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Plant Design

Plant Design Process - Know the Journey

Designing facilities such as plants is challenging and costly. Be it brownfield or greenfield, because you want to ensure efficiency and safety for the project and creation. So, where do you and your team provide value when you think about the plant design journey stages?   

The Journey   

The plant design journey is a challenging one. It starts with an idea, which is then turned into a concept, and finally into a physical design and physical plant. Many steps and points of contact are involved in this process, and it must be carried out correctly to meet the set requirements for design and industry regulations.   

Conceptual Design   

The conceptual design is the first step in developing a new plant. This phase aims to create a preliminary design and determine if it is feasible to build the plant. It includes all components, systems, and equipment, including piping, vessels, pumps, instrumentation and controls, electrical power distribution systems, utilities (water supply), transportation, and waste disposal systems. The conceptual design includes unique features such as a material handling system or an enhanced containment building.   

Front End Engineering Design (FEED)    

Front End Engineering Design is an iterative process to evaluate various alternatives for each component and system in the conceptual design. A FEED study is often used when large capital expenditures are required; it provides an opportunity to evaluate alternative designs before making significant investments in construction.    

Detailed Design  

After the conceptual design has been completed, detailed engineering begins. This phase involves designing each piece of equipment used in the facility and determining whether it will work properly when assembled. Detailed engineering also includes designing piping systems, electrical systems, and instrumentation required for monitoring operations within the plant facility and designing facilities such as storage tanks, piping networks, and utility systems (e.g., water supply lines).   


This step is where all components are assembled into a complete unit ready for testing and commissioning before shipping to the site for installation. Some parts may be made from scratch during this stage, whereas others may be purchased from vendors depending on the needs and availability.   


The design, or the procurement of a plant, is the most important factor in any industry. Whether you rely on an existing plant or build your own, you should be sure that it will achieve the results you want and be compatible with your existing facilities. 

Because the design process can range in complexity, it is critical to receive guidance from a professional. Our team of experts is here to help build and maintain essential elements of a plant design journey.  

Contact us to see how we can be your solution partner when creating your next plant design project. 

About the Author

Chris Bradshaw has over 15 years of experience in training, implementation, and ensuring his customers are getting the most of their CADWorx & Analysis Solutions. He joined Hexagon in 2004 as a Solutions Application Engineer before progressing into the role of a Senior Business Development Specialist, utilizing his experience in technical support, customization, and training to guide customers in their digital transformation journeys. He lives in the United Kingdom.

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