Author: Tim Jacobs, Process Plus Piping Design Department Manager
February 3, 2014

Have you have ever wondered what goes into designing a piping system? Here is a brief look into the world of a piping designer.

The most crucial part of piping design is to create a layout of the equipment with the end in mind; this is the basis for a good piping design. To do so, the designer must coordinate with all other disciplines to understand how the process is going to be maintained and operated on a daily basis to allow for maintenance and everyday operations in the design.

Step 1: Develop PFDs, or Process Flow diagrams, with process engineering which will serve as an overview of the entire project.

Step 2: Using the developed PFDs, the P&IDs (Process & Instrumentation Diagrams) are created with the help from both the process engineer and the instrumentation designer.

Step 3: Develop the equipment layouts. This is one of the more challenging parts of a design project. The designer must consider multiple facets to generate the equipment layout. For example constructability, maintenance access, future expansions, operating access, and aisle ways need to be considered in order to create an equipment layout that proves beneficial to the customer for this project and future use.

Step 4: Design the piping system using the P&IDs and the equipment layout, and keeping in mind good piping design practices.

Piping design involves a lot of visualization and creativity. A good designer knows not only how their designs are affected by other disciplines, but also how theirs affect the other disciplines. Piping design takes into consideration a vast amount of variables. For example: the type of product being piped, pipe specification, drainability, flexibility, constructability, future connections, and maintenance requirements to name a few.

The designer also must consider and incorporate into the design any personnel safety items and industry codes and standards. This is to ensure the operating personnel can operate and maintain the system in a safe and productive manner. This may be as simple as providing manual valves to isolate equipment for maintenance or the location of instrumentation for everyday operation.

Most importantly, a good piping designer coordinates and interacts with all other disciplines regularly to ensure the design teams are using the most up-to-date information. Coordination with the other disciplines involved with the project is vital to ensure that an outstanding package is developed and delivered to the customer.