Case-story Amec SPIE
4D VISION, AN IDEAL PARTNER FOR AMEC SPIE
Recently, industrial building company AMEC SPIE completed a major project in the petrochemical sector. The assignment consisted of the complete automation of lorry loading on factory sites. With the LISA concept (see text box), AMEC SPIE had access to the ideal building blocks with which to successfully implement the automation. Along with IT partner 4D vision, AMEC SPIE compiled a user-friendly and manageable comprehensive solution. And within a short time.
EXPERTISE AND SPEED GO HAND IN HAND
PROJECTS WITH STRICT DEADLINES
Logistical processes are crucial for the daily operation of industrial companies such as Yara, Solvay, Arcelor, Atofina en Vos Logistics. Downtime must be minimized as much as possible. Therefore, automation must typically be completed in a short amount of time. As an experienced electromechanical contractor in the field of automation, major infrastructural jobs, and industrial projects, AMEC SPIE is aware of this. “With LISA we have a handy concept tool with which we can quickly effectuate the actual automation”, says Bernadette Lammens, project manager with AMEC SPIE. “Before we start, we perform a thorough analysis of the client’s needs. Once these have been charted, we have the right basis from which to proceed with implementation.” The management aspects of the project are also discussed during the analytical phase. In order to keep an automated loading process operational, lorry drivers must be guided throughout the entire process in a straightforward manner. “The management software is a critical factor in the automated process”, according to Bernadette Lammens. “Therefore, we like to work with a flexible IT partner who is able to quickly compile a high-performance, customized management solution. In this way we can guarantee an optimal comprehensive solution for our clients.”
THE FLEXIBILITY OF AN EXPERIENCED PARTNER
4D vision is an ideal IT partner for AMEC SPIE’s LISA projects. Bernadette Lammens tells us why: “The staff at 4D vision are intimately familiar with a vast number of software systems. Thanks to this broad IT background, they are able to perfectly integrate LISA in the client’s specific environment, ranging from client-specific software to SAP. For instance, this allows them to have the volume contracts in SAP dispatch the load. A client who has reached his monthly quota will no longer be able to load during that month.” Moreover, the staff at 4D vision has completed a vast number of projects in various sectors. They developed a fixed project methodology based on this experience. Bernadette Lammens: “This structured manner of working allows them to manage a project to perfection. They know how to plan their time in order to develop a customized solution within strict deadlines.”
CORRECT METHODOLOGY AND TOOL FOR QUICK DEVELOPMENT
The 4D methodology applied by 4D vision ends with the implementation of the developed solution (deploy). But everything starts with an extensive analysis of the client’s needs (define). Using this information, the experts map out a solution on paper (design). In conjunction with the client and partner, they continue to elaborate this solution and begin its actual development (develop). The project in the petrochemical sector mainly involved equipping the LISA system with a high-performance management solution.
The WebXTC tool developed in-house (Web eXtendable Transactional Components) was the ideal instrument for this purpose. After all, it allows for the quick development of user-friendly browser applications. Marc Haenebalcke, managing director for 4D vision: “With WebXTC we succeeded in quickly developing management software perfectly attuned to the LISA system and the needs of the client. For instance, we compiled a programme with which lorry drivers could simply input important information such as the transportation number. On the basis of this, the loading station knows what quantities of what product are to be loaded. Also, the applications we generate with WebXTC use the Microsoft .NET framework. This is the most advanced and common technology in corporate use today.”
The automation of logistical processes with LISA yields significant savings. As a result, new LISA projects typically have a very brief ROI.
PAYS FOR ITSELF IN UNDER TWO YEARS
The automation project yielded considerable savings for the client, and had an ROI of less than two years. “Along with 4D vision, we managed to automate the entire loading process. Client personnel is no longer required for any step of the process: from the identification of the driver to the actual loading and supply of the correct CMR document”, says Bernadette Lammens. “The system also enhances the company’s competitive position. Clients can now load 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, which is a major service upgrade.” Moreover, the completed system can grow along with the company. This is confirmed by Marc Haenebalcke as well: “Clients often only get a concrete idea of the possibilities of a system after it has been implemented. Of course we take this into account. The LISA system is an inherently open system, and thanks to WebXTC we can also quickly develop new applications in the management module that address the new information needs of the client.”
SMOOTH COLLABORATION WHETS THE APPETITE
The initial collaboration between the two parties already demonstrated the partnership’s synergy. Consequently, AMEC SPIE sees 4D vision as a preferred partner for future ventures. “The collaboration with 4D was very smooth. With their flexibility, speed, and experience, they can develop a customized solution within a very limited timeframe. Therefore, we consider them the ideal partner for our LISA projects, and we will be sure to collaborate with them again in the future.”
LOGISTICS AUTOMATED LISA
stands for Logistics Information System and Automation. The software-based system consists of four layers: database, user-friendly user interfaces, intermediate layer for integration with peripheral systems such as SAP, and an automation layer with PLCs for directing the logistical processes. AMEC SPIE developed the LISA system among others for the purpose of automatically loading and unloading lorries at factory sites, taking into account ADR specifications. But this also automates the preparatory, simultaneous, and concluding actions. Documents such as the loading and unloading document are prepared entirely automatically. The weighing of lorry and product during loading also occurs automatically, as does post-processing. For instance, the system adjusts the invoice based on the actual load.