EPCs Position Themselves for a Rebound

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by Paul Donnelly, Director Industry Marketing, AspenTech

As we move into 2019, the future for the engineering and construction sector is looking more positive than it has for several years. We expect to see a continued slow but steady recovery over the next 12 months.  Despite persistent instability in oil prices, energy firms have unleashed a new wave of capital spending and money is flowing again, albeit with a sharp focus on capital efficiency.

Hiring is once again underway, after years of declines from layoffs and retirements.  These new hires, coupled with a wave of recent mergers and acquisitions bring new challenges with respect to successful project execution.  With smaller payrolls, less experienced staff, and critical resources now distributed across offices and time zones, engineering, procurement and construction companies (EPCs) need to figure out how to execute project work effectively as capital spending begins to pick up.

Executing projects across offices makes it more difficult to coordinate engineering disciplines, models and project data and brings new complexity in terms of integrating project teams that have different ways of working, inconsistent standards and content.  In this context, having a single technology platform to enable a coordinated multidisciplinary engineering effort is a real advantage.

The Push for Diversification Continues  

Diversification will remain as a theme for EPCs in 2019.  The wave of mergers and acquisitions for the purposes of gaining access to new markets, vertical segments and geographies is likely not finished.  This includes a pivot towards chemicals, petrochemicals, transportation, and buildings in an attempt to diversify revenue streams away from overreliance on oil and gas.

We are also likely to continue to see more EPCs offering services to owner/operators that help them run their plants. This is most likely to take the form of leveraging intelligence generated during the project design stage, including all the modelling information, to help get more out of the plant during the operations phase. Examples of this approach might include the engineering and construction firm tuning process models based on actual operating data so that the models that operators employ to plan and schedule their operations are more up-to-date and deliver better results.

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