Plant Design: The Next Generation

March 19, 2003

Intergraph Process, Power & Offshore division of Intergraph Corporation has released SmartPlant 3D, which it bills as "the most advanced plant design technology offered by any vendor in the last two decades." SmartPlant 3D is the result of seven years of research and development ," and it is not just another 3D CAD system. According to Intergraph, this one offers not only 3D CAD drawing capability, but also integration and collaboration tools.

It is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary plant modeling system in a single unified environment ," and one designed with ease of use as a major objective. It comprises one tool for all major engineering disciplines, including construction. Supported through permissions, project and security controls, part catalogs and associated rule bases, the system offers an individualized workspace with the toolset specific to each user's role and task.

SmartPlant 3Dis not a CAD system, says Bob Jones, vice president of 3D solutions for Intergraph PP&O. CAD systems tend to focus on graphics and in these systems, properties are attached to the graphic objects, Jones explains. SmartPlant 3D instead is an object-oriented system that represents the idea of a tank, for example, and the graphics for the object become a property of it. "We're trying to do a more correct representation of the plant," he says.

Intergraph reports that SmartPlant 3D offers a streamlined user interface with a simplified menu bar based on Microsoft Windows. It features one- or two-click operations, drag-and-drop functions, right button clicks, wizards and other simplified actions to reduce complexity. This makes the system easier to learn and more cost-effective to employ on smaller projects on which a small group or a single engineer/designer might be handling all the work.

Data-centric architecture and Intergraph's patented Relationship Management System (RMS) are key to the new system, says Intergraph. In SmartPlant 3D, all disciplines work concurrently in a single relational database, and all modifications are shared with all users in real time, making it possible for multiple designers to work simultaneously. The RMS ensures that changes to one part of a plan are reflected throughout the system.

System hook-ups

Because SmartPlant 3D is based on Windows architecture, any Microsoft Office product can be integrated with it. It also can be integrated with a company's computerized maintenance management or enterprise resource planning systems as needed.

"The whole thrust of this technology is to facilitate integration of the systems both in the engineering design office and in the operating plant environment," says Jones. "That's where the huge benefits are going to be found."

Collaborative tools

According to Intergraph, SmartPlant 3D also supports global engineering operations with its built-in collaborative tools. Project databases can be replicated anywhere in the world to facilitate sharing or transferring of work to remote locations. Changes made in one location are propagated automatically and incrementally to other locations.

The system also is designed to enable the reuse of design data to make plant changes subsequent to startup. SmartPlant 3D provides support for obtaining data useful in making small modifications and for "as-is" and "to-be" data configurations.

SmartPlant 3D is meant to be integrated with SmartPlant Foundation, Intergraph's plant information management solution, says Jones. It is, in effect, the physical detail design portion of the SmartPlant suite. For more information, visit

Sponsored Recommendations

Keys to Improving Safety in Chemical Processes (PDF)

Many facilities handle dangerous processes and products on a daily basis. Keeping everything under control demands well-trained people working with the best equipment.

Comprehensive Compressed Air Assessments: The 5-Step Process

A comprehensive compressed air audit will identify energy savings in an air system. This paper defines the 5 steps necessary for an effective air audit.

Get Hands-On Training in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment

Enhance the training experience and increase retention by training hands-on in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment. Build skills here so you have them where and when it matters...

Managing and Reducing Methane Emission in Upstream Oil & Gas

Measurement Instrumentation for reducing emissions, improving efficiency and ensuring safety.