1660338823553 Asktheexperts

CAE software for instrument engineering

Dec. 21, 2005
ControlGlobal.com presents "Ask the Experts," a column moderated by noted process control authority and columnist Bela Liptak. Save yourself the hefty consulting fees by getting the answer to your question from Liptak's cadre of professional automation experts.


DO YOU know any computer program, apart from Intergraph’s INTools, for assisting in engineering activities? The company where I am now giving my consultancy is interested in selecting a program for CAE activities in instrument engineering. Any suggestions?

Dr. Albert Rohr, Italy


Several Softwares Available
The traditional design tool for many engineering offices has been Stan Thrift's Instrucalc, sold by Gulf Publishing Co. The latest version has current ISO 5167 equations, as well as the AGA/API (I am awaiting a copy to QA it). Unfortunately, it has no V-Cone elements, but it does cover many flow elements omitted from INtools, as well as doing a good job for control and relief valves. The new version uses an Access database, which will be much easier to manipulate from outside to do all those things which the author didn’t intend. What it misses is the thermowell vortex calculations, though I also have reservations about the INtools version. It’s based on the 50-year-old PTC standard, which was superseded by more rigorous CFD analyses.

INtools is much more powerful, but it’s also not the tool for a small job. It will be interesting to see whether SmartPlant Instrument can integrate the smart P&ID properly with the INtools approach. It’s not simple to keep the instrument database and the P&ID information aligned in the longer life of the plant documentation.

DAD is an interesting data-driven CAD package based on Visio, but it has now been swamped by INtools in the market. This is possibly because of a poor marketing decision to require all customization to be done in-house, at annoyingly high consultancy charges.

The free Farris relief valve sizing program from Avrasoft (Sizemaster) was scheduled to be available in August 2005 with a proper set of SI units. One can hope its programmers have fixed the bugs, which have aggravated non-U.S. users for five years. This program does allow you to see what it is doing, which is superior to most of the other sizing programs, and offers the Omega 2-phase sizing.

A very useful utility is 'Convert' by Josh Madison. It does have one known error in torqueconversions, which the author hasn't fixed in five years, but it’s otherwise a very handy tool.

In addition, please add iDesignOffice. This is an Australian-developed product from Gary Hobman, who has been writing these programs for more than 20 years. His first effort was interfacing dBase3 with AutoCAD to generate data-driven CAD for the Fluor Australia operation that I was involved with, and later with Intergraph before they bought INtools, so he does know the business. It’s not a calculation pack, but it has hooks for process data input, an active development team, and a considerable number of seats in use.

Ian H. Gibson

Model Control Actions
I have used MathCAD for years as an engineering tool, mostly for modeling control action and plotting equations to better understand the math. It’s also been very useful in checking equations in standards drafts. I was attracted by the relatively low cost and availability at the time. Your opinion might vary.

Cullen G. Langford, P.E.

Include Instrumentation Design 
Bentley has a suite of engineering information programs that includes an instrumentation design package. All of the Rebis products, including Plant Design, Process & Instrumentation, CAE, Structural, PlantLIFE, can now be viewed from the Bentley website. You can request a sales contact, view multimedia demos, and all the other functions provided previously on the Rebis site. Products are organized under the 'Bentley Plant' group.

Dr H. H. West, Chemical Engineering Dept., Texas A&M University

Web Site Solutions
I have run across the following web sites that offer alternatives to the ubiquitous INtools. These include: Elecdes.com, Idesignoffice.com, Dad.net.au, and Blueheronsoft.com. There’s also a product used by many EPCs and end users called Rebis.

Ian Verhappen, Director, ICE-Pros Inc., Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

Rebis Worth Testing
What about Rebis’ AutoPlant? It now looks like Bentley-Nevada. I have not tested it myself. Let me know what you think. I'd like to see a design tool for fieldbus, but one that also can handle networks consisting of several segments joined by repeater/barriers.

Jonas Berge, Smar

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