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The Importance of Pipework Design

Pipework is used to convey gases, liquids and heat through a building or process plant. Pipework design is the engineering discipline that ensures proper layout, material selection and sizing.

Traditionally, piping design was conducted by senior piping designers who transformed process and instrumentation diagrams into two-dimensional layouts and isometrics. Nowadays, 3-D plant design software allows draftspeople to do much of the same work that a senior designer did 20 years ago.

Material selection

The materials used to construct piping systems can have a significant impact on how long they last and how well they can resist high temperatures and loads. This is why pipework professionals should take the time to select the best pipes for their projects. The material selection process is complex, but it can be made easier by identifying the various factors that should be considered.

A few of the main things to consider when selecting piping materials are:

– Pipe size: The size of a pipe is a critical factor that can affect many other factors. For example, the thickness of a pipe can influence how much pressure it can handle and its resistance to corrosion. The diameter of a pipe is also important because it can impact the flow rate of a liquid.

– Customization: The type of customization a pipe can receive is another important factor. Some types of pipes can be customized by being coated or lined. These modifications can enhance the durability of a pipe, protect it from corrosion, and reduce its maintenance costs.

– Corrosion: This is one of the most common concerns when choosing a piping material. It can be caused by the fluid being transported, environmental conditions, or other factors. This type of degradation can lead to a loss in structural integrity. To prevent this, it’s important to understand the types of corrosion that can occur in a piping system and how to address them.


When it comes to process plant piping, design is key. Insufficient consideration can result in the failure of supports, leakage at flange joints and distortion of valve bodies and bellows. This is often due to a lack of knowledge of the principles and considerations involved in piping design. These include the specification of components, material standards and dimensional requirements, as well as the evaluation and limitation of stresses and reactions due to pressure changes, temperature changes and other forces.

The optimum way to perform pipework design is to use a 3D CAD software package that has a comprehensive catalogue and consistency checker. This can eliminate many of the common errors that occur when piping is designed on paper and manually modelled in 3D. This type of specialised software also allows for the generation of piping isometric drawings from 3D models that can be used for fabrication purposes.

The best piping design software programs offer a range of templates that can be easily modified to suit specific project needs. They should also allow for easy collaboration and the ability to create high-resolution plans. Some programs, such as Edraw P&ID Designer, also feature a streamlined creation process and provide a number of pre-defined shapes that are easy to connect. These tools can help you save time and money while achieving quality results.


Pipework systems are a crucial part of a process plant. They transport various gases and liquids from one facility to another. They are also used in petroleum distillation, chemical processes, and paper pulping. They comprise pipes, fittings, flanges, valves and other components. They must be designed for easy installation and to ensure the safety of workers. A good piping system design should meet the requirements of the relevant codes and standards, including ASME B31.3. This code provides basic rules for the fabrication, assembly and erection of piping. It also defines the requirements for examination, inspection and testing of piping.

The piping system should be properly arranged to prevent blockages or other obstructions in the flow of water and other fluids. It should be positioned such that it does not interfere with equipment operation or maintenance. Also, it should not obstruct doorways, truck-ways or walkways.

The piping should be properly supported to minimize stress and vibration. This is achieved by proper planning and by arranging the lines in groups. While this might require a compromise in respect of the shortest piping route, it allows space for easier installation of support devices and improves operability and accessibility. In addition, it helps to prevent the build-up of unwanted static electricity which could cause explosions. It is important to follow the BS 5958 : 1991 Code of Practice for the Control of Unwanted Static Electricity.


Pipe systems are complex and costly to maintain. If the design is not thorough, problems may occur that will affect the reliability of the system, such as leaks at flanged joints or distortion of valve bodies. These issues can result in a loss of production, safety hazards and environmental damage. To avoid this, it is important to use a high quality plant design software. Such a system can help to save time and money by automating many manual processes. In addition, it can provide consistency and interference checkers, which will help to detect problems that can be overlooked. This can save engineers a great deal of time and effort.

Piping design requires the application of a wide range of skills and knowledge. It involves interpreting engineering standards, field experience and construction knowledge. Piping designers also have a body of knowledge that covers applied “abilities” such as constructability, operability and maintainability. This is acquired through a combination of training, on-the-job experience and learning from other people.

Piping arrangement is a crucial aspect of the design process and should be considered in the earliest stages of the project. The piping arrangement should be made to ensure that it presents no obstacle to the operation of equipment and enables easy access for inspection and maintenance. It should also take into account the location of supports and their installation methods.