Plant Design Innovators Recap: Plant & Process

18 June 2020All, Industrial and Plant, plant 3ddigital transformation, plant



“As far as plant design goes, there’s not a lot of us,” began Owen Whitehouse, Senior Implementation Specialist at Applied Software. Owen led the charge for the first installment of the Plant Design Innovators Virtual Event series. The virtual events are geared toward building community and sharing vital information among the participants of the meeting. “We’re going to try and build a community with this series of conversations.” And first up in these conversations: what’s Process got to do with AutoCAD?

The answer is simple: “There’s no design tool that’s produced more P&ID (process and instrumentation design) drawings than plain old AutoCAD,” Owen said. A ‘process’ is what we’re building, with tanks, pumps, valves, instruments, and pipes as the tools.

Although process design is essential to plant design, its community is quite small. Owen suggested, “Let’s get to know each other and discuss our challenges. We’ll see if we can help each other out.”

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Since the virtual event series conversations are for the benefit of the attendees, he stressed, “This time is all about you,” and offered such conversation topics as design intent, reporting, simulation, operations, and best practices. “Of course, we’re focused today on Plant as it relates to Process,” he said. “I’m going to talk less, and you’re going to talk more. We’re going to try to build some community here and leverage what’s been going on in our world,” referring to virtual face-to-face meetings.

picture of blue sky background, a process plant with silver piping and stacks in foreground

The job titles of the event participants who joined the discussion to provide their input included CAD administrators, mechanical drafters and designers, and chemical engineer. Some of the topics that came up were:

  • Utilizing and accessing process data in P&IDs, for instance, how much of the information in the database needs to be displayed.
  • Coordinating the use of disconnected data tools.
  • Data changes coming back into the P&ID that need to be flagged and go through an approval process.
  • Line list integration across clients and projects.
  • Standardization.
  • Stream numbers.
  • Using DCS (distributed control system) boards to update P&IDs for insurance reviews.
  • Asset data management in the “old school” oil and gas industry.
  • Material tracking and supply chain monitoring not used for model updates, compared to as-builts that do update the model through the use of laser scanning.
  • Utilizing Autodesk tools, including the comprehensive move to take design functionality into the cloud – collaboration through BIM 360 Docs.
  • Time spent managing process data in two different places (ie. process database plus a line list), which gets compounded when there are changes; one reservoir for all that data would be a great timesaver.
  • Surprising improvements in productivity during the work-from-home (WFH) situation, especially if the technology tools were already in place.

Following on that topic of WFH, Owen mentioned the overarching effects that the events of 2020 have had on the industry. “If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we need each other,” he said. “We build off the success of others to improve the state-of-the-art.”

Interested in having a discussion with plant design innovators? Tune in next week to hear renowned Plant 3D expert David Wolfe discuss Coordinating the Complicated with Civil and Plant 3D Collaboration. Civil collaboration brings challenges with model placement, orientation and scale. Join the virtual event for a conversation about managing the site coordination process. 



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