Turn CAPEX chaos into connected decision making with an EPC 4.0 cloud strategy

Posted: August 18, 2020

A new approach to the capital expenditure (CAPEX) phase of the Plant lifecycle is transforming project delivery – connecting teams and delivering schedule and cost savings. AVEVA’s EPC 4.0 strategy provides a clear framework for our clients as part of their overall digital transformation journey.

We believe an EPC 4.0 strategy is key to managing the consistency of information as it gets passed between disciplines. A data-driven, cloud-hosted approach joins the dots between each asset, design iteration, and project phase - improving transparency, collaboration, and reducing expensive errors, ultimately aligning stakeholders around a single source of truth enabling them to make informed decisions faster.

By focusing on the CAPEX stage, EPCs and Owner Operators can gain control right from the first digital assets being created. These can then be linked to operational data and the maintenance history of a plant as part of the complete digital twin. This allows the Plant Operator to have true operational insight into their facility.

Why EPC 4.0?

EPC 4.0 was created to tackle the inherently poor performance of the CAPEX sector. For decades, project stakeholders have relied on outdated methodologies and technology causing many projects to run over budget and/or over schedule. Without far-reaching change, the chances of a project being successfully delivered are slim.

Disconnected systems and tools used in project execution are a key cause of schedule overruns and unplanned costs. Siloed working, multiple and disparate systems, and duplication of information make it easy for engineering errors to go unchecked. This impacts procurement and construction or worse - the Plant reaches start-up only to find it cannot operate at the specified capacity.

It is also well documented that the industry has fallen behind the total economy in terms of productivity due to a lack of adoption of digital processes.

EPC 4.0 addresses this by leveraging data-centric solutions in the cloud to deliver CAPEX projects.


A simple and effective lifecycle strategy

The first step in the strategy is a simulation where we model and capture plant behavior. We engineer and capture the details of the components required to create that behavior.

Next, we design the layout and arrange all the required components. And then we execute to plan and manage the fabrication, installation, and construction of those required components into a plant facility. Finally, we train the operators at the Plant using the digital asset to enable them to understand how to operate in advance of the Plant being built to complete standards.

By adopting a fully data-centric approach, information can be passed from tool-to-tool seamlessly. Teams are aligned around a single source of truth thereby minimizing errors. This improves collaboration and increases transparency between project teams including discipline engineers, contractors. Owner Operators gain greater visibility of how the project is progressing in real-time and are able to make informed decisions to mitigate risk and leverage opportunity.

What does it mean for Owners and EPCs?

It will come as little surprise that project participants’ objectives are not always aligned.

For Owners, each project is just a step towards their wider business objectives. They are focused on cost-effectiveness, schedule efficiency, and the forecast of production capability. Whereas, EPCs are concerned exclusively with the project timeline, ensuring that they can first win the project and then try to keep the client happy so that they can continue to win more work, all while maintaining margins.

The key to an EPC 4.0 strategy is the transparency that digital tools provide. It enables both sets of objectives to be managed effectively allowing both parties to better understand each other’s requirements and achieve effective outcomes.

Let’s take a closer look…

EPC 4.0 Data Model

EPC 4.0 delivers a holistic shared environment with data at its core. All team members work in the same shared data environment where they have one set of specifications and standards. Everyone works towards contributing data to manage the maturity of the project as it progresses.

EPC 4.0 Model

Teams can easily share data and have full visibility at all project stages. They can see how much work has been completed and where schedules are falling behind. There is less pressure to generate huge amounts of data and the back and forth discussions between teams are reduced freeing-up valuable time to focus on critical tasks.

Most importantly, EPC 4.0 increases the communication between downstream teams in engineering, such as construction and operations so that they can provide input earlier in the project to positively influence the constructability and operability of the facility. It also allows them to see the engineering progress as it moves through the project – enabling them to adjust their real-time plans around construction or commissioning to minimize downtime and mitigate low productivity in the field.

A further benefit is the continual handover of information into operations so they can begin planning how they are going to efficiently run the facility once it is built to completion.

The data-centric approach

By taking a data-centric approach, EPCs and Owners build a plan to manage complex engineering information in a relational rather than a hierarchical way. This allows teams to go beyond just technical data. They can achieve data maturity by building the relationships between each asset's data points and how data interacts with each other.

This results in a single source of truth for all teams working on the project and enables connected decision making – they can trace who has made each change to each asset as the project progresses. The main thing here is that it is possible to generate documents, lists, drawings from the data instead of extracting data from documents, this allows greater consistency and higher quality. Users can view the data to meet their needs without creating a new document. Rather than receiving one, often incomplete package at the end of the project, a data-centric approach enables a continuous flow of information all the way to handover so that the owner for operations is always in the loop.

Crucially, a data-driven approach builds a ‘digital asset’ to match your ‘physical asset’ – a key part of the digital twin.

Accelerating to the cloud with EPC 4.0

Of course, when we talk about Digital Twin it really means taking industrial technology to the next level and what greater way to leverage that technology than with cloud. Data-centricity is the core of EPC 4.0 and this can be further enhanced with cloud-enabled tools that enable EPCs and Owners to build, maintain, and operate in a truly digital environment.

The Cloud accelerates project start-up by up to 50% and is a gateway to providing quick access to tools with minimal disruption to projects and less burden on IT resources. Keeping costs low, projects running efficiently, and providing a seamless experience for the end-user. An EPC 4.0 strategy with cloud-enabled tools instantly becomes a force to be reckoned with and to provide you with the perfect opportunity to take back control of your CAPEX projects.

EPC 4.0 benefits and savings – Four Key Points

The benefits of adopting an EPC 4.0 strategy deliver in four key areas

  1. Increase collaboration, flexibility, and transparency for all stages of capital projects. 
  2. Interact easily with team members, other teams, clients, vendors, and suppliers on one platform locally or remotely.
  3. Deploy quickly to accelerate project start-up by up to 50% and reduce IT costs.
  4. Ultimately, projects are delivered faster by adopting an EPC 4.0 strategy with 10-15% TIC savings on a typical project.

Watch our three-minute demo video to see how our EPC 4.0 project command center provides access to critical 1D, 2D, and 3D data all within a centralized hub in the cloud.

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