Why FEL (Front End Loading) is Necessary
Looking for a “quick quote” for a modular process system? Or a fixed bid that guarantees your project to be completed successfully on time and on budget?
You might start with a drawing or basic spec sheet. Once you have thought through your own system, you would reach out for bids from several Engineering consulting firms who could complete process systems engineering and even possibly build your system.
Based on the “quick quotes” you receive, you would select a company to build your system, usually the lowest bid. On the surface, this may sound like the right path you need to take, but in reality, you are taking a rugged journey in the wrong direction.
Don’t settle for quotations based upon equipment pricing that has resulted from incomplete specifications.
You deserve a better engineering consulting firm than that!
Be aware that “quick quotations” are based upon numerous unknowns. The number could be too low because of unknown information, or the number could be loaded unnecessarily with contingency because of the unknowns. However, many chemical engineering consulting firms or Turnkey Engineering Firms will bid low to secure the order and then blame the lack of detailed written specifications as additional charges accrue through change orders. Unfortunately, you’re stuck with them at this point.
Guaranteeing Success with FEL– Front End Loading
When you contact EPIC for a quote, our process systems engineering team is solely focused on providing you an accurate bid based upon fully extracting your requirements, ultimately resulting in a successful project. The key to this WIN-WIN outcome is front end loading (FEL).
The FEED process guarantees a successful project outcome because:
- Risk is minimized
- Contingency is drastically reduced by experienced chemical and mechanical process engineers
- Peer reviews ensure issues surrounding technical feasibility are uncovered early
- Accurate project schedules based upon actual equipment lead time results in high probability that your system will be producing the product on the agreed-upon date
Doesn’t it make sense to allow your chemical engineer to thoroughly extract details during this critical stage to allow him to confidently stand behind the performance of your process system? By asking the right questions during front end loading, we ensure your project will be successful from the start. These questions include:
- Workforce Characteristics: Are the employees who will be working with the modular process system skilled or unskilled? What kind of process systems do they work with currently? Will your employees need training?
- Desired Production: How much product do you need to produce each day? How many shifts do you run a day and how many hours per shift? Are different products being mixed in the same system? How long will each product need to run? How much time does it take to switch over to the next product?
- Material Specifications: What chemicals are being used in your process? What hazards are associated with these chemicals (flammability, health, reactivity)? Are these chemicals solvents, acids, oxidizers, etc.? What are the characteristics of the finished product? Is it a liquid, gel, powder or granule? Is it hygroscopic?
- Material Compatibility: Are you planning to run multiple chemicals through the system? What are the other chemicals, and are they compatible? Is 316L stainless steel adequate or are higher alloys required? What are the sanitary requirements for each product? Are cleaning cycles required between product changeovers? How will you wash out the equipment? Do washouts result in waste byproducts?
- Boundary Limits: What equipment is included and what equipment is not? Do we need to supply any additional pieces of equipment other than the equipment needed for the process system? Do we also need to supply the utilities?
- Modular Design: What is the physical layout of your plant? What utilities are available on site? Where are the utilities located? Will new utilities need to be provided under the project scope? Where will the module be placed in your plant? Will it be located in a flammable area?
- Understanding of Standards and Guidelines: Do you need to comply with GMP, FDA and BPE regulations?
- Future Goals: Are you planning to run different products on the same line in the future? Do you foresee a need to increase production in a few years?
Peer Reviews for Front End Loading
After all the specifications are extracted, PFD’s and P&ID’s are developed, and major equipment is selected, EPIC’s engineers perform a peer review. This review is crucial in side-stepping landmines that could cause problems later in the project. During the peer review, the project is evaluated by process, electrical and mechanical engineers. The engineers comb through the project and discuss any major or minor concerns that may have been initially overlooked. Uncovering any safety concerns or general issues that could under-mind the success of the project. If these issues are left undiscovered, it could not only add hours to the project later, but it could result in the system not working.
Ruling out the biggest threat of the system not working is why it is important that we do our due diligence during front end loading and capture 90% of potential issues during the FEL process rather during the later stages of the project.
Front End Loading (FEL) Levels and Deliverables
EPIC realizes that not every client is in need of a fixed bid quote upfront. Your project may be scheduled for the next year, and you just need a rough order magnitude (ROM) quote for budgetary reasons. It is also possible that you just need a +15%/-5% bid instead of a firm +0%/-0% fixed bid. If you are unsure of which FEL method would be the best fit for your project, EPIC will guide you in the best direction.