Processed liquids and gases run through pipes to get to the final destination, and those pipes are laid out and designed with computer-aided design software.
“When you walk through those types of plants, all you see is pipes going everywhere,” said Sandesh Joshi, president of the CAD outsourcing service Indovance. “These types of plants are a lot more common than you’d think. Piping is used for food, and petroleum and gas is also a huge use. But they’re similar in how they’re designed and how the equipment is manufactured.”
Indovance provides scalable CAD teams to help design and engineer plants, including designing the plant’s piping design and the manufacturing equipment itself, Joshi said.
These plants might include pressure vessels, which are also modeled within CAD systems.
A a number of vendors offer the CAD piping design software used to engineer piping and plants. They include the capability to create piping and instrumentation diagrams and drawings (called P&ID in the process industry), which are detailed diagrams that show the piping and vessels in the process flow, together with the instrumentation and control devices.
The 3D piping design system based on AutoCAD, for example, has recently been updated to AutoCAD Plant 3D 2017.1. Updates include spec-driven P & ID and fixes to issues found through testing and customer error reports.
AutoCAD Plant already includes a spec-driven plant design system, but the P&ID tool didn’t include that capability, according to Emile Kfouri, director of the systems engineering product group at Autodesk. The upgrade also includes improvements to the vault and wide-area-network workflows for team collaboration.
“If you have tried vault or worksharing across multiple offices and struggled to get it to work. I recommend you give it another try with much improved 2017.1 update,” he wrote on vendor’s blog, called In the Pipes.
The place where worksharing still falls short, Kfouri added, is when team members outside a company’s wide-area network need access the project data. “They need to be granted access to your network, which can cause a security issue. Additionally, even though the setup for collaboration using the existing vault solution is probably the easiest of any in the plant market, it still requires some effort,” he said.
Autodesk has been at work on a solution using Autodesk Cloud that doesn’t require and doesn’t need much configuration. Called Project Calgary Collaboration, it’s been in customer testing for nine months and is now opened to public testing.
The vendor is also working to allow its architectural design customers who use the Revit tool to also use Plant 3D’s isometric drawing generation feature and is working find ways to support the number of our water and waste water customers who are using Revit for their projects, Kfouri said.
Other makers of CAD for 3D piping design include MPDS4 from CAD Schroer, which allows for the design of complex 3D piping systems in plants, factories, or large modules. It includes a range of tools for performing manual or automatic loading of pipe components, as well as positioning and substituting them. An integrated autorouting function is also available for rapid pipe positioning.
Procad makes both 2D and 3D piping design software.
Piping projects are often quite detailed and the nature of the work is often cyclical, meaning an outsourcing service that can scale up workers for a season can be helpful, Joshi said.
“A lot of oil and gas projects can last a few months, but sometimes they continue for years, depending on if a company is starting a plant, or is upgrading or modifying things,” he added.
“The work can be tedious, but it needs to be done right,” Joshi said.