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The weight and space constraints have meant HOE has to be creative in its use of PDMS; the company appreciates the accuracy the software delivers, which Lopez believes gives HOE a competitive advantage in the market. 'Our emphasis is that every discipline must provide as accurate information into the 3D model as possible,' Lopez said.'For example, hull forms are difficult for the structural discipline,' he continued. 'We have efficiently met the challenge of the structural model by developing in-house tool sets that allow the user to work in an environment in which he is most comfortable; be it PDMS or the proprietary middleware we have developed. The marine systems disciplines benefit vastly from the early development of a structural hull model. The edge we have by creating in-house toolsets means we do not have to compete for PDMS users in a market-driven resource shortage. We develop from within.'How has PDMS helped HOE in building these toolsets? Lopez said AVEVA's technical support and training have been key. 'PDMS software is user-friendly, allowing our developers to set up toolsets that make HOE unique and competitive,' he explained.First project sets stage for uniquenessThat uniqueness started with HOE's very first project. Lopez said that, while everyone was both nervous and excited, the core group of first employees was also confident their years of experience in the industry would soon pay off.'We started the company with zero back-log, optimistic that the good client relationships we had built over the years by performing quality designs elsewhere would develop into a project,' he recalled. 'It took three months, but our first job came in - a major U.S. independent wanted to study a tension-leg platform solution for a Gulf of Mexico deepwater site and it chose us to perform this study. The fact that they wanted to study all areas including hull, mooring, and risers worked out beautifully because it put all of us to work immediately.'What got HOE interested in PDMS? Lopez said the company had always been interested in providing a 3D solution for its clients. 'As a start-up company we had to prove to customers that we could put a design team together that was capable of providing a full, detailed design effort,' he said. 'We concentrated on putting together team members who were unbiased (meaning we would put the customer's needs first) on how to deliver a project in PDMS. Then we trained (in-house) on project execution using 3D software. We then sent them to AVEVA for basic training.'What separates HOE from its competition?Lopez said it is the company's independent viewpoint, something that has been a cornerstone for everyone since its founding. 'We felt that the industry was primed for a group that specialized in the deepwater floater area. It needed a design house that had an independent view - one that was not linked to any proprietary design and not tied to a fabrication yard that used their designers for pull-through work.'What differentiates us from others is that we bring an independent view to our customers' projects. We strive to put together a solution that is best for the project, unhindered by what type of floater it needs to be,' Lopez said.How HOE uses AVEVA PDMS todayCurrently, HOE has 14 employees using PDMS at its offices in the West Houston Energy Corridor. Lopez said the software has been very easy for new users to pick up because of the developed toolsets. HOE also pairs new users with more experienced ones to speed the learning process.HOE uses PDMS for presentation work, to develop animations, and for detailed design. 'We also model and deliver 2D drawings for piping, electrical, instrumentation, primary structural steel, and outfitting steel for all major projects in-house,' he explained.AVEVA PDMS proves to be a problem solverPDMS has helped the company overcome several challenges that otherwise might have been difficult without the software, Lopez said. 'In a topside structural project that was a design/build situation (meaning the design overlapped into the fabrication schedule) we would not have been able to provide the number of drawings required to meet the deliverable schedule without the PDMS model. Being able to design up until the last few days from the deliverable date, and still create hundreds of 2D drawings that accurately represented the latest design proved crucial to the project,' he said.What does the future hold?With an independent, customer-first view and a strong set of software tools at its disposal, what does Lopez see in the future for HOE? 'We want to enhance the capabilities to provide efficient and accurate designs. We will do this by growing the group with the most capable designers. In five years, we expect be able to work on multiple detailed design projects simultaneously, while still being able to provide early engineering stages for our customers,' he said.So where do AVEVA Plant and AVEVA Marine fit into HOE's plans? Lopez said the company is examining adding new AVEVA software in the coming months to give it additional competitive advantages. 'We will look at AVEVA Marine in 2012. We need to be sure we are handling the structural hull design in the most efficient way,' he said.Lopez added that HOE will continue to partner with AVEVA to enhance its business in the coming years. 'AVEVA will help us grow our capabilities by expanding the use of its software in-house, training our people, and helping us develop better design tools so we can stay competitive in an ever-changing market.'For more information about Houston Offshore Engineering, visit World Magazine 2012|Issue 119Joey Lopez, Manager of Design for Houston Offshore Engineering.

The research was launched at an event on 1 September at RGU. Hosted by Jeremy Cresswell, editor of the Press and Journal's ENERGY supplement and honorary Professor at RGU's Aberdeen Business School, the evening commenced with a presentation of the report's findings by Professor Rita Marcella. An audience of over 90 industry professionals observed a panel discussion. The members of the panel included Malcolm Webb, Chief Executive of Oil & Gas UK, Brian Taylor, Chief Operating Officer, KCA DEUTAG, Robin Davies, Vice President of Integration and Business Improvement, Subsea7, John Pearson, Managing Director of AMEC Natural Resources Europe and West Africa, and AVEVA's H&S expert, Global Principal Consultant, Clive Wilby.Early in 2011, AVEVA commissioned an independent research project from Robert Gordon University (RGU). The project was conducted by Professor Rita Marcella, Dean of RGU's Aberdeen Business School, and Tracy Pirie, Research Assistant. The objective was to better understand the Health & Safety (H&S) issues that our customers and our industry struggle with on a daily basis. The report would also provide a detailed and authoritative picture of how organisations manage H&S information, and how current practices affect both day-to-day plant operation and the handling of emergencies.The Health & Safety Information GapThrough an online questionnaire, RGU's research gathered information from H&S managers, senior managers and engineers in the global oil & gas industry. Respondents' business types included operating companies, contractors, service companies and suppliers. In addition, confidential in-depth Critical Incident case studies covered four representative businesses, interviewing key individuals who could comment authoritatively on the information aspects of dealing with the incidents.The report, entitled 'The Health & Safety Information Gap', indicates that information systems are fragmented and inconsistent. Over 30% of industry professionals surveyed had never had training in accessing safety information, while 40% did not know how to search for it. Respondents were also working on a mixture of corporate, local and external information systems.Kate MagillCommunications Manager, AVEVA20AVEVA World Magazine 2012|Issue 1John Pearson, Managing Director, AMEC Natural Resources Europe and West Africa gives his Point of View on the research findings