By Andy Davis
Every now and again I hear people bemoaning the fact that there is no link between the data in the P&ID database and the data in the Piping database within the same AutoCAD Plant 3D project. There are other packages on the market that no only link the data between P&ID and 3D model but actually share the same data records.
If we look at this latter scenario, however, it may not actually be the uptopia that it may appear to be at first sight. What we are saying here is that if I make a change to the design of the process i.e. the theoretical or virtual process, then this change will be automatically reflected in the 3D model of the physical equipment and piping layout. So what happens if a change to pipe size in the P&ID results in the modification of the model such that the new size of pipe run no longer fits in real space or clashes with strutural elements? Any and all valves on the same piperun will also be modified, will the new valves and actuators still fit or will they need to be re-orientated? Looking from the revierse angle, if the piping designer were to make a change to the 3D model that would affect the P&ID just as it was about to be issued and this change was not verified, what effect might this have on the operation of the process?
In light of this, any change to P&ID or 3D model that would affect the other would first need to be verified, requiring both P&ID and 3D model to be developed in tandem. From experience, this type of workflow tends not to be the most practical.
The disconnection between P&ID and 3D model in AutoCAD Plant 3D enables asynchronous development of P&ID and 3D model i.e. the process engineers and the piping designers can work independently. The 3D model can be verified against the P&ID (and vice versa) at any suitable point in time throughout the project lifecycle and any differences reconciled at this point. The benefit of this approach is that existing workflows do not necessarily need to be changed, but the cross-checking process is automated through the Validation Manager and the manual checkinág of spreadsheets against drawings is effectively eliminated.