The term “Piping Material Controller”  as used in this document refers to that person responsible for the all activities related to the identification of piping material and piping related material required for a process plant project

What does the Piping Material Controller need to know?

Piping Material Control is more than just knowing how to count pipe, elbows and flanges. So, appropriately, what else does the Material Controller need to know about piping besides how to operate a keyboard and a mouse or total up a column of figures?

Here is a list of the most basic of things that a good

Piping Material Controller should know. Thinking about every one of these items should become as natural as breathing for a good Piping Material Controller.

• Pipe, Fittings, Flanges and Valves – All Material Controllers need to know and understand the broad spectrum of items that make up the “vocabulary” of the piping language. This includes the many types of fittings, the many different schedules, the wide variety of common piping materials, the flange class ratings and the types and symbols of the different valve designs.

• Relationship of other Project groups – All Material Controllers need to know and understand the relationship, activities and contribution of all the other engineering and non-engineering groups on the project.  These include: Purchasing, Inspection, Expediting and Traffic.  These groups have a responsibility for contributing to Piping’s success.

• Piping Execution – All Material Controllers must understand how the total piping effort and the processes are linked to piping material take-off and the total procurement cycle for the project.

• Process Documents – All Material Controllers need to be able to read, understand and know how to use the major documents produced by the Process Engineering team.  These document include the P&ID (Piping and Instrument Diagram) used by Piping Material Controllers to establish Preliminary quantities for RFQ (Request for Quote) pricing for items such as Valves, Specialty Items and Steam Traps.

• Standards and Specifications – All Piping Material Controllers need to understand the content and application of the client and engineering company standards and specifications used on the project. In particular the Controller must have intimate knowledge of the primary standards and specifications he/she will use; these being the Piping Standard Drawings and the Piping Material Line Class Specifications.

• Design production methods – All Piping Material Controllers need to be able to read and understand all types of piping drawings (manual or CAD sketches, layouts, detail piping plans, isometrics, etc) regardless of the manner of creation.

• Fabrication and Construction methods – All Piping Material Controllers need to understand shop spool fabrication, modularization and field erection construction methods, and be able to determine “shop’ and “field” material splits.

• Heat Tracing – All Piping Material Controllers need to be able to read and understand drawings that depict process heat conservation, know the different methods (Jacketing, Tracer Tubing or Electric) and Tracer material.  

• Documents – All Piping Material Controllers need to understand the purposes of each of the Piping Material Control documents, such as BOM (Bill of Material), Material Summary, RFQ (Request for Quote),  Quote Summary, PR (Purchase Request), PO (Purchase Order) , PO Supplement, RFI (Request for Information), PMI (Positive Material Identification), Material Certifications,  .

• BOM (Bill of Material) Content – All Piping Material Controllers must understand how to present their documents. BOM content and posting practices must be well thought out in order to clearly communicate the material requirements to Shop and Field personnel.

• Economics – All Piping Material Controllers must be aware of economics. An example being the Material Bump philosophy (the amount added over and above the raw take-off quantity to cover loss, pilfering and last minute additions).   Too much of the wrong material would be costly.  The absence of even one single key item could be very a costly delay to the timely start-up of a multi-million dollar plant.

Any person that has this type of training, this type of knowledge and then consistently applies it is indeed a Piping Material Controller. He or she will also be a more valuable asset to their company and to themselves in the market place.

On the other hand anyone who does not know or does not apply the knowledge about these issues while doing Piping Material Control work is not making a rightful contribution to the Project, the Company or to their own future career.

About the Author


{cb:James O. Pennock has more than forty-five years in the process plant design profession. He has been involved in both home office and job site assignments on refinery, chemical, petrochemical, power and other projects. His experience ranges from entry level designer to engineering manager. Much of this was with Fluor. He is also the author of the book "Piping Engineering Leadership for Process Plant Projects." He is now retired, living in Florida, USA and does only occasional consulting work.

Mr. Pennock can be contacted via E-Mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..}

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