Live migration at engineering consultancy Vicoma

Trouble-free move to new piping software

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Vicoma moves to AutoCAD Plant 3D

Migration demands a meticulous approach
Moving from one engineering program to another is certainly no walk in the park. Data has to be transferred, designers sent on training courses and procedures have to be changed. Engineering consultancy Vicoma went through just such a software migration in 2014 and are very happy with how it went.

Independent engineering consultancy
Vicoma is an independent engineering consultancy that works in a variety of industries, from (petro-)chemicals to the food and drinks industry, from the electrical engineering industry to the transport sector, from the optics industry to offshore and shipbuilding. To facilitate this, the company is split into six disciplines: Mechanical Engineering, Electrical, Instrumentation and Industrial Automation, Process Engineering, Civil, Crane Construction and Piping. These departments carry out varied tasks that range from feasibility studies to the implementation of entire projects in close collaboration with the customer.

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The move to AutoCAD Plant 3D was accomplished to everyone's satisfaction. The migration did not present any insurmountable problems and the software is doing sterling service!

Peter de Jonge

Mechanical Manager - Vicoma

Vicoma Visie 2020

Four steps to upgrade existing plant

Vicoma has its head offices in Hoogvliet, Rotterdam, where ninety or so technical staff are employed to work on a range of projects. Around twenty employees form the Piping department and, in this capacity, are regularly involved in 'brownfield' projects, where the owner/operator of a processing plant wants to upgrade some part of their plant.

Peter de Jonge, mechanical manager at Vicoma, explains how they go about this. “Generally speaking, there are four stages when it comes to making changes to an existing plant. It starts with a feasibility study, since the customer will always want to know whether the investment will provide a profitable return. If the feasibility study comes back with a satisfactory result, it is time to move to the basic study where we map precisely what needs to happen and the timeline for the project. The next step is the detailed engineering, in which our engineers will specify the changes to the plant. Finally, if required, we will also take charge of construction management such that we oversee the contractors and supervise construction of the new parts of the plant.”

3D scan as reference framework

A common brownfield project they may be asked to conduct is to add a pump and reservoir to a processing plant. Once the work schedule has been produced, the as-built location is initially scanned with a FARO laser scanner. Depending on the visibility lines and the measurements at the site, the required number of scans is produced that will be merged at the Vicoma head office to create an all-encompassing point cloud that gives a complete 3D image of the situation.

The point cloud, that has first been cleaned to remove any unnecessary points, is then imported by the engineers into AutoCAD Plant 3D, following which the designers can specify the models of the pump, the reservoir and associated pipework in the CAD software. The point cloud will not be converted into a CAD model, rather it is used purely as a reference framework for the plant parts being modelled and to identify the existing situation during the review with the customer.

Vicoma has been working with AutoCAD Plant 3D since 2014. “Up to that point, we had been using Autoplant, but Autoplant is no longer being supported so we had to look for other alternatives”, explained De Jonge. “We looked at various packages during our search and we reached the conclusion that the functionality offered by AutoCAD Plant 3D was sufficient for our needs. Clearly, there are packages out there that can do more in functional terms, but they were significantly more expensive and we would not necessarily need these functions. So, our choice of new software was primarily based on the price/quality ratio.”

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Vicoma Engineering 3D laserscannen


Getting started with AutoCAD Plant 3D straightaway

Undoubtedly, they had their work cut out with the move from Autoplant to AutoCAD Plant 3D. A complete migration had to take place: the Vicoma engineers had to create a new parts library, the software had to be set up and existing data also had to be transferred.

So, all in all, it was a meticulous and time-consuming task, and to keep up the momentum, projects were initiated in AutoCAD Plant 3D at the same time, even before the migration was fully complete. “We did the migration live”, said De Jonge. “When we procured AutoCAD Plant 3D, our engineers were trained in the software by Cadac Group so they could get started straightaway. Cadac Group supplies all our Autodesk products, and they advised and assisted us with the migration. We continue to tap into their support, in particular their specialist training courses. These courses provide training in using the software within our specific field of operations, making them much more targeted and effective than a general refresher course.”

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Successful migration to AutoCAD Plant 3D

Summarising, De Jonge stated that the migration from Autoplant to AutoCAD Plant 3D had gone to their full satisfaction. The migration did not present any insurmountable problems and the software is performing well. “Our engineers have access to the functionality they need, enabling them to successfully implement our projects.

There are still one or two things we haven't got that it would be nice to have, but some of these are related to the price bracket of the software we went for. More expensive, high-end packages have the option to do clash checks for example, but there is no functionality to do this in AutoCAD Plant 3D. As mentioned, we made a conscious decision to choose this package for a specific price/quality ratio and we knew it didn't have this feature. We found a workaround by performing the checks using NavisWorks and that also works fine. However, if the software developers decide to add the functionality for clash checks to the software, we would of course welcome that.”

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