Jul 12, 2018

Digitalizing and enhancing customer experience in complex EPC projects

Oscar Bronsveld
Oscar Bronsveld
Director, Global Project Sales
Rashmi Kasat
Rashmi Kasat
VP, Head of Digital Business Development, Digital Garage

Digitalizing the quotation process brings significant benefits to all parties involved in the form of savings in valuable engineering hours, optimal solutions for customer requirements and improved customer experience. This is exactly what Neles new digitalized valve quotation process is striving for.

valves and pipelines

A significant part of Neles valves business is done with EPC companies which take care of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction of plant projects for the process industry. The building of greenfield petrochemical plants, pulp and paper mills or rebuilding sections of them are typical examples of such projects. In industries like oil and gas, reliability and quality cannot be compromised. With shortening project cycles, digital technologies and integrated tools play a critical role in ensuring data accuracy, reliability, safety, privacy and constancy. 

EPC project procurement and project execution phases involve an extensive exchange of valve and engineering data back and forth between the EPCs and the supplier. In the early procurement phase, EPCs require budgetary quotations from suppliers to estimate the project costs. As they move further in the procurement bids with end customers, EPCs require the suppliers to submit the final and firm quotations.    

The budget quotation and final quotation phases can be very short, in some cases just a few weeks, which leaves the supplier a limited period of time to produce a high-quality proposal on the specifications and the quotations. During the process, there can be several revisions to the technical specifications and data. As a leading valves supplier, Neles has a very proficient project quotation team with experienced project quotation engineers who work on the customer specifications to propose the optimal solution for the customer’s intended application.  

Digitalization will provide faster data processing tools that will help both EPCs and Neles exchange data between them electronically and within Neles create a data backbone that will learn patterns of this data over time to make even more technically and commercially viable proposals for EPCs. The data backbone will also provide a digital “logbook” solution to systematically handover critical project knowledge including all revisions from the sales phase to the execution phase.  

Key benefits and learnings 

In this ‘digital project control room tool’ development initiative, our focus has been to develop efficient and speedier data exchange with the EPCs' engineering software as well as on automating and optimizing our internal processes.   

The new digital tool and highly optimized internal processes will facilitate significantly faster data exchange with EPCs and have both a quantitative and qualitative impact on our proposals that will help EPCs win more new projects.  

Neles is fully committed to the digital development program for the longer term. After the quotation process has been digitalized, we have also plans to digitalize the project execution phase in our long-term development roadmap.  

It has been an exciting journey so far and it will continue going forward with the same speed and spirit. During this journey we have had three key success factors amongst others: 

1. The focus on customer benefits and the aligning of clear targets for digitalization with customers from the very start. For Neles, customer success is at the center of all our digital development.

2. The focus on doing more of those things in the process which create value for customers and eliminate those that do not add any value. Our competitive strength lies in our valve technologies and the competence and knowledge of our products and solutions that our people have. We focus on digitalization that complements these competitive strengths by gathering valuable insights from our data to complement the knowledge we already have.  

3. Apply agility not only in terms of work tools, but also in mindset. We run all our digital development programs using agile development methods like Scaled agile framework and Scrum. We plan short-cycled releases with a plan to release useful features and functionalities for our users and for customers within a short duration of time. We develop the digital solution iteratively and involve stakeholders and customers in reviewing the partially developed solution in every iteration so that we can build a solution that brings continuous value for customers and users. 

Our digital technology, digital development, and software alliance partners play a key role in helping us to support our customers to succeed.  We are fortunate to have the full commitment of our management, an excellent development team with a very good team spirit and a very customer-centric attitude during this program.  

Celebrating great team work in delivering together the first successful customer pilot in the digitalization program 

This blog post has been up-dated in July 2020, due to company name change to Neles.