The term “Piping Material Engineer” as used in this document refers to that person responsible for the development and maintenance of all Specifications related to the pipe, fittings, valves, bolts, gaskets, Paint, Coatings, Insulation and any other piping related item to be used in the design and construction of a Process Plant Project. It does not refer to the Piping Designer or the Pipe Stress Engineer who are both involved in the “design” of a piping system but in a totally different means and manner.
Piping Material Engineering is more than just opening a catalog and picking a valve or fitting. So, appropriately, what else does the Piping Material Engineer need to know?
- Client Interface – Every Piping Material Engineer must be able to sit in front of a client and make proper, intelligent, and understandable piping material decisions.
- Relationship of other Engineering groups – All Piping Material Engineer need to know and understand the relationship, activities and contribution of all the other engineering and design groups on the project. These include: Process, Civil, Structural, Mechanical Equipment, Vessels & Tanks, Electrical and Instruments/Control Systems. These groups have a responsibility for contributing to Piping’s success just as Piping has a responsibility for contributing to their success.
- Piping Execution – All Piping Material Engineer must understand how piping design progress is linked to P&IDs, equipment vendor drawings, instrument vendor drawings, stress analysis and structural support design in order to identify needs and the contribution of the PME.
- Process Documents – All Piping Material Engineer need to be able to read, understand and know how to use the two major documents produced by the Process Engineering team. These documents are the PFD (Process Flow Diagram) and the P&ID (Piping and Instrument Diagram). The PFD is used by the more experienced Piping Material Engineer early in the project for Line Class development before the P&ID’s are available. Once the P&IDs are developed they become the “Base” document for all piping material selection.
- Process Variables – All Piping Material Engineer must know and understand the four basic process variables: pressure, temperature, flow and level, and the ramifications these variables have on a commodity and the piping system.
- Chemistry – All Piping Material Engineers need to know and understand the many different kinds of commodities found in a process plant. They need to know and understand the characteristics and dangers of these chemicals. They need to know the dangers to humans and the reactions these chemicals have on different piping materials (metallic and non-metallic).
- Materials of Construction – All Piping Material Engineers need to know and understand the common metallic, special alloy and non-metallic materials used for pipe, fittings, flanges and all the other piping related items.
- Pipe, Fittings, Flanges and Valves – All Piping Material Engineer 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 function of the different valve designs.
- Specialty Piping Items (SP Items)– All Piping material Engineers need to know and understand the difference between normal piping components (normally found in the Line Class Specifications) and items that are considered “Special” or different and are therefore called SP Items.
- Calculations – All Piping Material Engineer must know and understand how to use the process variables and their affect on a commodity and do the calculations to select the proper Pipe material, Wall thickness, the correct Flange Class ratings and Gaskets for each system.
- Piping Welding, NDE and PWHT - All Piping Material Engineers need to know and understand the basics of pipe welding used for pipe, fittings and flanges along with the requirements for Non-Destructive Examination and Post Weld Heat Treatment.
- Insulation - All Piping Material Engineer must know and understand the many types and the specific needs of insulation used for piping systems
- Paint, Galvanizing and Coatings - All Piping Material Engineer must know and understand the many types of Paints, Galvanizing and Coatings used on piping systems and the special requirements of for the application and handling.
- Fabrication and Construction methods – All Piping Material Engineers need to understand shop spool fabrication, modularization and field erection construction methods.
- Heat Tracing – All Piping Material Engineers need to understand the purpose of process heat conservation, know the different methods (Jacketing, Tracer Tubing or Electric), Tracer commodity (Steam, Oil, Hot Water, etc.) and Tracer system requirements and be able to select or specify the proper material for heat tracing circuitry.
- Process Plant Equipment – All Piping Material Engineer need to know and understand what the different types of equipment are; what they do and the piping material related issues.
- Standards and Specifications – All Piping Material Engineers need to understand the content and application of the client and engineering company Standards and Specifications used on the project. In particular the Material Engineer must have intimate knowledge of the primary Piping Standards and Specifications.
- Design production methods – All Piping Material Engineers need to be able to make use of all types of piping documents (sketches, layouts, detail piping plans, isometrics, etc).
- Software Database requirements - All Piping Material Engineers need to understand the responsibilities of the PME in the development of the 2D and 3D Design system material database.
- Deliverables – All Piping Material Engineers need to understand the purposes of each of the piping material deliverables, such as Specifications, Specialty Item Data sheets, outlines and the Project Piping Commodity Code Catalog listing all Item Code Numbers.
- Economics – All Piping Material Engineers must be aware of economics. This includes the material selection to reduce costly high pressure and alloy piping runs and reduce the use of odd, high cost fittings
Any person that has this type of training, this type of knowledge and then consistently applies it is indeed a Piping Material Engineer. 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 work is not making a proper cost effective contribution to the Project, their Company or to their own career.
About the Author
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.