Est$Pro was developed to serve a specific purpose: rapid conceptual cost estimating of process plants and equipment. It began life as a FORTRAN program, running on a mainframe computer back in 1981. Today it is a 32-bit program, running on a desktop computer under Microsoft Windows, and while it has been greatly enhanced and simplified, it still has the same purpose.
In the world of EPC contractors and operating companies there has always been a need for quick capital cost estimates. Quite often cost-versus-capacity estimates are not good enough or do not have enough accuracy for particular purposes. Very frequently the estimator, engineer, or project manager will have perhaps a sized equipment list, P&IDs, and a knowledge of where the plant is to be constructed. Armed with this information, Est$Pro, a little common sense, and a few hours, the technical user can produce an objective cost estimate with probable accuracy of +25% to -15%. Of course, there are too many factors involved to guarantee this kind of accuracy for every estimate, but this is the typical range of accuracy expected from this methodology.
Many users may be familiar with Questimate or ICARUS 2000 (now being renamed "Kbase", two fine products of Aspentech. The publisher uses, heartily endorses both of these programs, and encourages you to call them if you have not been exposed to their software before. However Est$Pro is very different from these programs as is explained below. Like Est$Pro, Questimate will estimate process equipment prices. It will also estimate the cost of purchasing and installing bulk materials which the user defines. However, the user is responsible for defining how many yards of concrete are in the foundation under each piece of equipment, how many feet of pipe (not to mention valves and fittings) are connected to that equipment, and so on. In short, the user must conceptualize all of the bulk materials associated with each equipment item. Once he does that, Questimate does an admirable job of providing the manhours and material costs. But again, the user is required to spend a lot of time conceptualizing these quantities. The cost is several thousand dollars per year.
In contrast, ICARUS 2000 conceptualizes everything--down to the last nut and bolt. Based on built-in P&IDs for different equipment types (example: one equipment type might be a single-diameter distillation column with full instrumentation), it will go through the very steps an engineer would to design every bulk associated with each equipment item. Obviously, in order for it to do this, it requires extensive user input. For instance, in order for it to design a foundation under a column, it would not only need to know all of the design parameters of the column, but it would need the allowable bearing pressure of the soil, the design wind speed, whether piles are required, and if so what type, etc. It is an extremely powerful program, but it requires substantial user input and the cost can prohibitive for small companies (a license agreement for a two-user system is somewhere around $30,000 per year) and requires a fairly powerful PC running Windows NT or a workstation running UNIX.
So as you can see, Est$Pro fits a niche not really covered by the other programs. The user can get total installed cost estimates with a minimum of input and a minor investment in software and hardware. Simply put, Est$Pro prices process equipment then applies factors to the priced equipment to account for the bulk materials and installation costs. This is a time-proven method first promulgated by Lang in the late 1940s. Kenneth Guthrie expanded upon this method in the late 60s and early 70s, publishing a wonderful book containing a wealth of information. Unfortunately that book is now long out of print. But the methodology Lang and Guthrie established holds true today, although the factors have changed. Many engineers and estimators commonly use factors to go from bare equipment cost to total installed plant cost; however, they lack a way to objectively modify the cost to account for variances in wage rates, productivities, and other site specific conditions. This is where Est$Pro is aimed. It provides a systematic method of factored estimating in addition to its equipment pricing capabilities. The user has control over location factors, unit prices, overheads, and other project-specific information which simple multi-pliers cannot handle.
In addition to process plant estimating, Est$Pro provides a separate tank farm estimating module, reflecting the fact that tank farm costs are rarely a function of equipment pricing. Est$Pro also provides a quick building cost estimator, based on typical $/SF rates. Finally the program also comes with many other utilities which the estimator will find useful in his daily work: a curve fitting program, a program to establish over-all average wage rates when only a few craft wage rates are available, a program to estimate the effects on productivity of extended workweeks, and many other utilities as well. The user is encouraged to familiarize himself with each of them so that he knows what estimating tools he has at his disposal.
What do you need to run Est$Pro? Well, you need a computer which is running Microsoft Windows95 (and it will even run, though not very well, under Windows 3.x) in 256 color mode. The program takes less than 10 megabytes of hard drive space. Of course, the faster the computer the better, but the program runs adequately on older 486's.
Where can I get it?
This program is marketed by Gulf Publishing Company. To buy or request a demo, please visit their website at: www.gulfpub.com.
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