The oldest research and design institute of the oil refining and petrochemical industry OJSC VNIPIneft, dating back to 1929, is today one of the leading Russian engineering companies in terms of its production potential, technical equipment, volume of work performed and the scale of orders received in the field of oil and gas processing, petrochemistry, chemistry and the development of oil fields. Throughout the entire period of the Institute's existence, it has been constantly implementing new technologies and approaches in the field of design, as well as adapting new software that appears on the market. The material is devoted to the experience of implementation and use in JSC VNIPIneft of the Engineering software of the AVEVA company to improve the design automation processes.
Since 2002, the institute has successfully used PDMS technology to work with a 3D model of an object (Fig. 1). The created catalog database contains almost all the elements that can be encountered while working on a project. To increase the productivity of specialists working with PDMS, VNIPIneft is constantly developing both specialized macros and individual programs. To date, a unique set of proprietary programs has been created, which significantly expand the standard PDMS functionality, significantly speed up the workflow and improve the quality of the projects being released.
In addition to creating programs that expand the capabilities of PDMS, the institute is developing its own programs that cover all areas of the design process, including the development of highly specialized computational applications. At present, the CAD system at VNIPIneft is a complex hybrid structure (Fig. 2), at the base of which is a set of programs produced by AVEVA, such as PDMS, Diagrams, Instrumentation and Engineering. This set is complemented by more than 100 other engineering, calculation and office applications, programs for preparing drawings (AutoCAD with many different add-ons to it). Also, the CAD system interacts with the electronic document management system and the electronic archive system for project documentation. To automate data exchange between a variety of specialized software, as well as between programs of the AVEVA family, the institute uses a large variety of proprietary interface programs.
The constantly growing amount of design data circulating between departments, their frequent changes by the customer, as well as a complex and not always transparent scheme of data exchange between production departments inevitably increase the likelihood of errors. To solve these and other problems, VNIPIneft began the process of transition to design using a unified information model of the facility. This approach implies the creation of a unified database of the designed object, which stores all information on the project, and this information is always up to date. The AVEVA Engineering application was chosen as the main software tool for implementing this approach.
Creation of own software was also considered as an alternative option. And despite the fact that the institute has enough resources and qualified programmers to create programs of this level, the decision was made in favor of the finished product available on the market. In particular, such a decision was due to the fact that all software tools require constant additions and improvements, otherwise they very soon cease to meet the requirements that users put on them, and these requirements, as you know, are constantly changing. Therefore, in the long term, which is more than 5 years, the costs of supporting and developing your own program will be very significant and comparable to the costs of purchasing a ready-made solution.
Like any new program that appears on the market, the Engineering application in the current version also has a fairly large potential in terms of improving its set of functionality and is not fully adapted to solving the problem of creating a unified information model at the institute. Therefore, the emergence of a positive effect from the implementation of this program is expected not earlier than 2016.
Why did the institute begin to implement this program now, and not wait for a newer version? As the practice of many companies shows, when implementing any program, there is always a large number of employees of production departments who (for various reasons) have internal resistance and unwillingness to use new programs. This inertia can be overcome, but it must be done gradually, otherwise you can face very strong opposition, which can significantly slow down or even stop the process of introducing a new technology. Employees of production departments need to be slowly involved in new processes, day after day reminded of the goal to which the company is moving. When the critical number of employees who have mastered the new program and adopted new approaches is reached, a turning point occurs within the team, and the rest of the employees inevitably switches to using the new program. It is from these considerations that the institute proceeds, implementing the Engineering application in the form in which it is now, clearly setting the course in which the company is moving in terms of automation.
Implementation goals of AVEVA Engineering
The application implementation process began at the end of 2014. Let's list the main goals of implementation.
Goal 1: Streamline engineering information flows. The design process is inevitably associated with the interaction of production departments both among themselves and with other organizations involved in the project, as well as with the customer. The randomness and non-transparency of the information flow system can lead to the fact that the necessary information is not received by all stakeholders in production departments or they receive it with a significant time delay, which in turn increases the likelihood of errors in the project and leads to an increase in design time. Our goal is to create a more transparent, simple and understandable system of notification of changes in design data.
2nd goal: to synchronize information stored in various programs in which employees of different departments work. The problem here is that, for one reason or another, information on the same design object (for example, equipment) in different production departments at the same time may differ. This can lead to the release of documentation containing outdated data, which entails the need for subsequent changes and an increase in design time. A data synchronization system is created to identify the presence of outdated information in a project, thereby increasing the level of quality of the project being executed.
3rd goal: reduce the likelihood of errors in the output documentation. There are a lot of reasons for errors in the output documentation, but there is a direct relationship between the frequency of changes in the original data by the customer and the probability of an error. Most mistakes are made due to carelessness when processing a large amount of information in a short time. After all, even a small mistake made in one department and transferred as a task to another can cause a chain reaction with the appearance of a lot of mistakes at once. Therefore, the creation of a data synchronization system based on the Engineering application will create an additional tool for checking the correctness of information, which will positively affect the quality of the output documentation.
Goal 4: Accelerate project delivery by streamlining design processes. The process of implementing an Engineering application inevitably leads to a revision of the design processes existing at the institute. The Engineering approach to design is becoming more object-oriented as opposed to the existing document-oriented approach. It becomes possible to apply elements of parallel design. Delays in work are eliminated in cases where the original data provided by the customer is incomplete. By creating a central repository of information in the form of an Engineering database, design processes will reduce many intermediate elements. For example, there will be no need to exchange documents between departments to complete the approval, because all information on the project is in one database and is available to all project participants.
5th goal: to automate the transfer of tasks between departments. This interesting problem can be solved in many different ways, and each company chooses the one that suits it best due to the circumstances. At OAO VNIPIneft, this problem is solved using the Engineering application, which allows us to revise the current method of transferring tasks from department to department in the form of a set of documents in electronic or paper format and to move to issuing tasks to related departments by changing the readiness status of an element in unified database.
6th goal: to speed up the search for information in the project. Practice shows that employees of production departments spend a significant part of their working time looking for the information they need. In the case of using a single data warehouse, all project participants can quickly search for information and be sure that the information found is relevant at the time of the search. In addition, the use of distributed attributes allows you to see the complete set of data for an element, populated by different departments separately.
Goal 7: Improve project manageability. By applying the item status system to the data stored in the Engineering database, project managers are able to constantly monitor the current state of the project and receive all kinds of reports to make timely decisions.
In fig. 3 shows a simplified diagram of information flows between various AVEVA modules and other engineering programs that are used in JSC VNIPIneft. As you can see from the diagram, information flows in an organization are a very confusing picture, while only the main elements of a real system are indicated here.
In fig. 4 shows a diagram of information flows using the Engineering application. I would like to note right away that with its help it is impossible to solve all the problems associated with data synchronization, but its use allows to some extent to streamline those numerous streams of information that exist when working on a project. Engineering acts as a dispatcher that manages the information circulating between engineering applications and allows more order to be brought into the system.
In fig. 5 shows the scheme for obtaining the output documentation. The information in the documents comes from various programs used in different departments. With this approach, under a certain set of circumstances, there is a possibility of encountering the problem of data desynchronization and getting outdated information into the output documentation. When using the Engineering application (Fig. 6), documents are generated from a single database, the information in which is always up-to-date, which excludes the possibility of getting outdated
Main stages of AVEVA Engineering implementation
At the first stage, an implementation team was formed. Since the Engineering application affects all major manufacturing departments, representatives of the following departments were included in the implementation team: process, installation, instrumentation, and electrical. Particular attention should be paid to the correct selection of members of the implementation team, since the success of the further implementation of the program will depend on the results of their work.
After the formation of the implementation team, they were trained externally in the AVEVA office. Also, the training course was completed by IT specialists who administer the Engineering application. Further, in accordance with the implementation plan, a pilot project was carried out, the purpose of which was to test all the capabilities of the software product and to work out those basic scenarios of interaction between departments that most often arise in the process of working on a real project. For the pilot project, a simplified model of a real object was chosen, which includes the entire set of unique elements. Carrying out a pilot project on a simplified model made it possible to reduce the time without losing quality.
The pilot project showed that Engineering functionality for the most part allows the institute to achieve its goals. At the same time, certain parts of the program require adaptation to the specifics of the company. This kind of adaptation means creating your own add-ins in C #. As a result, the institute will use a system consisting of an Engineering application as a base and a set of its own extensions. Basically, the expansion of the application's functionality will affect the synchronization system and the notification system.
It is important to understand that the introduction of Engineering leads to a significant change in the design processes. Therefore, simultaneously with the pilot project, VNIPIneft carried out an internal audit of design processes in production departments, as well as a check of the level of automation and the degree of use of PDMS. Based on the results of the audit, a plan was formed to revise the approaches available at the institute and draw up new maps of interaction between departments, taking into account the use of Engineering. This work is time-consuming, but it is clear that without clearly defined regulations and interaction schemes, the implementation of an Engineering application is doomed to failure. Currently, the institute is creating a system for automatic data synchronization between various programs, with the help of which data that have reached a certain status will be automatically synchronized with the Engineering database (Fig. 7).
The main difficulties in implementing an Engineering application arise at the very beginning due to the fact that the employees of the company need to get used to new ways of working. Therefore, in the early stages, it is necessary to attract the most loyal and involved employees. After a critical mass of people who have mastered the technology has accumulated, the implementation process will proceed by inertia. The selection of members for the implementation team should be the responsibility of the person responsible for the implementation of the program. It is important to take into account that the team members have not only good qualifications in their subject area at the same time with a high level of computer literacy, but also their personal qualities. Indeed, the speed and quality level of implementation directly depends on the work of the team. Subsequently, these employees will become centers for the dissemination of new ideas in their production departments.
Since at the first stages of implementation it is impossible to take into account all the details and nuances of a real project, the implementation is carried out in several iterations, each of which covers the entire chain of information flow between departments. Each subsequent iteration is filled with more detailed details and takes into account more special cases encountered in real projects. With this approach, on the one hand, the implementation time of the program increases, but on the other hand, the risks associated with the implementation of the program on a real project are reduced. Just as no two companies are alike, there is no single approach to software implementation. Each company has its own unique characteristics and developed over the years of practice. We hope that the experience of introducing AVEVA Engineering technology at VNIPIneft, which has rich capabilities for integrated design, will be useful to colleagues in the shop and will help them find their way to organize effective information exchange between project teams.
Date of publication: May 20, 2015