Types of Process Engineering Services
Feasibility Studies and Conceptual/Preliminary Process Design (FEL-0 / FEL-1 / pre-FEED) - Project Examples
When clients are contemplating a new pilot facility, new plant, or major process expansion, they typically have more questions than answers. Is it technically feasible? What is the best process configuration? Should it be batch or continuous? How much would it cost? PROCESS is able to assist by providing experienced and knowledgeable chemical engineers that can identify, and systematically narrow down, the possible technical options for a given process goal. Once the viable technical options are identified, an economic evaluation is performed. Based on technical merits, system reliability, economics (capital and operating), and other factors, it usually becomes clear as to how the future process design should progress. At this point a conceptual design can be developed by PROCESS that includes preliminary process flow diagrams, mass & energy balances, a list of major equipment, and a rough order of magnitude cost estimate. PROCESS can also assist at this point in identifying potential risks associated with the design (weak areas in the design basis, insufficient lab data etc.) so that a plan can be developed to address these issues prior to or during the next phase of the project.It is widely recognized that this key front end work will have a major impact on the overall project and ultimate operation of the process. If this work is not done properly then the project is in trouble no matter how good the subsequent detail engineering, construction, and project management work are executed.
FEL 0 - Identification Phase (Conceptual Process Design or Screening Study)
Industrial project opportunities can target revenue growth; expense reductions; strategic growth; or improved reliability and/or efficiency. Clients typically identify opportunities by evaluating the value and identifying key risks and uncertainties. It is important to evaluate opportunities on a consistent basis for comparison purposes. The basis for the first decision gate is a high level screening study or conceptual process design study. This level of work involves identifying promising chemical conversion pathways or major licensed technologies, narrowing the project down to one or more options, identifying major equipment, developing block flow diagrams, and generating an Order of Magnitude capital cost estimate range ($1MM, $10MM, $100MM, etc.).
FEL 1 - Appraisal and Selection Phases (Alternatives Evaluation and Preliminary Process Design)
Appraisal (Alternatives Evaluation)
During the appraisal phase of the project a series of process alternatives is developed and further assessment of the process value, risk, and uncertainty is conducted. Some examples may include alternatives such as batch versus continuous processing, use of different types of separation techniques (extraction versus distillation, pressure filtration versus a centrifuge), etc. The most promising development concepts progress forward to the Selection phase.
Selection (Preliminary Process Design)
The objective of the Selection phase of the project is to identify a single process concept for progression to the Detailed Process Design phase of the project. Preparation of work deliverables requires that a single process concept be selected and further developed during this phase. Once a concept has been selected, the team will complete the level of detail necessary to develop a cost estimate and preliminary project schedule with a typical accuracy of –30% to +50%. Deliverables at this stage often include the following:
- Preliminary Process Design Basis
- Process Alternatives Evaluations Summary
- Preliminary Process Simulation and Heat and Material Balance Data
- Preliminary Process Flow Diagrams (PFDs)
- Preliminary Equipment List
- Preliminary Major Equipment Conditions of Service List
- Preliminary Capital and Operating Cost Estimate (+50% /-30%)
- Preliminary Summary of Raw Materials and Utility Requirements
- Process Risk Summary.
A more detailed breakdown of our experience can be found at Conceptual Process Design Services ( Front End Loading FEL-0, FEL-1)
Detailed Process Design Schedule A, FEL-2 / FEL-3 / FEED, or Basic Engineering Packages - Project Examples
Once the process configuration has been clearly defined a detailed process design package can be prepared. This is very critical to the long term success of the project.
FEL-2 Process Design Package
The Process Design Package or Front End Engineering Design Study (FEED) will establish the specific set of process operating conditions and equipment necessary to achieve the level of reliability, efficiency, and safety required. This design phase sets the direction for the rest of the project. At the completion of this phase, a cost estimate of +40%/-20% can typically be developed for the project.
PROCESS puts great emphasis on the development of the Design Basis at the initiation of FEL-2. When the design basis is complete, we typically have the following information defined:
- Raw material specifications
- Plant capacity requirements
- Product specifications
- Critical plant operating parameters
- Available utilities specifications
- Individual unit operations performance requirements
- Process regulatory requirements
- All other operating goals and constraints desired by the plant owners/operators/engineers.
Once the design basis is in place, and agreed upon with the client, PROCESS’s team of chemical process engineers goes to work to create, analyze, and optimize the many aspects of the plant design. The end result is process documentation that clearly defines the process.
Typical Process Engineering Deliverables for an FEL-2 package can include the following or a smaller subset of these items:
- Process design basis
- Material & Energy Balance (M&EB)
- Process Flow Diagrams (PFDs)
- Process descriptions
- Utility balances and Utility Flow Diagrams (UFDs)
- Preliminary Piping & Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs)
- Process control description
- Preliminary line/pipe list
- Preliminary instrument list
- Process equipment list
- Preliminary Tie-in list
- Equipment process datasheets
- Instrument process datasheets
- Hydraulic design reports.
FEL-3 Detailed Process Design Package
The detailed process design package (PDP), which is sometimes referred to as a Schedule A or Basic Engineering Design (BED) package, refers to a completed process design package that includes all the necessary information required by an Engineering/Construction firm or Detail Engineering firm to perform the final engineering of the plant (details such a structural steel supports, buildings, wiring, piping details, insulation, equipment vendor/model selection, etc.). PROCESS provides this package and helps to answer any questions the client or engineering firm might have to ensure a smooth transition into the detail engineering phase. We provide process design packages for both Inside Battery Limits (ISBL) and Outside Battery Limits (OSBL) design requirements.
In addition to updating the items mentioned above in FEL-2, the following items are typically added during the FEL-3 phase.
- Preliminary general arrangement drawings
- Preliminary building requirements
- General description of the project site
- Budget pricing from vendors on major pieces of equipment
- Process design philosophies
- Relief system design basis
- Relief scenario datasheets and relief valve process datasheets
- Material Selection Diagrams (MSDs) and piping specifications
- Tie-in list
- Identification of power source and location
- Preliminary single line diagrams
- Process specialty items list
- Raw material and product storage and handling requirements
- Process effluent and emissions summary
- Process risk analysis (PHA, HAZOP, etc.)
- Preliminary operating procedures
- Preliminary product and in-process QC sampling/testing plan
- Preliminary project schedule.
A more detailed breakdown of our experience can be found at Process Design Services (Sch. A, Basic Engineering Pkg. [BEP], Basic Process Design [BPD])
More and more, PROCESS is requested to remain on during the detail engineering and construction phases of projects for which we have performed the process design. In this oversight role, any process change requests are routed through our engineers for approval or comment. This helps ensure that the client understands what the impact may be on the process as changes and alternatives are suggested. Many times there is great pressure to hold down costs as the civil, mechanical, electrical, and instrumentation details of the plant are developed. The temptation to remove seemingly inconsequential process components can lead to off-spec product, inadequate throughput, high operating costs, etc. We are able to help prevent such problems simply by serving as the process integrity watchdog. Project Examples - Detail Engineering Phase Project Support, Project Examples - Construction Phase Project Support
In addition, many times PROCESS is asked to provide vendor technical and cost proposal evaluations to assist the client in making the best technology selection possible. Since we are not aligned with any equipment companies, we provide these services in a completely objective manner and make what we feel is the best recommendation based solely upon the technical and economic aspects of the options. We can also provide valuable assistance during the construction phase of a process related project - Construction Phase Support Services
Process Technical and Economic Evaluations - Project Examples
We are often called upon by clients to evaluate process options aimed at achieving one or more specific goals. These goals run the gamut from improved throughput, quality, or consistency, to emissions reduction, energy recovery, or waste minimization. In such cases we begin by determining the current state of the process. This is done through a series of interviews and discussions with the client's technical, engineering, and plant operating personnel. Additionally plant process data is collected in various forms, some of which include P&IDs, batch sheets, DCS data logs, heat and material balance information (if it exists), operation logs, etc. Our engineers then begin to analyze the situation via experience, calculations, simulation techniques, and consultation with other engineers at PROCESS as needed. The outcome is a technical engineering critique of the current process with a focus on the areas which need the most improvement. The economic cost implications of the current process are modeled to establish the baseline from which all potential improvements will be evaluated. Many times we are asked to further identify viable technical options and provide an economic comparison between them. Based on technical process option merits, economic cost implications (capital/operating, fixed/variable), and our experienced based evaluation of the relative suitability of each process option, a final solution is recommended. Although more detailed engineering effort is required to make the best option a tangible operational solution, our clients can do so with confidence knowing they have made an intelligent, thorough, systematic, and informed decision.
Pilot Plants - Design & Testing Support Projects or Process Scale Up Design Projects
Many clients come to us wanting chemical engineering process design assistance after they have done some level of due diligence to confirm that their process technology should work in real life. Sometimes the available information will include well executed pilot plant trial data, process heat and materials balance information, and all the necessary physical and chemical properties fully defined. Unfortunately, the more typical information consists of academic papers, some lab test data, and maybe some pseudo pilot plant information with stream property information only on the major products at best. The client usually has one or more technical staff members who are excellent at coming up with the innovative process idea, but lack the industrial process or design detail experience to bring the system to an efficiently functioning reality - that's were we can help.
PROCESS will evaluate this information, review the pilot plant setup, interview the client's technical staff, and often perform a literature search to determine at what stage the process development is at and what information may be lacking. Frequently we perform preliminary design verification calculations to ensure that the data and information, as presented, is not likely breaking any of the irrefutable laws of physics or thermodynamics. Often the information is insufficient to proceed and we then suggest a path forward to either collect additional information to fill in the gaps or rethink the entire process if major flaws are uncovered. We strongly encourage clients to utilize pilot plant trials to work through the large majority of the process challenges. Our engineers at PROCESS have a great deal of experience with pilot plant testing and scale up designs. Both our operations and design experience allow us to make many critical improvement suggestions in areas such as materials of construction, equipment layout, operational safety considerations, operability and maintenance, process controls, and more. These inputs are folded into the scaled up design for the larger process. A rigorous process simulation model is then created to provide compete heat and material balance information, operating conditions, hydraulic pressure drop data, and more. At this stage the PROCESS will frankly consult with the client to help evaluate the project's potential technical and economic changes for success. Finally, assuming the project is deemed viable, P&IDs, equipment specifications, and a cost estimate of the new commercial sized process is generated. This package is then ready to be handed over for detail engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC).
Any of the design services listed above may include some or all of the following components. The items included and level of detail will vary depending on clients desires or on which phase the project is in. The more mature the process design, the more of these components will be included.
- Process design basis development
- Regulatory basis development
- Conceptual process design
- Process computer simulation
- Mass and energy balances
- Technical and economic process alternatives evaluation
- Advanced spreadsheet-simulation-spreadsheet user interfacing
- Process control system design
- Detail process design
Complete process design packages normally include:
- Design basis
- Mass and energy balance computer simulations
- Process simulation models for client use
- Process flow diagrams (PFDs)
- Process control logic and process control diagrams (PCDs)
- Capital cost estimate
- Operating cost estimate
- Piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs)
- Equipment plot plans
- Utility flow diagrams
- Equipment lists
- Equipment sizing and specifications datasheets
- Preliminary process hazards analysis documentation
- Plant layouts
- Preliminary process operating manuals
PROCESS uses long-term or short-term licensed commercial process simulation software (CHEMCAD, Aspen, HYSYS, Pro/II, Simsci) and/or in-house simulation programs to perform:
- Detailed mass and energy balances
- Unit operation design/evaluation
- Piping system hydraulics calculations
- Relief and flare system design/evaluation
- Heat exchanger design/evaluation
A more detailed breakdown of our experience can be found at Process Simulation and Modeling Services
Operations Support - Project Examples
Listed below are the types of plant operations support that PROCESS typically provides to operating companies. Additionally, process engineering staff augmentation can be provided for operating facilities within reasonable commuting distance from one of our regional offices.
- Process evaluation, troubleshooting, optimization
- Control system startup, tuning, optimization
- Commissioning and startup assistance
- Existing operations design basis development
- Operating procedures, process documentation
- Operator and technical staff training
- Statistical process control
More information on our experience can be found at Operations Support Services
As a completely independent engineering company not affiliated with any other groups and not selling licensed technologies, PROCESS is ideally qualified to provide a critical process engineering evaluation before large project decisions are finalized. These services are sometime provided to clients considering significant investment in industrial process projects. Learn more about our Industrial Process Investor Services.
A list of past projects we have performed along these lines are provided by following the links below:
- Independent 3rd Party Design Reviews
- Plant, Process, or Technology Pre-Purchase Due Diligence Support to Investors
More information on our experience can be found at 3rd Party Evaluation Services
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