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TOPIC: Starting out as Piping Designer, from scratch.

6 years 1 month ago #8367

  • Vargen
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Hi, I've been monitoring the forums occasionally, and finally decided to join up.

I have no engineering or technical background, my roots lie more in 3D digital drawing. I am creative (though unfortunately not always inspired) and can think logical.

Some months ago an acquaintance of mine talked to me about Piping Design, and that it's an interesting area. He advised me to do a course in PDMS, start reading up about the theory, etc. So I followed his advice. I did a course in PDMS, it was interesting and not complicated to understand (I have experience with other 3D software), and I enjoyed it. Then I started reading two books:

First I read "Pipe Drafting and Design (second edition)" by Roy A. Parisher. It was an interesting read, not too difficult to understand, but I immediately started to wonder how important it is to learn how to draw piping drawings by hand on paper. Because he also explains how to draw those very same drawings in Autocad. So, I think it will be a smart move if to start a course about technical drawing in Autocad to get the basics down.

The second book, which I'm halfway through, is "Process Plant Layout and Piping Design" by Roger Hunt. Now, this is a little more complicated for me. He explains how different components of a plant design function, gives examples and rules of placement, etc. About 50% I understand with my non-technical background, but some things are just too complicated for me without knowing more about the general area. The result is I often close the book thinking "why am I reading this at this point in time?"

Now, the area of Piping Design seems very interesting to me, but also confusing because I don't really know how I should proceed from this point on. I read many stories about how in the past a person would not actually start out as Piping Designer, instead they'd be drafted from "technical school" by a company, and would only become a Piping Designer after many years of experience. Now, with modern computer programs, the need to compress time and budget, etc. it seems that a company is immediately looking for a "qualified" Piping Designer. But, like in any area of expertise, how does one become qualified without experience? I am 33 years old at the moment, already made schooling and career mistakes in the past, so I want to do it right this time and really get something going.

By the way, I'm living in the south of Brazil at this moment, but I'm moving back to my home country the Netherlands early next year.

Re: Starting out as Piping Designer, from scratch. 6 years 1 month ago #6968

  • Jop
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I will give you the same advice I give other novice piping designers.
#1. Go to that blue bar at the top if this page. There you will find the following subject categories: Home, Jobs, Training, Tools, Links, Standards, Forum and About.
You do not need to look at Home, Jobs, Links or About at this time. The others, Training, Tools Standards and Forum are important for the beginner.

#2. Go to each of these pages and read everything you find there. You will not understand all of it but over time it will become clear.

#3. Read this - In addition to the pure technical issues of Piping found in the above, there are side issues a Piping Designer needs to know.
What does the Piping Designer need to know? Piping design is more than just knowing how to turn on the computer, how to find the piping menus and the difference between paper space and model space. So, appropriately, what else does the designer need to know about piping design besides how to connect a piece of pipe to a fitting?
Here is a list of some of the most basic of things that a good piping designer should know. Thinking about every one of these items should be as natural as breathing for a good piping designer.

• Pipe, Fittings, Flanges and Valves – All designer 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 and the wide variety of common piping materials.

• Process Plant Equipment – All Designers need to know and understand what the different types of equipment are. They also need to know and understand the piping related issues are for each type of equipment. They must know which types of equipment have the nozzles fixed by the manufacturer and which types of equipment need to have the nozzles located (by the piping designer). The designer also needs to know and understand the operational, maintenance and installation/construction issues for each type of equipment.

• Allowable pipe spans – All designer need to know and understand the span capabilities of pipe in the different schedules for a wide variety of common piping materials. When a new project introduces a new material with severely reduced span capabilities; supplemental training may be required.

• Expansion of pipe – All designers must understand that they need to treat a piping system as though it is alive. It has a temperature and that temperature causes it to grow and move. That growth and movement must be allowed for and incorporated in the overall design. Not just of that specific line but for all other lines close by. The process of expansion in a pipe or group of pipes will also exert frictional forces or anchor forces on the pipe supports they come in contact with.

• Routing for flexibility – The piping designer must understand how to route pipe for flexibility. Routing for flexibility can normally be achieved in the most natural routing of the pipeline from its origin to its terminus. Routing for flexibility means (a) do not run a pipe in a straight line from origin to terminus and (b) building flexibility into the pipe routing is far cheaper and more reliable than expansion joints.

• Weight and loads (live loads and dead loads) – The piping designer needs to understand the effects of weight and loading. They need to know and understand that everything has a weight. They need to be able recognize when there is going to be a concentrated load. They need to have access to basic weight tables for all the standard pipe schedules, pipe fittings, flanges, valves for steel pipe. They also need to have the weight tables for other materials or a table of correction factors for these other materials vs. carbon steel. They need to be able to recognize when downward expansion in a piping system is present and is adding live loads to a support or equipment nozzle.

• Equipment piping – The piping designer needs to know the right and the wrong way to pipe up (connect pipe to) different kinds of equipment. This includes pumps, compressors, exchangers, filters or any special equipment to be used on a specific project.

• Vessel piping – The piping designer also needs to understand about the connecting, supporting and guiding of piping attached to vessels (horizontal or vertical) and tanks. They need to know that nozzle loading is important and does have limitations.

• Rack piping – The designer needs to understand that there is a logical approach to the placement of piping in (or on) a pipe rack. It does not matter how wide or how high the rack or what kind of plant, the logic still applies. Starting from one or both outside edges the largest and hottest lines are sequenced in such a manner that allows for the nesting of any required expansion loops. The spacing of the lines must also allow for the bowing effect at the loops caused by the expansion.

• Expansion loops – The designer needs to understand and be able to use simple rules and methods for sizing loops in rack piping. This should include the most common sizes, schedules and materials.

• Cold spring/Pre-spring – Designers should understand the basics rules of cold spring and pre-spring. They need to understand what each one is along with when to and when not to use each.

Any piping designer that has this type of training, this type of knowledge, this kind of experience and then consistently applies it is indeed a piping designer. 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 nothing more than a piping drafter or a CAD operator.
Do it once and Do it Right
The following user(s) said Thank You: vuthuc

Re: Starting out as Piping Designer, from scratch. 6 years 1 month ago #6969

  • Vargen
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Jop, thank you for your elaborate reply. I will read the mentioned material in addition to the material I'm already reading. I guess your sentence "You will not understand all of it but over time it will become clear." is the reason why I posted here in the first place. I also understand that the tools are not as important as the actual knowledge and experience of the person working with them, I did the PDMS course because it looked interesting and now I want to learn more about the area it was created for. Actually, looking back, I should have started off with a course in technical drawing and piping.

By the way, you say "Anyone who does not know or does not apply the knowledge about these issues while doing piping work is nothing more than a piping drafter or a CAD operator." I find the terms piping designer and drafter confusing, probably because everywhere I look they are used in conjunction, in addition to the term piping engineer. In a book I read that of old one would start out as a drafter, and from there on after many years of gaining experience became a designer.

But the conclusion is a drafter is someone who draws technical drawings without actual knowledge, and a designer actually knows what he/she is drawing?

Since of old experience is gained by working with the subject, I'm wondering at what point one can step up to a company and try to get a job in the area of piping. I know I'm light-years from this point, but I'm just curious how this market works today.

Re: Starting out as Piping Designer, from scratch. 5 years 9 months ago #7090

  • rodroc
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I will give you the same advice I give other novice piping designers.
#1. Go to that blue bar at the top if this page. There you will find the following subject categories]

Thanks for this advice. It was helpful to me too!

Re: Starting out as Piping Designer, from scratch. 5 years 9 months ago #7091

  • 11echo
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I'd like to add one more item to JOP's list of "Need to Knows", and that subject would be "Construction"! ANY Designer using welding symbols, steel call outs, or thread type better understand their proper usage! I'm so tired of seeing backward weld symbols, or a filet weld symbol used for ever conceivable type of welding there is. "IF" you use anything to describe how the field is to fabricate the item, you detail out, you better understand exactly what you are telling the construction people to do! IF you don't this is a big RED flag to the people that do know, that you (and maybe the company you work for) doesn't have a clue what they are doing! ...AND more directly could cause injuries to construction/operating personnel when that item does fail, because of incorrect construction procedures or materials.

Re: Starting out as Piping Designer, from scratch. 3 years 7 months ago #9143

  • Anton
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I had this same question on LinkedIn, so I want to bump this back to the top!
- If you're the smartest person in the room ... you're in the wrong room.
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