The energy sector has been slow to appreciate the potential of product/project life-cycle management, but disasters such as the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident prompted a change of heart.
More times than not, when it comes down to using product/ project life-cycle management data (PLM) the energy and utilities sectors lag behind most others. This culture of confrontation and secrecy between operators, contractors and the supply chain has emerged. But things are changing for the future.
And what is changing the future?
The emergence of PLM as the missing link in the utilities sector.
On the other hand, the aerospace and defence industries have embedded PLM tactically within their industries for 20 years. They have used PLM in order to capture data at source for large-scale product and project traceability, information management, in-service support and regulatory compliance.
Relying on ERP, enterprise asset management systems for financial life-cycle management
"By using the product in this way only, these industries are not utilising the full scope of benefits and assistance that PLM has to offer," Edge PLM Software Managing Director Barry Bevis said.
"The utility sector, by using PLM, can rely on a single source of plant, product and development information for extensive project and product life-cycles.
"This can be used to manage innovation across all states and ensure better security, efficiency, productivity and amplified top line revenue."
It took the 2011 international disaster to give the industry a wake-up call
Past international disasters highlight to us the inherent and impertinent need for change within this industry, as well as highlighting the problem in a rather blatant way.
The Fukushima nuclear accident and BP's Maconodo disaster demonstrate the need for detailed and precise data on every single aspect of a major project; from the idea, through to the design, the building and construction and the operation to maintenance and life-cycle performance.
The demand globally for new energy resources seems to increase as the days goes on.
Bevis said PLM can be used to manage and control the formation of energy and utility assets to track each and every component during long-term asset life cycles.
"PLM can also be used to regulate the impact of changes to plant and maintenance, and to comprehend and understand why specific decisions were made," he said.
Teamcenter Product/Project Life-cycle Management: benefitting cultural change
Teamcenter PLM solution offers the capability to increase revenue while keeping costs in line, to extend and preserve the safe use of long-life resources, to ensure safe and secure delivery of products along the supply chain, to connect global terms, to optimise risk management in unpredictable markets, to enable worker safety, to ensure quality and regulatory compliance and to capture and protect intellectual property.
For a decade, a major French nuclear power company has been deploying Teamcenter to manage standard nuclear reactor design.
Bevis said safety and compliance is one of the main issues that keep directors awake at night.
"Therefore, regulatory safety compliance is dominant. PLM also offers benefits in the way of cultural change, by capturing knowledge before vital skills are lost due to the ageing workforce. To do this, it captures and implants procedures, developments and new ways of working to enable effective business re-engineering," he said.
PLM: ensuring efficiency
In order to guarantee an investment is cost effective and arranged for safe and efficient high performance, risk management is vital.
Atomic Energy Canada uses PLM to simulate robotic operations in a vital environment; to guarantee the implementation of the safest and fasted procedures.
Bevis said PLM was able to help the company to decrease costs using a virtual environment, as well as generating documentation archives for safety purposes.
Significant benefits are offered through the use of PLM in terms of collaboration. It is also fundamental in producing and providing effective and resourceful energy projects, such as the new offshore wind-farms, to time and cost.
Balfour Beatty and other leading contractors are using Teamcenter to enhance collaboration, to increase value, and to work more closely and be more watchful of energy operators and other parties. The ultimate aim is to be sure that everybody is on track with the correct information, at the right time, and that they are ultimately working as a team instead of being divided into fragmented divisions and parts.
PLM enables configuration management to be optimised throughout the life-cycle of a plant. As it is designed, as it is planned, as it is built, and as it is maintained. This provides a clear understanding of why certain decisions were made and provides us information on the potential impact of any future changes.