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Cloud technology improves productivity and lowers costs in PP&M industries

The companies operating in the process, power and marine industries (PP&M) are required to adopt Cloud technology to remain competitive and structure information to ensure safety and effectiveness, said Rafi Hattar, vice-president at Hexagon PPM Middle East & Africa

He said that an access to trustworthy, integrated engineering data and documentation is essential for both effective project delivery and safe, efficient plant operations.

However, a surprising number of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies and plant owners still rely on 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 more than 40 per cent of their facility information is unstructured.

This becomes worrisome as unstructured engineering information may lead to other serious consequences such as inefficiency of operations and maintenance, increased cost of modifications and turnarounds and compliance challenges including failure to locate up-to-date information of the asset during an external audit.

This is the reason why Cloud technology can provide a solution to the industry’s engineering information challenges. In Cloud technology, drawings, reports, schedules, tag lists, criticality lists, etc exist in a single location, enabling all project and operational staff reusing the same piece of information.

The Cloud-based solution aims to enable the project deliverables to support the next phase FEED, detail design, fabrication, construction and on-going plant operations. This consistency offers opportunities to better meet schedules and ease the handover process from project to operations.

Other benefits of a Cloud technology include faster project start-up, easy access to relevant data, reduced capital expenditure due to central cloud delivery, effective and timely operations training and smoother project handover.

In spite of the advantages, the industry has been slow to embrace Cloud mainly because of risk aversion and the gap between technology and knowledge. For a long period, there was a shortage of Cloud providers with comprehensive knowledge of the industry requirements. However, the situation has changed now. After continuous development and pilot projects with the key players in the industry, Cloud solution providers have breached the gap and recognise its specific applications on the PP&M industries.

Hexagon’s Intergraph Smart Cloud is an example of a Cloud solution to a business issue, which aims to bring globally dispersed resources together. Eni, one of the leading multinational oil and gas companies, has used the technology to address engineering and process design on a global level, where all vertical applications are available for collection and storage of engineering data.

With global energy demands increasing and the oil price continuing to fluctuate, a major focus must be the minimisation of overheads for everyone involved. A sharper focus on productivity and costs is needed to achieve this. Therefore, implementing Cloud technology is thought to be best place to embrace these challenges.