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TOPIC: Comments on "Piping Experience Vs 3D Cad abilities"

Re: Comments on "Piping Experience Vs 3D Cad abilities" 6 years 3 months ago #7075

  • Anton
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John O
I've read the article, and the first item that comes to my mind is that employers have been brainwashed by the 3D Cad software companies to believe that piping design is just a matter of running pipe from point A to point B. The software can give you 6 to 10 run options, keep you from interfering with other pipes, use multiple specs with just a flick of a button, and if you need to change a spec or modify a run, you have the same ease - so let the software do the "work", who needs experience? Save time and money! Who wouldn't go for the software option? Unfortunately, the software companies don't like to admit that their software is only as smart/good as the person using it! An experienced piper can spot a good design just by looking at it and tell you why!

Howard B
I've been working in the shipbuilding industry for about 15 years as a mechanical piper. In 2007, I felt pigeon holed with my company and decided to change industries. My attempt to transition into the petro/chem industry has been unsuccessful. What I found was that each industry utilizes their own particular CAD platform.
Although I have 3D experience, I don't have experience in the software they use and therefore my skills and abilities are overlooked.
I understand business and what you say is the pinnacle between a company making a profit and a company providing a product that absolutely engulfs the necessary criteria to make any given system work.
A company is only as good as its experienced people!

Nice article!

David R
Anton, I would like to respond by simply reiterating a response from a previous discussion which I think sums up my thoughts on this]

James O.
How about this? On the same day you place your article a job posting went up as follows]

Ricci-lee S
The solution is simple, learn the CAD package yourself.

Like it says in the article, it takes very little time to learn how to use a package, in general all are freely available to trial or from other sources i.e. torrents, and training manual / videos can be found freely online.

If I'm looking to employ someone, I'm looking for someone to drop straight onto a project and to start work straight away, I will choose those with the desired skill set over those that need weeks of training that they could have done themselves and should have done themselves.
Employers in my experience have certainly not been brainwashed by software companies, its usually the piping lead doing the recruiting & interviews, so they know very well what the software does and the brain it needs to run it, not to mention the experience required in piping to layout equipment & route pipe successfully.

Yes, Experience makes good piping designers, but so does the self motivation of the person to better their own capabilities.

In my opinion there is no excuse to not learn the software yourself and I don't mean by paying to go on expensive courses - just go get the software and learn it.
Once you have the basics, you can pick up the little tricks and tools along the way.

Alan M
Richi-Lee has a good point, but unfortunately not everybody can get their hands on trial packages like PDMS, Smartplant, PDS etc and for piping field, these are some of the packages that clients require drafters to know and in most cases have a few years working experience with.

Also if you learn packages by yourself or from other drafters you may pick up bad habits or unproductive methods.

Ricci-lee S
To be honest, if you have an internet connection, all packages are available to you & if you follow training manuals available from the internet, you will learn exactly what you would be taught in a 'paid' training scheme.

I agree that you may pick up some incorrect habits or unproductive methods, but being able to use a programme is the starting point, mastering it for productive day to day use takes time, I learn new tricks all the time on software I've used for years.

A client will look on you much more favourably if you can at least operate a package, but if you apply for a job with absolutely no knowledge of a package, your CV will generally be put in the trash straight away.

We use CADWorx at my company & at times PDMS, When we recruit, as long as you have and can use 3D AutoCAD you would be considered.

Kristopher T
I have two years experience in piping design which I gained abroad, and I have used and familiar with packages such as PDMS and AutoCAD, however I'm finding it difficult to find a job as a Junior designer in the UK. It seems as though companies are just looking for senior designers with 5-10 years experience.

David R

Kristopher T
Hi David]

Jean L
Dont know how most other companies do this, but I call model reviews involving leads of all disciplines involved. The preliminary routing of lines done by the piping departments are discussed and assesed together in this review. Sure the piper gives his/her best effort in the route, but ultimately it is a decision of the review panel as to the actual route a pipe will be run at. So for this it is more important to have someone expert on a specific design software, and to have good leadership for the piping function than to actually know the ins and out piping. The piper can only route per the specification he/she is busy on.
So pipers for example can consider lets say....stress within a line, but cannot do instant engineering, so gives his best effort. Later on during review lines are reviewed, rerouted to suit and changed to be the best combined effort. There is a saying that the word TEAM is an acronym for "Together Everybody Achieves More".
So in short for me focus has moved from employing a group of senior pipers to employing expert cad operators with good leadership.

Alan M
I have been involved in piping for 40 years now, I have to disagree with most of your comments. The only thing I agree with is the fact that you have model reviews involving all disciplines. (which a lot of companies do not do enough of them)

Just to let you know that when a piper runs his pipes it is usually modelled under the guidance of a good piping engineer as well as the pipers experience, especially when he has to take into consideration the piping material, poly, rubber lined or special steel piping for example and how the pipe is to be supported, and valve, instrument accessability, etc.
In some cases the piper has a lot more experience than the engineer, therefore he has to design pipe runs based on his experience

Jean L
Hi Allan,

Thank you for disagreeing. Maybe also just this, depending on what industry you in, or for that matter what country you in. The piper accepts very little responsibility for the route of the pipe. In general the route is dictated by equipment poition, and available civils and structure. The only real things a piper has to look for is accesibility and flexibility....both of which is looked at during review. In terms of the PED (if in EU) or PER (if in SA) (and not knowing symilar regulations in other countries) if the line is anything other than SEP (sound engineering practise) the piper does not assume responsibility, and is signed of by engineering. Yes some pipers have more experience (they definately are few and far between), but ultimately to my opinion the routing is very little the choice of the piper, and subsequently can be managed

Ricci-lee S
Hi Jean/Allan

I think we may all have slightly or even vastly different views of what a piper is, in my experience the piper is in fact 'Plant design' and deals with all aspects of piping design & equipment layout, is heavily involved with the location of pipe bridges and also provides the civil structural department with briefing drawings to suit the identified layouts & piping preferences.

As a piper, you should be able to be given a set of P&ID's a location & boundary, some basic equipment information and after some very early study agreements, should be able to go away and locate equipment, pipe it up and produce a model & drawings for review.

Yes, the whole project team will review that layout & it will develop from that input along with client reviews, but to say the piper has very little responsibility or input or choice..... my god, don't make me laugh, that is ridiculous. I guess their are huge differences between how we work in different countries.

Kayne B
Discussion group,
I have to join Mr. Alan in disagreeing with Mr.Jean, but in his defense Europe work very different then in the USA. In the USA the Senior Pipe Designer is the person who sets all the Equipment, yes it’s a team effort with Civil, Process, Operations and Maintenance, but the Piping Group is the one who Cad’s the Equipment and determines its location. The Piping Group also determines the size of the Pipe Racks, there levels and where piping, electrical and instrument spaces will be allowed, with assistance from the Civil and E&I Group. We also do all the Mechanical drafting whether it’s Equipment, Conveyors or Duct work. I run projects that are being worked on in Europe and US at the same time and our styles are extremely different. In Europe they will Flat turn in racks, run lines straight threw multiply levels of rack, will not create pipe chases or common supports. They also like to bunch up a project to where future and maintenance is next to impossible and field routing is their best friend. I also have seen a lot of the US Engineering offices starting to go with what I like to call Dumb Designers, those who have great computer skill and next to no actual field experience. This may work OK in the Oil/Gas and Refinery fields where all the pipe spec’s are vanilla, but in the specialty chemicals this is tragic because you need that experience to do the correct things or it can become very costly to correct or there may be a major accident when in operations.

James O.
Please go here]pipingdesigners.com/Training%20- ... n%207D.htm[/url]

This is my version of what a well trained and experienced Piping Designer (Plant Layout Designer) needs to know and be able to do. It is based on my direct long time experience with one of the largest widely diversified and world wide EPC/EPCM companies.

Ricci-lee S

Not sure what experience you are basing this upon, but I have never seen anything like you are describing on anything I have ever worked on in the UK, we don't flat turn, we don't run pipes through multiple pipe rack levels and we most certainly do utilise common supports - this is across a range of projects from oil/gas through to fine chemicals.

It is a nonsense to bunch Europe together like that, not one of the big engineering firms would run piping in the way you describe.

Kayne B
You are starting another topic, not related to what we are discussing. But I will let you know I have well over 30 plus years Piping Design and managing experience and the last 10 years have been working with Engineering Partners from the US, EU, SA and Asia. All the Piping Leads I have in my group including myself have project critiques and screen shots to verify my original statement. With that being said I am just glad to hear that there are some over there that aren’t that way, I just haven’t been fortunate enough to have worked with them. But also believe me all regions do have difficulties and issues to work through but these are other Topics for another day. That’s all I am going to say on this issue, period. Let’s all please get back onto the Topic of Experience Vs. 3D Cad abilities thank you.

Lester G
So Ricci-Lee what you are basically saying is you would choose a guy who has 3D capabilities over a guy who is a true "piping designer" ....!!!! - a recipe for a large disaster I'm afraid.
I worked for 50 years as a senior piping designer/checker and also as a construction engineer in the Oil & Gas Industry, and could tell at a glance which cowboys were the cad-jockeys and which were the bonafied designers, regardless of their 3D experience. Some designs were absolutely atrocious and cost the client millions in design reparation 'on site', where as if designed by a true designer, or better still checked by a senior designer prior to getting on site, would have saved this money, and more important the time taken to correct.
Many managers look at a 3D Model and think it looks wonderful, however not knowing that beneath the 'pretty' picture is a disaster waiting to happen.
I learned PDMS and AutoPlant in around 2 weeks - its not difficult as its only a software package - the difficulty is actually knowing where to route the pipes and 'piping best practices' one should use to do it.

Ricci-lee S

I think we are at crossed paths, because I would certainly not employ a 'CAD operator' to do the job of a designer, and if you had read the full thread you would have seen that.

my original statement was that there is no reason for a piping designer not to learn the various CAD packages themselves.

I would not choose a CAD operator over a piping designer, but I would most certainly keep on searching for the desired candidate, i.e. a piping designer who could use the required software, because in my opinion, in the world we live in today, you should take it upon yourselves to learn the tools of the industry.

Exactly as you have said, the packages are simple enough to learn in 2 weeks.

We are of the same opinion, especially with regards to checking by senior designers & engineers.

Lester G
I understand where you are coming from Ricci-lee but many young Cad operators term themselves as 'Piping Designers' whilst only being 'cad jockeys'.
When working as a Lead Piper on many occasions, when conduction interviews I would ask pertinent 'piping questions' and found that many didn't even know the basic piping best practices and were quite useless, some even saying that they had never been asked these questions ....!!!!!
When I was a young piper the interviews in those days were far reaching and very technical in content and if you got a couple wrong you didn't get the job. Now a days many contract pipers are taken on without an interview, only on the basis of their C.V. showing that they had done 5 years as a piper.
I will say again that its not until you get onsite, as I have as a Field Engineer, that you see valves 3 mtrs above grade, piping that looks like a donkey's back leg and basic design problems like exchangers piggy-backed with out a pipe spool between the flanges etc.
And once again the checking is also very basic, sometimes carried out by 'engineers' who don't actually have any piping design experience, and not the senior piping designers, who actually know what they are looking for.

Jean L
I think maybe I am not conveying my point here, I prefer to employ a cad jockey with good leadership behind, than a senior with no cad knowledge

Lester G
A good senior piping designer would pick up 3D package in 2 to 3 weeks max, I did and I was an old bugger ...haha - however if you have a large project, with say 30 to 50 piping designers, or more, not an uncommon occurrence now a days, it is quite difficult to hope to mentor all of them on a day to day basis - give me at least half as senior people anytime, and if you cant find them with 3D capabilities then spend 2 to 3 weeks teaching them as you will benefit in the long term.

Eric M
I would not like to work for you Jean as you do not seem to understand piping, most of us have been around these packages but have not had the time to learn how to use them too busy correcting errors made by the jockeys. Do not forget these are just tools.

Jean L
Ouch Eric....
Lester I agee with you, the ultimate person to employ is a good senior piper who knows the software well, however thats not the discussion here. I would not employ for example Eric as a piper, but most probably in a review team (a checker or expert if you must). I am sure he does a great job in this. However, how do I create 3D models with a guy that doesnt know or want to know a good cad package? Eric doesn't need to know the package to do a model review and spot problems, give advice, and leadership. One such a good guy can manage and direct a huge amount of jockeys.
I take my hat of to you for joining the digital age as you put it as an "old bugger", and yes, these packages are not dificult to learn.
So in short for me, somebody has to build the models, and somebody has to make sure the plant works.
I suspect in any case we all talking the same language, we all drew manual iso's at some stage. Just now I know a bunch of young jockeys who do it in a dynamic way, but I also know a bunch of older more experienced guys who check them. An yes.....agreed, there will always be somebody correcting errors, I accept that.
I hope I am not offending Lester or Eric, apologies if you feel I am...

Alan M
Remember guys, the software (intelligent) for piping is sometimes only as good as the Cad admins allow it to be. (i.e.) The spec writers have to produce the piping elements/components that are all required. I have seen some jobs where all the piping elements as per the spec are not available or spec writers will not produce them, therefore the piper has to run/model lines to suit what is available in the software and not as per spec.

Of course then the checker will always ask why the piper did not use that particular piping component, which makes the piper look like a wally

I also agree with an earlier comment that in a lot of cases the piper should also be heavily involved in the layout although in one project I worked on, the piper was told to stop getting involved in layouts and not worry about accessabilty issues, etc. and do his job and just pipe from A to B as per mechanical guys layout.

I firmly believe that in recent years there is less care taken to take into account for equipment, pumps, etc accessabilty and valve , instrument locations.

Kayne B
As one of the last generation whom started on the Board and moved to Cad, I have noticed the next generations do not have the proper training. There was once structure to becoming a Designer, you went from a Beginner Draftsman, Mid-level then Senior Draftsmen and did your time in the field before you even became a Junior Designer, then Mid-level Designer to Senior Designer. The Kids now think if you go to Technical school and take a CAD course you come out as a Junior Designer, some even think a Senior. These Kids have no practical experience what so ever, none of them have ever seen a Chemical Plant or Refinery except from the road, most don’t even go outside. So I stopped gripping about it and now I work with the local Community College advisory board and volunteer teach a Field Survey class ever semester which consist of 1. Manuel Field Surveying, 2. Transit or Builders Level Surveying, 3. Laser Scanning and Total Station Surveying. Surprisingly all the classes I have done the Kids were all very excited and hands on, so it’s not the will that’s broke but the system. I can’t fix the system but at least I can help improve the next group coming into the work force.

Clinton A
I am a said "CAD Jockey" but I'm also well aware that it's not all about pretty. It irritates the hell out of me when a designer insists on a 3D drawing or a "CAD Jockey" brings me a 3D drawing to show me how pretty it is. 3D is good for coordination and routing but when it comes to connections and materials, having some idea of what you're drawing is a good idea.
Gone are the days of the CAD operator (glorified typist).

An experienced designer with a hand sketch could often cause less damage.

Lester G
No offence taken Ricci I assure you as this is a discussion amongst adults.

I agree with both Alan and Kayne and will tell you what happened some 40 years ago in the U.K.
What transpired at the time was a huge influx of Oil & Gas projects, but very few Piping Designers in those days to fill all the positions required by most of the major Petro-Chem companies. So what they did was source good mechanical, structural etc draftsmen and gave them a 3 month course on designing piping led by the Lead/Senior piping designers. This course was very dynamic and some obviously fell by the way side, but what happened in the end was the U.K. gained around 200 to 300 very good piping designers, the only criteria was that, as they were all contractors, that they stay at the company for at least 6 months. This was a tremendous idea and everyone gained at the time, so what I say is, why don't companies take the time to train up the older senior pipers, who don't have 3D capabilities, who, when completing their course will be a definite bonus for the companies in question.
A similar idea was also taken in Australia around 20 years ago and also worked very well.

One other problem in the Industry is the use of the different 3D packages, which means having to possibly learn PDS, PDMS, AutoPlant, CADWorks and Smartplant, whereas previously you only needed to know how to sharpen a pencil correctly or learn AutoCAD or Microstation, again both of which I learnt after doing 'beginner' courses.

A greater problem I have encountered is that, in many cases, the 'cad jockeys' are given the same rate as the senior piping designers using the same 3D software, the excuse being that if they (the company) offer less money the cad jockeys don't take the contract. Of course this only works when there is plenty of work, once work gets tight the jockeys are out of work.

Vornel W
The best way forward is for experienced piping designers to either educate themselves in these tools. If they are lucky to have a company make that commitment, then all good. If not they owe it to themselves to gain this knowledge. If companies value the CAD experience I am sure that they would value good piping experience thrown in.

As Lester alluded to, in the UK I did a piping design apprenticeship, before the days of computers.

When CAD arrived it was mostly used for 2D and schematics (P&IDs, plot plans etc.). At that time this work was done by junior drafters. By the time that PDMS and PDS arrived there were few designer interested, as they say themselves as 'above' such junior tasks. These guys missed the boat completely, they were more than happy to hand over their board designs to the (often) young CAD operators (dislike the terms 'CAD jockey' or 'CAD monkeys' it is not their fault someone values them for what they do), the bottom line is that designers had a hand in their demise.

Unfortunately, at that time, I was caught in the middle, too old for CAD, to young to be a senior designer, so I took it upon myself to learn the tools, passed my first PDMS interview and was off to the races. After many years I still saw designers that were happy to pass on their designs to operators, a few wanted to do both or even realized the danger in being a 'stuck'.

You cannot blame the companies, someone is training inexperienced pipers in CAD, I find it hard to believe that they would not want to do the same for experienced designers, but not all are willing.

Lester G
I agree Vornel with your comments and remember the time in about 1990 when I worked at Foster Wheelers in Reading, where, in those days, they used myself and other senior designers to do the design on the board and then pass it onto the cad operators to put it into 3D. However there were 6 of us doing the actual design and '42 cad operators' to put it into 3D, and I remember a group of company directors coming to see the 3D revolution with a view to employing FW's to do the project. Well after seeing the 3D Model, and being suitably impressed, they moved on to our area where a senior gentleman commented "so what is wrong with the design drawings these lads are doing", our manager replied "why nothing, they are used as the base design", to which the senior gentleman commented "then we don't need all those cad operators then do we". Our manager was a little stumped but then said "ah but you get free Isos from the 3D Model", to which the senior gentleman replied - "there is no such thing as 'free' in this world".
We had to laugh and needless to say FW's didn't get the project.
I'm sure however the other company had later projects designed with 3D but at the time it was a reminder that the senior piper was still required ....haha.

One other thing I have to mention is that having worked on many construction sites as a Construction Engineer for over 20 years, a 3D model is virtually useless and is a great time waster as the Construction Supervisors spend, between them, many hours in a week queuing up to use the 1 or 2 site computers, usually located in the clients site office, trying to sort out where a particular line goes being they only have a Northing and Easting to guide them. In the days of the hand drawn Isos we had to locate pipes from Columns or Equipment/Vessels etc, and this was also the case with the early 3D Isos, but seems to have been dropped now for some reason, and I have not seem this on a computer generated Isos for years. Another thing that has disappeared is the FFW's which are also no longer used as its felt that the 3D Model is so accurate they are not needed, unfortunately of course this is not the case, as discrepancies in the position of concrete plinths and minor position errors in the steelwork mean that the piping can, and is often, up to 20mm out in places, unfortunately there is not a welder alive who can weld up a 20mm gap .....!!!!!!

Michael K
I'd like to follow Vornel's comment with the following. The best advice I ever received from one of my mentors, the distinguished Mr. Roy Thomas]

Vornel W
Lester, I think that a "good job" is a "good job." CAD does not, in and of itself, make a good design, but can make a bad design more legible, that is sometimes where people make mistakes as to benefits of CAD.

All vendors in this field are attempting to augment the process by adding rule-based design and checks that catch the obvious (wrong type of branch connection), to the tough to catch (collisions), or design lay out rules (equipment access). Vendors are doing this with varying degrees of competence for the investments made.

Companies are not foolish, this stuff works and it saves money and I feel that any company that invests in these technologies is making a smart move. Of course many vendors would feel that a move to select what they are offering is the only smart move. True efficiency comes from how a tool is implemented, not just on its capabilities, I have seen many good tools produce bad outcomes, just because of the way they have been implemented.

I remember one job where the squad leader said "I don't care how it looks, just make sure it checks out with the PID, we clear clashes, and it isos" so the job went AFC (Approved for Construction, in case someone thinks it is shorthand for something bad)...we can all do better. These tools HELP make that process easier with the right people, the right training, and the right commitment to excellence. they do nothing by them selves.

As to your first and last points; first this stuff is making its way to the sites, and that will accelerate. To your last point; as built site work is not going away, and because nothing is or can be perfect, it is going to supply designers with lots of work for years to come. That's a good thing.

Alan M
I back up Lester's comment re FW and FFW and location of pipes from colums, etc. on Iso's ,

On the last few projects I was involved in we were told not to worry about these as the piping contractor would decide for himself where the FW and FFW would go (if required)

Although one project we did manage to place location of pipes from columns, etc on Iso's

Lester G
The placing of piping from columns etc is, to be honest, of paramount importance, hence why it was always done with the hand drawn method. It can be done on 3D generated Isos as I have seen it, but only on one project I worked on in the field, so my question is - if it can be done then why the hell isn't it. Honestly if you have worked on as many sites as I have and seen so many stuff-ups by the construction supervisors putting the pipes in the wrong places you would shudder with shame. When I did my apprentice my Chief Drafty told me to draw and dimension every drawing as if the 'village idiot' was the one building it - a very good quote to remember, in other words, don't allow for others to have to do the maths (even adding up and taking away) because sods law is they will get it wrong.
3D models are not a good tool for construction believe me, because in the old days the supervisors had their own dwg humpy with the plans, elevations and isometrics all printed on the relevant paper size i.e. A1 and A3 etc which made it so simple to direct their tradesmen to run the pipes in the correct places. I have seen 8 supervisors lining up to get on the single Cad Machine so they can print out a snap shot of the pipes they are running, which however, still doesn't give them any dimensions just the usual 'pretty' picture, needless to say the wasted time for them, and their crew of 30 guys, sitting round doing nothing whilst waiting for the info ends up costing the client money.
As for letting the contractor pick his own FW's and FFW's this is giving the contractor an open cheque book to whack on the extras, if any of you have seen the time it takes to re cut and butt a 300nb or 457nb pipe ..... or even a 100nb bore pipe you will have seen the time wasted, plus if it higher that 3 mtrs then scaffold is required as well.
Believe me the time it takes a senior professional piping designer to allocate FFW positions etc (maybe 1 min per weld) it can save a possible week on site work, plus as I've said previously, because of small dimensional discrepancies with the concrete and steelwork, which you are lucky if they can get within 3 to 5mm, then quite often, the piping can be 5 to 10mm out which if it is short requires, at todays standards, a 1 mtr pup piece to be put in which then means 2 cut and butts plus procurement of the pipe in most cases.

Over the last 12 years I have worked on various sites I have seen the standard of design go down and the cost of construction go up - on one project I worked on in Australia at one of the large refineries, a $250 million project ended up costing 1 billion dollars due to poor piping design that wasn't fit for purpose and didn't fit, plus cheap (at the time) Indian built pressure vessels and exchangers which didn't have one nozzle square with the body. Another problem was these exchangers ( 6 in total) all were designed to sit straight on top of existing ones without a pipe pup piece between them (flange pup piece flange) - this obviously meant that instead of modifying the flanged piece to align the flanges we had to cut the exchanger flanges off, re-align, then local heat treat and re pressure test - what a time consuming and costly exercise all due to very poor piping design and/or none existent checking.

Jay M
Piping Exp. vs 3d Cad. Some companies want to think they're saving money by hiring the cheaper, inexperienced software jockey - - - is it cheaper in the long run?
I've been piping less than 10 years, but what got my foot in the door was my computer and IT skills. I learned piping from a couple older guys who started out on the drawing board and styrofoam models, and made the transition to computers and 3D. I also got a lot of time out in the field (about 1 week a month the first 5 years as the older guys were tired of field trips) in which I learned a lot from plant and field operators.
I definitely feel like I have an advantage over a lot of other pipers I come across as they have zero experience going out into the field. In my opinion, not having field experience costs the company more money. More checking on design to make sure the design is operator friendly. More time is spent reviewing and explaining things and the "why" of it. In my experience, this is done by an engineer - who is paid more than a piper.
An experienced piper can go out in the field and get all the dimensions and information needed to go back to the office and get to work, where an engineer out in the field costs more, and doesn't have the trained eye to get what a piper would need. And, of course, a CAD monkey wouldn't know what to look for as they have no experience in the field.
I think anyone who has worked with a design software for a couple years can learn a competitor's software package. There's not so much difference that it should be a barrier. If you look, you can almost always find a legal 30 day trial license and work some How-To's to get familiar with toolbars and functions.
I'd much rather work next to someone who knows how a design works and should be laid out in the field, than someone who knows 50 shortcuts in a software package - and knows nothing about valve placement and structural loads.

Eric M
There has been some really good points made especially about costs in the field against that of design. 1 hour over doing a design properly including reference pipe to columns and the north arrow can save more than that as every error on a drawing can cause 5 hour on-site putting it right. All FW should be shown on an iso with the cut to suit also indicated that is part of a designers job. Management are messing about with the designation of what a designer is as most of them now are not given the basic mechanical engineering of how to measure up an article and go back and draw it up and then think how to make it. In the old days we had to think in 3D and locate pipe supports, we will soon be in the position of not having any trained draughts people left as the companies will not have spent time or money on old fashioned training relying on Uni's to do the training for them and hence construction costs are going to rocket due to poor design and poor iso's.

Eric M
A further comment. Lester I agree with what you said but how do we get the senior management to sit up and realise the harm they are doing, they always think that they know best because they know nothing about piping and what should be on a drawing that helps every body on both sides. I remember years back when we had a group of computer consultants working on a new system and I asked why designers could not get the information we required, the reason was that was what the management wanted and the design engineers had not been consulted. This is the same now with CAD the senior management are only interested in the design cost in isolation from the overall cost of the project, let's have some old style engineers at the top and not the uni based managers with no practical experience. I have been one of those that have got left behind at learning how to operate the cad package as I was kept too busy at correcting cad mess ups costing a lot to put right now I cannot get a job and could give so much to a job I was proud of doing.

Lester G
I agree wholeheartedly with you Eric, it is the managers fault in most cases because, unfortunately, they do not understand the concept which is piping and only look at the 'pretty picture' on the walkthough. Also they don't seem concerned about 'site costs' because it doesn't concern them as they sit in their corner offices .....haha.
I once had a young drafty working for me who was, to be honest, bloody useless, I find out now that he did a managers course and has joined the managerial ranks, only to be useless there as well so I have heard, makes you wonder doesn't it ....???
I did learn both PDMS and AutoPlant along with AutoCAD and Microstation, also NavisWorks Manager for reviewing PDMS modelling in my capacity as a Lead Piper, and have found, far too often, that the young Cad Operators don't want to learn, or cant be bothered to learn, the intricacies of piping design because they are paid the same as the senior guys, so what can you do. Until they only get paid half what a senior guy gets they will remain the same presumably ....!!!!!
Fortunately at 70 I have now decided to become fully retired so don't need to put up with these idiots who now run these projects ...... hahaha

David R
Hey Lester, Eric and Vornel]

Lester G
I do agree with you David and working many times as a Pressure Testing Engineer, co-ordinating the Test and Flushing Packs, the amount of High Point Vents and Low Point Drains that have to be installed 'on site' is mind numbing. On one large project over 400 had to be, not only installed, but procured, got to site and then welded into the lines, in some cases 10 mtrs up the columns etc which took a 5 days to scaffold up by 6 to 8 scaffolds - what a terrible waste, all for the fact that the 'so called' designers didn't even know the very basics of piping design criteria, and the checkers, if there were any, had the same problem.

I do remember when a Senior Drafty could move up to become an Engineer because I am one ......

This is another reason the Lead Piping Designer on a project should be part of the team choosing the software, and whereas I would still use a 3D package, the structure of the piping department would be set up differently, with the overall Lead overseeing the design basis, senior piping checkers initially leading smaller (the old squad bosses) groups in expediting these criteria, which in part would actually ensure that the final checking would be carried out faster and to a higher standard. Myself would be doing a day by day Model review using Navis Works to make sure all scope, from the P&ID'S down through the basic design is adhered to.
These are the implementations I have taken to projects in Australia and Asia which I have been the Lead on in the past, and I have found they have worked very well, but as a Lead, you must have had a good few years of site experience, this is mandatory.

Craig T
I think the description needs to be specific. Are you looking for someone to design/engineer a system, or someone to create 3D files for clash coordination and field installation. In my experience as a plumber with 20 years in the field and 10 in 3d cad these 2 position are very different. We get engineered drawings and have to make them fit in the building design and with other trades. Most if not all of the engineered drawings i have worked from both in the field and doing 3d care nothing about making the system fit. They are concerned with correct sizing and system function.

David R
Craig T.

You are talking apples and oranges, you appear to be a plumbing guy architectural pipe in buildings in a bit different from process pipe in a plant or other facility. No disrespect intended, what you do is good and important, just different.

Alan M

A good piping designer does both, he designs piping systems in accordance with P&ID's and pipe specs, piping design criteria, etc but also creates an accurate 3D model at the same time. From this model, 2D drawings and Pipe Iso's are created for production deliverable purposes

So in that regard the 3D model or models have correct sizing, function, etc

Lester G
Absolutely Alan,
A competent piping designer does all of the above but with one more, very important detail ......... the design has to also follow the 'worlds best piping practices', meaning all the piping needs to be designed with 'high point vents and low point drains' and with the valves 'in a position where they can be operated from efficiently', unless they are the block valves off a main service header, something else which doesn't happen often now-a-days due to cost savings, no flat turns in Pipe Racks, and, a very important part of piping - 'access and egress in and out of an area' which is of paramount importance due to safety, particularly on Offshore Platforms, F.P.S.O's and Rigs. There are of course many others and we could go on for paragraphs I'm sure - however my point is that these practices are 'not' taught in the 3D Software packages which the young guys learn.

As a Senior Piping Designer I expected the Process and Piping Engineers to supply correct P&ID'S with all the correct inline instrumentation, pipe sizing's etc, and with any change of pressure at a 'flanged' valve, even the smaller dia's i.e 40NB, 25NB, however these could be welded as long as there was a break flange adjacent, so the Pressure Testing could be carried out without having to test against a valve which is against most, if not all, testing scopes.

However I did not expect them to actually have a put into the routing etc, as this was the domain of the senior designer unless Stress became a factor in which case the design would be sorted out between the stress engineer and piping designer.

Patrick H
Leonard StephenThill , Life Member ASME
LEONARD STEPHEN THILL], in engineering, science, or technology, requiring the equivalent of at least 4 years of full-time study that provide exposure to fundamental subject matter relevant to the design of piping systems, plus a minimum of 5 years experience in the design of related pressure piping.

(b) Professional Engineering registration, recognized by the local jurisdiction, and experience in the design of related pressure piping.

(c) Completion of an accredited engineering techni¬cian or associates degree, requiring the equivalent of at least 2 years of study, plus a minimum of 10 years experience in the design of related pressure piping.

(d) Fifteen years experience in the design of related pressure piping.
Experience in the design of related pressure piping is
satisfied by piping design experience that includes design calculations for pressure, sustained and
Occasional loads and piping flexibility.

Lester G
You will all see the above criteria put forward by Leonard which, I believe, documents the amount of experience required to actually become a 'Designer'.
You will all notice the requirements which range from a Degree to a minimum of 15 years experience "in the design of related pressure piping".

I believe this actually hits the nail on the head as it does not in any way allow for a guy learning a 3D software package suddenly becoming a Piping Designer or even, as some note on their C.V., a 'Senior' Piping Designer. It takes many years of mentoring from, and learning from, the Senior Piping Designers around you as I once did, plus the will to actually learn your trade (I did a 4 year drafting apprenticeship) and not, as some, just think that as they've learned a 3D package it then makes them a Piping Designer.

Maybe some Dept Managers should read all these comments before they pay large hourly rates to only Cad Operators.
- If you're the smartest person in the room ... you're in the wrong room.

Re: Comments on "Piping Experience Vs 3D Cad abilities" 5 years 11 months ago #3645

  • garzabla
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There are many valid points here and as in all forums a lot of off tangent waffle. But we are missing the point. JOP has a blog on this site which stated that people outside of this business are clueless when you inform them that your profession is Piping Designer. I would submit that this ignorance of the importance what we do also applies to our Clients, CEO's, Project Managers, Project Engineers and HR recruiters within our own industry.
It was our Clients that drove the transition to CAD, they did it in the misguided belief that it would significantly lower their costs and increase efficiency, they were convinced in this view by major EPC companies who were in turn convinced by the CAD Software companies. Now I am not anti CAD I am 40 years experienced, grey haired and PDS & AutoPlant proficient and while I believe the use of CAD has brought many benefits in efficiency and accuracy I do not believe it has lowered the costs to our Clients by much or at least as much they would like. Case in point I have just been laid off because I did not fit our Client imposed "Blended Rate" policy (Don't give us good, we want cheap)
So we enter the era of Outsourcing, again a practice introduced by major EPC companies to satisfy an ever growing demand by our Clients to cut costs. Whether or not you agree with this practice is irrelevant, if the Client believes what the EPC has told him about the hundreds of Piping Designers in Somalia who can be paid 2 sacks of grain per hour that is where the work will go. Despite all the lip service paid to "Quality First" it is the bottom line that matters and what exactly is a "piper" anyway.
Sure they will screw up the first few jobs but do you really believe that the CEO of the EPC is going to admit that he made a mistake, no they'll just move the work to some other third world country, software will improve and the remaining lack of quality will be justified by the perceived money saved
Now the Third Worlders are doing a better job the next stage is to abandon North America and Europe as a source of Plant Design expertise and move the whole operation to Asia or wherever the price is right. The major EPC's will still retain their HO's in North America but they will be just be a fat cat profit center.
It has happened in many other industries why should it not happen to ours?. We have been in transition for the last 20 years we are now witnessing the death of our profession in the Northern hemisphere.
Arguments about Piping Experience vs 3D Cad abilities are irrelevant if there's no work and no industry to work in.
Last Edit: 4 years 10 months ago by Jop. Reason: minor mispelling
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