How to Empower Digital Spool Planning

Spoolgen has been at the heart of the Hexagon digital chain for piping for many years, as it allows for the digital transfer of the design between engineering and fabrication companies, usually via Piping Component Files (PCF).
The digital piping chain using Spoolgen is very productive, but by adding extra automation you can supercharge the workflow. In this post, I would to share a few customer examples.

Core Spoolgen
The Spoolgen fabricator plans the work by splitting the design using field welds, creating spools. Spools are the units in which the piping is transferred to the job site, and Spoolgen users make the changes required to enable the piping to be transportable. They are not able to make engineering changes, so the integrity of the design is maintained. This core Spoolgen workflow allows new deliverables based on the spools – such as Isogen drawings and reports – to be produced. We can add automation to pass these reports onto other systems.

Improving Data Quality
Sometimes data received from a third-party engineering company can be improved by automation. For example, line list data is absent, or the pipe thickness or material may be buried in the component descriptions. We can automatically add this data when we import the piping files. Furthermore, we have developed techniques for categorizing welds before the work begins by analyzing exactly which components are welded together.

Material Planning
You can know all the materials needed to fabricate the pipeline when you receive the piping data digitally. Fabricators typically use a material management system, such as Intergraph Smart Materials, to control the piping stock, which can provide a content inventory of the warehouse. We have developed automation to compare each spool’s components against this inventory to see if the spool is currently fabricable.

Cost Estimation
There are two main sources of cost in a fabrication project: Time and materials. The materials are easy to account for, but the time is harder. We have worked with several customers to estimate the man hours required to make each spool. Typical activities are welding, cutting and painting but can also include handling the pipe or any other time-consuming activity that can be determined from the piping data.

As Spoolgen imports the data digitally, we know sizes, weights and materials of component, so we can assign factors for all the welds required. The more activities captured, the better the quality of the estimates. This can even be done at the stage of bidding for the job if the 3D data is supplied.

All of these examples show that there are big benefits to adding extra automation to the core Spoolgen. Small investments ahead of projects can result in large savings, and the more complex the automation, the larger the return. If you have any time-consuming steps in your fabrication workflows, then please get in touch and see how Spoolgen can help!


Jim Edwards
Jim is the Hexagon’s PPM division executive product Manager for Spoolgen and also Isogen, the world’s leading automatic piping isometric generator. He has worked on piping isometrics for over 20 years, although his PhD​ is in particle physics. He lives in Manchester, UK. Contact him on LinkedIn

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