Background on Intelligent P&IDs
Engineering schematics are often developed in a computer-aided design (CAD) platform, such as AutoCAD®. Some of the earliest implementations of CAD software occurred in research environments dating back to the 1950s. Today, there are several CAD applications in use, including but not limited to, AutoCAD®, Microstation™, AutoPlant™, CADWorx™, and SmartPlant® P&ID™. AutoCAD®, perhaps the most widely utilized CAD application globally, was first introduced to market in 1982.
An “intelligent” CAD application is an enhancement to standard CAD programs in which an underlying database stores information about the objects within the CAD environment. The differences between a standard and intelligent CAD file is that "intelligent" P&IDs have powerful data contained within them.
How do Intelligent P&IDs Compare to Standard P&IDs
Standard CAD applications utilize a block format for storing text attributes associated with process equipment, which offers limited data functionality and limited opportunities for data integration. With "intelligent" P&IDs, you view and edit data attributes associated with blocks, making it much easier to maintain, query, and customize the data in your P&IDs.
What are the CAD-Related Benefits
Historically, the information that is stored into a text attribute has been difficult to query for export and editing purposes because text attributes in standard CAD programs are not stored within a relational database. The lack of a relational database limits how users can interact with information that is stored in this block format. In recent years, standard CAD applications such as AutoCAD® have improved software functionality to allow for varying levels of data manipulation.
How Easy is it to Manage the Data?
One of the most significant advantages of a native, AutoCAD®-based intelligent P&ID system are inherent data quality improvements. For example, there are configurable data validation checks that are automated within the AutoCAD® P&ID environment. These built-in validation tools can detect missing information within the intelligent P&ID data, such as discrepancies for equipment specifications, duplicate references, etc.
With an intelligent P&ID foundation built to reference process equipment data, there are numerous possibilities to achieve productivity improvements, which ultimately reduce operating costs. Furthermore, these automation tools enhance data quality and mitigate the biggest challenge in QA/QC processes: human error. Such a foundation forms the basis for sustainable operational and cost benefits based on "intelligent" P&IDs.