The Process Engineering Tools (PET) market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 13 percent over the next five years, according to ARC Advisory Group. The market was more than $1.9 billion in 2010 and is expected to reach more than $3.6 billion by 2015.

ARC says the PET market has fully recovered from the recession and is surging once again. The market rebounded faster than projected, with growth from the emerging economies becoming a major driver. ARC says these applications play an integral part in the design, creation, commissioning, and optimization of assets. In addition, these tools are playing an increasingly important role in the operational phase of plants and assets.

The use of PET software helps to shorten project schedules and get assets up and running faster. Shorter project schedules not only reduce financial costs and lower market risks, but it hastens the time for an asset to start generating revenue. In addition, better designs directly translate to easier and safer operations as well as easier maintenance. Both owner/operators and EPCs benefit from improved engineering efficiency that allows each to optimize their workforce and focus on creating additional value.

Process Engineering Tools encompass users’ engineering workflow practices and data management for designing, building, operating, and maintaining all types of plants and assets in the process industries. The tools and applications covered in the PET study include a large portion of those necessary to manage engineering activities that create or use engineering data throughout the lifecycle of a plant. These applications along with a sound strategy for properly defining business processes, data integration, and interoperability form part of the basis for Asset Lifecycle Management.

Whether it be simulation, optimization, or engineering tools, ARC says users are looking for simplified, intuitive, easier to use software that supports collaboration and the natural workflow of an organization. Suppliers are reexamining their simulation and engineering applications interfaces to improve users’ experience for new and existing users. In addition, to expand the use of their applications, suppliers are providing a different experience for both highly skilled and technical users as well as for nontechnical casual or infrequent users. ARC says, while the technical users want consistent user interfaces, the nontechnical users need simplified user interfaces with access to only basic functionality.

The complexity of today’s engineering environment requires designers, engineers, and operators to use several different software tools and applications, according to ARC. The same engineering disciplines work with numerous applications, which makes it a priority to have intuitive and consistent interfaces among the various tools. It also requires having common functions like automatic validation of input, check in, and audit trails; rules based engineering support; and better interoperability to move information from one phase of a project to another. Improving the user experience and making the software easier to use opens up the possibility of expanding the use by making it more accessible to other users.