AspenTech: Assuring Collaboration and Optimization in Chemical Manufacturing

Antonio Pietri, President & CEO For every company, success is not a threshold, but a moving target—persistently reformulated and dictated by the constantly changing market dynamics and competition. Pressurized with rising costs of raw materials, regulatory issues, and vertical integration from bulk to specialty chemicals, the chemical industry is no exception to this rising trend. As a result, organizations are now realizing the necessity to simplify and upgrade production operations. An innovative way to tackle the disruption is by standardizing on the manufacturing operations management (MOM) software applications.

Navigating these impediments through a pure-play software and services approach is Bedford, MA based firm, Aspen Technology [NASDAQ: AZPN]. Born out of a joint research program between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the U.S. Department of Energy—An Advanced System for Process Engineering (ASPEN) project, the firm’s software tackles the most intricate process manufacturing hindrances, creating value, and profitability for customers. The company offers their solutions on top of the customer’s existing automation and enterprise systems investments in a hardware-agnostic fashion. The solutions offered by the firm are designed to manage and optimize plant and process design, operational performance, and supply chain planning. With its ground breaking software solutions, AspenTech has carved a niche by helping some of the largest energy, chemical, and engineering companies to compete better in the global market place.

The AspenTech team is driven by a zeal to innovate and ceaselessly improve by offering process optimization software solutions. “Innovation is at the core of what we do in the company; it’s in our DNA and it is what people are about,” says Antonio Pietri, President and CEO, Aspen Technology. The company also has strong ties with its Integration Foundation and links with third-party software such as Microsoft Web Services, TIBCO, and Informatica Technologies.

Conquering Data Complexities

Process industry occupies a predominant role for facilitating other verticals and areas that enable companies to function effectively. Aspen through its flagship product, aspenONE enables collaboration and increased profitability through engineering, plant operations, and supply chain. aspenONE is a unified web and mobile environment for searching, sharing, viewing, interacting, and collaborating using the content produced by Aspen’s engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain products. It also provides visibility, sharing, and the re-use of data and process models. With aspenONE, by integrating the overall business processes, companies achieve significant improvements in performance with payback in months instead of years. Moreover, aspenONE effortlessly troubleshoots operational issues that may arise by comparing plant data and simulation results side by side, enabling operators to make informed operational improvements.

Innovation is at the core of what we do in the company; it’s in our DNA and it is what are people are about

Resolving Operational Hazards

Over the years, process engineering has undergone tectonic shifts, due to advances and innovation in software both within individual disciplines and also in the integration across workflows. Though this incessant evolution has created tremendous value for organizations, there exists a need for novel solutions to ensure improved plant operation uptime, reduced energy use, and process quality problems. Catering to this requirement by cultivating an agile supply chain is AspenTech’s process simulators Aspen Plus and Aspen HYSYS. These models can be accessed from any web browser or shared with colleagues by uploading them to the aspenONE Drive in the company’s network. Aspen Plus is the chemical process optimization software used by the bulk, fine, specialty, and biochemical industries, as well as the polymers industry for the design, operation, and optimization of safe, profitable manufacturing facilities. Whereas, Aspen HYSYS is a comprehensive process modeling tool used by oil and gas producers and refineries, and engineering companies for process simulation and process optimization in design and operations.

In addition to process optimization hindrances, enterprises in the chemical industry require an effective system to efficiently collect, manage and leverage the vast amount of data within the organization. The key to this is an efficient Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Based on the ISA-S95 framework, aspenONE MES delivers efficient data management, operational intelligence via rich visualization and analytics, and improved product execution—enabling process manufacturers to quickly identify and resolve operational issues. In addition AspenTech proffers manufacturing software to curb energy consumption cost.

For instance, one of the world’s leading chemical companies needed to reduce energy consumption and improve manufacturing agility to meet changing market conditions. Once the customer deployed AspenOne manufacturing software, they were able to increase production capacity by 11 percent, reduce start up time by 60 percent, lower emissions by 80 percent and incur saving worth $700M.

Eliminating Risks and Maintaining Standards

Safety is a top priority while designing a chemical process. Increased pressure of equipment or piping often poses to be a major concern for engineers, who must avert dangerous bursts, explosions, and fires—to protect personnel. A fast and robust simulation tool enables engineers to consider more factors in the design while reducing the overall design time, providing them the confidence to deliver the best solutions to the clients.
"The aspenONE Engineering software suite in an industry standard integrated system that contains sophisticated tools that have common user interfaces"

Apart from safety, engineering problems are also becoming increasingly more intricate. With the growing demand to do more with fewer resources, there are several unanswered questions in shorter time frames for chemical manufacturing companies. AspenTech has taken greater strides to address this issue and make its engineering tools robust and instinctive for users of all levels. The aspenONE Engineering software suite in an industry standard integrated system that contains sophisticated tools that have common user interfaces and help engineers intuitively deliver accurate results and produce significant economic gains on small and large scale projects. The tools also capture immense process knowledge, whereby engineers can create models that document a plant system.

Having built a reputation of being the principal experts in process optimization, AspenTech is approached by some of the world’s biggest energy and chemical companies to aid them while running their operations. In a compelling case study, a global engineering company was designing the largest petro chemical complex in the world. However, their traditional methods were inadequate to scope a capital project of this magnitude. This is when AspenTech intervened. The break through scalability of aspenONE engineering software cut project estimation time by 75 percent, completing what would have taken four months, in less than four weeks.

Journey to Continued Innovation

Armed with thorough implementation knowledge and experience, AspenTech’s well experienced team works with immense dedication and enthusiasm to achieve their end goals. “A lot of what’s in the execution is passion and pride for what we do as a company and the difference that we make to the customers and the world,” says Pietri.

“We are entering a stage where innovation is going to take another dimension. It will be increasingly driven by the value we deliver to our clients.” As the company announced the financial results for its second quarter of fiscal year 2016, it delivered solid results highlighted by continued year-over-year non GAAP operating margin expansion and strong cash generation. Despite the macro environment, Aspen continued to perform well, particularly in the chemical businesses.

“Due to the mission critical nature of our solutions and the significant value we deliver for customers, we believe we are well-positioned to generate increased growth in this environment”. In addition, over the long term, the company is focused on the opportunity to drive greater usage of the aspenONE suite combined with AspenTech’s business model to attain strong levels of profitability and cash flow.


Bedford, MA

Antonio Pietri, President & CEO

Specializes in process manufacturing, process optimization, engineering software, manufacturing operations, and supply chain management