CAD aligns with lean revolution

Terry Knott
Friday, January 4, 2013

Aveva, one of the leading providers of engineering and design software for the plant and marine industries, marked its 45th anniversary with the launch of a groundbreaking new technology which the company claims will transform the nature of 3D engineering design, aligning it with ‘lean construction’ principles.

Demonstrated for the first time at Aveva’s ‘World Summit’ in Paris this October, Aveva Everything3D (E3D) software looks set to have an impact on the way process plant is designed and built for EPC projects in the oil & gas industry. Rapid project startup, design efficiency, compliance and reduction in construction rework are among the benefits listed for the new software, which boasts a host of functions including integration with 3D laser surveys, nextgeneration 3D modelling, automated 2D drafting and full inter-operability with other CAD systems.

The company emphasises that E3D is more than just a better or faster design tool – it is also an enabler of lean construction practices. Since the advent of ‘lean manufacturing’, originating in the car manufacturing industry some decades ago, there has been a steady drive to introduce the same principles to capital construction projects – in essence, seeking ways to design production systems to minimize waste of materials, time, and effort in order to generate the maximum possible value.

According to Aveva, the one-off, project-based nature of capital projects is not amenable to many of the principles of lean manufacturing, but now the ability to integrate 3D laser scans of as-built structures and plant with the computer generated design model, closes the feedback loop between construction and design, hailed by the company to be a breakthrough in project execution.

Laser scanning technology integrated with design modelling in Aveva’s E3D software.

‘Laser scanning is now cheap, quick, accurate and non-invasive,’ says Aveva’s UK marketing co-ordinator Matthew Wren. ‘So it can be readily employed at any point in the production and construction process. Physical items – from individual pipe spools to major modules or the as-built structure – can be scanned using any leading scanner system and the scan model quickly integrated into the 3D design model in E3D. This enables the project team to respond quickly and effectively to any discrepancies or specification changes, perhaps by adjusting the geometry of items still in the design stage to fit the as-built form of preceding items. Rework can be reduced or eliminated so that items arrive on site in the correct condition for accurate and efficient construction.’

Another frequent obstacle to project efficiency can be the various levels of review and approval required to maintain progress, adds Wren. Difficulties can arise in part from the complexity of the issues to be understood and acted upon, and partly because key decision makers have many calls on their time, or travel widely, making it difficult to schedule their availability. E3D addresses this problem by exploiting new technologies used in mobile devices and ‘cloud computing’. Not only do these enable information to be provided to users anywhere at any time, they also support innovative ways of organising and presenting the information in a manner appropriate to the particular decision required.

‘Now that this essential enabling technology is becoming available, opportunities arise for the development of lean business processes which make use of it,’ adds Wren. ‘We may be witnessing the start of a business revolution every bit as important as the lean manufacturing one.’

The views of clients have been incorporated into E3D. For example, the continuing erosion of skills and experience as older professionals retire to be replaced by a new generation, is a major concern. These new professionals not only have less experience than their seniors, they also have different expectations of what technology should do. E3D addresses this issue partly through a new approach to user interaction and partly through the greater embodiment of design rules and standards. These are implemented in an advisory manner, not a prescriptive one, so users retain flexibility of working while the system alerts them to non-compliant design as they work. This ensures that high quality design can be readily achieved while also serving to educate the less experienced professional who can ‘learn by doing’ and understand the reasons for particular rules and standards.

E3D is fully inter-operable with Aveva’s leading PDMS CAD software, enabling customers to upgrade in their own time, protecting their investment in design data assets and eliminating the business risk and disruption created by incompatible design systems.OE

Categories: Technology Engineering Software Design

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