“CEL International* provides world class services in support of capital investments in the pharmaceutical and process industry. We support everyone from ‘start-ups’ to major multi-nationals, providing consultancy, design, engineering, procurement, construction/project management and validation services to customers whose facilities incorporate technical complexity. The MEDUSA4 PLANT DESIGN SYSTEM (MPDS4) is our product of choice in the complex process plant design and layout arena. The software supports the flexibility we need as we address diverse engineering challenges in a multitude of market sectors. We are well known for delivering projects on time, on budget and with minimal disruption. MPDS4 helps our design engineers achieve this objective.”
– Nigel Barnes, Managing Director, CEL International (*now WSP CEL) –
For over 40 years, companies in the pharmaceutical and process industry have found in CEL an invaluable process plant contractor and engineering partner with an impressive range of highly specialised skills. The company’s strengths lie in its flexibility, its comprehensive service offering, and a thorough understanding of the specific challenges its customers face in their market sectors.
CEL’s experts are involved in all stages of process plant projects, from risk analysis and environmental audits in the pre-investment phase; design, procurement, project management and construction in the investment stage; to cost of goods analysis and the removal of bottlenecks in a plant’s operational life. An award-winning company proud of the value and peace of mind it delivers to customers, CEL’s story is one of resilience, determination, adaptation and diversification, which found in MPDS4 an extremely reliable and flexible plant design and automation solution, equal to the diverse and growing demands of its client base.
Headquartered in Coventry, the UK’s manufacturing heartland, CEL International has offices throughout the United Kingdom, in Ireland, China, and many other international locations. CEL provides consultancy, design, engineering, procurement, construction/project management and validation services to customers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, food & consumer products, industrial & chemical, and energy & environment market sectors.
Specialised consultancy groups include a dedicated in-house environmental resource, and Pluris Engineered Solutions, which focuses on the refurbishment and improvement of existing facilities and the provision of new, fully integrated production lines.
The company, which started out in 1963 doing plant design for paint producing chemical factories, now employs more than 400 people. Having faced down several recessions and harnessed the energy and commitment of its staff through a management buyout in 2000, CEL became part of the WSP Group (one of the world’s fastest-growing design, engineering and management consultancies) in 2007, and remains an autonomous entity, adding unique process engineering expertise to the group.
CEL’s customer list reads like a “Who’s Who” in the pharma and process industry, from famous high street names and food brands to energy and pharmaceutical giants. But Managing Director Nigel Barnes, himself a highly-experienced engineering project manager and former Vice President of Engineering at GlaxoSmithKline, emphasises that the company supports clients of all sizes, from small consultancy projects to full Engineering Procurement Construction Management (EPCM) delivery. “Our services are very flexible, delivered in the way clients need them,” he explains. “Assignments range from a few thousand pounds-worth of advice or smaller plant modification projects to comprehensive capital plant contracts in excess of £50M capital value. We emphasise teamwork, and we’re proud of the passionate group of experts we employ. We ensure close integration with the entire supply chain in order to deliver cost-effective solutions for business improvement, always mindful of best industry practice, safety, quality and sustainability.”
Fast, Reliable Plant Design That Wins Projects
An innovator always keen to deploy the best technology for the job, CEL has been using 3D plant design systems for detailed process plant design and layout for many years. MPDS4 is the company’s system of choice, not only among the users. In a recent open vote among CEL project managers, 10 out of 11 said they preferred to tackle all of their plant design projects with MPDS4, seeing it as the most reliable system, and one that impresses clients and helps to win contracts. The company currently has 14 MPDS jobs live, and has used the product in around 50 contracts.
CEL deploys MPDS4 ADVANCED with supporting modules in all the plant design disciplines, including Steel Design, Process Piping Design with ISOGEN*, Electrical Design, Ducting Design, Hangers & Supports, P&ID, Factory Layout, Mechanical Handling and Engineering Review. The seats also include the MEDUSA4 ADVANCED drafting system with Parametrics and the MEDUSA4 3D modeller.
MPDS4 is our product of choice in the complex process plant design and layout arena. The software supports the flexibility we need as we address diverse engineering challenges in a multitude of market sectors.
Efficient Multi-User Plant Design
CEL’s design team numbers 82. This is regularly augmented with contract designers, providing the flexibility to deal with peaks in demand and critical project phases. Dave Latchem, CEL’s CAD Administrator, says, “On larger plant design projects, there are typically 10-12 designers using the software simultaneously, out of a project design team of 50-60 people.”
Brendan Lewis, Lead Designer and one of the system’s expert users, says, “10-12 people working on a model simultaneously might not sound like a lot, but we’ve seen what some of our large Oil Company clients get from other contractors, and what they get from us – they have 10 designers, and we have 1 guy doing the same job in MPDS.”
“When we take over from other contractors, these people are often cheaper by the hour, but because MPDS lets us work that much faster and more accurately at the same time, we put in estimates that are cheaper overall,” says Senior Mechanical Designer, Jamie Gower. “And then we often do a job in less time than estimated. Integrated teams, the right software, and lots of experience make us faster and better value for money than ‘cheaper’ contractors. We often go up against so-called ‘expert contractors’ with ‘better systems’ – still we get selected.”
Quickly Getting Contractors Up to Speed
On large projects, up to two thirds of the CEL design team may be made up of contractors. Contractors are expected to get up to speed with MPDS4 in about a week, after a day’s in-house training and some hand-holding. “That’s another plus about MPDS,” says Brendan. “It’s easy to learn. I think it’s one of the easiest packages to teach somebody.” Jamie agrees, “I learned on a live job when I first joined. It doesn’t take long to get someone started.”
“Most of the other major plant design products we’re familiar with are so complicated to use that you have to have an external trainer in,” adds Dave Latchem, “What’s worse, some industry standard 2D CAD commands can corrupt the database in those systems, because they use completely different commands. That just doesn’t happen with MPDS.”
Customised for Bespoke Design
CEL’s expertise in specific industry sectors brings with it a huge catalog, and the company has over 300 of its own drawing routines. “MPDS4 is very flexible and customisable,” says Dave. “We’ve automated our design processes extensively, with catalog-driven parametric drawing routines for things like creating the 3-way valves and tri-clamp fittings common in pharmaceutical plants.” CEL probably has one of the largest custom catalogs in the industry, with well over 50,000 individual components from over 30,000 unique geometry records and around 200 materials, including, for example, special glass-lined, PTFE-lined and rubber-lined pipes.
Applied Market Knowledge
Every year CEL’s engineers work on projects with a capital value of about £250m, bringing detailed knowledge and extensive experience of the market sector to each project. “A large capital project may take from 20 to 60 man years to complete,” explains Nigel Barnes.
MPDS4 for Pharmaceutical Process Facility Design
As part of its extensive pharma portfolio, CEL recently designed and project managed the construction of a state-of-the-art vaccines production facility for a major pharmaceutical client. The approximately 15,000 square metre building consisted of two floors with laboratories, production and processing areas and harvest lines, and 4 additional floors to accommodate the building’s services. The design included miles of cable trays and pipework, with over 6,000 individual pipes.
Winning Contracts with MPDS4: On-Site 3D Design Studies
One of benefits of MPDS4’s relational database approach, and the speed with which 3D layouts can be achieved, is its usefulness in a pre-sales or tender scenario. CEL runs the software on a normal laptop when visiting a customer site. “We often choose to work in MPDS 3D even when the deliverables are in 2D, because it’s faster and gets us much further along,” says Dave Latchem.
Hydrocarbon Installation Simplification
Dave cites the example of one of the major oil companies, which commissioned CEL to do a design study for a project tender. Jamie Gower, who went to the site, explains, “The job was a simplification project requiring the identification of redundant equipment, so it could be disconnected from the process. All they expected was for us to measure up the site and deliver 2D drawings and a parts list.” Instead, Jamie decided it would be quicker and easier to model the installation in MPDS4, based on existing isos, then automatically produce the required 2D drawings.
He did the work in less time than the estimate for doing it in 2D. “Some people think that you can’t use a model for this kind of scenario, but it was ideal,” says Jamie, “I had the client looking over my shoulder, saying, ‘Can we move this…can we change that..?’ They were very impressed that we delivered a 3D model, and liked MPDS’ flexibility. With that much work already done, we saved an immense amount of time – any company tendering would have had to start the modelling again from scratch. In the end, the company awarded us the simplification contract straightaway.”
Easy to Handle Large, Complex Models
“We have licenses for – and direct experience of – most of the leading plant design systems,” says Brendan. “That’s because sometimes customers require us to use specific software. One of the many things MPDS has going for it is that it can handle huge, complex plants with ease, and you can run it on a regular laptop. One of our customers who tried to achieve similar results with a well-known 3D system had to pay about 20 times the price of a normal PC to get a machine powerful enough to display his models. Some of the files they send us are so huge that they have to cut them up – you have to have a beast of a machine to run them.”
Bio Fuel Plant Project Coordination
CEL recently worked on a new bio fuel plant (a joint project between a major US chemical and UK Oil Company) for which the larger group, WSP, was the building design and construction contractor. The project involved four different contractors.
“First we modelled the building, the slab and the area around it from 2D drawings,” explains Brendan. MPDS4’s FACTORY LAYOUT module allows designers to quickly produce 3D building models based on 2D layouts. “Then we used the model to coordinate all the other disciplines, such as the steelwork and the process, which two other contractors were involved with. We ran clash detection and routed all the services, including the electrical cabling and all the interconnected pipework to tie in the process components (which were slotted into modular frames) inside and outside the building. It was a bit of an unusual way of working, but MPDS is the system that did it.
MPDS4 for Manufacturing Plants
Major Glass Production Plant
CEL also recently worked on a major glass production plant. “When we bid for the job, we were up against other contractors who were using the same 3D product as the client,” explains Dave Latchem. “But that was a mechanical design package, not a process plant product. Still, we had one day training from the vendor and grilled the instructor about piping, clash detection and isometrics. The product simply wasn’t up to the job, so we went back to the client to say we would be very happy to do the project, but MPDS would be the right tool for the job.”
Integrating External 3D Model Files
“They wanted it done right then and there,” says Brendan. “So we sent them off to lunch and we did it, bringing the models in as STEP files. You can also open a DWG, trace over it, and create your model from there. As a result, the client decided to go with MPDS. We regularly incorporated the customer’s STEP files into the plant – the latest version of MPDS4 allowed us to reduce the file size significantly.”
The customer realised that CEL had saved significant time and money by using MPDS4.
“We ran clash detection to find issues in the design very early on, which he couldn’t see in his drawings,” says Brendan. “Changes are easily made while you’re still in the office, but mistakes caught later on become very costly. Pipes were fabricated off-site, so they have to be remade if they don’t fit. If the guys are meanwhile hanging around the site, it gets more and more expensive. Originally the customer did some parallel design work in his 3D CAD system – but it didn’t offer the clash detection that MPDS does, so he soon relied completely on our work. We regularly output STEP files to update their system.”
Automatic Piping Isometrics*
“The automatic production of pipe isometrics from the models is one of the key benefits of MPDS,” says Dave Latchem. “You just press a button and you’re away. You even get a 3D view of the pipe next to the dimensioned isometrics, a special development originally done for us, which became part of the standard product. That impresses many customers who use some of the world’s best known plant design products.”
Many of CEL’s customers try to build large assemblies with their 3D CAD systems. “On top of performance and file size issues when assembling a large number of components, these systems don’t deliver fully dimensioned pipe isometrics,” Dave explains, and Jamie adds, “Keep in mind that it takes about 4 ½ hours per iso if you have to draw it in 2D. The number that MPDS can push out per day is only limited by the speed of our printer. They finally bought us our own dedicated printer when we broke the last one, running off hundreds of isos a day. And when there’s a change in the model, the isos update automatically.”
Always Someone at the End of the Line
CEL and CAD Schroer have enjoyed a long-standing partnership. “One of the key benefits of using MPDS is the relationship we enjoy with CAD Schroer,” says Dave. “There is always someone at the end of the line or willing to come see us; if we need support we don’t end up in endless queuing systems. We work to tight deadlines, so a quick response from the software vendor is important. People like Mark Simpson (CAD Schroer’s UK-based Product Line Manager) know a lot about engineering – they understand what we do on a daily basis and try to help us do it better and quicker. And we help them to enhance the product with the feedback we give. CAD Schroer’s work ethic is similar to ours – if we say we will deliver, we will deliver; and we usually beat the customer’s expectations.”
We Never Stop Learning
“The most interesting part of my job is to see what our customers deliver with the help of our software,” says Mark Simpson, “The quality of the services CEL provides to its large and satisfied customer base are the best testament to the value of our solutions. Like CEL, our aim is to provide products and services flexible enough to adapt to the needs of our customer base, and we never stop learning from our clients.”
For more information about CEL visit the the WSP Group Website.
*MPDS4 offers an interface to the ISOGEN™ software, and integrates directly with CAD Schroer’s M4 ISO software (released in 2014). Either software is a prerequisite for creating automated piping isometrics.