Automatic Pipe Routing in 3D Modelers

I-Route represents a new approach to pipe routing during the early stages of plant layout studies and preliminary design. It integrates with any suitable host system, for example, SmartPlant® Layout, and supports a neutral definition of the pipe routing problem.

Up to 80 percent of the capital costs for a new plant are determined during front-end engineering. It is important that costs are managed carefully during this phase. I-Route automatically routes pipes within a 3D plant model using cost optimization techniques that assist the evaluation and evolution of the plant layout. Additionally, pipe lengths and numbers of bends are calculated, providing greater accuracy for early-bird estimates. I-Route produces piping routes within the plant design system, so there is no need to migrate data to another system when developing the layout into a detailed design.

A key objective of the software is to minimize the total installed cost of pipework. I-Route quickly identifies the minimum cost route for each pipe, avoiding obstructions and making use of pipe attraction zones. The cost data required is the cost per unit length of pipe, which can be provided by bore and piping specification if required. Bends are expressed as an equivalent length of pipe, so that for every bend in the pipe, the cost is increased by an amount equal to the equivalent length, multiplied by the cost per unit length. Running a pipe in free space has a default cost factor of 1.0. For pipe racks, the cost factor is set less than 1.0, so that the cost of the pipe running the rack is reduced, thereby attracting the pipe to the rack. The routes generated will therefore tend go on racks and minimize bends wherever possible, depending on the values assigned to the bend equivalent length and the rack cost factors.

I-Route will automatically route pipes within 3D plant design systems. The main data that must be passed to I-Route by the design system includes:

  • Obstruction zones as defined by equipment and structural items
  • Attraction zones as defined by pipe racks, with support for simple layout rules
  • Coordinates of the nozzles to which pipes are attached
  • Pipe routing requirement; for example, the from-to list
  • Simple reference data, such as separation distances
Right Hand Column