This true story happened 6 years ago. I will omit the names on purpose as all the participants are still in business.

A well-known engineering services provider in desalination decided to make its business more efficient and appearing to clients. Without investing any thought in what it really would need in the nearest future and without preparing any functional requirements specification it purchased Product Life-cycle Management (PLM) software from a leading and well-respected provider.
As this PLM software was of very general character, the provider hired a group of PLM specialists to customize it to the specific business. The only problem was that these specialists did not understand the client business. To save on the expenses and to accelerate the customization, PLM guys made daring proposition to the company management – not to transfer to PLM the existing products & parts classification and coding system running on legacy UNIX system. The management, under the pressure of Total Costs of Ownership (TCO) overruns, gave its consent. When PLM started working, against the management expectations, the workhours jumped by 50 – 100%!   

In a broader sense, Information Classifying and Coding System (ICCS) lies at the core of any business, tying all business parts and disciplines together – from business process to purchasing to quality assurance and accounting. ICCS defined relationships between products, parts, and processes are fundamental and form a core of the company expertise accumulated over years.

ICCS is a basis for information interoperability needed for easy information exchange with the other participants of projects executed in collaboration. ICCS provides EPC contractors, subcontractors, OEM suppliers and consultants with a common language and terminology for specifications, estimates, drawings, material selections, costs control, and purchasing.

BOM structures created with CAD software are a tiny upper part of the ICCS iceberg.

The key area of ICCS application is through design data retrieval and rationalization.
Driven by Group Technology (GT) approach, ICCS is a solid basis for enforcing re-use practices, standardization and unification. It easily identifies similar processes and design conditions where standard deign parts and equipment may be used. It eliminates duplication efforts and unnecessary decision making by re-using existing intellectual capital and allows scarce engineering resources to focus on real innovation. ICCS is always the first to integrate new equipment types and technologies.
ICCS lies at the core of the costs estimation techniques. Surprisingly, this point entirely escaped the attention of LinkedIn authors posting on costs estimation topics.
It may be said that ICCS is a roadmap of the company business. The lack of ICCS is an indication of low engineering and execution culture.
ICCS is independent of company current organization and methods and scope of project execution, or plant operation, maintenance and repair. On the other hand, ICCS is unique; what is best for one company may not be best for another.
ICCS is a starting point for building "digital twins" of the physical plants and the business digital transformation.
ICCS is a core part of any search engine for drawings, specifications, reports, studies, guides, O&M manuals, and manufacturing procedures.
ICCS drives business history tracking used for searching similar problems or questions raised in the project execution in the past.

Engineering ICCS is in its infancy and CRENGER may be the only ICCS tailored to desalination and water treatment projects and plants, answering all the requirements set forth previously. Crenger ICCS uses WBS – work breakdown structure of the project and PBS – plant breakdown structure. Coding is fully automated and extended to P&ID tags, project areas, purchase orders and packages, and parts barcodes.

Next chapter explains the nuts and bolts of Crenger ICCS core concept - generic product.

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