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A move to cloud environment improves project productivity and lower costs

To manage safety and effectiveness on operational facilities, companies operating in the process, power and marine industries are required to consider a move to the cloud to remain competitive, according to Rafi Hattar, vice-president at Hexagon PPM Middle East and Africa

Access to trustworthy, integrated engineering data and documentation is essential for both effective project delivery and safe and efficient plant operations, Hattar added.

According to him, a surprising number of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies still rely on unstructured information such as paper documents, drawings and datasheets that are scattered around in various official and unofficial storage locations.

In a recent study conducted by Hexagon PPM in cooperation with TechValidate, nearly half of the survey respondents from the energy and resources industries reported that 40 per cent or more of their facility information is unstructured. Only 39 per cent were confident that they could find the necessary information to adequately respond to an emergency.

Apart from the safety risks, unstructured engineering information can possibly lead to other serious consequences including inefficiency of operations and maintenance due to lack of proper information, increased cost of modifications and turnarounds and compliance challenges because of the failure to locate accurate and up-to-date information of the asset during an external audit.

The situation can be even more critical on today’s geographically complex mega projects as such large projects are more complex and involve multiple participants and contractors, which necessitates the need to manage right information management techniques.

Hattar said that cloud technology can pose a solution to the engineering information challenges face by both the plant owners and EPCs. It allows drawings, reports, schedules, tag lists, criticality lists etc to be available at a single location with all operational staff reusing the same piece of information.

According to the industry experts, a move to a cloud environment is expected to improve engineering information, better manage their projects costs and improve efficiency. In addition, a cloud-based solution aims to enable the project deliverables to support the next phase FEED, detail design, fabrication, construction and to support on-going plant operations.

The cloud environment also provides opportunities to meet schedules faster, reduce organisation migration costs and ease the handover process from project to operations by creating a centralised and integrated access point to all engineering data and services.

However, despite the advantages, the industry has been slow to embrace cloud, said Hattar. He said the two main reasons for this are risk aversion and gap between technology and knowledge.

He further said that the big players like Eni, Fluor and Shell have successfully executed projects in the cloud, showing significant advantages in terms of efficiency and access to information.