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CADWorx Turning Heads at Toromont in Houston

 Plant design company realizes tremendous time/cost savings, error reduction using 3D piping software from COADE, Inc.


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Houston, Texas - Today's petrochemical plants are a testament to modern engineering. The size of several football fields, they can be many stories in height and contain thousands of interconnected pipes, vessels, joints, and fittings. They are being designed, built, and shipped to destinations from Argentina to Yemen. So what kind of software is being used to design them? Toromont Process Systems of Houston, Texas,(www.toromontprocess.com), a $100 million plant design company, has put its faith in CADWorx/PIPE from COADE, Inc. (www.coade.com) -- and has been seeing truly spectacular results.

"Toromont Process Systems works with large, world-class companies such as Bechtel, Chevron, and Exxon," begins Joe Dixon, drafting manager. "Our customers are the larger petroleum refineries and chemical plants. Our equipment is used for petrochemical refrigeration and gas compression. Plus a lot of our equipment is for the purification and liquefaction of the CO2 that's used by the soft drink industry… We are a custom builder. We're almost never designing two of the same thing - that's why we need tools that give us both speed and flexibility."
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CADWorx: "Load up the CD and you're ready to go"
"We had been looking for the right CAD solution for the past ten years, and I think we've found it in CADWorx/PIPE" reports Dixon. "Specifically, we were looking for an automated 3D piping package that would make us more efficient and reduce errors."

Toromont's first experience with 3D was not a good one, says Dixon. "We tried our first 3D program several years ago. It was cumbersome to use, and we found that it actually took us longer to create the 3D model than it did to draw it in 2D. We've had a completely different, very positive experience with CADWorx/PIPE."

"Probably the first thing I noticed about CADWorx/PIPE," he continues, "was its ease of use. I was very impressed with how, straight out of the box, you could start laying out and routing pipe and adding fittings. It was just very intuitive. You load up the CD and you are ready to go."

What exactly does Toromont design with CADWorx/PIPE? "Our standard refrigeration units consist of a compressor, a motor, and a large number of pipes. We usually build them in pieces or packages ranging in size from roughly 5 feet by 12 feet to 60 feet long and 16 feet wide. For a recent CO2 plant in California, we shipped 9 packages, and we are just starting a project right now that has 22. So these are some large-scale projects. We often double and triple stack the packages, and ship them out on flat bed trucks. 60 to 65% of our equipment is loaded onto ships and sent overseas."
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Fast isometric views
What kind of a difference has CADWorx/PIPE made at Toromont Process Systems? "We've been using AutoCAD and working in 2D for years, but adding CADWorx/PIPE and working in 3D is just so much more advantageous," reports Dixon. "Before, we had CADWorx/PIPE, it would take us 2 to 2 1/2 hours to produce just one isometric. Now it takes about five minutes. When we're designing a CO2 plant, we're talking about a couple of hundred isometrics - that used to take us 2 to 3 weeks - now it takes us 2 to 3 days!"

BOMs generated in minutes rather than days
BOMS [Bill of Materials] are another area where Toromont Process Systems has seen a huge productivity increase. "Before we had CADWorx/PIPE," reports Dixon, "all of our BOMs had to be done through purchasing. We would hand them the drawings and they would do a takeoff or fill out a spreadsheet manually. So it took a lot of effort to do each and every BOM. With CADWorx/PIPE, it takes all of two minutes to run a complete BOM on all of our piping. What used to take us two days now takes probably ten minutes."

Dramatically improved visualization
"Once you have a 3D model of a plant with CADWorx/PIPE," he continues, "it all becomes associative. You change or move one pipe and it updates in all of your views. The visualization is far superior, so that you can detect interferences. Ultimately, people are going to be walking through these plants in order to service them, so you have to design access ways and leave room for a technician to maneuver. All of that is very easy to see in 3D space, but it's virtually invisible in 2D. Before we had CADWorx/PIPE, we had to carry a lot of these design considerations around in our heads. Now we don't have to."

80% error reduction in manufacturing shop
CADWorx/PIPE has also been a huge success when it comes to fabricating materials in Toromont's manufacturing shop, reports Dixon. "I'd say we have decreased errors in the shop by 80%, so we've definitely improved our efficiency there."

Hello email, good bye mailing tubes
"Now that we're designing in 3D using CADWorx/PIPE, we can share designs with clients via email." That all by itself is a huge productivity gain, says Dixon. "Thirteen years ago, everything was done in 2D. We would ship D-size sheets to people in mailing tubes. And after that we went to 11" x 17" drawings, which were a lot easier for people to handle. So CADWorx/PIPE and the Internet have had a very positive impact on our business."

"Straight AutoCAD"
One of the greatest hidden benefits of CADWorx/PIPE, according to Dixon, is that it's a seamlessly integrated add-on module to AutoCAD. "CADWorx/PIPE uses straight AutoCAD. It's unlike other packages that are out there that have proprietary commands that you have to learn. So our engineers can pick it up in a day or two."

He continues, "After we build a piping model, we can do a rendering right in AutoCAD, so that's a big advantage. Plus, our clients don't need a special viewer in order to look at the CADWorx/PIPE model -- we're able to share projects with anyone who has AutoCAD." So it's really a win-win situation for Toromont. The firm gets to use AutoCAD, the same CAD program that it has used for years -- only CADWorx/PIPE tailors it to meet more of their specific needs.
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Technical support from people who write the software
Toromont was impressed not only by the technical merits of CADWorx/PIPE, but also by the fact that technical support is provided by the people who actually write the software. "That is very unique, and it makes a huge difference," says Dixon. "Whenever I chat with them, they know exactly what I'm talking about. They're very open to suggestions about how to improve CADWorx/PIPE, and they've made fixes specifically for us. It doesn't get any better than that."

"The software isn't designed to be showy and glitzy - every six months COADE comes up with improvements and new features that you can take advantage of right away."

Paying dividends
Two years after installing CADWorx/PIPE, Toromont Process Systems is starting to see larger scale benefits. "For the last CO2 plant we just designed, we were extremely grateful that we had CADWorx/PIPE," says Dixon. "We ended up laying out the entire plan - all the skids together - in one drawing, with all of the interconnecting piping between the skids. We used all five of our CADWorx/PIPE licenses, worked as a group, and pooled all of our layouts and work into one massive 45 Megabyte drawing. It was a major accomplishment for the company, and we're very proud of it."

Multiple uses for CADWorx models
Since making the switch to CADWorx/PIPE, Toromont Process Systems has found new and innovative ways to use engineering data. "For starters," says Dixon, "our service technicians are now loading up the CADWorx/PIPE models on their laptops and taking the information with them into the field. So on-site assembly and maintenance is going a lot smoother." But that's not all. "We've started to use CADWorx/PIPE 3D models in PowerPoint presentations, in our brochures, and in our sales department. We can walk into a new business presentation with an E&C [engineering & construction] company and say, 'Look, we do everything in 3D. Our whole package is 3D," and that is very powerful."

"The bottom line," concludes Dixon, "is that CADWorx/PIPE has saved Toromont Process Systems a lot of money."


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