CAPE (Computer Aided Process Engineering) tools have evolved over many years and are widely used in major sectors of the
industry. It is recognised that their use brings major
benefits (for example, statements such as "...single figure
savings in operating costs and double figure savings in fixed and/or working capital..." and "...a powerful, aggressive
competitive weapon..." have been made).
However, the business environment is changing: more dynamic
markets, technological and legislative environments are
resulting in a demand for a whole new range of more
sophisticated processes and CAPE tools and techniques to design and operate them.
Recognising these trends, there has been, in recent years, a significant growth in the number of nationally and
internationally supported CAPE R&D activities and there is a clear and urgent need to improve coordination and cooperation between the R&D centres themselves (including those in the
larger industrial companies) and between the research community and relevant industrial sectors (such as oil & gas, chemicals and waste treatment).
The Thematic Network CAPE.NET comprises a number of major
industrial and research organizations within the EU process
CAPE.NET has the support of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering (via its CAPE Working Party), of the European
Chemical Industry Council (via its SUSTECH initiative) and of the PRIMA network established under the EU's ESPRIT Programme. CAPE.NET primary objectives are:
- an improved balance of technology push and end-user pull,
leading to faster progress in providing effective CAPE
technology in areas of critical need, by improved focus and
steering of resources, driven by key industrial priorities
highlighted during the Exploratory Phase;
- improved awareness and exploitation of research results,
leading to wider adoption of global best practice and
appropriate standards, thus protecting and enhancing industrial competitiveness;
- improved and more widely available materials for training in CAPE technologies, at under-graduate, post-graduate and postexperience levels;
- enhanced adaptation and transfer of generic CAPE technologies between subsectors and into smaller companies and lessadvantaged regions.
To this end, Technology Working Groups and Task Forces will be established, comprising a suitable blend of industry, research and supplier personnel. The key technology focus areas have been identified during the Exploratory Phase by a wide-ranging industrial survey and these will be coordinated within an
integrating and life-cycle framework, thus addressing one of the key current problems - fragmentation and lack of
A CAPE.NET Handbook will be developed (and regularly updated), comprising a variety of working documents and these materials will be widely disseminated via periodic, Regional Technology Transfer events.
CAPE.NET will coordinate its activities with other appropriate initiatives working in CAPE or related areas, or whose
activities and objectives may enhance CAPE.NET impact. Where appropriate, joint initiatives will be established with such groups as Trade Associations, the European Federation of
Chemical Engineering, National CAPE groups, the EU's
RELAY/INNOVATION network, etc..
EUROPEAN DIMENSION AND PARTNERSHIP
The decision to put together a Thematic Network proposal arose from informal discussions at several ESCAPE series meetings and at the IChemE 1995 Research Event.
It will be noted that the total partnership represents a very significant fraction of the European Process Industries and a very wide sample of the sub-sectors, thus facilitating intersectoral cross-fertilisation, etc..
In addition to selective membership of their chosen Technology Working Groups and Task Forces, all partners will have
responsibility for ensuring effective dissemination and
technology transfer. Other organizations and initiatives are also involved, to these purposes such as CEFIC, National Trade Associations (especially valuable for identifying and
approaching SME's), EFChE, National CAPE Groups, and so on. It is planned also to cooperate with the RELAY/INNOVATION
Centre Network, once suitable materials are prepared to make this effective.
Concerted action at a multinational level is now an urgent
necessity to protect future success and prosperity and the EU, with its strong research base, is ideally placed to take a
lead. The results of the proposed networking activities will be widely applicable in many sectors/subsectors, in all Member States and in all sizes of company.
Computer Aided Process Engineering, CAPE, is concerned with
application of computer aids for the development, design and operation of processing plants. It is often defined as "the application of a system modeling and simulation approach to the study of whole processes, together with their control, safety, utility and environmental protection systems as an integrated whole, from the viewpoints of development, design and
CAPE thus as an inherently broad perspective, in two
- an integrated view across the many aspects of the behaviour of the process/plant and its supporting systems (within the
design context, this is known as concurrent engineering)
- throughout the life cycle of the process/plant.
The approach of addressing specific focus areas, by a
combination of Task Forces and Technology Working Groups,
within a broad life cycle/integrating context, has been
unanimously supported during consultations.
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