FY: Thank you for joining us on HxGN RADIO. I’m your host, Frank Yope. I’m looking forward to exploring today’s topic with our expert guest. Let’s get started. I’m here with Ken Deng, who is the principal product owner, design and engineering product manager at Hexagon PPM. Today’s episode, Ken and I will be exploring prose engineering. Thank you so much for joining us, Ken.
KD: My pleasure, Frank.
FY: Let me ask you … this is a brand-new product that we developed. Can you explain to me why we started this development?
KD: Okay. So first is, actually PPM decided to expand our market coverage by providing additional solutions to cover the need for the front-end engineering design solution. As you know, we have wide portfolios stemming from P90, but more geared towards the detail-design phase. We realised that at the conceptual design of a project … people still need the tools to help them make decisions and to give a green light or red light to a big kind of a project. That’s where the process engineering is here to help.
FY: Right. Right. I understand. I think especially in this time when people are looking at cost. This product will help, correct me if I’m wrong, in making the right decision upfront about the capital investment that owners need to do to actually build these plans. Right?
KD: Correct. It’s all about optimisation. Making sure the cost and schedule of the to-be running project is on track and also helping you make good decisions.
FY: Great. What is the main functionality? If somebody was asking, “Okay, what are the main things that this product will bring to the process engineer to help him in that whole design and decision process?”
KD: First of all, it’s about the information. Gathering the right information. We interface with other tools to present it in a good user interface so that you can make a decision. We also included some modernised features like the new grid that is even better than the Excel-type spreadsheet to help you quickly access the information and make a decision, and capture the historical decision’s path so that this same set of data may be re-used in future projects.
FY: Oh yeah. That’s important now that you mention. You can also re-use data for projects that come by later? Maybe use the best practices that you’ve developed earlier?
KD: Exactly. We can link with your own knowledge base and re-use your PFD, which is the main bit of the feed. Try to do some modifications and keep track of all the changes.
FY: So basically, when you have an existing process-flow diagram, you can re-use it in this scenario?
FY: I know that there are a few of these types of solutions on the market. Not many. I think personally that most engineers use a spreadsheet. But what is setting us apart, is our differentiator with this product?
KD: Just like other PPM engineering design tools, we start with the data-centric mindset, so everything we do, we have good structure in the database in the backend. It’s not just about the graphic or schematic variable. It’s also about the rich data we’re managing at the very beginning of your project’s conceptual design level. That is the key. And to link the data and the graphical element together to help you make a good decision in good context.
FY: You are also looking for the “I” in data?
KD: Right. Right. This “I” is important.
FY: So this display, or interface I should say, was P90 as well?
KD: Yeah. Whatever we capture is basically the process design conditions at the earliest stage. The same set of data will be thrown into the detail design, and the P90 is the first step typically in the detail stage. We’ll make sure the data is re-used from one PE stage to the P90 stage happens smoothly and at lower cost to maintain.
FY: I know developing software is complex. It is also costly. How are you sure that you’re developing the right functionalities that the market is actually looking for?
KD: That’s a good question. We actually started the new product with a focus group with all the industry leaders, and customer representatives helped us shape this product. As you know, we are not the first ones to do this, so there is some feedback from other solutions that we tried to avoid or do better than. I think we have a good start.
FY: I think it’s great that you’re working with the industry, you know. Will there be a magical button to convert a PFD into a P90 or no?
KD: I think we tried to do that, but that is not … we won’t continue it because the data we want to reuse and flow into P90, but not the graphic because that gives a level of details between two tools. We tried to make only the data flow, but not re-use the PFDS P90. We heard that’s the wrong thing to do. It’s not …
FY: I agree with you. I was just asking to make sure that we have the right understanding of this because there is a big difference between the P90 and the PFD. There’s really not a one-to-one relationship on that. The data, you said, there is integration there to help make the transition but it will not be automatic.
Now, the one thing the P90 has been very successful with is the fact that they have automation in there. You know, the automation capabilities. You know better than anybody else. Would you also offer that automation in the smarter-process engineering?
KD: Yes. That API capability is included in the first release of this new product. We have the same mind-set. The reason for that is that we can’t just create one other box, too. That is our work process and scenarios. We understand there are needs to expand the capability to interface and to interrupt ability with other tools. The API is the perfect way to do that. In addition to that, we bring this API concept to the new web thin client level; in the future releases will enable the web-access of the PE manager of the data may be at risk for the web API.
FY: I agree with you. I mean, as long as you provide the flexibility. To do things automatically. I think that will be a great thing. I’m happy that you made this available in this product. You just briefly mentioned connecting to other applications. I know you can’t do everything, so for instance, sizing heat exchanger. I guess we want to take advantage of tools out there in the market like STRI. Do you offer tools in smart-process engineering to hook up to these external calculation and sizing type of tools?
KD: Yes. Definitely. That is the plan. We as a front and a data management tool or hub have interface to work with other specialty tools. The HTRI is one example that we want to deliver the other box’s interface with them. With API capability, there is no limit. It’s basically the use of the smart-plant process, engineering is the continuous augmentation of real data. You collect raw data in the database to be re-used in the future.
FY: Right. The other aspect of doing designs is that … I remember myself. When I was doing engineering, there’s a group that makes the data, but there is maybe even a larger group that views the data. We are moving to this web-based viewing with … enterprise portal, will those be able to review the design from Smart Plant processing in that environment when it becomes available?
KD: Yes. Exactly. The data acts as ability. It’s the key. You want to provide people with access to get minimal effort. That web API or the new web-based user interface is the key to accomplish that. We will hook this up with the enterprise portal, which means that you could view the graphic or the PFD and have the data information from the web browser.
FY: Once you have done your design. Everybody’s happy with it. At one point in time, there needs to a physical representation of their design. It’s a conceptual model basically. It helps us with the cost and several other studies like safety and construct ability and so on.
We are interfacing with a partner to convert the logical design that we do into a physical design.
KD: Yes. That is one of the key decision making at the feet stages to get the cost estimate. In order to do that, we need to do the 3D layout. We selected the ASD, which is a company specialised in auto routing and laying out the 3D plant. They can take the SPEE data and start to do the 3D layout and give the length of the pipe and overall piping rack and additional information to generate a more realistic cost estimate.
FY: All right. That’s very interesting and exciting. I think that extension to our portfolio is very important in this time when, like I said before, cost is a big factor in making sure you have the right data up front. Do you have any other things you’d like add that I maybe didn’t ask you?
KD: One thing I just want to mention is that this product is real. It has officially launched. The next release will be in June 2018. I encourage everyone that takes interest in this area to take a look and give us the feedback. We’d like to work with you in the future.
FY: Well, I think with that, we are done with our interview. I want to really thank you for being here and doing this with me. Thank you also to our listeners. Learn more about process engineering. You can look at hexagonppm.com, but be sure to tune in for more episodes of hxgnradio.com or iTunes. SoundCloud or Stitcher Radio. Thank you for listening.