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Piping design software

I have had extensive experience with 3D plant design software and in this blog I want to express my opinion on each software that I have used.
Bentley Autoplant and CADWorx
These programs are mainly used for smaller and medium size projects. They might not be the best tool for large projects. Both programs are intelligent data based software for plant and piping design, and both of them can do the same job. However, there are differences between them and I will briefly list it.
1. Both software has similar graphical user interface and from that side they
are equally matched.
2. CADWorx is always step for step with AutoCAD releases and windows operating
system.
3. CADWorx has more powerful Isogen than Bentley auto plant.
4. CADWorx has easier Catalog and specification creation.
5. CADWorx has easier user shape creation and work with pipe supports is easier
too.
6. Bentley autoplant database is stored in access database and updating catalogs
takes long time. CADWorx use a simple text file for database and updating
database is fast.
7. CADWorx is lighter in capabilities than Autoplant, but project administration
is easier.
8. Access database knowledge might be required if you work with spec and catalogs in Bentley Autoplant. Although Bentley Autoplant is great piece of software, I would rather give the preference to CADWorx, because of simplicity and better integration with AutoCAD. The figure below shows partial view of the plant model made in Bentley Autoplant.
1-thickener-3d-model
Autodesk PLANT 3D
Autodesk released PLANT 3D, trying to match CADWorx and Bentley Autoplant. Although Autodesk Corporation made great effort, many bugs has been reported.
Aveva PDMS
PDMS software is mainly use for large projects. It is very stable software. Graphical user interface is different than other 3D plant software and learning curve is big. However, once you master it, piping modeling is fast and development of 3D plant model is very rapid. Disadvantage is that only one person can open and work with catalogs and specifications, and usually companies has one person in charge for creating specs and catalogs. Draft module is not the best tool for dimensioning and usually orthogonal drawings are made as DXF file and then imported in AutoCAD. Isogen can be easily customized and creation of piping isometric drawing is automatic and it does not require any additional work. SP3D is another piece of software used for large projects and it looks equally match PDMS. Below is the snapshot of the tank piping made in PDMS environment.
2-pdms-tank-piping
AutoCAD and Microstation
AutoCAD and Microstation is good tools for producing 2D drawings. AutoCAD 3D modeling is time consuming, and usually Autocad 3D modelling is utilize when we need to check for interference. Prior to an official issue of 2D drawings, simplified 3D model has been made in AutoCAD for the purpose of interference check between kiln riser and pipe. Please see the figures below.
3-kiln-riser-3d-drawing3a-kiln-riser-3d-drawing
Prosteel
Prosteel is software for structural 3D modeling made by Bentley corporation. I have been using Prosteel for three years and from my point of view, Prosteel is great piece of software, easy to learn, modeling and creating design drawings by flattening model is fast and easy. Prosteel has many built in features that allow rapid 3D modeling and automatic creation of the structural components such as ladder, platforms, structural connections, etc. The figure below shows partial view of the pipe rack structure from one of my projects, and it took me just a few hours to model it.
4-pipe-rack-3d-model
A good tutorial can be found on YouTube posted by BentleyStructural. Bentley Corporation also has software for concrete design know as Proconcrete.
Civil 3D
Civil 3D is software for civil design. As a plant designer you might be using some features such as creating surface, and limited knowledge of this software might be very useful in your plant design. Please see my blog Importance of survey.