Piping Engineering – an Overview

In today’s world, various types of projects are executed in the oil and gas, petrochemical, chemical, metallurgy, pharmaceutical industries etc. such as conceptual study, FEED (front end engineering development), EPC (Engineering, procurement and construction), EPCM (Engineering, procurement, construction management), Lump sum turnkey etc.

Phases and various disciplines in projects:

Different phases during the life of a project are conceptual study, feed (front end engineering development), detail engineering, construction, mechanical completion, pre-commissioning, commissioning and start-up. For executing above mentioned projects different engineering disciplines involved are process, piping, civil/structural, instrumentation, electrical, mechanical (static/rotary), HVAC etc. Every discipline plays a vital role during each phase of the project.

Cost of piping in projects: a major component:

The capital cost of piping is a major factor in almost all chemical plants investment. Fig 1 and 2 show a chart based on oil refineries, chemical and petrochemical complexes.

Fig 1 shows that, apart from other equipment costs, piping is the largest plant cost component which is double the combined cost of all others.

Fig 2 indicates that design engineering utilizes approximately 45% of engineering man-hours and 50% of these hours are used in piping design.

Fig 3 also indicates, piping contributes substantial cost as compared to other fields cost.

Piping engineering :

It is a study and development of Piping layout, material selection and behavior of the piping system under prevailing process conditions and design parameters. It is the study for developing an efficient and economical way for the transport of fluid from the source to the destination as indicated in the Piping and Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID). Since the piping systems are subjected to all severest condition of plant such as high temperature, high pressure flow, erosion, corrosion, high toxic condition and the combination of all, which makes it more difficult while designing a piping system. The Piping system has to designed for taking in to account all the conditions and the desire life of the plant.

Role of a piping engineer:

While carrying out piping design work, a piping engineer has to consider the design requirement for piping and also for the other disciplines in the project. So a piping engineer needs to have overall knowledge of all the disciplines and requirement in the project. Besides, a piping engineer should also have good knowledge of operation, maintenance, safety, fabrication, erection, availability, cost and client requirement which would help to develop a efficient and economical design. Piping engineer needs to have a good planning, scheduling and vision for the timely completion of any project. He also needs to provide timely input for the other discipline to complete their tasks and activities within the project schedule.

Since piping holds a major part of the cost and the man-hours required in a project so it is the key discipline in the timely execution and completion of any project.

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