Jan 13, 2021

Developing an enhanced customer experience in complex EPC projects through digitalization

Oscar Bronsveld
Oscar Bronsveld
Director, Global Project Sales

Digitalization of the quotation process delivers notable benefits to all parties involved, benefits like savings in valuable engineering hours, optimal solutions for customer requirements and an improved customer experience. This is also what our new digitalized valve quotation process is aiming for.

A group of people working in front of big windows

A significant portion of our valve business is done with EPC companies that handle the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction of plant projects for the process industry. Examples of such projects include the building of greenfield petrochemical plants, pulp and paper mills or rebuilding sections of them. In those industries, reliability and quality cannot be put at risk. With shortening project cycles, digital technologies and integrated tools play a critical role in ensuring data accuracy, reliability, safety, privacy, and consistency.

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

Digitalization as a catalyst in EPC projects

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, we have 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 and more reliable data processing tools that help both EPCs and Neles to exchange data electronically and to create a data backbone within Neles that will learn the patterns of this data over time to ultimately 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 on developing efficient and faster data exchange with the EPCs’ engineering software and formats as well as on connecting and optimizing our internal tools and processes.  

The new digital tools and highly optimized internal processes will facilitate significantly faster and more reliable data exchange with EPCs. It will also have both a quantitative and qualitative impact on our proposals, thus helping EPCs to work more efficiently and win more new projects. 

It has been an exciting journey so far and it will continue going forward with the same speed and spirit. Along this journey, three key success factors have stood out:

1. Customer benefits and clear targets

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

2. Value creation

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

3. Agility

The focus on applying 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. 

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