Dow Design & Construction, United States

Proactively Seeking Innovation: Dow Focuses on Next-Generation Tools and Their Integration

Dow believes up to 3.5 percent of a plant's total installed cost can be saved.


The Dow Chemical Company strives to achieve engineering excellence. In 2002, Dow's design and construction work process was benchmarked as best in class in project execution, a consolidated measure of project cost, schedule and operability, by Independent Project Analysis (IPA).

Dow Design & Construction engineers more than US$1 billion in capital per year. Its 19 engineering facilities are found across North America, Europe, South America and Asia. All projects are executed via a standardized work process known as Global Project Methodology (GPM).

Convinced that there are still significant opportunities to maintain its engineering leadership well into the future, Dow is proactively seeking changes to improve engineering services and enable the company to further reduce the total installed cost of a plant by as much as 3.5 percent. Dow is working closely with strategic technology suppliers Intergraph and Aspen Technology on a combined GPM Automation Improvement Project (GAIP).

The vision of GAIP is to:

  • Improve engineering performance on all projects 
  • Enable reuse of information downstream in operations and on subsequent projects
  • Reduce IT costs

The means to achieving improved engineering services can be grouped into two primary areas:

  • Using modern and more intelligent process and design engineering authoring tools 
  • Integrating the exchange of shared data between the authoring tools and improving communication across work processes The project, which started in early 1999, has completed three of four primary development stages and the results to date are encouraging.

Authoring tools generate benefits

The Dow team has determined that the new-generation authoring tools themselves account for 60 percent of the total installed cost savings sought. These tools include SmartPlant® 3D, SmartPlant P&ID, SmartPlant Instrumentation and SmartPlant Electrical from Intergraph and Aspen Zyqad™ from AspenTech.

Dow expects that these tools will increase engineering productivity and reduce design cycle time with functionality, such as auto-generation of drawings and best practices-based rules for designs. Another example is the SmartPlant Markup tool, which allows collaborative team-checking of documents, such as vendor drawings and job specifications.

Dow is also projecting engineering savings through design and cost optimization with Intergraph's SmartPlant® 3D, a data-centric solution for 3D detailed plant design. Post-engineering savings for procurement, construction and operations have also been identified.

The difference with these next-generation authoring tools and those currently used by many companies is twofold. First, the tools are rule-based, which promotes design consistency and use of predetermined specifications, assuring design accuracy and eliminating rework. Second, data-centric tools like these allow integration that produces true lifecycle data management.

Integration generates remaining 40%

Dow has calculated that the single largest percentage of total installed cost savings, an estimated 40 percent, may be achievable from streamlining the flow of engineering data between authoring applications. This means that:

  • Information is entered only once and validated within the authoring tool 
  • Information is published as appropriate into a shared tool (SmartPlant Foundation) for wider use 
  • Information is available for authorized project users, at any time, from anywhere (e.g. construction, commissioning, operations and maintenance)
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© Copyright 2012 Intergraph Corporation - Printed from on 10/22/2016 1:53:57 AM