It’s time we stop referring to P&IDs as piping and instrumentation drawings/diagrams and instead as piping and instrumentation DATA. We are on the cusp of a “paradigm shift” – where the “D” in P&ID will be a distant memory for those who reference diagrams or drawings. There will be numerous challenges to overcome in the “P&I DataShift”, but I believe there has never been more justification to undertake such an initiative. These schematics are an owner-operator’s most valuable data asset, representing an index of process equipment and specification data captured in the design, construction, and operating phases of a plant. At Environmental intellect (Ei), we have long advocated the use of “intelligent” P&IDs for compliance purposes. I often say that “P&IDs are the foundation for compliance” for many programs, such as those mandated under the Process Safety Management (PSM) and Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations. It wasn’t until earlier this year that we realized the importance of P&IDs beyond compliance (see YouTube demo: Plant Data and P&ID Technology that Reduces Operating Costs and Compliance Risk).
We constantly fight the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” As diagrams, P&IDs in a standard format, such as AutoCAD® or Microstation™, are sufficient to meet owner-operators’ needs for operational, safety and compliance requirements. How P&I Diagrams are used by plant personnel is what’s broken.
For example, the P&ID example above is often printed-off and highlighted many times over (on hard copies) to meet the needs of various compliance and inspection programs. Furthermore, the data represented on this P&ID is held in various spreadsheets (i.e. piping/line lists) and databases. And finally, information about the lines and equipment on the P&ID is locked within a CAD file, leaving one to interpret static lines, symbols, and text. Because these “broken” P&I Diagrams in standard CAD formats are not designed to import, export, and manage data, critical information to perform work is locked away on hard copies, spreadsheets, and antiquated drawing format.
Let’s focus on the importance P&I Data, (the information that ends up in the spreadsheets and databases mentioned above). Take for example, a P&I Diagram that is in standard AutoCAD® DWG format – this file open within AutoCAD P&ID™ expanded to view data in the ‘Data Manager’ shows…well, nothing:
This same P&I Diagram converted into P&I Data gives a totally different view of underlying information within the AutoCAD P&ID™ ‘Data Manager’:
From the P&I Data view, we see information about equipment class and type, as well as manufacturer, model, and product streams. A P&I Database can be customized to store additional information, such as Leak Detection and Repair tags (shown above), Process Information tags (shown above), as well as other data stored within facility systems for equipment in a P&I database.
The fact of the matter is that many owner-operators have invested millions of dollars into P&I Diagrams. The first wave of money spent on P&I Diagrams was likely to go from hard-copy (think to the days of drafting boards and slide rules) to electronic format. More recently, a significant amount of capital has been invested to update P&IDs to mitigate risk under the PSM regulation to complete a process hazard analysis (PHA) revalidation every 5 years.
Some owner-operators have even invested millions of dollars into “middleware” such as CADWorx™ and AutoPLANT™ to get more out of their AutoCAD® drawings. There are also a few cases where owner-operators have implemented enterprise intelligent P&ID systems, such as SmartPlant® P&ID™. The troubling reality, however, is that few owner-operators have been able to implement and maintain P&I Data in a non-native AutoCAD® application – there have simply been too many hurdles to overcome (e.g., training, workflows, EPC adoption, etc.).
So, what is going to change the paradigm to justify the costs and administrative hurdles associated with converting from P&I Diagrams to P&I Data?
Take this one example and multiply it by the hundreds or thousands of employees and contractors that work at an operating plant: a plant technician has access to all process equipment specifications in an intrinsically-safe tablet with ability to search/view Safety Data Sheets (SDS) without WiFi or access to a cellular network. He/she would be able to quickly identify equipment, as well as have access in an offline environment to perform job responsibilities more efficiently. No paper is needed for their work, and any information they collect is updated in the respective data system when back online – and since the common interface is the P&ID – any updates can be easily synced and shared across plant data systems to other disciplines. Here is a sneak-peak of what the future holds…
P&I Data is the most valuable data asset that owner-operators possess. The very schematics that index the design, as-built specifications, and ongoing changes for operating plants also happen to be the one, common link amongst all plant personnel. With P&I Data, we can unlock the ever-valuable information trapped inside of standard CAD files to achieve operational excellence and improve safety, compliance, and profitability.