Managing the Plant Data Lifecycle by Chris Trayhorn, Publisher of mThink Blue Book, January 1, 2009 Intelligent Plant Lifecycle Management (iPLM) is the process of managing a generation facility’s data and information throughout its lifetime – from initial design through to decommissioning. This paper will look at results from the application of this process in other industries such as shipbuilding, and show how those results are directly applicable to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of complex power generation facilities, specifically nuclear and clean coal plants. In essence, iPLM can unlock substantial business value by shortening plant development times, and efficiently finding, reusing and changing plant data. It also enables an integrated and transparent collaborative environment to manage business processes. Recent and substantial global focus on greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with rising and volatile fossil fuel prices, rapid economic growth in nuclear-friendly Asian countries, and energy security concerns, is driving a worldwide resurgence in commercial nuclear power interest. The power generation industry is undergoing a global transformation that is putting pressure on traditional methods of operation, and opening the door to substantial innovation. Due to factors such as the transition to a carbon-constrained world, which greatly affects a generation company’s portfolio mix decisions, the escalating constraints in the global supply chain for raw materials and key plant components, or the fuel price volatility and security of supply concerns, generation companies must make substantial investments in an environment of increasing uncertainty. In particular, there is a renewed interest globally in the development of new nuclear power plants. Plants continue to be built in parts of Asia and Central Europe, while a resurgence of interest is seen in North America and Europe. Combined with the developing interest in building clean coal facilities, the power generation industry is facing a large number of very complex development projects. A key constraint, however, being felt worldwide is a severe and increasing shortage of qualified technical personnel to design, build and operate new generation facilities. Additionally, as most of the world’s existing nuclear fleet reaches the end of its originally designed life span, relicensing these nuclear plants to operate another 10, 20, or even 30 years is taking place globally. Sowing Plant Information iPLM can be thought of as lifecycle management of information and data about the plant assets (see Figure 1). It also includes the use of this information over the physical plant’s complete lifecycle to minimize project and operational risk, and optimize plant performance. This information includes design specifications, construction plans, component and system operating instructions, real-time and archived operating data, as well as other information sources and repositories. Traditionally, it has been difficult to manage all of this structured and unstructured data in a consistent manner across the plant lifecycle to create a single version of the truth. In addition, a traditional barrier has existed between the engineering and construction phases, and the operations and maintenance phases (see Figure 2). So even if the technical issues of interconnectivity and data/information management are resolved via an iPLM solution, it is still imperative to change the business processes associated with these domains to take full advantage. Benefits iPLM combines benefits of a fully integrated PLM environment with the connection of an information repository and flow of operational functions. These functions include enterprise asset management (EAM) systems. Specific iPLM benefits are: Ability to accurately assess initial requirements before committing to capital equipment orders; Efficient balance of owner requirements with best practices and regulatory compliance; Performance design work and simulation as early as possible to ensure the plant can be built within schedule and budget; Better project execution with real-time information that is updated automatically through links to business processes, tasks, documents, deliverables and other data sources; Design and engineering multi-disciplinary components – from structure to electrical and fluid systems – to ensure the plant is built right the first time; Ability to virtually plan how plants and structures will be constructed to minimize costly rework; Optimization of operations and maintenance processes to reduce downtime and deliver long-term profits to the owners; Ensuring compliance to regulatory and safety standards; Maximizing design and knowledge reuse from one successful project to another; Managing complexity, including sophisticated plant systems, and the interdependent work of engineering consultants, suppliers and the construction sites; Visibility of evolving design and changing requirements to all stakeholders during new or retrofitting projects; and Providing owners and operators a primary repository to all plant information and the processes that govern them throughout their lifecycle. Benefits accrue at different times in the plant lifecycle, and to different stakeholders. They also depend heavily on the consistent and dedicated implementation of basic iPLM solution tenets. Value Proposition PLM solutions enable clients to optimize the creation and management of complex information assets over a projects’ complete lifecycle. Shipbuilding PLM, in particular, offers an example similar to the commercial nuclear energy generation ecosystem. Defense applications, such as nuclear destroyer and aircraft carrier platform developments, are particularly good examples. A key aspect of the iPLM value proposition is the seamless integration of data and information throughout the design, build, operate and maintain processes for industrial plants. The iPLM concept is well accepted by the commercial nuclear ecosystem. There is an understanding by engineering companies, utilities and regulators that information/data transparency, information lifecycle management and better communication throughout the ecosystem is necessary to build timely, cost effective, safe and publicly accepted nuclear power plants. iPLM leverages capabilities in PLM, EAM and Electronic Content Management (ECM), combined with data management/ integration, information lifecycle management, business process transformation and integration with other nuclear functional applications through a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)-based platform. iPLM can also provide a foundation on which to drive high-performance computing into commercial nuclear operations, since simulation requires consistent valid, accessible data sets to be effective. A hallmark of the iPLM vision is that it is an integrated solution in which information related to the nuclear power plant flows seamlessly across a complete and lengthy lifecycle. There are a number of related systems with which an iPLM solution must integrate. Therefore, adherence to industry standard interoperability and data models is necessary for a robust iPLM solution. An example of an appropriate data model standard is known as ISO 15926, which has recently been developed to facilitate data interoperability. Combining EAM and PLM Incorporating EAM with PLM is an example of one of the key integrations created by an iPLM solution. It provides several benefits. This includes the basis for a cradle-to-grave data and work process repository for all information applicable to a new nuclear power plant. A single version of the truth becomes available early in the project design, and remains applicable in the construction, start-up and test, and turnover phases of the project. Second, with the advent of single-stem licensing in many parts of the world (consider the COLA, or combined Construction and Operating License Application in the U.S.), licensing risk is considerably reduced by consistent maintenance of plant information. Demonstrating that the plant being started up is the same plant that was designed and licensed becomes more straightforward and transparent. Third, using an EAM system during construction, and incrementally incorporating the deep functionality necessary for EAM in the plant operations, can facilitate and shorten the plant transfer period from the designers and constructors to the owners and operators. Finally, the time and cost to build a new plant is significant, and delay in connecting the plant to the grid for the safe generation of megawatts can easily cost millions of dollars. The formidable challenges of nuclear construction, however, may be offset by an SOA-based integrated information system, replacing the traditional unique and custom designed applications. To help address these challenges, the power generation industry ecosystem – including utilities, engineering companies, reactor and plant designers, and regulators – can benefit by looking at methodologies and results from other industries that have continued to design, build, operate and maintain highly complex systems throughout the last 10 to 20 years. Here we examine what the shipbuilding industry has done, results it achieved, and where it is going. Experiences In Shipbuilding The shipbuilding industry has many similarities to the development of a new nuclear or clean coal plant. Both are very complex, long lifecycle assets (35 to 70 years) which require precise and accurate design, construction, operation and maintenance to both fulfill their missions and operate safely over their lifetimes. In addition, the respective timeframe and costs of designing and building these assets (five to 10 years and $5 billion to $10 billion) create daunting challenges from a project management and control point of view. An example of a successful implementation of an iPLM-like solution in the shipbuilding industry is a project completed for Northrop Grumman’s development of the next generation of U.S. surface combat ships, a four-year, $2.9 billion effort. This was a highly complex, collaborative project completed by IBM and Dassault Systemes to design and construct a new fleet of ships with a keen focus on supporting efficient production, operation and maintenance of the platform over its expected lifecycle. A key consideration in designing, constructing and operating modern ships is increasing complexity of the assets, including advanced electronics, sensors and communications. These additional systems and requirements greatly multiply the number of simultaneous constraints that must be managed within the design, considered during construction and maintained and managed during operations. This not only includes more system complexity, but also adds to the importance of effective collaboration, as many different companies and stakeholders must be involved in the ship’s overall design and construction. An iPLM system helps to enforce standardization, enabling lean manufacturing processes and enhancing producibility of various plant modules. For information technology architecture to continue to be relevant over the ship’s lifecycle, it is paramount that it be based on open standards and adhere to the most modern software and hardware architectural philosophies. To provide substantive value, both for cost and schedule, tools such as real-time interference checking, advanced visualization, early-validation and constructability analysis are key aspects of an iPLM solution in the ship’s early design cycle. For instance, early visualization allows feedback from construction, operations and maintenance back into the design process before it’s too late to inexpensively make changes. There are also iPLM solution benefits for the development of future projects. Knowledge reuse is essential for decreasing costs and schedules for future units, and for continuous improvement of already built units. iPLM provides for more predictable design and construction schedules and costs, reducing risk for the development of new plants. It is also necessary to consider cultural change within the ecosystem to reap the full iPLM solution benefits. iPLM represents a fundamentally different way of collaborating and closing the loop between the various parts of the ship development and operation lifecycle. As such, people and processes must change to take advantage of the tools and capabilities. Without these changes, much of the benefits of an iPLM solution could be lost. Here are some sample cost and schedule benefits from Navy shipbuilding implementations of iPLM: reduction of documentation errors, 15 percent; performance to schedule increase, 25 percent; labor cost reduction for engineering analysis, 50 percent; change process cost and time reduction, 15 percent; and error correction cost reduction during production, 15 percent. Conclusions An iPLM approach to design, construction, operation and maintenance of a commercial nuclear power plant – while requiring reactor designers, engineering companies, owner/operators, and regulators to fundamentally change the way they approach these projects – has been shown in other industries to have substantial benefits related to cost, schedule and long-term operation and maintainability. By developing and delivering to the customer two plants: the physical plant and the “digital plant,” substantial advantages will accrue both during plant construction and operation. Financial markets, shareholders, regulators and the general public will have more confidence in the development and operation of these plants through the predictability, performance to schedule and cost and transparency that an iPLM solution can help provide. Filed under: White Papers Tagged under: Asset Optimization, Clean Coal, Generation, Maintenance Management, Neil Gerber, Nuclear, Product Lifecycle Management, Utilities, White Papers About the Author Chris Trayhorn, Publisher of mThink Blue Book Chris Trayhorn is the Chairman of the Performance Marketing Industry Blue Ribbon Panel and the CEO of mThink.com, a leading online and content marketing agency. He has founded four successful marketing companies in London and San Francisco in the last 15 years, and is currently the founder and publisher of Revenue+Performance magazine, the magazine of the performance marketing industry since 2002.