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How Plant Design Supports the Electrification of the Chemical Industry?

The chemical industry has been decoupling production and consumption – energy and raw materials – for years. Powerful planning tools support engineers. What is new is the increasing electrification of industrial processes, which requires additional features.  

Chemical and pharmaceutical companies are faced with fundamental strategic decisions – this applies to the provision of alternative energies as well as the efficient use of raw materials. Modular systems play an important role here, as they can be quickly planned and erected and, if necessary, adapted to new market conditions. The Module Type Package (MTP) offers the easy integration of such modules into a higher-level automation solution. Smart sensor technology plays a central role here: It enables permanent real-time monitoring and control of processes, contributing to higher efficiency and increased safety.  

Engineering tools as a competitive advantage  

  • The course for successful plant solutions is already set in the planning process. When using an engineering tool, however, serious problems sometimes slow down the planners:  
  • Manual data entry into the appropriate systems, as there is no adequate automation to capture all the details required for the process.  
  • Lack of transparency of the design for the individual planner when several engineers are involved in the design process, which sometimes results in (data) chaos.  
  • Lack of automation in piping designs and runs results in inefficient designs with too many fittings and pipe sections.  

Hexagon's data-centric, rules-based Smart 3D solution solves these challenges by enabling an iterative engineering design environment. Smart 3D provides all the functionality needed to design assets and maintain their 3D "as-built" representations - a clear competitive advantage for users. 

In addition to the already important features of a good planning tool – record data only once, no data loss across the trades, intelligence over the entire life cycle – new developments in the industry add further expectations: For example, due to the more extensive automation requirements – transition from batch processes to continuous processes –, above all because of the prioritized use of electrical energy, e.g., in hydrogen electrolysis, at Power-to-Heat and a large-scale chemical company is even electrifying the steam cracker. In short, smart tools are also in demand for electrical installation and instrumentation. 

P&I: The planner's central document  

If you look at a plant in the chemical or petrochemical industry, the importance of P&ID flow diagrams is immediately apparent: pipelines, flanges, valves, pumps, and measuring points are the heart of production plants. The piping and instrumentation diagram (P&I) is the central document representing the largest asset value.  

The P&ID diagram plays a central role in the entire life cycle of a plant (new and change planning, maintenance, dismantling). P&ID is also an essential data supplier for planning automation and process control technology.  

Only those who carefully execute P&ID flow diagrams and provide them with all relevant information can hope for freedom from errors in the following detail engineering and during construction or commissioning. With today's global division of planning tasks, this is more important than ever.  

Tools that generate 'intelligent' P&IDs offer clear advantages because the data can be used for subsequent 3D engineering. Integrated tools such as Hexagon's CADWorx offer this advantage without any interface loss.  

Read More About the Plant Design Journey 

Bottom Line 

Due to the sheer size and complexity of industrial plants, the need to comply with various regulations and standards, and the expectation of managing cross-functional teams and suppliers, plant design is a complex process. A software vendor whose solutions cover all functional requirements, help teams collaborate, and make work easier throughout the lifecycle, can make a difference here.