Project Intrepid, shifting the engineering paradigm
Project Intrepid was born with the bold objective of reducing project man hours by 50% without impacting safety or quality. This article from Inspired issue 3 2017 highlights its achievements.
Our project-driven culture means we are always looking to add greater value in execution.
Project Intrepid was born with the bold objective of reducing project man hours by 50% without impacting safety or quality, so how are we progressing?
Designing an industrial facility is massively complex. Many sources input to such a project. The overall requirements for the facility combine with equipment specifications, design requirements, codes and standards, software functionality, fabrication inputs, and schedule drivers to name just a few. To complicate things further, many inputs can change during the design process.
Documentation and data for large-scale projects arrive in all types of formats and with varying levels of quality. So we have to develop not just a fully compliant technical design but ensure that all the design information is valid, accurate and consistent.
A strong start
Company-wide brainstorming sessions purposely mixed engineers and personnel of all disciplines, experience and variety of focus within a project to get the broadest range of opinions. The sessions uncovered project pain points, frustrations, information bottlenecks and time wasters while revealing opportunities for positive benefits and values.
New and untried technologies were discussed as part of a wish list to improve project performance. Ten global sessions generated more than 1,700 ideas, which were categorised into key concepts to be explored.
Cost and benefit information was collected through detailed interviews with subject matter experts, project and functional leaders to determine the ideas with the most potential. This phase identified 77 ideas to be assessed in three groups.
Traditionally, a large percentage of engineering projects is customised for the client. While this provides excellent results and unique solutions, it can easily lead to cost overruns, especially when there are process, environment or feedstock unknowns.
How far can you standardise? Project Intrepid uses standard designs for specific components, systems, modules and even full projects. Standardising a complete facility is not common but this approach would theoretically achieve our 50% reduction target in one move! Intrepid is targeting that improvement for a broader range of activities. In practice we take lessons from executing the first project to improve the second, adding further efficiencies and improving the design.
This method has also been used for onshore refining and other process applications with similar design parameters. Increasingly, fixed and modular systems have been used effectively and can be replicated with considerably lower design and engineering man hours and related costs.
Data centric execution
Oil and gas engineering projects are typically document-driven. Project Intrepid is moving from document centric to data centric, an environment that enables significant amounts of data to be managed with greater speed and reliability. Project-proven, industry-accepted software has been adapted for process engineering execution. These tools provide the right intelligence for integrating disciplines and creating the many iterations of critical documents, including P&IDs, equipment line lists and instrument data sheets needed to move the project forward.
Projects of any size experience ongoing changes. Data centric execution provides a means of integrating any changes to maintain current, consistent and accurate information for immediate decision making. Automated document handling reduces input and increases quality in the data output as well as flowing it directly to the customer or relevant project stakeholders. Through dashboard environments internal checks and balances maintain alignment with the latest supporting information.
Our ultimate target is to develop a completely data-centric process where all data is entered once into the system and all information, including drawings, is transferred electronically to the fabricator and the client’s operations team.
Communication on projects can be a bottleneck. The paperwork handoff may be redundant and not value-adding. Man hours are wasted searching through document trails and archives. Automated handover of information among project contributors saves time and improves quality. New software contributes to decision making by consolidating calculations and making them available for accurate and immediate delivery.
An example is rule-based engineering systems, a programmed system that automates some of the decision-making processes for engineers to reduce man hours and increase repeatability. Project closeout documentation was identified as another bottleneck in the cycle. As part of Project Intrepid, data books are compiled electronically as the project progresses. An automated retrieval system also searches existing data to identify information on past projects with similar attributes that might support current execution. This cross-referencing capability extends to identifying and matching components of multiple drawings down to valves and pumps.
Implementation and Results
We have identified 77 use cases where we can improve our efficiency. To date, we have reduced our engineering man hours by over 10% on projects and are currently driving forward on areas that will increase those gains.
Twenty-three ideas have already been deployed on projects, with significant man-hour savings. A further 10 ideas are being developed to bring even more value. Our clients are feeding back that they are pleased with the first improvements and excited to see the next ideas implemented.
Project Intrepid combines digital and automation, past performance, engineering expertise, adaptation of software, existing knowledge, and standardisation of work processes. The status quo has given way to technology and new methods designed to dramatically reduce project man hours while maintaining traditional quality, safety and innovation. Project Intrepid continues to shift the project execution paradigm as we develop better technologies and learn from our progress.
Our customers expect us to manage this complexity efficiently and they require a technically correct design as quickly as possible so they can start the fabrication process.
Project Intrepid is specifically focused on the early project execution phases - concept selection, pre-FEED, FEED and detailed design - but we expect the improvements will also impact construction, commissioning and project handoff. The end goal is to lower front-end project costs through efficiency, streamlining, reducing unnecessary deliverables and eliminating redundancy.
Reproduced from Inspired issue 3 2017