Bateman Engineering: Converting Natural Resources
Process plant design team in South Africa incorporates 3D process plant modeling and more intelligent P&ID creation into its workflow.
"AutoCAD Plant 3D software enables us to exchange information among a 3D process model, P&IDs, isometrics, and orthographic deliverables. AutoCAD P&ID software helps streamline and automate basic P&ID tasks. Now, we can better coordinate input from multiple engineering disciplines using a single plant model. Our familiarity with AutoCAD helped us get started in a little over two days."
-Michael Denholm, Design Office and CAE Systems Manager, Bateman Engineering
One of the world’s leaders in mineral and metal process engineering, Bateman Engineering (Bateman) helps companies around the globe convert natural resources into essential, marketable products. The firm prides itself on engineering state-of-the-art solutions to its clients’ processing challenges—safely, on time, and within budget. That means the firm’s engineers must keep up with the latest processing techniques and technology. It also requires that Bateman’s design tools support fast-paced projects. The firm’s process plant design team in South Africa recently turned to AutoCAD® Plant 3D, AutoCAD® P&ID, and Autodesk® Navisworks® software to execute a feasibility study and help establish the best way to add a new flotation process line at an existing client’s phosphorus plant in the country’s Limpopo province. Using AutoCAD Plant 3D, AutoCAD P&ID, and Autodesk Navisworks software on the project, Bateman has been able to:
- Incorporate 3D process models and more intelligent P&ID data into its design process
- Generate material lists and isometrics faster
- Spot and resolve clashes more easily
- Gain a competitive advantage by sharing process models with clients
Complex process designs require the active participation of many disciplines—from mechanical, piping, civil, structural, and electrical engineers to instrumentation and chemical processing experts. Whether they are finalizing detailed designs or helping a client determine a project’s feasibility, Bateman needs to integrate a staggering amount of engineering know-how into its designs. Seemingly small clashes between piping and structural elements could lead to significant expense and rework during construction, making up-front accuracy essential. Yet in its clients’ highly competitive industries, aggressive project schedules leave little room for time-consuming project coordination methods.
“Time and budget constraints have led to an environment where virtually every project is on a fast track,” says Michael Denholm, design office and computer-aided engineering (CAE) systems manager for Bateman. “Everyone needs to be on the same page throughout a project. That degree of unity can be hard to maintain with disconnected design tools.”
For many years, the engineers at Bateman relied on AutoCAD® software as their core design tool. While the software provided a solid common design platform for Bateman’s multidisciplinary teams, the firm wanted to incorporate 3D process plant modeling and more intelligent P&ID creation into its workflow. In AutoCAD Plant 3D and AutoCAD P&ID software, Bateman stuck with the familiar AutoCAD interface and functionality—and gained enhanced design capabilities.
Mr. Denholm explains: “AutoCAD Plant 3D software enables us to exchange information among a 3D process model, P&IDs, isometrics, and orthographic deliverables. AutoCAD P&ID software helps streamline and automate basic P&ID tasks. Now, we can better coordinate input from multiple engineering disciplines using a single plant model. Our familiarity with AutoCAD helped us get started in a little over two days.”
Taking a Different Approach
The preliminary feasibility study for the new flotation process in Limpopo launched at the perfect time to serve as Bateman’s first AutoCAD Plant 3D model-based project. The flotation process, planned as an enhancement and expansion for an existing phosphate plant, needed to be integrated into an existing facility. The flotation process will extract phosphates for use in fertilizer.
Often, these types of early stage studies consist only of very high-level process designs and facility sketches. Lacking detail, much of the initial work cannot be heavily leveraged in the later stages of the project. Bateman decided to use its new AutoCAD Plant 3D software to take a different approach.
“We used AutoCAD Plant 3D to create a model of the flotation process along with a proposed plant layout,” says Mr. Denholm. “The model included input from a number of engineering disciplines. As the model came together, we fine-tuned it to add unusually detailed equipment information and to correct interferences. Instead of a simple process layout, we developed a more realistic 3D model of how the new process could be integrated into the existing plant.”
Bateman chose to enhance the study with initial P&ID detail developed in AutoCAD P&ID software. The software enabled the design team to draft P&IDs that were linked to underlying equipment data and the firm’s layout standards. Using more intelligent data made it easier to automate tasks, including attaching components to lines and maintaining flow direction.
“AutoCAD P&ID software puts more information at our fingertips,” notes Mr. Denholm. “As we work, the software helps to accelerate basic tasks. It also helps us maintain equipment, line, and valve lists more automatically. We’re able to create P&IDs and equipment lists more quickly. I estimate that we’re able to generate equipment lists in a quarter of the time it took prior to using AutoCAD P&ID.”
Delivering the “Wow Factor” in 3D
When Bateman delivered the initial process study to the client, the model-based approach shined. Mr. Denholm reports: “There’s a ‘wow factor’ in delivering a 3D process model instead of 2D layouts. The 3D model enabled the client to more easily visualize how the process would look in the facility.”
According to Mr. Denholm, the model can benefit the client even more over the life of the project. “We’ll be able to leverage the model throughout the project,” he says. “From helping to determine project costs to developing isometrics, the AutoCAD Plant 3D model can make every subsequent stage of the project faster and more efficient.”
Inspired by the success of the flotation study, Bateman anticipates that AutoCAD Plant 3D, AutoCAD P&ID, and Autodesk Navisworks software will play a central role in the firm’s workflow long into the future. “With a process model, the whole team can visualize what they are doing as they do it,” says Mr. Denholm. “We can collaborate faster, and it’s easier to address issues like clashes earlier in the process. But it’s not just about resolving problems before construction—it’s about not creating issues in the first place. You can save time as you deliver a quality design. And just as importantly, visualizing the model with Autodesk Navisworks helps clients clearly see that the design will deliver what they want.”