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Engineering, Procurement and Construction Firms

The world’s population is growing at an impressive rate. Indeed, according to the United Nations, “The global human population reached 8.0 billion in mid-November 2022 from an estimated 2.5 billion people in 1950, adding 1 billion people since 2010 and 2 billion since 1998.”

In the next 30 years, the UN adds, we can expect an additional 2 billion people, increasing to 9.7 billion by 2050. Although population numbers are expected to decline at the end of the century, peaking “at nearly 10.4 billion in the mid-2080s,” that’s still a significant amount of individuals to account for.

Considering their combined needs – food, water, housing, utilities, and infrastructure – it’s clear that development must continue at the same breakneck pace. Additionally, considering we are behind on meeting the world’s basic needs, it must move even faster.

Enter the EPC firm. EPCs – which stands for engineering procurement construction – are slated to significantly streamline the development process over the next several decades, presuming they have the right tools to do so.

This piece will outline what this type of construction contractor does, how such a model changes the delivery method of infrastructure projects, how they help land developers, and their role in reaching our energy goals.

Lastly, this article addresses why automation is a critical tool for streamlining project delivery and getting us to these goals.

What Are EPCs?

An engineering, procurement and construction firm is an organization that provides in-house, turnkey construction management. An EPC firm may sometimes be referred to as an EPC contractor for EPCM (for EPM management).

In a sense, an EPC contractor is a type of general contractor. Investors use them to manage the construction workflow from the beginning, commissioning an end-to-end design-build process, at the end of which occurs the project handover.

However, with EPC firms, the responsibility is greater. Not only do they manage procurement in addition to engineering and construction, but they also assume the majority or totality of the risk of a project because they offer stakeholders an upfront fixed price. General contractors typically do not.

This process is beneficial for the investor, as it means they don’t have to deal with the scope creep that is so often a problem with general contracting.

What Services Do EPC Contractors Provide?

What EPC services can an investor expect from an EPC contract?

An EPC project is typically large-scale – if it weren’t, a general contractor would likely suffice. EPC construction projects include the prices of materials, machinery, and labor – the procurement aspect.

This article will outline what such a construction contract entails and consider how this intersects with the land development process and where automation comes in.

Engineering Design

Engineering design is composed of two basic elements: engineering and design, unsurprisingly. However, the design phase and detailed engineering are interwoven rather than siloed efforts.

Design is when the EPC firm fleshes out the form and function of the building, energy plant, battery storage center, or other deliverable. Detailed engineering comes along behind it to check specifications, flesh out subsystems, assemble parts, and perform final calculations.

Procurement

With today’s supply chain challenges making project execution ever more difficult, EPCs provide alluring turnkey solutions that cover procurement of all types. From materials and labor to instrumentation and machinery, EPC firms procure all that’s needed before and during the construction phase.

Construction Services

One of the most obvious services EPCs provide is construction work. They are becoming ever more notable in the construction industry because they obviate the need to aggregate a million subcontractors, and instead provide end-to-end in-house services for the owner.

Risk and Project Management

Project management is heavily intertwined with project risk. This is especially true for EPC firms, who take on the risk for stakeholders. Ensuring that the project scope falls within governmental regulations, acceptable land use, and project specs is a challenge, but one to which EPCs consistently rise.

Environmental Site Assessments

Any project team creating renewable energy (or another type of development) has to garner the necessary environmental permits. They must know which land is protected, respect endangered species, and perform mitigation where needed.

How Do EPCs Help Land Developers?

Land developers face mounting challenges. They must juggle environmental regulations, inflation, tax credits, supply chain battles, and more.

The role of an EPC is to draw together the necessary people and resources to do so under one roof, where it’s easier to develop expertise, forge relationships, employ the fastest tools, and meet our future energy goals.

How Do EPCs Help Us Reach Our Energy Goals?

EPC firms help to speed up the lifecycle of clean energy development in several ways. They:

  • Create a single point of contact for project owners from the initial signature to the completion date

  • Provide services for a lump sum, helping reduce cost overruns and overcome the resistance of energy project backers and get more contracts signed

  • Take over most/all of the development process with a comprehensive scope of work

  • Get more power in the grid sooner with more projects completed more quickly

That’s not to say that all projects must be “clean” energy, either. The energy transition will rely heavily on the thoughtful use of conventional power (natural gas, coal), transitioning to green substitutes (solar, wind, green hydrogen) in the coming years.

How Can Automation Help EPCs?

In our fast-paced world, slow and error-prone human processes are falling by the wayside in favor of automation that helps streamline turnkey projects from start to finish.

Automation also allows EPCs to give the project owner a full-picture environmental report quicker. By automating risk assessment, project management, and environmental due diligence with software, EPCs are able to fast-track the start-up and decision-making processes and start construction faster and with more confidence.

Transect Automates Reports for EPCs

Transect works with EPC firms to provide automated environmental site assessments encompassing all environmental risks, regulations, and required permits for a project site in a minute. EPC firms no longer have to undergo grueling in-house site assessments that take weeks and cost thousands of dollars.

Instead, Transect supports EPCs and land developers in their project goals by fast-tracking the environmental due diligence and site selection processes, ultimately speeding up the project timeline. EPC firms simply order up desktop reports for a certain area, review them within minutes, and share them with the appropriate parties.

Curious to learn more about how Transect is helping EPCs get more done faster? Request a demo today.

Free Permitting Checklist

Practical Tips to Avoid Environmental Risk on all Your Projects

Download our environmental permitting checklist to get a step-by-step list of ways to protect your project from the 9 most common environmental risks.

Download Your Checklist