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Getting More out of Engineering Data at BASF

As an owner operator, BASF wants to utilize the power of the Intergraph Smart Suite of products during the full asset life cycle. Arndt Teinert, IT Manager at BASF, discusses the challenges and opportunities.

BK: Welcome to HxGN RADIO, my name is Brian. Thanks for joining us today.

BASF creates chemistry for a sustainable future, combining economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. The BASF portfolio is organised into five segments: chemicals, performance products, functional materials and solutions, agricultural solutions and oil and gas, which align so well with Hexagon’s target industries.

Join us today as we explore BASF and the solutions under their provided portfolio. With me today is Art Tineart.

AT: Hello.

BK: The senior E&M IT manager at BASF. Today, we’ll be talking about how BASF is getting more out of its engineering data. Art, thanks for joining me today.

AT: Yeah. Thanks for being here.

All right, well I’m excited. Tell us a little bit about BASF.

AT: Yeah. You already described it very well. Our claim is we create chemistry. It’s a big company. We have 113,000 employees overall worldwide. Yeah, we have a lot of sites, six Verbund sites, we call it, and over 300 smaller sites all over the planet. It’s a very huge company. As you already said, we have a very wide portfolio of products. There was a famous advertisement here in the States, and it was something like, “We don’t make the products you buy. We make them better.” We do stuff which you don’t buy directly. It’s very likely that something you use is somehow built by using BASF products. It’s a business-to-business company on the chemical market. We claim ourselves to be the leader in chemical industry, in that wide portfolio and it’s, yeah, it’s an exciting company.

BK: Tell us a little bit about the Enterprise Document Management, the EDM Project.

AT: Yeah. The EDM Project, before I go to that, I have probably to explain a little bit how BASF works or where we see the need for that a little bit. BASF is an owner operator, so we operate chemical plants. On the other side, we have also engineering groups within the company who do planning to build them or to maintain them or to modify them. That’s a very important aspect for us to modify our plants. You might question why should somebody build a plant to modify it, so it’s because we are driven by market needs. We have to adjust our production facilities to market the amounts. We see that as a very important aspect of our business.

If you have that environment where you have existing plants and you want to modify them, you have to manage that process. You have to manage your engineering data, because people need the information to do the actual change. The EDM Project, which we call Engineering Data Management, aims to improve that process. That’s a little bit the idea behind it, so why we want to do it and what it should address.

BK: Nice. Key topics in EDM for an owner operator.

AT: Yeah. Key topics, I mean the main idea is to increase the efficiency of the engineering process, especially in the site engineering, so in the plant modification process. Currently, we aim at Ludwigshafen. Ludwigshafen is probably not known as a city here in the States. In fact, Ludwigshafen has the largest chemical plant, Verbund plant, on the planet. It’s a wide area. There are 33,000 people on that site, not counting the contractors, which are also on top of that. It’s a very large chemical site. That site has its own site engineering community, people who do these changes I just described.

Of course, we want to improve that process. They should be faster. We want to do it more with high efficiency, in terms of cost and time. The main goal of the project is exactly to reach that, to lower the time we need, to start earlier, finish earlier. Earlier starting means today, for example, people have to first look up the information they need. They work out, they have to look probably at the actual facility to find out what they can change. This takes time. In the future, we want to provide them the information as soon as they want to start the planning. That also lowers the time they need. All of this is … I mean the idea behind the EDM Project to increase the efficiency of that work process.

BK: Excellent. That’s the way to do it. It’s always a win-win there.

AT: Yeah.

BK: That’s great.

AT: Yeah it should work.

BK: Tell me a little bit about the main business case there is to start one.

AT: Yeah. The main business case is really that increasing the efficiency, though if people go outside, the operating divisions, they have an idea they want to modify. Say, “Okay. We need this here. We need a de-bottlenecking over there. The actual simulation of the plant shows that we are losing energy over there, or investing too much energy. We want to modify it.” Then, it’s really that how fast do we get that? How quick can the engineering people do the task? That’s the main business case, to improve that work process.

The site Ludwigshafen assembled a team of, I guess, 15 people just to look at that work process. It took two years to analyse it, to find those spots which should be optimised. At the end, they came up with, okay, we have to improve the access to the engineering data for the people, make it quicker, available and then do the change. Then also make sure that the engineering information which is created stays as good as it is. Today, we see that the information, I would call it, erodes over time. You have your engineering data, people start working. They do not work correct, in terms of they don’t update the information.

The actual result in the plant is correct, but the information on the systems is not that clean as it should be. It erodes over time. Then, the next one who wants to start planning a project, he finds a little bit of mess. Then, maybe he’s even increasing that mess by even not doing the updates after he has finished. Though it gets worse and worse, and the EDM Project also should solve that problem to keep the information as good as possible, also over long-term of time.

As an owner operator, we operate the plant 30 years, 40 years. On Ludwigshafen, we have some facilities which are older than 60 years. You can imagine if people don’t keep their room clean, I would say, that it turns in a mess over time.

BK: Yeah, oh yeah. It just gets harder and harder.

AT: Yeah, and gets harder and harder.

BK: Exactly. Yeah, that’s a good analogy.

AT: Don’t want to be the problem, yeah.

BK: Absolutely. Now, you’ve touched on this already, but just to clarify for all of us listening here, is who are you really trying to target for the EDM Project specifically?

AT: Yeah. The main audience, or the main target audience, is really the engineering people who do the plant modifications. That’s the main focus. Second focus is the people who do large capital projects. We have a unit which also tries to … A group of people who is planning the packages for a large couple of projects. We hand it over to contractors. They should also participate in their project. The main target audience is the site engineering community. These are those who do very often changes. I mean the number they told me is quite surprising. They do in Ludwigshafen, I think, over 15,000 plant modifications a year. That’s a huge number. You have to control that process. Again, you should ensure that at the end, the information you generate and you use is still, over time, stays clean.

BK: Absolutely.

AT: That’s the target audience. They should get a benefit from it.

BK: Good, good. All right, so what are some of the challenges right now for the EDM Project? How are you addressing them?

AT: The main, as always with IT projects, I think everybody knows that is the change itself is something to address, so how to make people aware that the process is more beneficial. I mean they work today and it works. As I already described, there are certain things which should be improved. You have to explain that to them. This is a major step to do, or a major thing to do to make them aware, this is something which might help you or helps another person, so we should go in that direction. That’s a major thing to do.

The technical stuff is also, yeah, sometimes difficult. We have legacy data on site, so it has to be first brought into a form which we can use in the new tools as we have paper on site. With paper, you cannot work in a digital environment. That has to be migrated into digital documents. This is something which we have to do. It’s just time consuming, but it’s not that difficult. It’s a major piece of the overall project. That’s a little bit the environment. The change itself, getting our old information or the existing information into the new systems, and then, of course, also handle the work process so that people do it correct. I mean if we just provide the tool, it will not work.

BK: Yeah, absolutely.

AT: You have to describe how to use the tool in detail, and then check that they are doing it. Maybe adjust and help them.

BK: Yeah, absolutely. That’s always … Anything you do, you got to explain how this works and help them to make sure they’re doing it correctly. Exactly.

AT: If you want to hammer a nail in the wall, you have to know how to use the hammer.

BK: That’s true. Yeah.

AT: If nobody explains to you, you might do it wrong.

BK: Yeah, exactly yeah, one way or the other. It’s true. Yeah, going back to what you said earlier, you can do more damage in the long run if you don’t do it right. Yeah, that’s great. How is Hexagon PPM involved?

AT: Hexagon will provide the basic technology or the ground technology, not ground technology. That’s wrong. I mean the underlying technology, that’s it. Like the small plant foundation for providing that environment in which we want to implement the work processes, in which we want to control the workflow and control the data flow. Also, some of the authoring tools, that’s how we call it, also from Hexagon PPM. That’s, for example, the P&ID application, which we use for the P&IDs, the piping and instrumentation documents, diagrams, or the 3D modelling application, which we use to model the actual plant on 3D. These are from Hexagon, and they are all linked together via the foundation platform, which I will call it the central hub in that environment. That’s the technology stack we want to use.

BK: Okay. Some of the challenges you mentioned earlier, how’s Hexagon helping to work with you on those and address those?

AT: Yeah. They help us, for example, with the migration of the legacy data, the old P&IDs. I mean some of them are on paper, but we have a lot of them which are in applications, which do not provide the necessary information that people need. They are just graphic, and we need a little bit graphic and data. They help us, for example, in migrating that information from the old formats to the new formats. They are providing all the consultancy services. We have a good link to them, to the development group also, to improve some of the tools. This is somewhat important.

For example, as an owner operator, we do something we call Project Aspen. We have the Aspen documentation for our plant, and we have running projects, engineering projects. All of that should be well linked together, so we should be able to see the asphalt and see the project. We work together with Hexagon to improve the tools, to provide that project Aspen concept in all of the existing applications. Some of them already have it. It’s pretty good. We use that. Some of them are still on the way to go there. There, we work together with them, improve the tool or the interfaces so that’s pretty good.

BK: Excellent.

AT: Yeah.

BK: Cool. Benefits that you’re going to see as a result of using PPM technologies.

AT: Yeah. I mean it’s a little bit linked to the main business case.

BK: Sure, sure.

AT: We want to see that the efficiency of the site engineering process is greatly enhanced, and that the people onsite, who work with the operating divisions, can get immediate access to Aspen information, talk with the operation guys this is where we want to do the change. Everybody knows the information is as it is onsite. They don’t have to go outside and do measurements. It’s really as it is. Then, immediately start the process. At the end, check in everything so that they have, again, an Aspen situation. That’s the main driver. I think this is what we really want to achieve.

BK: Good. This is great, sounds exciting. Sounds like it’s really going to be a great solution. I mean it already is obviously, but have you had any immediate feedback from anyone so far? Or specific examples of someone doing it?

AT: Oh, we are still in the way of doing it.

BK: Okay.

AT: We had some kind of, we call it pre-study project where we did some kind of prototype together with Hexagon PPM. The feedback, yeah, it’s good.

BK: Good.

AT: There are still things to improve.

BK: Of course, there’s always things.

AT: There’s always something to improve.

BK: Exactly.

AT: I think we are in a good way. The cooperation with Hexagon is quite good.

BK: Good.

AT: Yeah.

BK: Excellent.

AT: Yeah.

BK: I love this. Art, thank you very much for your time and for sharing all of this too.

AT: You’re welcome.

BK: I appreciate this. Anything else you want to share before we head off?

AT: No. I think I’m good, I’m good.

BK: All right, excellent. You can learn more about BASF over at BASF.com. Of course, more about Hexagon PPM solutions at hexagonppm.com. Thank you again for being with us.

AT: Thanks Brian.

BK: Be sure to tune into more episodes on hxgnradio.com or iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher Radio. Thanks for listening. Have a great day.

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