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What Belongs on an Ammonia Refrigeration P&ID?

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AcuSafe -> July 2000 Newsletter

What Belongs on an Ammonia Refrigeration P&ID?


by Daniel R. Kuespert, Ph.D.
Director, National Capital Operations, AcuTech Consulting
All process risk management programs depend on accurate information:
information about the chemicals in use, information about process technology,
and information about equipment. One of the most important sets of information
the piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID) often lacks key elements.
This deficiency can cause errors as well as serious delays and cost overruns in
safety program development, so we have prepared this guide to drawing and
verifying a high-quality P&ID for simple processes such as propane storage,
water chlorination, or ammonia refrigeration.
The P&ID is a set of drawings that describe a process; for ammonia
refrigeration, the refrigeration system and its ancillary equipment are considered
the process. (This contrasts with the common usage in food plants, where the
food is processed and the refrigeration system is just a utility.)
A good P&ID:

1. Provides a visual reference to equipment configuration, valving, sensors,


etc.

2. Provides useful information to assist in analyzing process hazards


(through a PHA study).
3. Supports development of operating procedures (and to a lesser extent,
maintenance schedules and procedures).
4. Communicates the configuration of equipment clearly and concisely to
improve operator understanding of the process and reduce human errors.
5. Records the current (as-built) state of the process so that changes can
be planned safely and effectively.
What must be included (as an absolute minimum)?

1. All process chemical-containing equipment, including pressure vessels,

2.
3.
4.
5.

compressors, condensers, evaporators, other heat transfer equipment


(desuperheaters, heat recovery water heaters, etc.), pumps, air purgers,
chlorinators, vaporizers, transfer/unloading stations, etc.
Essential valves, such as isolation valves and control stations, as well as
all safety relief valves.
Controls (regulators, float switches, etc.) and solenoid valves.
Permanent instruments and sensors (pressure transducers, meters, etc.).
Legend to symbols and abbreviations.

What should be included?

1. Purge/gauge valves: not providing these details increases the time to

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What Belongs on an Ammonia Refrigeration P&ID?

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write and verify equipment service procedures.

2. Equipment/valve numbering: equipment and especially valves should be

3.

4.

5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

labeled, both on the P&ID and on attached tags, to reduce the risk of
operator error and simplify the writing of procedures. (Always be careful
to ensure that valve tags match the P&ID!)
Line designations/purposes: some processes, such as refrigeration, have
recognized systems for line designation. For others, use a system that
explains the lines function and optionally includes other information such
as temperature and pressure levels, etc.
Safety relief valve specifications: information on the relief valve design
and design basis is required before starting the PHA study. For simple
processes, codes and standards such as NFPA 58 (LPG) and ASHRAE
15 (refrigeration) specify the design.
Control loops: these can become confusing on some P&IDs, but
information on which float switch controls which solenoid valve (for
example) must still be developed somehow.
Flow direction: at a minimum, always show the permitted-flow direction
on a check valve.
Line sizes/reducers; expansion tie-ins and block valves, etc.
Design working pressure and other pressure-vessel/equipment label
information.
Support equipment and non-chemical lines such as condenser water
pumps, secondary heat transfer fluid (glycol/brine) loops.
Items included in other equipment: often, P&IDs show screw compressor
packages and other complex equipment as a single symbol, even though
the package includes motor, compressor section, oil separator vessel, oil
cooler, and various controls/sensors. Include, at a minimum, all vessels
or other major sub-equipment, as well as all valves connecting to the
atmosphere and those separating portions of the package from one
another.

Any item omitted on the list above should be available in another form (such as
a list of safety relief valve specifications). Sometimes, not providing the
information can lead to safety hazards. AcuTech and most other consultants
typically rely upon the client facility to provide safety information; when such
services as valve tagging or P&ID preparation/verification are included, they are
explicit line items. Missing information or information not provided in accessible
form (such as the location of purge/gauge valves, etc.) can greatly increase both
consultant billings and facility staff time to review procedures, etc.
Sometimes, we encounter P&IDs which include information not required by any
regulation and which we would not recommend under most circumstances:

1. Isometric-style (3-D) drawings: these are very confusing and can


obscure the key information in a P&ID whats connected to what.
2. CAD/.dwg representations of equipment: a P&ID is intended to be a
detailed schematic, not a true down-to-the-millimeter geometric
representation.
3. Color: while small amounts of color are useful (e.g., color coding
liquid/vapor lines), attempts to color each zone of a plant or each type of
line (defrost condensate = canary yellow, while equalization lines =
maize) become rapidly confusing. Color P&IDs are also difficult to copy,
are vulnerable to fading when posted in the plant, and may be misread by
colorblind employees.
4. Large amounts of text: it is not necessary to include complete
specifications for every single piece of equipment on the P&ID. Complete
specifications must, though, be available for reference. We recommend
including in the P&ID sufficient information to rapidly locate specification
data (which is why we recommend assigning ID numbers to equipment).

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5. Tiny or spaghetti drawings: there is no requirement that P&IDs be


drawn by professional draftsmen (or even that they be ink- or computerdrawn at all!) but as a practical matter, P&IDs for all but the simplest
facilities should be professionally prepared so that they are legible. Do
not attempt to include the entire process on a single sheet of paper
(unless it is very simple), but ensure that lines may be easily traced
without error, both from page to page and on the same page.
After P&IDs are prepared, they should be verified against field conditions. We
recommend that each and every line, valve, sensor, or other P&ID item be
checked visually against the as-built system, even for supposedly as-built
drawings. It is common for changes to be made during construction (and these
changes are supposed to be controlled by the process risk management
program!), and draftsmen are known to make errors in the course of preparing
drawings. We typically spot-check P&ID accuracy before starting the PHA study,
and we rarely encounter an error-free P&ID. Although it can be expensive
(particularly in staff time) to check P&IDs, it is far better to find drawing errors
before they lead to, for example, writing incorrect operating procedures.
P&ID verification can be assigned to trusted operators or mechanics, assuming
they have been trained to read drawings. While we encourage assigning junior
operators to trace P&IDs, always have experienced personnel check their work.
Combining P&ID verification with a line-and-valve-labeling project can reduce
costs drastically.
The P&ID is an essential tool in preparing and implementing a successful
process risk management program.

AcuSafe is a presentation of AcuTech Consulting, 2002, All Rights Reserved

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