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Blog Series: Get More Accurate Estimates, Faster

Check out our blog series and hear from industry experts on estimating best practices for today’s competitive capital projects market.

October 06, 2016 by David LeGrand / 0 Comment
David LeGrand

Let's Make It Easy - It's Really Not a Black Box

Who wants to sit in the hot seat of an estimator? They have all the risk in creating an estimate out of little information and sometimes a poorly defined scope. I work with an experienced estimator and I routinely hear him say,


“Hey, if you wanted to know exactly what is was going to cost, you should have built it first and then added up the receipts.”


This is a great comment that reflects the increasing pressure on estimators for accuracy. Fortunately, model-based estimating can bring greater speed and accuracy to the estimating process, reducing risk. Over the years, we here at AspenTech have been asked to build dynamic systems for capital cost bidding and estimating that are defined by the following attributes:


  • Capable of providing detailed cost estimates as early as possible in the bidding process
  • Representative of your companies engineering and construction design philosophies
  • Flexible and agile enough to evaluate alternative approaches
  • Ability to baseline projects for future performance evaluation


Let’s take a look at the engines that drive Aspen Capital Cost Estimator™ (ACCE):



The power is in the back office. Accuracy of scope is one of the largest drivers to future productivity. If you get it wrong early in the estimating cycle, it manifests itself later in the bidding and estimating process. ACCE exposes its magic by providing the user with over 500 components representing most of the common equipment, assemblies or items found in the course of designing and constructing a process facility. This warehouse provides detailed cost estimates early in the bidding process and allows the estimator to produce more detailed, accurate estimates earlier in the bidding process. This warehouse of components allows a user to pick, choose and scale equipment to build their equipment lists. Components are built using a volumetric model that conceptually builds the equipment from its basic form (it could be sheet form steel) to finish form (distillation column) taking into account piping, wiring, insulation, and pad sizes as the selected item is sized to the design parameters. 



One of the most useful tools is the idea of modularity with respect to scope. The first priority is defining the “major equipment” requirements, then insuring that all equipment is sized to meet product specifications. The second consideration relates to bid solicitation, technical evaluation and bid tabulation for major equipment. After these priorities are addressed, it may seem that all else is incidental. 


The problems occur when the bells of the 11th hour ring. This is when the never ceasing change orders come in, and because of incomplete scope or code of accounts, things get missed.


ACCE makes is easy to react quickly to last minute requests and deliver a bid you can be confident will put you in the winning seat.


  • David LeGrand
    December 04, 2016 by David LeGrand / 0 Comment

    Getting to Zero – Calibrating Aspen Capital Cost Estimator for Success

    Who would have thought that zero was such an important number? But who wants zero salary, or zero sunny days? I guess it’s all in the way you look at it. Most Owner Operators or EPC’s would love a capital cost estimate that has zero deviation from expectation!

  • David LeGrand
    August 25, 2016 by David LeGrand / 0 Comment

    Make Your Estimate a True Strategic Weapon

    Companies bidding and building large capital projects are increasingly nervous as their decisions, based upon all of this confusing information, weigh heavily on bid profitability and feasibility. Model-based estimating has become a strategic weapon in the bidding and estimating of capital projects.