For engineers facing MCAD model integration challenges for plant designs, factory layouts, mobile construction applications, or shipbuilding software, there are solutions that automate the model reduction and simplification process. This article is intended to give EPCs, owner-operators, shipbuilders, and discrete manufacturers a tool for measuring the return on investment (ROI) for model reduction and simplification software.
The technical challenge and the solution
Mechanical equipment models are often constructed with more design detail than is necessary for plant design, virtual design construction, or factory-layout applications. These models become too large to handle efficiently. Engineers need the ability to quickly remove unwanted parts and details, so they can integrate and reuse MCAD designs with all the reference points maintained. ITI’s software product, CADfix PPS, automates this process. The figure below is an example of an MCAD model that has been simplified for a process plant design.
The time saved using model reduction software is a qualitative benefit that can be the deciding factor in meeting your project schedule. For most companies, the simplification process is manual, and often rears itself at later milestones in the project. Reduce the drag on engineering resources and mitigate the risk of project delays by automating this process.
Another qualitative benefit of using automation is that engineering can receive equipment and structure designs from multiple vendors and/or CAD systems, simplify the models, save them in a neutral format, and then reuse the simplified models across multiple systems and projects without having to repeat manual rework process. The image below contains an equipment model that would have required hours of manual intervention to simplify, and yet, only took minutes with CADfix PPS.
Calculating Return on Investment (ROI)
Over the past three years, ITI polled EPCs and Owner-Operators about the time spent on MCAD model reduction and simplification for a single project. Out of nearly two hundred (200) respondents, 34% said they spend more than eight (8) hours per week manually simplifying MCAD models. Another 43% said they spend one-to-three (1-3) hours per week. This data, in combination with lessons learned from various projects, gives us a starting point for measuring ROI.
The calculation in Figure 3.1 below quantifies the labor costs for a single project with a burdened per-hour labor cost of $105. In this example, the ROI for a single-site software solution is estimated to be 323%. Even if the proposed solution cost were higher, the software will likely be floated between local, regional, or global users across multiple projects, resulting in higher first-year ROI.
Figure 3.1 - CADfix PPS ROI example
The impact of large MCAD models on mobile broadband costs
As the use of mobile solutions increases for work package automation, construction, shipbuilding, and plant/factory layouts, so will the broadband costs for uploading and downloading large files to mobile devices. As such, companies should consider mobile broadband plan costs, mobile device configurations, and design practices as part of their business case.
Simplifying an MCAD model can reduce the model size by 90%. If applying simplification technologies across all MCAD models, the overall data reduction may result in an exponential decrease in mobile broadband costs for virtual design construction applications. In the example below, this stair-and-platform model was reduced from 72MB to 4.8MB (93% reduction) in just 20 minutes (which could positively impact bandwidth requirements if applied across all equipment models).
Taking the next step
The hours incurred manually defeaturing/simplifying or rebuilding a model pose significant risks to project profitability and on-time delivery of projects. One of the fastest ways of building the justification for automated reduction/simplification solutions is through a labor savings analysis. Download ITI’s ROI calculator and use your project data as a starting point. If you have any questions about this calculator, or what our CADfix PPS (Plant and Process Simplification) solution can do for your plant, factory, mobile construction, or shipbuilding design initiatives, please contact us or comment below.