How has digitalization made integrated engineering more efficient?
The concept of integrated engineering refers to information and processes that are available in a single database with interfaces to various engineering and automation systems. Actions and activities done in the engineering phase can be more consistently executed in the operations and maintenance phase because of the seamless data flow between various tools and functionalities that a single database enables. Moreover, with digitalization and the ability to more easily transfer massive amounts of data through modern communication protocols such as Profinet, data collection into a single database has become easier than ever.
Why is a single database a necessary first step? What’s so cool about optimized workflows and seamless data transfer?
Being that one common database provides all relevant engineering disciplines access to the same pool of data, there is a real opportunity to optimize workflows. Here’s a simple example:
- A piping run is changed with a resulting impact on the instrumentation choice
- This modification will trigger a notification that the affected tag number is in need of review
- Once revised by an instrumentation engineer, data sheets and P&ID’s will update automatically to keep the database current enabling the automation engineer to adjust his loop in the last step
Traditionally, there was more of a sequential way of handling such a scenario that could potentially delay the process and create revision and data confusion. With a single master database, it is possible to get to a point where anybody can work on anything irrespective of how far other disciplines are in a project. With some exceptions, of course.
So, is a shorter time to market attainable?
Integrated engineering in the realm of digitalization brings with it numerous benefits. Apart from the potential to condense the engineering cycle considerably and ensure a more accurately designed project, the most significant benefit is perhaps the shortened time to market, which can have a massive impact on any operations. Consider the added revenue that could be generated by bringing a de-bottle-necking project to completion 3-4 months ahead of schedule. Project time compression is on top of the added benefit of enabling simulation that can be used to improve the process as well as operator training.
Stay tuned for my next blog about integrated operations. In the interim, watch this video that explains the concept of integrated engineering in more detail.
Have you made use of a common database and been able to reap some of these benefits? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.