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Decoding Pipe Stress Analysis: A Deep Dive Into Training Dynamics and Efficient Project Estimations

Managers considering adding pipe stress analysis to their teams often pose two common questions:

  1. Training time: How long does it take to train engineers for pipe stress analysis?
  2. Analysis time: How long does it take for a trained individual to analyze piping systems?

While there are no definitive answers to these questions, a framework providing reasonable estimates can be established.

Mastering all aspects of pipe stress analysis is a lifelong pursuit. However, a mechanical engineer with prior exposure to piping design could be prepared within less than a month to undertake the challenge of analyzing a new system. Modern software has made the process more seamless, enabling beginners to input data, conduct static analyses and review results within hours.
A proficient analyst should also understand the project-relevant piping code, such as ASME B31.3, alongside project documentation. Although reading such a code may take several months, engineers don’t need to fully grasp it before beginning their first analysis. Ideally, they should have a mentor orchestrating and supervising their work. It's advantageous to have a real project to drive and incentivize the learning process.

Resources are available to augment engineers' learning experiences and underpin their success, including:

  • Training: Market-available pipe stress and CAESAR II® courses, such as Hexagon's instructor-led training and online pre-recorded video courses via Hexagon University 
  • CAESAR II help: Online documentation and user forums to access valuable knowledge 
  • Technical support: Direct assistance from CAESAR II experts 
  • Webinars: Regular webinars provide additional learning opportunities

Estimating the people-hours needed for piping stress analysis in a specific project involves factors like the project's range and complexity, in addition to the specifications of piping systems. Typically, one piping system can be analyzed within a week. 

Different organizations employ various methods to estimate project person-hours, hinging on available information such as project specifications, industry standards, P&IDs, piping isometrics, line list, equipment list, general arrangement plans and more.

Companies may use direct comparisons to equate stress person-hours to other parameters, such as allocating roughly 10% of these hours to piping stress analysis.

When possible, companies classify the quantity of piping systems from P&IDs or isometrics into groups based on their criticality and then multiply each group by a predetermined number of hours per system. For instance, it typically takes 40 hours for moderate systems, but longer for critical systems. When details to identify the quantity of lines are not yet available, estimations can be grounded on the quantity of equipment.

A comprehensive estimation involves assigning hours to various tasks, including:

  • Studying project specifications and bid documents
  • Defining piping systems from P&IDs or isometrics
  • Preparing a line list with criticality classification
  • Generating 3D models of each piping system
  • Running static analyses considering applicable loads 
  • Designing special supports
  • Preparing datasheets for miscellaneous items like springs and expansion joints 
  • Issuing stress reports and project closeout

The timely availability and quality of documentation, collaboration with stakeholders and communication also influence analysis time.

In conclusion:

Training: While mastering pipe stress analysis may take years, individuals can begin performing basic analyses quickly with a focused effort and access to appropriate resources. They can then progress to more complex analyses over time with continued learning and experience.

Analysis time: The timeframe for analyzing a piping system can vary from a few hours for a simple analysis to several weeks for a comprehensive analysis of an extremely complex system. This depends on multiple factors.

Curious to learn more about CAESAR II? Check out our latest on-demand webinar: What’s New in CAESAR II 14: Critical Analysis for Innovation in Piping Systems

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About the Author

Juan Uribe is a mechanical engineer with over 20 years of experience in the oil & gas industry involving design, engineering, inspection, cost-estimation, sales support, project management, inspection, operations and maintenance of customized equipment and systems. He has worked for Owner Operator, EPCs and vendors, Upstream and downstream. USA and overseas. Currently, Juan shows engineers how they can perform piping stress analysis efficiently and accurately with CAESAR II, the world’s leading software and industry standard.

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