Using Plant 3D on Piping Models Can Improve Safety

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Your piping designs need to be meticulous. Some fluids, like water, are benign. If you make a mistake in a piping design and water leaks, while it’s certainly an issue, life and limb are not typically at risk. But a leak of hydrochloric acid can be a matter of life and death. Companies can end up waging a running battle between the need for accuracy and safety with the realities of modern day schedule crunches and the “human” factor. Autodesk Plant 3D is a cutting-edge way to achieve the accuracy and safety needed in a plant environment.

Plant 3D combines the P&ID (2D drawing schematics) with 3D modeling. A loose connection between the 2D and 3D portions effectively makes the model parametric, so changes result in updates across the model. The Plant 3D validation process ensures that changes to the model don’t cause important things like valves to go missing.

Applied Software Plant 3D expert David Wolfe knows your pain points because he has actually worked in the piping design industry. He talks about Plant 3D automation in the recent Bridging the Gap Podcast, “Take Your Weekend Back: Automate.” In the podcast, Wolfe explained some of the challenges companies face with their piping design:

  • Schedule

The less time people spend around piping and equipment, the greater the factor of safety. Plant 3D enables:

  • Customized project setup
  • Organized work processes
  • Standardized procedures, resulting in correct materials counts
  • True global worksharing with a database located in the cloud and accessible by team members anywhere in the world
  • Complexity of moving fluids

Safety is a huge issue in plants because there are so many connections and working parts. Water leaks might not be a huge issue, but leaks of acids and caustic fluids can be a matter of life and death. So piping designs need to be scrutinized. Changes to the model need to be organized and authenticated. Reporting is a powerful feature of Plant 3D that is typically underutilized. Because it’s flexible, it is the best way to communicate among departments about what is happening with the model.

  • Coordination

You need to know what’s going on in your facility at all times – what’s built, what’s there. A good way to assure safety is ensuring there are no surprises. Every year or so, plant managers need to compare P&IDs to make sure they match the as-built conditions. In years gone by, someone would have to go onsite with a tape measure and manually measure everything then compare those measurements to the P&IDs. Nowadays, Point Cloud data can be an invaluable time saver in these situations. Point cloud technology uses a laser scanner to capture the points around the plant equipment. Very precise models are created without requiring the time to measure everything by hand. In addition, Autodesk ReCap can be used to manipulate point cloud data as described in the blog article, “Plant 3D As-builts Using Point Cloud Data.” Coming soon – the technology exists now – the scanner will be transported through the plant by a robot, as showcased by FARO Technologies during Autodesk University 2019. Automated paths will be traveled by robots to collect the scans, and then subsequent point cloud scans can be compared with the first one to determine what changes have taken place at the facility. By relegating this work to machines instead of people, it’s another way safety can be advanced.

These are just a few examples of how Plant 3D can help you improve safety at your facility. Plant 3D is available as a separate download in the group of specialized toolsets included with the new AutoCAD. It is also one of the entitlement products included and available for download in the Autodesk Architecture Engineering & Construction Collection. If it’s time for your company to implement Plant 3D, or if you’re ready to take your plant designs to the next level, contact Applied Software today. With a quick discovery call, an Applied Plant 3D expert can help you design the best technology solution for your piping design workflow.

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