You are on page 1of 3

CE Cost File _

Estimating Piping Costs

From Process Flowsheets
After reviewing the existing methods for making preliminary piping-cost estimates, the
author introduces a simple, flowsheet-based method that offers major advant~ges.

E. S. SDKULLU, Sun Dil Co. chased cost of major process equipment; their results '-..
Basica11y, there are two types of piping-cost esti- Process Material, % Labor, % Pipi~g Total, %
mates: Solids 8 6 lit
Solids-fluids 21 15 35\
1. Itemized. These. are detailed estimates made
Fluids 49 37 85\
on the basis of finaland complete design; they re-
quire piping drawings where the exact amount and Chilton5, similarly, gives the fo11o~ng pipirg'costs
as a percentage of insta11ed process equipment cost:
specifications of piping can be found. Material and
labor costs, as we11 as cost of auxiliaries,can thus Solids-fluids 10 to 30%
be estimated in detail. These details are vital to a Solids
Fluids 7 to 60%
30 10% \
contractor, but their estimation is genera11y impracti- Haselbarth and Berk6 distinguish between \sma11
cal,at' the process engineering stage. and large insta11ations by indicating the fo11oring
2. Quick and Approximate. These estimates, which insta11ed piping costs as a percentage of total plant
do not rely on the nuts-and-bolts details of a process, cost: \
are needed to guide the development of a conceptual Range, % Average, \%
system where such details do not yet existo They must &~SmaIl (under $10 million) 2 to 8 4· \
therefore be based on gross features and major Large (abovc $10 million) 2 to 9 5 l
variables. 1
SmaIl 9 to 15 10
This Cost File will quickly review methods used Large 8 to 16 12 .
for the quick approximate estimates, and present a Solids-fluids
Fluids \ ~.
Small 8 to 20 15 \ \
new, more precise method that is based on process
flowsheets. The method integrates a11 types of proc- N elson 7 shows installed piping costs for refinery
esses into one formula, and for the first time permits Large
plants as a percentage of major 8equipment
to 25 16
material \\ ;
the estimation of incremental piping costs in case and labor cost: 1-

of piping modification to a given process.

Catalytic cracking 52% ~
The "Percent 01 Total Equipment" Approach Gas cracking 43
Ethylene cracking
, 31
46 \
In the two types of quick-estimale methods cur- Modern refinery 53 to 61
rently in use in process engineering,2 piping costs are Gasoline plants 39 to 46 '\
Miller8 lists piping costs as a percentage of main "
calculated as a percentage of either the total equip- plant items by classifying the processes as shown \
mentcosts, or of the subclasses of equipment. Let in the tabtrlation below. ("Main plant items" repre-
us start by considering the first general type. sent a11 the usual major items of equipment that
Lang's3 results give piping costs as a percentage of would be indicated on a flowsheet, down to and
the insta11ed cost of process equipment: including pumps.)
Solid processing plants: 7.2 to 7.6, averaging 7.4% Under Over
Solids-fluids plants: 14 to 35, averaging 25 % Average Unit Costs of
Main Plant !tems: $3,000 $17,000
Fluids processing plants; 21 to 66, averaging 50 %
Aries and Newton4 used percentages applied to pur- High (gases and liquids, petro-
chemicals), % . 65-105 25-42
The work sel forlh in lhis Cosl File was eondueled in parlial fui. Average (liquid chemicals), % . 33-65 9-25
fillmenl for lhe requiremenls of an M.S. degree in ehemical engineer-
ing al lhe Universily of Wiseonsin, and eheeked again by lhe informa· Liquids and solids, % . 13-33 3-9
lion available al Sun Oil Co. Low (solids), % 5-13 0-3


The original reference contains five unit-cost cate- rosion, process type, ete.) without careful sampling
gories between the $3,000 and $17,000 shown here, and correct statistical proeedures, might be mislead-
so that there are seven categories altogether. (Unit ing.
costs are based on 1958 dollars.) The percentages 2. We should not forget that the ultimate goal
within each category are given as a range, and the in this area is a simple but precise estimation pro-
precise selection is left to the estimator's judgment. eedure taking inta account on1y gross features and
major variables rather than speeific details.
The "Percent of Equipment Subclass" Approach
Proposed: The Use of Process Flowsheets
Moving on to the next category, Stoop9 attempts to
improve the accuracy of methods described above What makes the differenee in the proportion of
by usirig the followirig subclasses of equipment: piping costs between two given proeesses, A and B?
Piping Cost as % of Although process Howsheets have never been used
Equipment Purchased Cost: to answer sueh a question, is it not obvious, by look-
Material Erection Labor Total
Towers 50 40 90 ing to the Howsheets on Fig. 1, that proeess A will
Vessels 60 48 108 have a higher proportion of piping cost than proeess
Exchangers 40 40 80 B? This commonsense observation is quite accurate,
Pumps 30 24 54
Compressors 20 16 36 as we will see later; it shows very clearly that How-
Heaters 15 12 27 sheets are a valuable information source: they mal'
Stoop also gives size adjustment factors plotted on determine the amount and, therefore, the eost of
log-log paper. piping in a proeess.
Similarly, Hand10 reeommends the percentages as The Piping lndex-An attempt is made here to
follows: define a variable that will show, on the' basis of
Piping Material Cost as % Howsheets, how much piping relative to its major
of..Equipment Fob. Costs
Columns (excludingtrays) . 50 process equipment a given proeess has. Let us sal'
Heat exchangers 42 that
Vessels 45
Pumps 25 L¡ = Number of lines carrying fiuids between major
Compressors 20 process equipment. (Lines for solids should only
Furnaces 15 be considered if the solids wiil actuaily be carried
InsGruments 32 by pipes).
Finally, Hirsch and Glazierll obtained the follow- M = Number of major process equipment items (exclud-
ing instruments and electrical items).
ing regression formula: Then, we define our piping index as:
logF,,= -0.266-0.014logAo-0.156 (e/A) +0.556 (P/A) 1" = L¡/M (1)
Where: F" = Cost factor for piping material
For example, based on Fig. 1, we have:
Ao= Fob.
A, in cost of basicofequipment
thousands dollars in dollars 1" = 9/3 for process A
e= Total heat exchanger costs, in dollars 1" = 5/3 for process B.
P = Total pump and driver costs, in dollars
Mter defining the piping index, the next step
IExisting Methods: Summing Up is to relate this variable to the proportion of piping
cost in a proeess. Fig. 2 giv'es a plot of total piping
From the above review, it is apparent that a
piping-cost estimate made by one method can differ
appreciably from that made by another method.
This limited accura~y is due to the approximations
on which some of the methods are based. As we
have seen, several attempts were made reeently
to inerease the aecuracy of such estimates. Miller's
approach, arid the methods using pereentages Of
subclasses of equipment, are among sueh attempts.
These attempts have one eommon purpose: to
integrate into the estimation procedure more of the
varüibles that are thought to influenee piping ~osts
in a proeess. This is a legitimate ¡;)ffort,but this effort
should be emphasized on1y up to a point, mainly Process B: JP=~

-1 ~ 8tHiJ-
1. Cost relationships among different pro e-
esses are of a statistical nature. As sueh, they re-
quire eorreet statistioal sampling and testing. Further-
more, data in this area are too heterogeneous and (not vio piping)
difficult to get. Therefore, a simple breakdown of l.n~
piping cost percentáges' aeeording to proeess char- PIPING INDEX, as obtained from flowsl1eet, is 3.0 for
acteristics (sueh as size, pressure, severity of cor- first process and 1.7 for second-Fig. 1



capacity (piping costs as a percentage oí major equip-

ment decreases with increasing plant capacity8), the
p=1I x (1p}I.6 user can adjust the results given by the formula.
100 Moreove1~,although there is generally no relation-
ship between the physical layout of a plant and its
Howsheet, sometimes it is possible to pinpoint on a
Howsheet the lines representing a, pipe longer 01'
shorter than the average. In such cases, longer pipes
should be given a somewhat heavier weight in the
determination of Ip: for instance, one can count as
1 a pipe of average length, as 1.3 a long pipe, and
as 0.6 a pipe unusually short. The same kind of
adjustment can also be made in the determination of
M by giving heavier weights to more expensive majar
equipment items.

lIIustrative Example

Engineer Jones propases a new variant of a process

PIPING COSTS show this relationshipto ,index-F,ig. 2 under considerationby the company.The new vari-
ant would save $15,000 in operating costs. The main
changes in process are several récycIes that will
require some additional piping.
costs (labor and material), as a percent of the Jones' supervisor asks him to quickly estimate the
purchased cost of major process equipment, versus the cost of this additional piping in order to justify the
piping index, based on a sample of 24 prpcesses. .changes.
The coefficien,Jof correlation obtained from the Since the new variant falls in the same category as
scatter diagram in Fig. 2 is r = 0.5. In simplined the basic process (such as solid-Huid, large pla~t),
language, this means that 50% of the variation of Jones cannot quickly estimate the cost of additional ~
in percentage piping cost among the 24 processes in piping with previously used methods. But the use
our sample can be explained by the variation in piping of piping index can show him that this index is in-
in'dex Ip• Compared to other methods reviewed previ- creased from 2.3 to 2.7 in the new variant. He can,
ously, most of which have a éoefficient of correlation thus, estimate the incremental cost of additional pip-
around 0.3 to 0.4, 01' wide ranges on p, this correlation ing by the use of our new formula:
can be considered relatively high. !'J.p = 11 X (2.7)1.6 - 11 X (2.3)1.6 = 12.3%

Firially, a fun~tion of general form p% = k (Ip)n If the cost of majar process equipment is $100,GOO,
is ntted to this scatter diagram by least-squares then the piping costs in the new variant will be
method,12 The coefficients of this function, resulting increased by 0.123 X 100,000 = $12,300. So, Jones
from the ntting, give the following equation: can indicate to his supervisor that an additional in"
P% = 11 X (Ip)1.6 (2) vestment of $12,300 in piping is more than justified
Where: P = Total piping costs (material and labor) as a to save $15,000 ayear. '
percent of purchased cost of major process
equipment (excluding instruments and elec- References
tri cal items) .
1. Rudd, D. F., 'and Watson, C. C., Strategy in Process
1p = Piping index as defined in Eq. (1) Engineering," Prelimina,ry Edition.
2. CE Oost File-93, Gl'em. Eng., Sept. 14, 1964, p. 228.
This formula is a useful tool for quick estimation 3. Lang, R., Chem. Eng., Oct. 1947', p. 117.
4. Aries, R S., and Newton, RD., "Chemioal Engineering
of piping costs in the early phases of process designo Cost Estimation," McGraw-Rill, New York, 1955, p. 78.
5. Chilton, C., Chem. Eng., June 1949, p. 106..
As indicated earlier it is the nrst that integrates 6. Hasel'harth, J. E.,' Berk, J. M., Chem. Eng., May 16,
1960, p. 158. .
all categories of processes (such as solid-solid, solid- 7. Nelson, W. L., Gil &; Gas J., Nov. 5, 1956, p. 127.
fluid, etc.) into one formula, and it constitutes a 8. Miller, C. A., Chem. Eng., C'E Cost FHe-l05. Sept.
unique tool for estimating incremental piping costs 9. Sto'Op, M. L., Ind. Eng. Chem., J,an. 1960, p. 303A.
10. Rand, W. E., Cost Engineer's Notebook, Amer. Assn.
when fluid-flow modifications to any given process 'Oost Engrs. Jan. 1964.
11. Rirsch, J. :a., and Glazier, E. M., Chem. Eng. Progr.,
are being considered. Dec. 1964, p, 37. .
12. Hoel, G. P., "Inwoduction to Mathematical statistics,"
Wiley, New York, 1965.
Fur~her Refinements
Meet the Author
In practice, an experienced engineer can obtain
better results from this formula than is suggested ENGINS. SOKULLUis employed in the Technical Economics Div.
of Sun Oil CO. (1608 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103), where
above by the computed coefficient of correlation. his assignments involve economic evalu~tion, planning, optimiza-
tion and operation analysis via techniques such as linear pro-
With the help of additional information such as gramming and' computer simulation. He has M.B.A. and M.S.'
Ch.E. degrees from the University of Wisconsin; his earlier
process pressure, se~erity of corrosion, and plant education was obtained in France and Turkéy.