Welcome to AECWeekly! In an interview this week with Matt McKinley, head of AVEVA Americas and Dan Stevenson, AVEVA VP Business Development for the Americas, they spoke of the business update they presented at daratechPLANT 2007January 29-31.
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daratechPLANT 2007—Impressions from My Desktop, Part II
by Susan Smith
The following is Part II in a series of articles catching up on what was the news at daratechPLANT 2007.
AECWeekly: What trends are you seeing in the plant marketplace?
Matt McKinley: We are seeing unprecedented demand for energy, unprecedented demand for vessels and facilities that support all of them. We’re in the right place at the right time. The challenge is how do you maximize the potential of all those markets at the same time and how you do that on a global scale when you have the subtle variations of markets through Asia into Europe, and the Americas, where we are looking at an established marketplace. Canada and Latin America are emerging markets, so we have to adjust strategies and delivery mechanisms for those markets. AVEVA has been seeing outstanding growth in all areas for the past 24-month period. We’re now operating in 35 countries, have about 700 direct staff. The performance, in terms of market capitalization, is on a level we could only dream about 5 years ago.
You must deliver because you’re in this high growth market and you’ve got to get it right. techMark, the technology portion of the London stock exchange, named AVEVA Company of the Year, the Daily Telegraph named our CEO Business Person of the Year. For the first time in about 20 years there are plans to go forward on a new nuclear power plant in America that’s being developed with AVEVA software. Everyone is trying to be the first to market with the next generation nuclear facility.
The Brazilian government-owned Petrobras is putting a lot of money into shipping, production and storage vessels. They’re now building a shipyard in Brazil for the first time in 20-30 years. They already have a backlog of ships to build. Brazil, one of the leaders in exploration and production, is now they’re getting into transport and getting more self sufficient in their own right.
AW: How do people work with AVEVA who are working in other countries/language versions?
Dan Stevenson: Our products support many language sets, particularly from the design side of the tools. Most of the engineers that use these tools typically will execute a lot of their business in English, especially if they’re doing multinational type projects. We do support multiple language and we do locally produce in local language sets. Some of them are done centrally as a product delivery as well. Product documentation will be adjusted to Spanish or Portuguese or French. We also support multiple characters for Asia.
AW: At daratechPLANT the discussion focused largely on integration/interoperability. Where does AVEVA stand in this discussion?
McKinley: daratechPLANT was focused on interoperability, which is a key thing for AVEVA. For a number of years now with our collaboration software, VNET, we’ve taken an application agnostic approach, which is to avoid saying “we have great collaboration tools but we want you to use all our design tools and then you can get the benefit of our collaboration technology.”
VNET is a new technology which has been called a “Google for engineering information.” It’s an intranet/internet portal designed to search out information on anything to do with the project. It’s application agnostic, it doesn’t matter what the creation tools were, that’s the key value to people in operations at the site, is access to info regardless of authoring tools, you want to give clients the freedom to access and reuse that data in a different concept. As a member of FIATECH, we have been supporting the push for the adoption of industry standards and the ability to interoperate and share information between systems, but I think some of the audience at events like Daratech perceive the nirvana of taking competitive systems and dropping them interactively together, almost like I can work in one flavor today, and another the next. There’s an appropriate time to do that in a project lifecycle, so having data that comes out of a design tool be shared with complementary systems, like going into a SAP for procurement. Then it makes sense to have that level of interoperability. To have this world of shared design environments would introduce a level of complexity on a project where the work process management would become so complex that the perceived benefits of dropping model data from one system into an other system and all our differing work practices, would actually increase risk. It’s something AVEVA works with partner companies to pursue how we can press forward in that area. At the moment we’re in a position where we can use the ISO 15926 reference data libraries that are being put together with companies like POSC Caesar Association. This allows you to get consistent naming convention and terminology so that you can then map data either in a handover or data conversion scenario. You then know you can take some legacy data, run your project, validate your data and run it through your normal checks and balances. There are big leaps forward in data interoperability and data reuse.
When I was first exposed to the data standards organizations in the 90s, there was an element of over-engineering or looking for the complete solution. I think a lot of good work came out of that, but not necessarily practical application of standards, because you had to be one of the experts in the field to understand how to deploy it. What’s happened over the last few years, companies like Bechtel and Fluor are really in the lead with what FIATECH is doing in this area. They have taken the great work of the 90s and using it for may be only ten pieces of data on a project that we want to have interoperability on. We know there’s a high return in having interoperability on those 10 pieces of data, rather than having the burden of trying to maintain interoperability of every piece of data, so these guys are moving things forward. That’s why FIATECH has been getting a lot of press because they’ve been doing it on FIATECH sponsored projects. The members contribute their dues each year to FIATECH for participation and they reinvest into the projects, to advance the use of technology and standards in various areas of the construction industry. There has been more progress in the last twelve months than there has been in the last five years.
Stevenson: AVEVA benefits greatly from being a member of FIATECH as you have a group of organizations coming together who are traditionally competitive like Fluor and Bechtel, where they assign manpower to these projects that FIATECH works on.
AW: I have heard that it would be very valuable if FIATECH were to be able to help owner operators and EPCs set up a service so they could deal interoperability problems, because each vendor has a different version of compliance to 15926.
McKinley: That’s one of the challenges. When you look at the guys working on the FIATECH project, look at their deployment of 15926, they have taken a refined, simplified view of that world to move forward and deliver value to their project. If you went for the complete compliance of the entire standard, then there would be a different level of compliance as a technology vendor to say I can meet the minimum or I can meet the complete deployment. That’s one of the things FIATECH is debating now. We need to help owners understand what they can ask for, what the EPCs can deliver to them, what the vendors will do to support on those projects as well. There are definitely shades of gray. There has been some talk of the value of a testing laboratory to provide a level of education and certification. That’s the next step of FIATECH’s mission really. You then talk to the organization on their project, they are delivering the project faster, cheaper, safer, on schedule, within budget. It’s a real challenge as the projects are bigger, more dispersed and there are more of them, and less resources than ever before. That’s why interoperability and data reuse has such appeal for these guys because they’re working with less resources. And the other challenge for us is how we can get the education facilities to get more engineers into the field to use these systems. The other challenge is the lack of young engineers coming through.