Today's Plant and Piping Programs

1 Dec, 2002 By: AIA ,H. Edward Goldberg

Options for P&ID and 3D plant design.

Process plant design software is used in any industry that moves or manufactures liquids and gases. Plant piping software aids in the design of piping systems on oil platforms, in atomic energy plants, and in the food and beverage industries. We'll look at two general types of software used in plant design. P&ID stands for process (or piping) and instrumentation diagrams. These are detailed schematics of the plant process. They show the hardware and software, such as equipment, piping, and instruments, needed to design, construct, and operate a process plant.

Piping design-modeling-is based on the engineering performed during the logical P&ID phase. It involves the arrangement of specified pipes, vessels, valves, pipe supports, instruments, and the like in 3D space, from which you extract isometric drawings and bills of materials (BOMs) for fabrication and construction.

3D design programs generally offer interference detection, in which the programs interrogate the 3D model to detect and flag any clashes between components. Because 3D programs deal with plant layout, they usually include structural steel design modules for the design of support structures.

Generally, piping software runs on top of either AutoCAD or MicroStation. Intergraph's SmartPlant P&ID is a stand-alone program. Though many software developers have both P&ID and piping solutions that integrate with one another, several developers offer piping software only.

This column outlines some of the P&ID and piping programs available today, as well as some pipe design analysis tools. Limited space and the range of features in today's software packages keep us from covering all features of every solution. For more details, visit the vendor Web sites.

AEC Design Group's CADPIPE
The CADPIPE series of products ( includes a P&ID component that generates P&IDs and process flow diagrams that link to external databases. Change either the drawing or the database, and both update to reflect the change. CADPIPE 3D DESIGN runs on AutoCAD 2000. Its intelligent 3D routing line automatically installs elbows and piping and connects to fittings. It offers two collision-checking features-one to check for interference as you draw, the other to check specified areas of the model.

ALGOR's PipePak ( is an easy-to-use tool for designing entire piping systems and performing structural analysis in compliance with well-known piping codes. PipePak features flexible design methods, accurate analysis capabilities, visualization tools, and versatile report generation. The core package includes PipePlus, a piping analysis tool that complies with piping codes worldwide. It also includes capabilities for designing beam and truss models for static stress analysis using ALGOR's precision finite element model-building tool. Once you create a finite element model, you can perform static stress analysis with linear material models and determine weight, center of gravity, and mass moment of inertia.

PipePak also includes model visualization, postprocessing with animation, graphical plotting of analysis results, and automatic generation of HTML or text reports that summarize input, analysis results, and equipment data.

Bentley SYSTEMS' AutoPLANT and PlantSpace
Bentley Systems, Inc. ( recently acquired Rebis Industrial Workgroup Software and its AutoPLANT series of applications. Market research firm Daratech estimates that the combined count of Bentley's PlantSpace products that run on MicroStation and Rebis' AutoPLANT series for AutoCAD represents the largest number of user seats among all plant-specific design applications.

Bentley Systems' AutoPLANT Piping module is an object-based 3D piping system design and modeling application that runs on top of AutoCAD.

AutoPLANT P&ID creates intelligent piping and instrumentation diagrams as well as process flow diagrams. It provides multiuser access to nongraphical intelligence stored in Access, Oracle, and SQL Server formats. Owner/operators and engineering companies can use AutoPLANT P&ID to capture process information for system design, OSHA 1910 compliance, HAZOP studies, and maintenance management. Engineers can now learn more about their plant design in a fraction of the time needed to study hundreds of layout drawings or 3D models.

To speed up drawing generation, AutoPLANT P&ID uses advanced parametric drafting routines such as automatic line break/mend, line tag update, instrument bubble break/mend, and attribute display controls. A Symbol Manager, icon menus, toolbars, dynamically updated dialogs, pick-lists, and other user interface features make the system easy to use and learn.

Plant Design Workgroup is Bentley Systems' AutoCAD-based series of modules for 3D plant design. Driven by specifications, the object-based Piping module supports workgroup model creation and data management controls. The 2D piping module is designed for rapid layout of 2D pipe, structural steel, and equipment.

The Equipment module lets you define parametric data associated with a variety of standard or custom equipment entities. Several nozzle placement facilities are also provided. AutoISOGEN is a piping isometric generation program that handles automatic dimensioning, annotation, and BOMs. The Isometrics module generates production-quality isometrics and BOMs. The 3D Station module records as-built locations and interfaces with AutoPLANT applications.

PlantSpace, Bentley's original MicroStation-based plant design product, is augmented by content-management and server products. MicroStation Schematics, the foundation application, includes a specialized engine for creating schematics symbology and intelligent drawing objects. Separate PlantSpace modules handle P&IDs, 3D piping design, pipe supports, and electrical system cable trays and conduits.

MicroStation Equipment Modeler models building and plant equipment within a 3D environment. It provides parametric modeling of components such as pumps, tanks, and heat exchangers. You can also use existing equipment libraries. The program integrates with applications in other disciplines for interference checking and line connection. Interference Manager detects component interferences in 3D models. It provides summary reports for each interference and methods for tracking and coordinating problem resolutions.

COADE's CADWorx ( comprises a number of AutoCAD-based modules for plant design and automation. CADWorx modules include PIPE, P&ID, LOOPs, ISOGEN, and specialized libraries for the hygienic, wastewater, and waste treatment industries. Cadalyst reviewed PIPE, P&ID, and LOOPS 2002 in August 2002.

COADE's CAESAR II application provides tools to analyze pipe system stress.

COADE's CAESAR II PC-based application handles pipe system stress analysis and links with COADE's CADWorx PIPE application. CAESAR II performs analyses based on major international piping codes and includes expansion joint, valve, and flange databases. You can perform static and dynamic analyses on systems to simulate any required load cases, including operating, expansion, occasional, sustained, and hydrostatic test cases.

The package can also take into account the effect of wind, wave, and seismic forces on a piping system. CAESAR II automatically calculates spring hanger requirements and selects the appropriate hanger from catalogs from 20 vendors.

CAESAR II's input generator and graphics tools make it simple to review the stress model, and animation tools help illustrate the effects of loads on an analyzed system. The program lets you model piping systems from a variety of components. You can place branches and bends of various types and piping restraints such as supports, guides, anchors, snubbers, hangers, and nozzles to build a full system model for accurate analysis.

The company also offers other products for desgn and analysis: PV Elite and CODECALC for pressure vessels and TANK for oil storage tanks.

Intergraph SmartPlant P&ID 3.0
SmartPlant P&ID 3.0 is part of Intergraph's ( SmartPlant family of plant design applications for the process, power, and offshore industries. It integrates with Intergraph PDS (Plant Design System), which handles 3D piping modeling.

Intergraph's SmartPlant P&ID program uses its own drawing editor to create instrument diagrams.

Intergraph's data-centric, rule-driven intelligent P&ID application is built on a central database, which streamlines the design process and eliminates reliance on paper P&IDs and equipment data spreadsheets. You don't have to be a CAD expert to use SmartPlant P&ID-simply drag components from libraries and drop in place.

SmartPlant P&ID provides ready access to accurate, current information about objects. Rules govern the relationships, or connectivity, between each component and piece of equipment in the P&ID. These rules also verify engineering practices and data consistency. When you place a valve in your P&ID, the rules execute and the system checks the valve specifications to verify that the component is valid for that design condition.

If the specifications don't match, SmartPlant P&ID indicates that the placement is invalid. If you delete a line that connects a nozzle and another piece of equipment, SmartPlant P&ID recognizes and flags the lack of connectivity.

You can "interrogate" an inconsistency by double-clicking on it. A dialog box appears, showing the problem as well as a proposed solution. If you click on on the solution, SmartPlant P&ID automatically corrects the problem on the P&ID. You can ensure data integrity by assigning custom user roles, which prevent unauthorized personnel from changing data. Clients and vendors can also be granted access to the P&IDs.

Intergraph offers migration utilities and services that convert existing P&IDs-in AutoCAD, MicroStation, and other formats-to SmartPlant P&ID. Converting legacy P&IDs to SmartPlant P&ID results in intelligent P&IDs that are governed by the design rules.

SmartPlant P&ID has a distributed engineering feature called Global Worksharing. It enables prime contractors to sub out parts of a project to subcontractors or to their own workgroups or engineering offices locally or around the world. When the subprojects are complete, SmartPlant P&ID merges the various P&IDs into a central data store.

PRO-CAD 2D and 3D piping software
PRO-CAD ( products integrate with AutoCAD and include routines that create complex CAD entities normally requiring many more steps to build. Its two solution series are: the 2D Piping Suite and the 3DSMART series.

Using AutoCAD as a drawing editor, PRO-CAD’s 3DSMART series produces rendered 3D visualizations.

All PRO-CAD drawings contain data you can use to create a detailed BOM. By exporting this data directly to the included AutoDATA program, you can generate project material summaries and lists. You can export AutoDATA files to a database or spreadsheet program.

Piping Suite includes AutoFLOW, AutoISO, and AutoORTHO. AutoFLOW includes all functions required to generate PFDs (process flow diagrams) and P&IDs. The equipment section contains a comprehensive set of symbols and equipment drafting functions.

The instrumentation section covers equipment, balloons, and linetypes. The valve sections include all types of valves, PSVs, control valves, and actuators. A section of miscellaneous items includes fittings, spec blinds, insulation symbols, nozzles, and reducers.

AutoFLOW is specification driven, with the option to turn this feature off. When you choose to use pipe specifications, the application automatically extracts valve data from the spec files.

AutoISO comes with extensive automated functions to draw isometrics and generate their BOMs.

AutoORTHO includes all drafting requirements to generate 2D piping plans along with single- or double-line sections.

3DSMART series offers all of the functionality in PRO-CAD's 2D packages, along with new features.

3DSMART P&ID helps you produce intelligent P&IDs. It provides comprehensive symbology for valves, instruments, and equipment. You can customize symbol appearance and sizing. It possesses full reporting capability, including valve take-offs, line lists, equipment lists, instrument lists, and other user-defined reports.It links to 3D Modeler for cross- referencing and checking.

3D SMART is PRO-CAD's 3D piping solution. Its extensive component database provides libraries for many piping systems, including ANSI, ASME, ID Pipe, PVC, and sanitary.

The program's specification-driven piping design capabilities create and place assemblies in one step, automatically break pipes when you place fittings into a pipe segment, and generate plans, sections, and isometrics. You can stretch or break pipe, perform clash detection analysis, and link to external engineering programs such as stress analysis.

3DSMART Steel Design provides the tools to design complex steel structures. The module includes standard steel shapes, and you can add custom steel shapes through the Component Designer.

3DSMART Modeler provides a full set of intelligent modeling tools for different disciplines involved in plant design, skid design, and other specialized construction. It automates generation of 2D construction drawings, including plans and sections.

QuickPen International PipeDesigner 3D
PipeDesigner 3D from QuickPen International ( is designed for 3D modeling only. It relies on the AutoCAD drawing engine for input and output and also includes QuickPen's VSME (Virtual Solid Modeling Engine). PipeDesigner 3D ships with a database of fittings commonly used for piping drawings. The database contains parts from NIBCO and Tri-Clover as well as generic parts.

Once you create a 3D model using QuickPen’s PipeDesigner 3D, you can generate rendered images of your design.

The tables contain data on available part sizes, essential dimensions that define parts, and information about how each part interacts with other parts. The fittings are organized into different classes referred to as specs. Besides common piping and plumbing items, the database includes nonstandard items used in the semiconductor, pharmaceutical, and food and beverage industries. If the predefined specs don't meet your needs, you can duplicate and modify specs with PipeDesigner 3D's QPI Data Editor.

The fittings themselves are parametric 3D objects, not blocks or grouped objects. Each fitting knows which connections are valid and which aren't based on industry and user-defined standards. When you select a fitting to insert, VSME generates a 3D fitting from the definition data located in the fitting database.

You insert fittings by dragging and dropping them into model space. A single PipeDesigner 3D toolbar lets you select the material specification and the size of the fittings. When you change the size or specification, the PipeDesigner 3D Parts List updates to reflect the fittings available for that size and specification.

The Router and Auto-Router functions create pipe runs. The Router function defines a simple 3D layout line to map the pipe run. The AutoRouter function then replaces the router line with a choice of pipe and fittings from the current specification.

Auto-Router prompts you to select a fitting for each vertex on the router line. It automatically recognizes pipes and fittings on the router line, works around them, and adds weld gaps where applicable. Should two or more router lines intersect, the Auto-Router function automatically places a tee or cross at the intersection.

The program also provides several manufacturer-specific pumps, with various nozzle orientations, nozzle sizes, flange ratings, and dimensions for each pump.

You can modify size and specification of individual pumps in an existing pump series, but you can't create new pumps. Tanks, vessels, operators, blenders, and filters can also be created with PipeDesigner 3D.

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Lynn Allen

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