Recently, we spoke with PlantStream CEO, Seitao Narue, about the inspiration behind PlantStream and his vision for the future. Now, we speak to PlantStream co-CEO, Takeshi Oda, about his belief in the power of 3D CAD.
Let’s start with a little history. Tell us about yourself and your background with plant design and engineering.
Honestly, it’s really by chance that I entered the world of computer-aided design (CAD). When I was doing my postgraduate studies, I wanted to focus on a type of space science called observational cosmology. But, I felt that my ability as a researcher was limited. The number of positions available at universities is limited, even after you obtain a doctoral degree, and excellent people end up continuing their research in the form of part-time employment.
Realizing this, and seeing so many people in this position, I wondered how I would succeed in such a difficult work environment. As I looked at opportunities outside of research and came into contact with people outside of that world, I started to believe I could thrive beyond the research landscape. I had not been looking for a job at all up to that point, so I took a chance and applied for roles at a variety of companies, not limited to any particular field. Fortunately, I received several job offers, and the company where I thought the culture would be the best fit for me happened to develop CAD software. That’s how I got into this industry.
Tell us why you think PlantStream stands out from other 3D CAD options on the market — why is this software the best one for oil and gas companies?
The 3D CAD market fills a gap in making the design process in construction a lot smoother and faster, so there’s really a lot of detailed features this software can provide. Many plant engineers in the field can look at data and judge whether it is good or bad, but very few can create the data themselves. That’s a major barrier to the design and technological aspects of construction. What PlantStream does is make data collection easy and accessible. I think that’s what makes PlantStream stand out, because I believe that existing CAD systems are complementary, not competitive.
I think another reason PlantStream is so valuable is that plant construction involves a great deal of risk, not only for oil and gas companies. The ability to mitigate that risk early makes this software so appealing.
PlantStream can also revolutionize the existing design flow process and make it more efficient by making it easier for anyone to create 3D data at an early phase. Until now, there have been a number of major problems in the integration of upstream software and 3D CAD, and there have not been many examples of it working well. PlantStream is the software that bridges the gap.
Do you have an example of how PlantStream compares to other 3D CAD products in the market?
PlantStream and OptiPlant have the same functionality called automatic routing, but I feel that the major difference between the two is the usage of that functionality and the underlying philosophy of the software. PlantStream solves problems that OptiPlant could not. Not just that — I feel that PlantStream is a software that is more closely linked to the design field.
What do you hope this software will be able to achieve in the future for oil and gas companies?
The main issue with plant construction is that it’s costly and takes a lot of time. This is especially true in the oil and gas industry, where each plant is huge and takes a very long time from planning to operation.
There have already been some minor improvements in these areas within the industry, but really good 3D CAD software could be a game-changer. I feel that PlantStream has the potential to be the catalyst and the core of this change.
This may be a very abstract answer, but I believe that innovation happens when people with varied backgrounds come into contact with new-world information. For example, when people who are knowledgeable in mathematics and computer algorithms collaborate with professionals in the world of plant design, they are able to see things that were previously invisible. This makes the future for oil and gas pretty exciting!
Additionally, developing a product based on user issues — rather than a specific technology — may seem more interesting or attractive to some engineers. I believe PlantStream will attract great engineers because it will change the world of plant design software, and the change will start in Japan. There are very few start-ups in Japan, so it would be particularly rewarding for an engineer to suddenly launch a revolutionary product into the world.
Finally, what is your philosophical goal for PlantStream?
In line with Arent’s philosophy, I want to create a world where plant engineers can focus on creation by using PlantStream. By developing PlantStream, we believe that plant engineers will soon be able to visualize what they envision in their minds.