Process Industries and their Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) cover a very diverse range of business; from food processing over pharmaceuticals manufacturing to steel and aluminum processing. Their setups are also influenced by local rules and regulations, which can be tremendously different from country to country. While this industry also has major global development trends, it has seen no quantum leap innovation that changed its fundamentals in a way renewables did in the energy industry. E.g., per ton NOx emissions in the steel industry have been cut by 40% from 1992 to 2002; after that they have remained essentially unchanged. However, this will not stop regulatory requirements from becoming stricter and efforts to comply with those becoming more expensive for only small improvements. Thus there is a continued drive to relocate emission-heavy production to countries with laxer regulatory requirements.
Many of the plants in this sector are large installations since output quantities are big and economy of scale has a considerable input on per unit manufacturing costs. The current evolutionary trends can be summarized as “faster-larger-better.” In certain parts of the world new builds tend to be mega-sized while suitable existing facilities and equipment get their life time extended in the current economic downturn. Digitalization and automation is both plant design, manufacturing, construction as well as operation in order to make these activities faster and more efficient. Managed services are contracted in a move to reduce own support activities headcount and increase the efficiency of these. For products with smaller quantity needs or short shelf life, manufacturing on demand is a way forward; often combined with proximity to the customer base. And ”Big Data” is the tool to get an integrated view of all value streams in the product life cycle so that informed actions can be taken.
We advise both contractors and OEM’s as well as owners across the full spectrum of our expertise, from privately held businesses over publicly traded companies to government owned.
Our expertise and track record in the processing industry is extensive. We have consulted in various technology fields from conceptual design to site support:
- Plant Layout (System Parameters, Heat and Flow Balances)
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Instrumentation and Control
- Automation and IT
- Integrated Process Optimization (e.g. Resource and Energy Efficiency)
- Environment, Health and Safety (EHS)
- Big Data in Operation and Maintenance
and business/equipment fields:
- Chemicals Production
- Chemicals Distribution
- Conveyor Systems
- General Process Plant Equipment
- Glass Machining
- Industrial Services
- Large Rotating Machinery
- Medical Equipment
- Pressure Vessels, Heat Exchangers and Piping
- Pulp and Paper Production
The process industry faces numerous strategic challenges: World-scale manufacturing plants, increasing process modularity and variances, demand on high local content, competitors from emerging markets, declining price level for raw material and commodities, and more and more complex EHS requirements. We offer solutions to process owners, e.g. how to best react on these strategic challenges, how to identify best suited process integration and financial set ups for their new builds, upgrades or lifetime extensions projects or how to approach modularity by leveraging economies-of-scale and being local at the same time. We support industrial service providers equipment goods OEM’s, e.g. to find the right strategy for positioning themselves in changing global markets, how to best support owners in integrated process design.
Larger manufacturing installations, customer proximity and customization have a strong impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of corporate organizations. Organizational functions need to serve global aspects but other functions are required to be close to the customers. We understand these business-driven demands on the corporate organizations and act, e.g., as independent reviewers of current or planned organizational setups, analyze, evaluate them and propose improvements to achieve the best possible results in acquisitions and effective functional line organizations for owners as well as contractors and OEM’s; we also take over as interim managers and coaches in key positions.
Technology and Innovation
Automation, integrated process optimization, IT as well as “Big Data” are the technical drivers in the process industry leveraging resource and efficiency gains for owners / operators to generate cost as well as other competitive advantages. At the same time OEMs and contractors are forced to provide holistic solutions to serve the process operator’s requirements. We understand all of these objectives with our global expertise in the underlying mechanics of process industries, its equipment suppliers and contractors and advise our clients in feasibility studies or benefit analyses or how to introduce new technology in their processes or machinery.
Sales, Pricing and Costing
Accurate pricing and costing are key success factors in the process industry. On the one hand full control of the sales, procurement and added value processes as well as in-depth understanding of market price mechanisms, margins and price thresholds on the owner side. On the other hand the cost effective generation of economies of scale through large-scale added value creation involving OEMs and contractors. Our experienced advisers support our customers in market prices analyses, target pricing, financial modeling and target costing as well as value engineering tasks and capacity-oriented planning and controlling. For our OEM and contractor clients we provide advice how to integrate with the highest value into the owner’s value chain.
Contract Product Negotiation
The trends towards larger and larger production facilities, the need for efficiency-enhancing technologies and the core market requirements as close customer proximity constantly challenges the risk profile for owners / operators as well as OEMs and contractors. Owner’s challenges as how to amortize large-scale investments without controlling the downstream value chain or the minimization of improvement and service windows force often contractors and OEM to accept unfavorable contract and risk profiles. In contrast, contractors develop strategies, e.g. to implicitly decline integration or documentation requirements, and to back out of unfavorable risk profiles. We accompany contract negotiations for the owner or the contractor side to create competitive technical and financial contract risk profiles without exposing predictable negative impacts on the overall scope, schedule und budget.
Contract Product Delivery
Competitive contracts cannot fully plan for unknown events during contract product delivery. The more individual partners work on the successfully outcome of a project, the tighter the envisaged owner’s schedule are defined, and the higher the level of newness / innovation for all parties is to be challenged, the likelihood of critical issues affecting the project outcome increase. Our specialists advise both owners as well as contractors in mastering critical situation. We also can hands-on drive turnarounds of problem projects as well as coach the project team to find their way back to success.
Product and plant design works can make or break the envisaged effort and therefore need to be managed very tightly. It is in the very nature of the undertaking that the scope, schedule and budget of the engineering works is not exactly known at the beginning; also measuring engineering progress is much more difficult than checking tangible installation quantities against a plan. We understand this very well and, e.g., advice contractors and OEM’s on how to stay within the project constraints or corrective action needed to get back on track as well as owners to maintain an objective view of the earned progress and the estimate to complete. But we also take direct, hands-on roles in engineering management in or clients’ organizations.
The process industry and its equipment suppliers are no exception in an ever more litigious world. Should the situation arise that all other efforts to resolve a dispute have failed for whatever reason; the contractually foreseen mechanisms for dispute resolution are set into motion as the last resort. While this appears to be a very legal undertaking—and thus to be led by lawyers—it is typically a multi-discipline, complex project in itself that is as much ‘technical’ as it is ‘legal.’ Our seasoned professionals are, e.g., active in setting dispute resolution strategies, elaborating claim and counterclaim documents, processing records of events or are acting as technical experts in proceedings for owners and operators as well as contractors and OEM’s.
Process plant construction sites can be large and complex; often neither schedule nor budget turn out as planned. In case of a pilot application, technological risks and uncertainties make the outcome even more unpredictable. And for leading edge technologies, every day advantage in going into commercial operation can make a big difference in the success of a product in the global market. We have the professionals with the track records needed in scenarios threatening to impact the project’s success through non-delivery of the implementation site, for any reason. In such situations, we are ready to take over critical senior jobs on site, such as General Site Manager, Construction or Commissioning Manager on interim or long term basis.