Basic Engineering Fully integrated solution for basic engineering

Editor: Anke Geipel-Kern

Intelligent linking with simulation data saves many weeks of engineering work: easier Feed scenario handling as well as its documentation and calculation.

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Predefined modules make Feed-Engineering much more easier.
Predefined modules make Feed-Engineering much more easier.
(Bild: Aucotec)

Front End Engineering Design (FEED) is intended to assist plant engineers in making essential decisions and estimating costs realistically: Which technology and conditions produce the most effective functionality? Which combination of components yields the optimum cost-benefit ratio? What are the consequences of certain changes? These questions and many others are answered by the simulation in the Feed phase if the data of the different "cases and scenarios" is correct!

Data transfer from simulation into engineering

To do so, qualified engineers often have to transfer numerous amounts of data virtually by hand from the simulation tool into the engineering system. This data is then used to create the process flow diagram (PFD) as well as the corresponding worksheets and material balance documents. The data transfer alone of a simulation into the engineering system is very error-prone and can take weeks – but this is usually only the tip of the iceberg. The purpose is to weigh up different simulation results against each other. However, this multiplies the relevant work accordingly. Regardless of whether devices, scaling or recipes change, everything has an impact on effectiveness, functionality and, of course, costs.

The handling of these different scenarios or "cases" is enormously complex and time-consuming. It is thus on the one hand a huge challenge to retain an overview when there are multiple scenarios. On the other hand, providers can often afford three scenarios at most because of resource costs. Thus a plant engineer may not offer the optimum plant at all to the customer – to their mutual disadvantage.

Of course, basic engineering is covering more than just Feed. Therefore, Aucotecs’s solution which is the cooperative platform Engineering Base (EB) includes the possibility of configuring a PFD based on predefined modules. They can contain the full infrastructure of devices including their I&C and electrical parts in the data model and an abstract representation of a PFD. Such configuration will provide a fast and accurate calculation about the price range of the plant as well as estimates on energy and utility consumptions.

Moreover, process engineering companies which are interested in designing a simplified P&ID without the need of having advanced piping and instrumentation functions can utilize the basic engineering package of EB with attractive prices.

From Aspen to XLS

For engineers who work with simulations, EB additionally offers an absolutely unique integration of simulated scenarios and case management. For this purpose, Aucotec developed an intelligent link to the software of Aspentech, which is one of the best-known providers of simulation tools. Simulations with Pro II or self-configured XLS calculations can also be easily and effectively integrated directly into EB.

Never again manual work!

Thus the simulation results are automated and therefore can be quickly imported without errors. EB's PFD and worksheets immediately take over the calculations, and the documentation shows all consequences of a particular scenario from the rough flow diagram to the material balance. This is due to the fact that the PFD is not just a drawing for EB. It is the graphic representation of the information in the database and is therefore able to "understand" and implement the simulation results immediately. The process worksheets (data sheets) and material balances feed from the same source. Thus every scenario is documented instantly. Manual work which ties up resources – often for five weeks and more per scenario – as well as associated sources of error are a thing of the past.

Since a well-founded decision always requires several scenarios, EB offers unique support for highly complex scenario handling. All attributes for designing a plant's operating scenario can be changed, for example, tank size, mass flow, recipes or devices. EB automatically outputs new documentation for each newly triggered simulation. The user can choose whether to update the basic design with delta management or create a new process scenario.

The data import from the simulation contains all necessary information from the design via the profiles and curve diagrams up to the mass flow data, with each versioned in the defined scenarios. The platform principle of EB enables all scenarios to be stored in the same project. This is unique and makes handling clear. If each scenario is in a separate project as usual, it is easy to lose track of them, and comparisons take significantly more time.

Also externally cooperative

The process worksheets can also be output to suppliers as intelligent PDFs when more detailed data is required for certain components, for example, for costing. The supplier enters his specifications and EB automatically adopts the data – in the PFD as well as in the relevant follow-up documentation. This then triggers another simulation and the process starts again.

EB makes PFDs smart

Another aspect makes the solution with EB unique: Since the PFD and follow-up documentation from the simulation are intelligently linked in the database, they accelerate the actual engineering enormously upon receiving the order. The designers do not have to start from scratch with their engineering system, as is still often the case in practice, and transfer all results of the chosen scenario, which would be the case if the PFD existed only as a simple graphic.

EB already contains all necessary parameters and data of the scenario for which the contract was awarded. With such a starting point, you are not far from the P&ID and detail engineering for the real plant design. The concept and the most important basic information are in the central database; this basis is then followed by the specification and fine-tuning of the various disciplines by all participants, including from different locations.

Fully integrated

Besides process design with P&ID, instrumentation & control, electrical engineering, automation support, cause & effect, maintenance and execution management belong to various disciplines, they are all covered by only one platform: Engineering Base. There couldn’t be more seamless integration.

From automated PFD and report generation via convenient, clearly arranged scenario handling including calculations up to the ready-made engineering basis for the real, order-related plant design: the intelligent consistency of Engineering Base ensures a huge saving of time and resources in the FEED phase and in the transition to the next engineering level. It prevents errors, allows a unique overview of the calculated plant variants and ensures unparalleled data quality.

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This article was first published by PROCESS worldwide.