Chal­lenges in Get­ting In­stru­men­ta­tion Data for Me­chan­i­cal Pack­ages

He­man­tku­mar J Pa­tel, Ji­ten­der Nasa - Fluor Daniel In­dia Pvt. Ltd.

Chemical Industry Digest - - What’s In? - He­man­tku­mar J. Pa­tel, Ji­ten­der Nasa

This ar­ti­cle en­lists the chal­lenges and so­lu­tions while han­dling me­chan­i­cal pack­ages dur­ing de­tailed en­gi­neer­ing. Any hur­dles dur­ing han­dling, will lead to de­lay in en­gi­neer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and will im­pact the project sched­ule as well.


De­tail en­gi­neer­ing of me­chan­i­cal pack­ages (e.g. var­i­ous com­pres­sors, N2 plant, boiler pack­age etc.) has al­ways been a chal­lenge for con­trol sys­tems en­gi­neer in terms of get­ting the proper data in time. If the re­quired data is not avail­able in-time, it will de­lay the en­gi­neer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and ul­ti­mately may im­pact the project sched­ule as well.

Hence meet­ing the re­quired sched­ule and data, it is very im­por­tant that the Me­chan­i­cal pack­ages should be han­dled very care­fully from the be­gin­ning i.e. from the ba­sic en­gi­neer­ing, as well as de­tailed en­gi­neer­ing stage. Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Of Chal­lenges


of the com­mon is­sues is that or­der­ing of me­chan­i­cal pack­ages is de­layed and is not suit­ably linked with con­trol sys­tems de­liv­er­ables, which typ­i­cally re­sults in fur­ther de­lay in en­gi­neer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. The con­trol sys­tems scope can be con­sid­ered the most im­por­tant scope in terms of qual­ity, safety and over­all per­for­mance of the me­chan­i­cal pack­age, so proper at­ten­tion/fo­cus should be at par with other dis­ci­pline de­liv­er­ables.

Be­low are listed some of the Chal­lenges that an in­stru­men­ta­tion en­gi­neer faces dur­ing the de­tail en­gi­neer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of me­chan­i­cal pack­ages.

Project stan­dard Leg­ends, Sym­bols and Tag­ging in Pip­ing & In­stru­men­ta­tion Di­a­gram (P & ID)

In many cases, the me­chan­i­cal pack­age P & ID Leg­end, sym­bols and tag­ging are not aligned with the main plant P & ID. Also, the in­ter­face of the me­chan­i­cal pack­age P & ID is not aligned with the main plant P & ID.

In­put data in Pre­scribed For­mat:

Many times it is no­ticed that the Ven­dors do not sub­mit data in the for­mat re­quested by the con­trol sys­tems en­gi­neer. This is ap­pli­ca­ble for fol­low­ing de­liv­er­ables:

• In­put-Out­put List

• Cause & ef­fect ma­trix

• Process con­trol nar­ra­tive

• Safety nar­ra­tive

• In­stru­ment datasheet

• In­stru­ment In­dex

• In­stru­ment lo­ca­tion plan

• In­stru­ment air sup­ply lay­out etc.

• Junc­tion box group­ing, ca­ble sched­ule etc. Fo­cus on Vi­tal data:

When in­puts are re­quested in pre­scribed for­mats, they of­ten con­tain in­for­ma­tion and de­tails which might not be within the scope of the ven­dor. The Ven­dor may not be able to pro­vide all de­tails in the first is­sue of the doc­u­ment.

Miss­ing In­for­ma­tion

Some­times the re­quire­ments per project speci­fica-

tions are not re­quested from the ven­dor and no con­fir­ma­tion is re­quested. With­out con­fir­ma­tion that spec­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments are in­cluded in scope, it be­comes very dif­fi­cult for the ven­dor to com­ply with the re­quire­ments and this may re­sult in im­pli­cat­ing price and sched­ule. Such de­tails may in­clude:

• Datasheet in .isf for­mat for Smart Plant

In­stru­men­ta­tion (SPI)

• Ap­proved make & pre­ferred model num­ber

• Soft sig­nal ex­change list in pre­scribed for­mat • Alarm & trip set points

• Soft­ware and hard­ware re­quire­ments for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Distributed Con­trol Sys­tem (DCS)

Too many com­ments on Ven­dor Draw­ings

It has been ob­served that ex­ten­sive com­ments are given on ven­dor doc­u­ments which re­sults in de­lay­ing the doc­u­ment ap­proval cy­cle, as well as de­lay­ing the de­liv­ery of the pack­age. This is es­pe­cially true for doc­u­ments that re­quire man­u­fac­tur­ing clear­ance.

Junc­tion box and ca­bling scope are not prop­erly de­fined.

Re­quired In­for­ma­tion for var­i­ous util­i­ties within the me­chan­i­cal ven­dor bat­tery limit.

Dur­ing the fi­nal­iza­tion of long lead items, in­stru­men­ta­tion depart­ment is not on-board and hence in­stru­men­ta­tion part is kept un­touched.

Some­times ven­dor does not ap­prove the de­vi­a­tions which may im­pact the later stage of the project dur­ing de­tail en­gi­neer­ing.

The above men­tioned de­tails are ap­pli­ca­ble for the me­chan­i­cal pack­ages which are be­ing con­trolled from Main Plant DCS/Emer­gency Shut­down (ESD) sys­tem as well as the me­chan­i­cal pack­ages are be­ing con­trolled from its own ded­i­cated Pro­gram­mable Logic Con­trol (PLC) based con­trol sys­tem.

Pos­si­ble So­lu­tions to Over­come the Chal­lenges

It then be­comes the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Con­trol Sys­tems En­gi­neer to get the right data in-time from me­chan­i­cal pack­age ven­dor. A few things that can be taken into the con­sid­er­a­tion while do­ing the de­tail en­gi­neer­ing of me­chan­i­cal pack­ages are listed be­low:

Ba­sic in­puts like the leg­end, sym­bols and tag­ging phi­los­o­phy need to be pro­vided to the me­chan­i­cal pack­age ven­dor right at the bid­ding stage. Also sep­a­rate tag series shall ei­ther be as­signed for me­chan­i­cal pack­age scope tags or a num­ber­ing phi­los­o­phy doc­u­ment for the par­tic­u­lar job shall be fol­lowed.

The main rea­son that Ven­dors do not sub­mit data in the pre­scribed for­mat is be­cause the for­mats are not shared with ven­dor dur­ing the bid eval­u­a­tion stage. As a min­i­mum, project stan­dard tem­plates / for­mats must be sub­mit­ted dur­ing the kick-off meet­ing.

The more we ask the ven­dor to cus­tom­ize the more dif­fi­culty we face in ac­quir­ing the data to meet our sched­ule and the more we drive up cost. Al­though this might be thought to be an ac­cept­able ap­proach on a cost-re­im­bursable project, to give the Client ev­ery­thing he is ask­ing for, is driv­ing up cost and set­ting the ven­dor up (and our­selves) for fail­ure. It is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to iden­tify where client re­quire­ments are driv­ing up project cost. On lump-sum projects, we must fa­mil­iar­ize our­selves with the min­i­mum re­quire­ments and take ex­cep­tion where we can to project re­quire­ments that ex­ceed the min­i­mum nec­es­sary to de­liver a safe and op­er­a­ble pack­age.

One of the main rea­sons ven­dors strug­gle to meet sched­ule for ven­dor data and ul­ti­mately de­lays ship­ment of the pack­aged equip­ment is the de­gree of cus­tomiza­tion placed on the ven­dor and the num­ber of spec­i­fi­ca­tions in­cluded in the Re­quest for Quo­ta­tion (RFQ). Many pack­age ven­dors do not keep a large staff of en­gi­neers avail­able to re­view or as­sess the project spec­i­fi­ca­tions and to re-de­sign or cus­tom­ize stan­dard draw­ings dur­ing de­tail de­sign. Of­ten they must con­tract with a third party to re­design the con­trols. Fab­ri­ca­tion stalls as ven­dor data is cy­cled mul­ti­ple times un­til the cus­tomiza­tion is to the sat­is­fac­tion of the con­sul­tant.

The very first thing a In­stru­men­ta­tion en­gi­neer should do is re­view all project spec­i­fi­ca­tions that might im­pact the pack­aged sys­tem with the in­tent to elim­i­nate in­con­sis­ten­cies, con­flicts, and un­clear or non­ap­pli­ca­ble re­quire­ments. Next, work with the client to elim­i­nate gold-plat­ing and ex­ces­sive cus­tomiza­tion not­ing that this will re­sult in sav­ings to the project and re­duce sched­ule. High­light where de­sign mar­gins are in­creased, foot­print is in­creased, stan­dard pan­els are re-de­signed, fab­ri­ca­tion tech­niques changed, in­stal­la­tion de­tails mod­i­fied and en­gi­neer­ing de­liv­er­ables are added to the ven­dor’s scope.

Once the client agrees to the stream­lined set of re­quire­ments and/or spec­i­fi­ca­tions, in­te­grate them into the RFQ tech­ni­cal notes. En­sure the In­spec­tion and test check­list for pack­aged equip­ment is in­cluded in the set of spec­i­fi­ca­tions and the mas­ter doc­u­ment reg­is­ter lists the min­i­mum re­quired doc­u­ments.

Col­lab­o­rate with the me­chan­i­cal re­spon­si­ble en-

gi­neer to re­view pro­pos­als and clar­ify pro­pos­als. Par­tic­i­pate in bid open­ings, ven­dor clar­i­fi­ca­tion and pre-award meet­ings. Clar­i­fi­ca­tion meet­ings is the time to re­quest ven­dor typ­i­cal draw­ings and as­sess if they con­tain the level of de­tail needed.

When as­sess­ing a pack­age ven­dor’s stan­dard de­sign draw­ings, iden­tify in­ter­faces with other sys­tems (both for con­trol and util­i­ties), scope breaks and how con­struc­tion will be im­pacted.

When prac­ti­cal, let the ven­dor main­tain his method of tag­ging for de­vices that are in­ter­nal (in­stru­ments and de­vices not brought to the plant au­to­ma­tion sys­tem). This can also be a prac­ti­cal ap­proach to how ven­dor P&IDs and project P&IDs are in­te­grated. De­vices in­ter­nal to the pack­age sys­tem would not be shown on Project P&IDs, which shows the pack­age as a black box. There are sev­eral ways to han­dle de­vices and sig­nals that con­nect to the plant con­trol sys­tems or that are sup­plied as ship-loose for in­stal­la­tion. They may be as­signed a project tag in ad­di­tion to the ven­dor’s tag, a cross-ref­er­ence list pro­vided by the ven­dor and ven­dor draw­ings up­dated to re­flect both, or the ven­dor may agree to ac­com­mo­date the project tag­ging in all his doc­u­men­ta­tion. The for­mer is the best so­lu­tion for pack­ages that are sup­plied as ven­dor stan­dard pack­ages with Unit Con­trol Pan­els (e.g. In­stru­ment air com­pres­sors, pack­aged boil­ers, etc.) and the sec­ond for equip­ment pack­ages that are more com­plex with mul­ti­ple skids and wired to the Plant Con­trol Sys­tem.

Re­view­ing equip­ment pack­age ven­dor data should be co­or­di­nated by an In­stru­men­ta­tion en­gi­neer to achieve the fol­low­ing; elim­i­nate or re­duce cy­cling of data, elim­i­nate ad­di­tion of in­for­ma­tion onto a doc­u­ment that ex­ists on a dif­fer­ent doc­u­ment (e.g. du­pli­ca­tion of project tags on all doc­u­ments where a cross­ref­er­ence ex­ists), avoid com­ments that change the ven­dors de­sign that had not been in­cluded in Pur­chase Or­der (PO), en­sure all in­stru­men­ta­tion and elec­tri­cal re­view­ers avoid do­ing a quick scan with the in­tent of do­ing a more thor­ough re­view on the next cy­cle and avoid­ing cos­metic marks that have no im­pact on the de­sign.

Prior to In­spec­tion and test of equip­ment pack­age, the in­stru­men­ta­tion en­gi­neer and de­signer should be fa­mil­iar with the min­i­mum re­quire­ments and have con­fir­ma­tion from the ven­dor that all de­vices are in­stalled, all con­trols are com­pletely wired, the ven­dor has com­pleted an in­ter­nal test of the equip­ment and a set of the ap­proved doc­u­ments are avail­able. The tech­ni­cal notes should con­tain a state­ment stat­ing the ven­dor should re­turn the com­pleted in­spec­tion and test check­list with the no­tice of in­spec­tion.

An equip­ment pack­age that is fully in­te­grated with the plant au­to­ma­tion sys­tem will re­quire co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the Au­to­ma­tion sys­tem sup­plier and the pack­age ven­dor. Dur­ing RFQ de­vel­op­ment of the equip­ment pack­age, the in­stru­men­ta­tion en­gi­neer re­spon­si­ble for pack­age should co­or­di­nate with the Lead Au­to­ma­tion En­gi­neer to en­sure all re­quire­ments for net­work(s) con­nec­tiv­ity are in­cluded and spe­cific to each pack­age. If pos­si­ble, a block di­a­gram should be pro­vided to the ven­dor to clar­ify the scope breaks and con­nec­tion points. Con­firm the pack­age ven­dor data sub­mit­tal dates and for­mat align with the Au­to­ma­tion Sys­tem Sup­plier’s sched­ule and for­mat for re­quired de­liv­er­ables. A map of in­ter­nal ad­dresses (Mod­bus map), com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­to­col(s) and IP ad­dresses is of­ten an area that is not well co­or­di­nated and re­sults in re-work for both pack­age ven­dor and au­to­ma­tion sys­tem sup­plier.


Hence to con­clude on the sub­ject, early align­ment with pack­age ven­dor is very much es­sen­tial dur­ing the kick-off meet­ing im­me­di­ately af­ter the pur­chase or­der. All crit­i­cal is­sues like for­mats to be fol­lowed, .isf datasheets for SPI, bat­tery limit in­ter­face, junc­tion box group­ing, con­trol nar­ra­tive, C& E etc. should be thor­oughly dis­cussed and agreed be­tween the agen­cies.


1. ISA, In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety of Au­to­ma­tion.

2. Im­age courtesy by Cana­dian Gov­ern­ment Nu­clear Lab­o­ra­tory

3. In­ter­graph cor­po­ra­tion for SPI


We would like to thank P.K. Midha, Con­trol Sys­tem & Elec­tri­cal Head of Depart­ment, Fluor Daniel In­dia Pvt. Ltd. for his con­tin­u­ous sup­port and mo­ti­va­tion in com­ple­tion of this pa­per.

We would also like to thank Leo Poszy­wak Sub­ject mat­ter ex­pert - Con­trol Sys­tem, Fluor en­ter­prises for his valu­able in­puts and sup­port in com­ple­tion of this pa­per.

We would also like to thank Fluor New Delhi se­nior man­age­ment for en­cour­ag­ing us to pur­sue writ­ing of this pa­per.

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