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How AMEC manages data lifecycle

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Colin K Fairweather, Applied Technology Director with engineering giant AMEC, explains how to keep the same data throughout the lifecycle of your project

AMEC is gradually moving to a data management structure where the same data is kept over the lifetime of an asset from design to decommissioning, explained Colin K Fairweather, Applied Technology Director with AMEC, speaking at the Digital Energy Journal Nov 27 Aberdeen conference, 'Doing more with offshore engineering data.'

This is the latest evolution in design technology, he said. In the 1970s, design was done on a paper drawing board. 2D computer aided design was introduced in the 1980s, with a move to 3D design in the 1990s. By 2000, a lot of engineers were using 3D technology for analysis.

The current trend is to move towards data centric engineering and database driven engineering, delivering project information as data as well as just documents, and also to the contractor providing information management as part of the service.

An example is a brownfield oil and gas project AMEC is delivering in Aberdeen for a UK North Sea operator, which started in 2012.

For the first time, AMEC provided the client with a full suite of database driven tools to deliver the project. Database driven systems were deployed for P&IDs and 3D modelling, as well as for managing data and deliverables for process, mechanical, electrical and instrumentation. Procurement and materials management systems were also hosted in a database environment and fully integrated with the engineering tool set.

'This is a big step change: database driven engineering,' he said.

You can describe this as 'information management as a service', in that AMEC provides the operator with a complete information management system, with all the right data, documents and models, when handing over the digital asset.


Traditionally data has to be 'scraped' from documents to populate commissioning systems, and maintenance and spares systems, he said. In the future however we need to be extracting the data from the database driven engineering tools and delivering data directly into these downstream systems, removing a very time consuming manual process.

'If you can give your design team, your engineers, data centric delivery tools right at the very start, you're in a better place to achieve that flow of data all of the way through downstream functions, right to decommissioning,' he said.

'Historically documents have been king,' he said. That's becoming a world of the past,' he said. 'We've been very good at drafting documents, thoroughly checking them, approving them, and religiously maintaining them. We come from a document centric world, and we need to take this workflow and apply it to data.'

Information hub

The AMEC view of information management means having a secure and controlled system containing all data, documents and models generated in the detail design phase, including all vendor data, documents and models, available to engineering and procurement departments.

This information hub serves as a single 'source of truth' for all asset data, with everything consistent and accurate, and that should all help improve trust. 'We're only releasing information when it is mature enough and approved to be consumed.' he said.

The same information management system can cover all steps from procurement, commissioning, operations, maintenance and decommissioning. 'With data centric solutions, we're in a far better place to re-use that data through all the various functions, providing consistent information through the asset lifecycle.'

'To me it is about looking at the end game, focussing on what that end game is,' he said.

'It is about continuous data handover through the life of the asset,' he said. 'We need to be passing the data, documents and models, early on in the project lifecycle - whenever that data, documents and models are mature enough to do so. It is a continuous process through the lifecycle.'

'We're kind of getting there, we understand the challenges,' he said.

'Where we're getting to now is reusing the data, being able to pass that data through construction, completions, commissioning, and through into spares management.'

AMEC calls its information hub the 'Engineering Data Assurance' hub or 'EDA hub'. All of the information can be handed over to the operator when they start operating the asset. The owner-operator might want to transfer the data in the EDA Hub into their own system.

There are still a range of databases in use, including SQL, Oracle and AVEVA proprietary format (Dabacon). 'Ideally in the future we'd like to be using a single database type,' he said.

Basic IM principles

The basic information management principles apply in many different businesses, and across all of AMEC's operating units, he said.

For example, in the buildings world, 'the UK government has mandated that by 2016 it will only let building construction contracts to companies who can show and provide BIM (building information modelling) level 2 compliant project delivery,' he said. AMEC will be ready to provide this a year early, he said.

Regardless of project scope of work, it is essential to have a 'master class library (MCL)' at project startup. The MCL clearly defines all tag types for the full asset including all functional and physical attribute data for each plant class type.

You also require a specification defining your 'tagging philosophy', which clearly defines the numbering specification for all plant tag types, fully aligned with the MCL.

Operators should also provide an information handover specification, a document which clearly defines the full information hand over requirements for operations.

Change management

Deploying the systems is actually 'relatively easy' compared to the challenge of defining processes and workflows, he said. The biggest challenge however is the people. Human nature tends to not like change and so most effort must be directed towards the change for the workforce. 'Whenever you have change you need to make sure people are informed, and have full awareness of the systems and workflows to take them on the journey with you.' he said.

'What makes it a success is the compliance of the people who are going to be using the systems and new workflows. That's why it's very important that you get the full stakeholder buy-in right at the very start.'

'You need all stakeholders engaged. Everybody who has got a say, who is involved in the whole plant lifecycle, needs to be involved,' he said. 'We're very keen on everybody discussing the topics, the challenges, the opportunities. 'It is about collaborating with EPCs, owner operators and solution providers, so we can collectively develop the technology solutions.'

'We need clear targets, make sure they are clear to everybody, to make sure everybody is aligned.'

'Whenever we do have successes, and deliver to predefined KPIs, we broadcast that,' he said. 'We highlight what we did really well and make sure we repeat that.'

It is very important to have an Information Manager involved in the project right from the beginning, otherwise it is very difficult to develop good information management systems on a project which has already started.

It is important that the change is successful, for the future. 'When another change comes around, there's confidence that you will actually deliver it.'

'You need your senior management to be supportive of what you're trying to do,' he said.


Mr Fairweather said he is asked many times about how to manage the risks associated with making the data available to third parties, such as people in the client company and other suppliers.

'We are very much focussed on the need to control and monitor access, and how we are going to achieve that. I can't tell you what the complete solution is as yet,' he said. 'However, we recognise the risks as well as the huge benefits to our customers.'

Associated Companies
» Amec Foster Wheeler
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