Automating material management data flows can deliver impressive savings

Information flow efficiency ensures design quality and reduces risks

All companies involved in EPC projects are struggling to improve competitiveness. It seems that everything that can be done to integrate all EPC processes is being done to improve project efficiency. But is this the case?

Does the “Swiss Knife approach” deliver the most value for EPC companies? The “Swiss Knife approach” here means a software suite that covers everything and where one supplier offers applications for all the purposes an EPC company can imagine. The capabilities of individual modules or smooth integration with others are not at high levels. Often, the customer is forced to buy all modules in a particular category, even though only a few are needed, leading to price increases.

Another approach would be using only the best-in-class applications for activities and integrating them. In many cases, these integrations already exist thanks to digitalization boom.

If one looks at the operations of EPC companies their primary activities consist of engineering, purchasing and construction. Several tools are used for these activities. At the beginning during FEED phase, Process Flow Diagrams (PFD) and balance sheets are created. A fluid list (FL) is also created from flow diagrams.

PFD is the basis for piping specification, which specifies the technical characteristics of materials, that in turn drive the selection of individual components.

Simple as  that, but what happens in practice?

To enable design software (packages) to work, all the specifications and materials need to be defined before they can be used in design. This often represents a significant amount of work: A typical small refinery project may have around 20 specifications, which creates fewer than 1000 different piping material item codes and takes maybe week or two to complete.

In somewhat bigger projects, the number of piping specifications might be +100, which easily causes the creation of +100.000 piping material item codes. In our experience, building from scratch would take several months for several persons. Additionally, the risk of human error is high. These mistakes can be costly when identified only at later phases of the project. Would someone seriously do this kind of work if there were a perfect tool that could reduce the time used to less than two weeks for one person in these projects? The answer is NO.

Add automation to your EPC processes

Puma5 is a material management software that adds automation to processes usually done manually. It speeds up the creation of project-specific piping material specifications and material definitions to support other main EPC processes: procurement and construction. Puma5 can create company-specific material coding for each piping material item that can be used to manage procurement and construction.

Improved cost estimation reduces risk in offering

Additionally, it stores pricing information of piping specification components for project cost evaluation and comparison to previous projects. Along time offering for new projects has less risk because own cost estimation is based on facts.

Simplify and enhance procurement

During the detail design phase, you can retrieve data back to Puma 5. This is an important phase because this way you can get accurate procurement lists to be used in procurement software. This information feed is automated. In Puma5, you can also combine nearby materials and components in procurement groups. Instead of five different sizes, you can combine them all into one. It means fewer different materials to be purchased and a bigger lump of the same material. This leads to lower pricing and finally a better margin for the EPC project.

Increase quality using automation

By adding automation to human processes, we can increase the quality in projects remarkably. The more information is created manually, the greater is the risk of errors occurring. According to some studies, the design-related error margin is 7% to 10% of the contract value. Setting up the project reference environment accounts for part of that. A typical mistake would be entering the wrong material data which can escalate project costs.

Connect engineering to construction

All data is consistent and correct and the same item coding for materials is used for the project. This is also important since common item coding enables seamless integration of construction software with engineering. Data/Information from the engineering phase drives the procurement and construction phases. If the data flow is optimized between all EPC processes, it enables efficient change management and optimizes construction site management, thereby reducing errors and costs remarkably.

Overall outcomes

The topics presented here generate value for EPC processes with an overall impact of reducing costs by between 5% - 12%. This is what several customers are reporting after the projects

By utilizing modern and dedicated tools to improve material data flows between different EPC processes, you can gain remarkable savings and improve the efficiency for your projects. CADMATIC and Computer Line Associates are developing tools for this purpose to drive your success.

Key benefits

  • Enhancing EPC project outcome
  • Adding automation to EPC processes
  • Savings in procurement
  • Speed up construction
  • Avoid errors and redo’s on site
  • Avoiding idling on construction site
  • Reduces project costs by 5-12%

Read more about PUMA5here.

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