Quickie: AspenTech acquires Apex Optimisation

Feb 5, 2018 | Hot Topics

I am at SolidWorks World in LA this week, so this has to be brief: This morning, Aspen Technology announced that it has acquired Apex Optimisation, maker of GDOT, a software solution that connects plant operations optimization with Advanced Process Control (APC). APC is a combo of techniques and equipment that together let the operator of a plant fine-tune production. GDOT and products like it enable process engineers (chemists, chemical engineers and the like)  to build software process models that are independent of the specific controllers (the hardware) and then combine the two, sort of like CAM software creates G-code that runs specific milling, turning or other NC machines. The analogy isn’t perfect –process manufacturing is very different from discrete manufacturing– but you get the idea.

The point is to practice the manufacturing process digitally before any expensive assets get involved. In the case of process industries, there’s constant tuning as inputs are often natural products of varying quality. A chemical process that results in  a high quality output on Monday might not on Tuesday, simply because of different raw materials. So optimizing enables engineers to model production and program (calibrate, in tis context) production. This avoids downtime, expensive tests and leads to more consistent and controlled production.

One thing that’s unique in the process industries is that production planning is often as much economic as it is production: a cheaper input may be able to produce the correct quality output with tweaks to the chemical process. With GDOT, AspenTech will be able to tie together the economics, scheduling and chemistry.

That’s a big deal. AspenTech’s release about the acquisition says that in a typical refinery,  “a single multi-unit application of GDOT may generate up to $10M [in savings and improved production] per year, and many refineries have several implementations”.

AspenTech CEO Antonio Pietri says of the deal, “Deploying resources more efficiently to optimize the value of assets across the enterprise defines AspenTech’s vision for Asset Optimization. The patented GDOT technology is a proven solution for customers seeking to maximize the efficiency of their operations in the most complex industrial environments. We look forward to Henrik [Terndrup, co-founder, Apex], Klas [Dahlgren, the other co-founder, Apex] and their team joining AspenTech, as we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in asset optimization.”

Financial details were not released but it sounds like a done deal.