Complex piping solutions

Automating the design process keeps it simple.

April 25, 2012   by Joe Terrett, Editor

Extensive pipe systems that run through industry rely on complex support chains that ensure system functionality, safety and longevity. Whether for refinery, petrochemical, power generation, emission reduction or other processing applications, these support systems protect pipelines from the stresses of seismic activities, wind loads and internal pressures such as thermal expansion.

Choosing and designing the right pipe supports can be challenging. Many systems include an array of products, ranging from hangers and supports to bearings, structural steel elements and attachments. LICAD, an advanced design program from Lisega Inc. USA, a Kodak, Tenn. manufacturer of support systems for piping, simplifies the entire process.

As a rule, the planning and design of complex pipe systems runs through numerous iterations. Inevitably, the design of pipe supports takes place at the end of the planning chain, even though they’re needed on site prior to the installation of the piping. This often puts a squeeze on support designers, and heightens the likelihood of orders being placed too late to meet delivery requirements.

Late or last minute pipe deliveries add pressure to the design and specification process, delay piping and equipment installation, and increase the risk of project cost overruns.

Sourcing pipe supports from catalogues is often tedious work that involves engineering expertise that may not be readily available. CAD software from pipe support suppliers would help, yet many programs involve a time-consuming design process that requires selecting various pipe support component parts, then copying and pasting them to design the support chain. 3D modelling of components is also labourious, involving the use of graphics software and conversion of illustrative elements.

The next generation of CAD software for pipe supports and load chains makes it much simpler to electronically design, spec and order the needed products all at one time.

Time savings

The LICAD program automates the entire process. It provides a comprehensive design, ordering and pipe support tracking system for engineers, but can be used by architects, construction contractors and users who are not necessarily pipe support specialists.

The program references LISEGA’s 10,000 standard pipe support components to design standard pipe support configurations, and it creates customized products for special applications.

There are time savings on the logistics process side. For example, support data can be sent directly to the supplier’s computer system for order processing on the same day. This fits in well with tight order schedules. Time savings also allow for quality assurance and even revisions of the pipe support chain design in minutes.
The automated program is useful for replacing worn-out pipe supports or providing retrofits, especially when an upgrade makes more sense than replacing a failed support with a like-for-like or a component. When a refinery or petrochemical plant is upgraded with a new system, the program quickly identifies the necessary pipe support.

An automated design program should be compatible with associated software. LICAD can be exported into popular 2D programs such as AutoCAD and 3D programs from software development companies such as Intergraph, AVEVA, Bentley and Navisworks.

The relevant data for individual support points is entered using a menu driven program control. Only six parameters are required to find the optimum solution: pipe diameter, pipe temperature, operating load, travel, installation height and support configuration.

From this input, the appropriate load chains are created automatically in fractions of a second. The program makes the optimum selection of supports – such as variable spring and constant hangers – simultaneously.

Economical solution

Specific customer requirements, such as travel and load reserves in accordance with ASME, B 31.3, VGB or other codes, are taken into account and provided for by the corresponding input in a special menu. The program also ensures the most economical solution will be selected from the possible options.

The program generates true-to-scale drawings of the support chains, which are saved as complete assemblies and can be printed or plotted as a drawing at any time. The data also includes relevant details, including parts lists with weights and material, and if required, pricing and location plan.

The modular design system matches components by load bearing requirements, allowing an engineer or architect to design the pipe support system so the entire chain of products match the load-bearing requirements and are all compatible with each other. A broad range of operating loads and temperatures are covered within these product groups.

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This article is an edited version of a longer piece written on behalf of Lisega Inc. by Ed Sullivan, a Hermosa Beach, Calif. business writer.

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This article appears in the March/April 2012 edition of PLANT West.

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