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1.4. Additional Diagrams

During the planning and construction phases of a new project, many additional diagrams are needed. Although these diagrams do not possess additional process information, they are essential to the successful completion of the project. Computers are being used more and more to do the tedious work associated with all of these drawing details. The creative work comes in the development of the concepts provided in the BFD and the process development required to produce the PFD. The computer can help with the drawings but cannot create a new process. Computers are valuable in many aspects of the design process where the size of equipment to do a specific task is to be determined. Computers may also be used when considering performance problems that deal with the operation of existing equipment. However, they are severely limited in dealing with diagnostic problems that are required throughout the life of the plant.

The diagrams presented here are in both American Engineering and SI units. The most noticeable exception is in the sizing of piping, where pipes are specified in inches and pipe schedule. This remains the way they are produced and purchased in the United States. A process engineer today must be comfortable with SI, conventional metric, and American (formerly British, who now use SI exclusively) Engineering units.

These additional diagrams are discussed briefly below.

A utility flowsheet may be provided that shows all the headers for utility inputs and outputs available along with the connections needed to the process. It provides information on the flows and characteristics of the utilities used by the plant.

Vessel sketches, logic ladder diagrams, wiring diagrams, site plans, structural support diagrams, and many other drawings are routinely used but add little to our understanding of the basic chemical processes that take place.

Additional drawings are necessary to locate all of the equipment in the plant. Plot plans and elevation diagrams are provided that locate the placement and elevation of all of the major pieces of equipment such as towers, vessels, pumps, heat exchangers, and so on. When constructing these drawings, it is necessary to consider and to provide for access for repairing equipment, removing tube bundles from heat exchangers, replacement of units, and so on. What remains to be shown is the addition of the structural support and piping.

Piping isometrics are drawn for every piece of pipe required in the plant. These drawings are 3-D sketches of the pipe run, indicating the elevations and orientation of each section of pipe. In the past, it was also common for comprehensive plants to build a scale model so the system could be viewed in three dimensions and modified to remove any potential problems. Over the past thirty years, scale models have been replaced by three-dimensional computer aided design (CAD) programs that are capable of representing the plant as-built in three dimensions. They provide an opportunity to view the local equipment topology from any angle at any location inside the plant. One can actually “walk through” the plant and preview what will be seen when the plant is built. The ability to “view” the plant before construction will be made even more realistic with the help of virtual reality software. With this new tool, it is possible not only to walk through the plant but also to “touch” the equipment, turn valves, climb to the top of distillation columns, and so on. In the next section, the information needed to complete a preliminary plant layout design is reviewed, and the logic used to locate the process units in the plant and how the elevations of different equipment are determined are briefly explained.

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