett: Current plant design systems do not provide tools to help the adoption of Lean practices. The key to unlocking the Lean potential is to allow the whole project team to work better together, providing ways to deliver information to the next internal customer and to receive feedback in return. The key AVEVA innovation is to make laser scan data from the plant under construction routinely available in the design process, so that designers will always design with respect to parts that have already been fabricated or constructed. This supports the key lean principle to reduce wastage, since rework in design avoids wastage of incorrectly fabricated or installed modules. 

PE: Your press release talks about the disparity between the aging engineering staff and the inexperience in engineers in some emerging markets. How does a tool like this help each of those groups?

Bennett: With the demographic conditions changing in engineering, emerging nations like India and China are producing more engineers than the more developed markets of Europe and North America. The converse is true of the latter markets, where the experienced engineers are fast reaching retirement, taking their design knowledge with them.

It is imperative that plant design software today is easy to use, quick to be trained on and even quicker to become productive. AVEVA recognizes this challenge and have created an intuitive user experience which supports the expectations of the new engineers and has added design rules and advanced checking tools to help capture and re-use the experience from the older engineers. 

PE: Where are the advantages to bringing vendors, system integrators and other outside staff into the design and build process?

Bennett: Lean construction projects provide benefits for Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) company and owners alike. The owner will see reduced project execution durations as the EPCs increase productivity, allowing them a quicker return on their investment. More effective information handover is a lasting benefit because of the higher level of accuracy when matching the as-designed to the as-built asset; the owner gets a true reflection of the delivery.

Continual adjustments in the original design based on the enhanced feedback loop from the laser scan data help to minimize discrepancies in the design and the delivered asset. EPCs will gain benefits through being able to manage the rework in the design office rather than in crisis situation on site. 

PE: After the plant is commissioned, how do tools like this help with operations and maintenance?

Bennett: The routine feedback from fabrication and construction through laser scan data will mean the design is adjusted during construction to take into account construction inaccuracies is that the final design model will be precisely how the plant was built. From startup the documentation to support operations and maintenance will be of higher quality and a true reflection of the design intent.

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