Accelerated Digital Transformation Highlighted at AVEVA World Conference

By Ralph Rio

ARC Report Abstract


The recent AVEVA World Conference in Orlando, Florida focused on the accelerated digital transformation that is shaping today's dynamic industrial businesses.  The event was “sold out,” with more than 1,000 people registered.  Attendees learned about how cloud, connectivity, machine learning, and a merged edge and enterprise computing provide improvements for plant design, construction, operations, and maintenance.  ARC Advisory Group analysts gave presentation during two sessions. 

Opening Plenary

Steen Lomholt-Thomsen, Chief Revenue Officer, AVEVA highlighted digital transformation during the opening plenary presentation.  His theme, "Unify, Connect, and Visualize," focused on managing data and information for improved performance throughout the asset lifecycle.  AVEVA’s product line spans three key domain areas for industrial firms: engineering, operations, and maintenance.

Ted Franck, Director, Controls and Electrical Engineering, Campbell Soup Company followed, outlining programs for the company’s digital transformation journey.  During 2019, Campbell transitioned to AVEVA’s subscription model for software.  He made the point that Campbell Soup is using AVEVA’s Predictive Analytics solution success-fully for predictive maintenance in many of its processing plants.

James Hughes, Director IOC, Suncor, reviewed the Suncor 4.0 program.  This involves taking the company through a digital transformation involving integration to attain a higher level of performance.  The program’s methodology includes objectives, people, data and technology, i.e., “purpose-driven, people-focused, data-informed and technology-enabled.”  A key point comprises creating value from data to secure the future of Suncor through digital technology.

Lisa Bodell, CEO, FutureThink, provided an inspirational keynote based on her book “Why Simple Wins.”  Her theme recommended escaping the complexity trap, “get comfortable with being unbusy,” and focus on the work that matters.  The benefits of simplification go beyond financial benefits to include happier and more engaged employees and customers.

Breakout Sessions Go Deeper into Accelerated Digital Transformation

Over 100 breakout sessions provided many opportunities for going deeper into AVEVA’s products and case stories.  ARC attended and spoke in a few.

Maximize Performance from Capital Projects to Operations

Amish Sabharwal, EVP, Head of Engineering Business, AVEVA gave an opening presentation and transitioned to a customer panel discussion. A key point was the very low adoption of technology in the construction industry (including plants) and the benefits of digital transformation.

Analysis indicates that 75 percent of major projects are over budget by 40 percent or more and late by an average of 20 months.  In the operate and maintain phase, 25 to 50 percent of engineers’ time is wasted searching for engineering information to support production, maintenance, reliability, safety, and compliance programs.  Digital transformation should be a top priority for project delivery (engineering, procurement, and construction), handover, and plant engineering; with a data-centric approach rather than just document revision control. 

The primary customer challenge involves managing asset information throughout the lifecycle.  Mr. Sabharwal advocated for an “EPC 4.0” program across seven dimensions (rewire contracts, create collaboration, rethink engineering, improve procurement, improve onsite execution, infuse innovation and reskill workers to think digital) to improve project delivery productivity.  Action in all seven areas can boost productivity by 50 to 60 percent.

Digital Transformation in Engineering and Design

Julien de Beer, Senior Vice President - Portfolio Strategy, AVEVA continued the theme of EPC 4.0 and digital transformation.  Complexity and dynamic customer needs require better document management with more focus on data vs. documents.  Moving from a document-centric approach to a data-centric asset information management strategy provides more trusted information and fewer design errors.  This enables huge cost savings in the design and build of brownfield projects and greenfield plants.

accelerated digital transformation

According to Mr. de Beer, EPC 4.0 gives EPCs and owner operators more control over their processes and improves the relationship be-tween them for higher efficiency in engineering and project delivery.

Optimize Process Lifecycle from Design to Operator Training

Norbert Jung, VP Portfolio and Product Management, AVEVA kicked off the session, “Optimize your process lifecycle from design to operator training.” According to Mr. Jung, the process lifecycle can stretch from the earliest phases of conceptual design through to the behavioral digital twin of the as-built plant.  Simulation is a key enabling technology for a company embarking on a transformational journey.  AVEVA looks at three dimensions of the Process Lifecycle: Engineer, Operate, and Maintain.  Simulation brings value early on in the asset lifecycle during the conceptual design and FEED phases.  Simulation also adds value in the commissioning and startup phase of the asset where controls checkout and operator training are critical. Then, as we move through the operations lifecycle, operator training is still key when it comes to raising the competency of both field and panel operators (greenfield and brownfield sites).  Maintenance also benefits with skills and competency development using simulation.

Challenges limiting adoption and usage of simulation relate to the variety of perspectives.  For example, in the engineering phase, specific are-as of responsibility (piping, instrument and controls, process etc.) have different sets of software tools.  AVEVA’s approach to converge simulation tools helps break down the silo mentality and improve collaboration, understanding, productivity, and project cost during the engineer phase of a process lifecycle.

Peter Reynolds, Principal Consultant, ARC Advisory Group, provided an overview of the current trends impacting the process simulation market.  In his presentation, “Not Your Father’s Process Engineering and Reasons to Re-Think Process Simulation,” he commented that “There is a tremendous opportunity to improve project design early in the project phase during conceptual design.  Data is generated at each project phase but does not always make it to the next phase because of a document-based approach.  Many projects use a document-centric approach resulting in errors and omissions that inhibits the ability to manage through changes and reuse information in subsequent project phases.”

Peter believes process engineering design is headed to a work process re-design and a data-centric approach that allows the project knowledge to keep up with increasing complexity as the project evolves.  Collaboration will focus on supporting digital information flow across the full asset lifecycle, from FEED and detailed design including cost estimation and controls, and into the systems that operate and maintain the plant.  Improvements may be as high as a 30 to 50 percent in efficiency gain as the convergence between the project phases intensifies.


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Keywords: AVEVA, Digital Transformation, APM, Plant Design, Construction, Operations, Maintenance, ARC Advisory Group.

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