Welcome back, Mr. Narue. Picking up where we left off in our last chat, can you tell us more about PlantStream’s core mission?
Well, when we envisioned PlantStream we saw that the oil and gas industry faced serious plant design challenges, specifically when it came to the amount of time, money, and manpower needed to create a sophisticated piping infrastructure. The goal of PlantStream is to use digitalization to transform the design process in large refineries and plants, to help make them more precise and efficient.
In order to achieve that goal, we focus on three strategies. Firstly, we allow designers to devote themselves to creative work. This significantly reduces the manual labor of designers, and our autonomous 3D CAD software helps them achieve a work environment in which they can focus on purely creative areas.
Secondly, we strive to streamline plant engineering to increase the productivity of all stakeholders. By eliminating inefficiency, businesses can cut down on costs.
Finally, our software helps engineers minimize unnecessary resources associated with plant construction by developing high-precision business plans and an efficient engineering environment. We hope this reduces the burden of plant construction on the environment and society.
How did you come up with these goals?
Well, I’ve always felt that designing a plant is a colossal task. Even though there are 3D design tools in existence, the industry for the most part relies on analog methods of construction.
So I’m trying to convert analog tasks from those time consuming ones, to faster ones. The goal of PlantStream is to meet clients that want to do this too, and so we came up with a framework to guide that process.
Which areas do you want to focus on more moving forward?
Firstly, I believe everyone needs to be educated as to what Plantstream is, and that alone takes a bit of time. From there, we have to help clients as they try out the software and talk about what their needs are and what they want to achieve.
Of course, my end goal is to try to get them to use PlantStream software for the entire plant construction process. That requires a lot of teaching on how to use the product. We do that by having our clients show us what they do, and then we see how that translates to the program. By transitioning to this digital method, we know it’ll save them a lot of time in the end. That’s the goal we have with each client
Has that been an easy task for the most part?
Not at all. It doesn’t always go as smoothly as we’d like it to. That’s because in order for clients to fully understand the value we can bring, our first task usually involves working with them to create a case study. By doing this, we demonstrate how it’s possible to save time and also how our software can meet their needs. That usually happens in phase one. Once clients understand how our software works, they usually purchase it.
If we can take a task that would typically take two hours and make it only take 30 minutes, the client can really see the value first-hand. From there, they can steadily apply it to other areas in their businesses. And then by getting more people to use the product, they save time even further. What would normally take around five to seven months to complete, takes three to five months. When clients start thinking about people’s salaries for that time frame, they start to see that the software ends up paying for itself quite quickly.
When do companies typically become clients?
We have a strategic plan. First we do marketing, then we reach out to potential clients and ask them to do a trial of using PlantStream. If they like it, we try to get them to buy a license. Typically this takes around 280 days.
Wow, that’s nearly a year to close a deal.
The kinds of clients we deal with are very big. They take purchasing and changing their processes really seriously. They are creating power plants, so everything needs to be safe and certain.
It seems like the time-consuming side of this process is something that would be difficult to change?
Usually in a company there are only a few groups of about three to four people that start using our software. But our end goal is to have most of an organization using PlantStream, so we need to expand the knowledge of the program — doing so requires a lot of discussion with many teams. As you can imagine, this takes time to achieve, but we’re currently trying our best to see what we can do to make this entire process a bit quicker.
Could you give us an idea of how much time PlantStream could shave off the average plant-building timeline?
The FEED process alone can take two months, and then the EPC phase requires another three months or so. When you multiply that by 10 people or 50 people working on a project, the time saved really adds up in salary reductions. That alone will pay for this product, or at least heavily reduce the amount of money spent usually.
It’s hard to imagine clients not wanting to jump to use PlantStream!
Indeed, but making a plant is a very risky business. Usually the people building the plant have a budget they have to work with, but there are a lot of unknowns. What I’m trying to do is make the whole process of predicting costs easier, and so reduce some risks. Clients just need time to see how PlantStream will help them do that.