|The following article "Today's IT design tools redefine life
cycle," appeared in the January/February 1999 edition of POWER.
Copyright 1999 by The
Jump to this article's section on Projects,
reporting on SOAPP's SOAPP WorkStation.
design information, such as a CAD file, often is unusable to
power plant personnel who can't access the specialized software. But
new suites of compatible software promise to capture and use
information throughout the plant life cycle.
Information once used strictly to design and build the plant is now
being accessed for long-term operations and maintenance. A suite of
compatible software not only improves the transition from construction to
operation, but enables concurrent design and engineering during earlier
stages of the project.
By Robert Swanekamp, PE,
To the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor,
life cycle begins with conceptual design and ends with acceptance testing
and the handoff of the "turnover package" to the owner/operator.
Viewing the plant in his rearview mirror, the contractor is certain that
all the information the operator will ever need to know is neatly
contained in the mountain of electronic data, documents, spreadsheets, and
computer-aided design (CAD) files he left on the control-room shelf.
To the owner/operator, life cycle begins "soon as the demand EPC
contractor goes away," and ends after 30 years of long-term
operations and maintenance (O&M). He will spend much of those three
decades, especially early on, feverishly inputting information to
computer-based maintenance management systems, regulatory compliance
reports, process control systems, performance monitoring systems, and
countless other information systems required to keep his plant
Much of the information he needs, of course, is in that mountain of a
turnover package. But inevitably, the EPC's files reside in a dozen
different software applications, not one of which is compatible with the
dozen different software applications the operator uses. The operator
can't be too hard on the EPC, because even his own dozen software
applications aren't compatible with one another.
Moral of the story: Information stored away in a vaultwhether a
literal or electronic oneis no information at all.
How suite it is
Fortunately, several information technology (IT) companies have begun
linking different software applications, creating a suite of compatible
products that span the entire project life cyclefrom conceptual design
through long-term O&M. The suite of products also promises to cut the
cost and time of project development, connecting worldwide participants
from multiple companies and disciplines so that they can work
concurrently. Engineers, procurement specialists, equipment vendors,
construction managers, owners, operators, even regulatory compliance
agencies will be able to review and modify the project through every step
of developmentin synchronized, efficient fashion. At least that's the
Key to the suite of software-marketed under such labels as plant
continuum, life-cycle services, and data asset approach-is a single data
base, properly integrated, supported by appropriate applications, and
provided with interfaces to real-time information. The goal is to break
through the traditional delineations between conceptual and detailed
design, engineering and procurement, construction and O&M, and so on.
It's all part of the broader trend of using IT as a comprehensive,
competitive toolnot just for simple automation of repetitive tasks and
Many power producers have taken a first step toward the life-cycle
approach through Lotus Notes, supplied by Lotus Development Corp.,
Cambridge, Mass. The application connects a utility's thousands of
employees, as well as vendors, customers, and regulatory agencies.
Examples: Duke Power Co., Charlotte, NC, and Florida Power & Light Co.
(FP&L), Juno Beach, Fla.
Duke uses Lotus Notes to create "virtual project teams" that
form, execute, and disband when the assignment is finished. Managing
virtual teams, whose members may be located on opposite sides of the
state, is easier with one enterprise-wide information system already in
place, the utility has found. With Lotus Notes, Duke employees access and
manage multiple data forms, including text, graphics, photo images,
spreadsheets, or slide presentations. As a result, the utility believes it
is more tightly tied together, leading to faster decision-making and
greater knowledge in all corners of the company.
FP&L uses Lotus Notes to, among other things, manage the chemical
analysis of water samples from 11 different generating stations. Samplers
take laptops into the field and enter sample histories and dates directly
into the Notes application database. After returning to the lab, analysts
maintain chain-of-custody records and track status of the samples with the
same software. Once the lab completes its analysis, a report is compiled
and automatically distributed, still using Lotus Notes. The process
simplifies record keeping, cuts administrative costs, and preserves
information in a way that makes it easily available if needed in the
Java's caffeine kick
Bentley Systems Inc., Exton, Pa. Is one of several software developers
taking the life-cycle approach several steps further. Through what it
calls the "Bentley Continuum," the company links multiple
software applications and makes extensive use of the Internet to, as it
says, "go beyond the boundaries of single-point solutions."
One of Bentley's most recent products is MicroStation/J, a Java-based
engineering modeling tool that is intended to allow enterprises to operate
global extranets, connecting worldwide participants regardless of platformPC,
Internet browser, or mobile device. The system also allows sharing of
"live" information among engineering applications and enterprise
systemssuch as Oracle Applications or SAP R/3.
Bentley's affiliate Jacobus Technology Inc., Gaithersburg, Md., applies
the philosophy specifically to the power industry, through "Plant
Continuum." A key element is the ability to make sophisticated yet
practical use of the Internet as the chief global connectivity medium. A
Jacobus representative points out that participants large power projects
traditionally achieve connectivity by installing expensive, dedicated
lines around the world for point-to-point communications or to expand
wide-area networks. But the company spokesman believes that these
companies can no longer afford to "wire the world," and should
instead rely on the Web. The company's JSpace technology, the core
architecture of Plant Continuum, is built from the ground up on the
technologies and standards of the InternetTCP/IP, HTML, VRML, and Java.
Another key element of Plant Continuum, according to Jacobus, is that
it provides users the means to easily control object behavior and
relationships without ever touching the software program. Most software
suppliers today are incorporating object-oriented technology in their
products. But the Jacobus representative argues that the benefits of
object-oriented implementation typically apply only to the supplier, not
to the user.
"Can end users extend the objects?" Jacobus asks. "Can
they change object behavior? Create new objects? Can any of these be done
without access to the source code?" Jacobus technology, according to
the supplier, does enable these activities, thereby extending ownership of
the objects to end-users. Jacobus technology recently was selected by
Vogt-NEM Inc., Louisville, Ky., a major supplier of heat-recovery steam
generators, for comprehensive implementation. Vogt's suite of selections
include PlantSpace Design Series 3D, PlantSpace P&ID, PlantSpace
Enterprise Navigator, and PlantSpace Integration Tools.
A different suite of products, known as Plant Design Management System
(PDMS), recently was selected by an alliance of four EPC contractorsABB
Lummus Global, Bloomfield, NJ, Brown & Root, Houston, Tex., Kvaerner,
Milford, Ohio, and Stork Engineers & Contractors.
The first PDMS, launched in 1976 by Cadcentre Inc., Wilmington, Del,
may have been the world's first 3D plant design system. The updated
technology, referred to as PDMS Global, allows multiple participants at
multiple sites to share design data while being connected using
conventional communications technology (Fig. 1). Although the data are
stored locally at each individual project location, the overall project
administration is conducted from a nominated central location, or hub. The
hub can be relocated to other sites at any time during the project.
With PDMS Global, on-line automatic data synchronization replaces
manual methods of updating a project, and the entire project team has
access to current design information at all times.
Nuclear plants lead the charge
Another company linking software for a plant's life-cycle is EA Systems
Inc., Alameda, CA. It believes that the investment in resources made at
the design stage of a project creates a set of "data assets"
that can be used throughout the plant's life. The software company,
teaming with Duke Power, recently demonstrated the approach at the McGuire
Using EA Systems' PASCE software suitethe name stands for Plant
Applications and Systems for Concurrent EngineeringDuke created a data
base comprised of plant schematics and equipment dataincluding all
piping and instrument drawings (PIDs), instrument details, connection
diagrams, electrical load lists, and control-loop/logic drawings (Fig. 2).
The data base then was linked directly to the plant's instrument and
control (I&C) systems, so that on a regular basis, it is automatically
updated to reflect the current states of all plant systems. This
"living data base" is then used to both manage operations and
produce the documentation needed to meet regulatory requirements.
2. A 'living data base'comprised
of PIDs, connection diagrams, etc.can be built using a suite of
compatible software applications.
Since implementing the PASCE suite, Duke has trained over 400 employees
from the design, construction, and operation departments and accessed it
for more than 200 plant projects. Some of these projects include
concurrent engineering efforts with teams from multiple organizations and
different cities simultaneously working the project. In a typical project,
new HVAC, piping, and conduit routes are laid out on a single model, and
interference checks conducted daily. The design thus evolves more
accurately and quickly than before.
By using the computer-based design information as a "data
asset," Duke estimates that its cumulative saving will reach at least
25% of McGuire's total installed cost over the 30-yr life-cycle of the
facility. In fact, Duke now sees the entire business of running a nuclear
plant as an "information management task."
Other nuclear utilities have applied the data asset approach, though
not under that label, to more economically satisfy regulatory
requirements. Information about the design, operating, and licensing basis
of a nuclear plant is vital to its safe operation. Such information
changes over a plant's design, construction, and operating life cycle, and
these changes must be accurately tracked to meet internal and regulatory
As part of a commitment to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC),
ComEd, Chicago, IL, issued a plan for improving quality and access to
design-basis information at the end of 1996. The plan defined a
multi-million dollar, multi-year effort for validation and reconstitution,
where necessary, of the design bases at all six of ComEd's nuclear
facilities. A key element of the plan is an enterprise-wide data base that
captures design-basis functions, their references, and their relationships
with other functions, documents, systems, structures, and components.
With assistance from Sargent & Lundy LLC, Chicago, Ill, two
software tools have been developed to support the ComEd project: one for
data acquisition, called the Design Basis data baseor DBdband one
for data navigation and retrieval, called StationBasis (Fig. 3).
3. Nuclear plants, with their strict
regulatory requirements, can benefit from the life-cycle software
The project should help ensure that the most current, official sources
of design, licensing, and operating basis information are used at its
plants. In addition, it is expected to deliver cost savings-through
work-process automation, faster information retrieval, and reduction of
printing, distribution and filing of hard copiesof $100,000 per year.
You're probably aware that dozens of new potential power projects are
announced every week. One recent study counted more than 40,000 MW of
merchant plants that supposedly will be built in the US over the next five
years. Most analysts agree that few of these will ever be completed. Then
consider that for each potential project, more than 100 proposals may be
submitted, and you'll understand the enormous pressure that EPC
contractors are under to reduce proposal development costs while still
delivering accurate, project-specific, financially viable designs.
One of the new suites of software products can
help. For example, SEPRIL, LLC, Chicago, IL, offers SOAPP, for
State-of-the-Art Power Plant. Note: This suite of products was originally
developed by Sargent & Lundy, Chicago, IL, under the sponsorship of
the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Palo Alto, Calif., but its
commercial applications are now developed, supported, and maintained by
Centerpiece of SOAPP is WorkStation, which is
intended to automate the plant design process: generating heat and
material balances, equipment sizing, drawings, cost estimates,
construction schedules, and financial analysis based on user-defined
equipment, site, environmental, fuel, and economic criteria (Fig. 4).
4. Design and engineering phases can
be substantially streamlined by use of IT tools.
WorkStation provides a complete customized set of
preliminary design documents. Drawings, which are in DXF format, can be
viewed in WorkStation or exported to a commercial CAD package. Similarly,
reports can be printed directly from WorkStation or pasted into text
documents or spreadsheets built with other commercial software.
SOAPP was successfully applied by Central &
South West Energy Inc. (CSWE), Dallas, Tex, for a new power project in
eastern Washingtonone that is moving toward completion, but not before
many alternative designs had to be considered.
As originally conceived, the project was to be a
914-MW combined-cycle plant using four F-class gas turbines, with
mechanical-draft cooling towers for heat rejection. But regulatory
agencies raised concerns about the project's demand on the local water
table, so over the next two years, CSWE had to investigate alternative
cooling designsincluding dry cooling using air-cooled condensers and
once-through cooling using water from a river15 miles away.
CSWE needed to rapidly develop a series of
reports on the alternative designs and respond to as many as 10 new
questions every month from the regulators. The two-year review process
culminated in a full-blown environmental review, which CSWE was able to
promptly and cost-effectively respond to, thanks to the powerful SOAPP
Through SOAPP, CSWE engineers accessed current
equipment lists, cost estimates, and performance data for each of the
alternative designs. The software was then able to run "what if"
scenarios to compare the various dry-cooling and once-through cooling
The software clearly demonstrated that pumping
equipment, installation, construction, and operating cost for the 15-mi, 6
ft-diameter pipe would be prohibitively expensive. When the final
discussion was made to alter the design to air-cooled condensers, much of
the process engineering had already been done, and the fully scoped
project was able to move promptly to the next phase.
The latest addition to WorkStation is Version 1.7
of the SOAPP-CT WorkStation for combustion turbine-based power and
cogeneration plants. Version 1.7 adds performance, emissions, and cost
models for nine new commercial turbines, updated information on 54 others,
plus a variety of new features and capabilities.
- Jacobus Technology Inc., Gaithersburg, Md., "Plant Continuum:
Solutions for the Global Dimensions of the Plant Industry,"
- K. Adamson, EA Systems Inc., Alameda, Calif., "The Data Asset
Approach: A model for Plant Life Cycle Management"
- J. S. Brtis, Sargent & Lundy LLC, Chicago, Ill, and A. C.
Kickson, ComEd, Chicago, Ill, "Cost-Effective Computerization of
Design Basis Information," American Power Conference, Chicago,
- D. P. Ringhausen and others, EPRI, Palo Alto, Calif.,
"Information Age Technology for Power Generation Project