Before an investor puts down millions of dollars to fund an industrial process project, they need to determine to the extent possible that the process will work as claimed and have a good understanding of the costs and risks. That’s where an independent chemical engineering company like PROCESS can help. We can provide technical assessment services and provide a level of due diligence without bias such as:
- Independent process design and licensed technology reviews
- Process design validation reviews
- Existing operations evaluation for both active and mothballed facilities (process operations, equipment, safety, etc.)
- Utilities requirements evaluation
- Process design risk assessment
- Environmental regulatory risk assessment
- Process safety risk assessment
- Independent cost estimation.
You can view some of the projects we have performed in the past by following these links:
- Independent 3rd Party Design Reviews
- Plant, Process, or Technology Pre-Purchase Due Diligence Support to Investors
Independent Process Design and Licensed Technology Reviews
PROCESS’ experience in designing a wide variety of processes and plants, results in very strong expertise in evaluating processes developed by others. We know what to look for, how to find it, and how to evaluate it. Has the mass balance taken into account all the raw materials needed including utilities? Is the energy balance complete and are the heat integration claims practical? PROCESS has the capability, experience, and engineering design tools to quickly evaluate a process design and determine:
- Is the design basis strong or weak?
- Is the design information accurate?
- Were sound process engineering principals used throughout the design?
- Is the process likely to produce the material yield and quality claimed?
- Are effluent and emissions estimates realistic and have proper environmental control systems been included?
- Have all facets of the process received due consideration or have any important issues been oversimplified or not considered at all?
Existing Operations Evaluation of Active or Mothballed Facilities
When the purchase of an operational or shut down plant is being considered, PROCESS can assist by providing valuable assessment of the operations and equipment. This is done by reviewing key information, inspecting the plant site, and interviewing the plant’s staff. PROCESS reviews design information, equipment documents, P&IDs, standard operating procedures, and operating data. If the plant is operating we visit the site to tour the facility and witness the condition of the equipment and operations first hand. We also interview plant management, engineering staff, operators, and maintenance personnel to get an idea of how the operation is being run and what major issues they currently face. PROCESS’ engineers have years of in-plant operations experience which is invaluable when assessing a production facility operation.
If project plans call for the redevelopment of a Brownfield site (where a plant has been mothballed or partially dismantled), PROCESS will review the available plant documentation and past operating data, as well as provide an on-site process assessment of the equipment and facilities. If plans include use of the facility for other than its original design intent, PROCESS will evaluate the extent to which the existing equipment can be used ‘as-is’ or in a modified form. A realistic view of the challenges and gaps that exist between what is being purchased and what needs to be done to achieve the process goals is developed. Both high-level and detailed plans can be developed regarding the process changes that may be required, as well as generating a cost estimate to implement these changes.
Disclaimer: While PROCESS can verify the process integrity of the plant equipment, we can not verify the mechanical integrity which is an important aspect of such evaluations. PROCESS has relationships with companies having these capabilities and can refer clients to such groups for this purpose.
Utilities Requirements Evaluation
Too often, utilities usage can be underestimated or overlooked in a process design (cost of compression, thermal loss allowances, etc.). Accurately assessing this cost can make the difference between thinking you are building a profitable operation and knowing that a plant design may never be profitable because it is too energy intensive. PROCESS will carefully check the heat and material balance for the process to ensure nothing has been overlooked.
Process Design Risk Assessment
The project developer and technology provider are convinced their project is the best thing since sliced bread, an investment opportunity that only comes along once in a lifetime. Maybe they are correct, maybe they are not, but you need to understand the risks associated with the process.
- Is the design basis complete?
- If the process is being scaled up from a smaller version:
- Is the laboratory or pilot-test data sufficient to confidently predict performance of the larger process or are more data needed?
- Was equipment scale-up performed properly?
- Is there enough margin and operational/control flexibility in the design to allow for process optimization after startup?
- Has raw material or intermediate feed stream cleaning/preparation/conditioning been adequately addressed?
- Have sensitivity analyses been run on key parts of the process to understand the effects on process parameters that are likely to vary?
- Have process effluent and emissions been accounted for and mitigation systems correctly designed?
- Is the process equipment selected likely to be reliable and what are the expected maintenance needs to keep it running?
Environmental Regulatory Risk Assessment
In today’s industrial environment, companies simply cannot ignore the peripheral components of their processes: the gaseous emissions, the liquid effluents, the solid and liquid residues that don’t directly contribute to the bottom line, but which can certainly detract from it. Sometimes a simple change in the incoming feedstock to a less toxic chemical can decrease the hazardous identity of the process residues. With PROCESS’ strong background in process engineering, our approach to environmental issues is to help facilities obtain and maintain compliance with all applicable environmental regulations and permit limits, while providing the operating flexibility that is needed to meet processing and throughput objectives.
PROCESS has provided key support on many new production facility projects and assisted many existing plant operations to properly assess the environmental requirements and their process’ capability to meet them. We can help answer critical questions such as:
- What are the environmental regulatory requirements that need to be met?
- Is the process ‘as designed’ able to meet these requirements?
- Has sufficient operating margin been designed into the mitigation systems to handle potential process upsets?
We can assess, inventory, design and/or evaluate the inputs, the outputs, and the internal workings of a proposed process, and provide you with recommendations to better manage the entire process, possibly saving money in the long run and adding profits to the bottom line!
Process Safety Risk Assessment
Understanding the process safety ramifications of a facility is a critical part to understanding the overall risk of an investment. Whether you are investing in an existing facility or a newly designed facility, PROCESS can assess the amount of process safety risk that is associated with the process. By using best-in-class hazard identification techniques and our in-depth knowledge of the OSHA Process Safety Management (PSM) and EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations, PROCESS can assess the following:
- Risk from catastrophic release events that could result in injury or even death to employees and/or the public
- General facility siting issues that may affect equipment placement or building locations and may affect cost
- For existing facilities,
- perform a GAP Analysis to identify the gaps in regulatory compliance with OSHA PSM and EPA RMP
- estimate the cost of bringing the facility into full regulatory compliance with OSHA PSM and EPA RMP
- For new facilities,
- estimate the cost of implementing a fully compliant PSM or RMP program.
Independent Cost Estimation
PROCESS routinely develops Total Installed Cost estimates for processes. These range in accuracy from an Order of Magnitude (+/- 100%) to +25%/-10% depending on how detailed the process design has been developed. We work with equipment vendors to obtain purchased cost estimates and then use industrial project cost indexes and factors (labor, electrical, structural, civil, etc.) to develop a factored cost estimate. PROCESS can independently develop such cost estimates for clients as a way of validating the cost estimates prepared by others. Significant differences between cost estimates can quickly point to items that may not have been adequately addressed in either the design, the cost estimate, or both.