Hydrogenics is a worldwide leader in designing, manufacturing, building and installing industrial and commercial hydrogen systems with more than 60 years of experience. The company was searching for a solution to replace its existing in-house P&ID solution and to find a way to improve the quality of engineering information while making it accessible in the ERP system without unnecessary manual work.
Hydrogenics was already using IFS as an in-house ERP system and needed a solution that would be linked with IFS, database driven, customizable, and easy to use once implemented.
One of the main challenges Hydrogenics was looking to mitigate was the complexity and increasing scope expansion of its project deliveries and the effect on the quality of engineering information. The company needed a way to organize engineering information in a manner that would enable it to communicate with its customers in a standardized manner, making sure that all the necessary information was up-to-date and available for all the departments in the company.
After the initial decision to choose Intergraph® SmartPlant® P&ID as the replacement of Autodesk’s AutoCAD®, the project scope was discussed. This was challenging, as it was the first time that an interface would be developed between IFS and SmartPlant P&ID. Originally, it was decided that the information exchanged between the two systems would include only objects and properties, as well as pipe and functional relations. During the project execution, it became clear to both companies that part relations would also need to be added to the system.
Due to this, Hydrogenics was looking for a database-driven engineering solution. In addition, the structure of the database needed to be similar to IFS so that the customization need would be minimal. The key idea was to have a solution that would both bring information together from different departments and also make it available to all relevant parties.
After the first introduction to SmartPlant P&ID, Hydrogenics was convinced that the solution would easily mitigate the challenges and that the customization would be only a matter of mapping properties and basic data. After this, Intergraph built a customized interface between the ERP system and SmartPlant P&ID, enabling Hydrogenics to capture all engineering data entered in SmartPlant P&ID, such as process specifications and instrument data, and to store it in the existing ERP system.
This made the information available to all departments, and the bidirectional interface removed the need to manually touch data, eliminating human error.
The centralized access and storage of engineering information enhanced efficiency, as the field service engineers have no trouble accessing the correct information and require less support from the engineering department to perform their daily tasks.
During implementation, Intergraph suggested Hydrogenics create company standards so that in the future it would have full freedom to customize the implementation and enable the standard to develop.
Ultimately, the project was finalized after a testing and debugging period where both companies worked together to share feedback and finalize the interface. Currently, the interface migrates process parameters, functional relations, pipe system relations, part relations of all items on the project P&IDs, which include 600+ items and another 6,000+ properties on average.
Jan Vaes, technology director at Hydrogenics Europe, said, “We are pleased with our decision and expect to improve the quality of our documentation with less effort than before with SmartPlant P&ID and the customized interface with our ERP system. The implementation of Intergraph software allows us to keep all our information in one place and available to all departments, enabling us to focus on our customers rather than our documents.”
At the moment six process design engineers are working with SmartPlant P&ID benefiting of the bidirectional data exchange between SmartPlant P&ID and the ERP system to keep the master data set sound. The solution is used in approximately 20 projects on a yearly basis.
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