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In high-wage countries the number of Greenfield projects for plant automation is decreasing. In contrast to this, plant modernization becomes more and more important. The estimation of the costs for a re-engineering of the existing plant automation is an error-prone task which has to be done in the bidding phase of a modernization project. This article describes a knowledge-based approach to reduce the risk potential in the bidding phase of plant modernization projects. Based on a concept for rough plant modeling in CAEX and technologies of the semantic web a concept for a software assistance system is presented.