Tools of the trade: Engineering software streamlines design process

Pam Boschee

Technology Editor

Engineering software ranges from simple to complex, allowing manipulation of many design or process variables while integrating various industry standards and equipment manufacturers` specifications. Software providers strive to develop new products and make revisions to their existing products to meet users` demands for more powerful and versatile analysis tools.

Syntha Corp., Framingham, Mass., announced its revision, Syntha 2000 v2, this past November. Syntha 2000 and its predecessor, Syntha II, evaluate alternatives for the design, operation, upgrade and maintenance of power plants.

A Syntha model is a mathematical representation of the physical and performance data of a power plant. Models can be used for designing a new plant or for evaluating an existing one. The steps to building the model include gathering data, constructing the schematic diagram, constructing the model, validating the model and generating solutions.

Syntha 2000 allows engineers to base decisions on plant-specific models, with schematic models customizable to the customer. Four hundred components may be incorporated with up to 500 flow streams. In November, 325 components with 380 flow streams were the most being used by a customer.

A four-day training course using a working model of the users` own plant introduces the program to engineers and technicians, who constitute most of the users of Syntha.

A demonstration of the program highlighted several features:

– Syntha 2000 can handle turbines from various manufacturers by the addition of components to allow integration of specifications.

– Versatile data manipulation is possible because the program allows the overlay of component data with a new parameter without changing the original-the original is saved and can be reinstated. This allows easy tweaking of the data to evaluate multiple adjustments.

– Imports plant operating data directly from Excel spreadsheets.

The program solves models within the confines of thermodynamic checks and convergence criteria. If thermodynamic violations occur or convergence cannot be achieved, Syntha 2000 uses the closest valid data based on established engineering practices and identifies which flow streams and components exceed the limits and by how much.

Another recent software upgrade is Rebis`, Walnut Creek, Calif., AutoPLANT Plant Design Workgroup Version 1.5, which includes several enhancements developed specifically to improve visualization performance and project productivity. The AutoPLANT Explorer/ID V6.0 application based on NavisWorks technology from LightWork Design provides piping and plant design engineers with a visualization and collaboration tool for making design review of large 3D CAD plant models faster and more effective.

T&D power tools

Transmission and distribution (T&D) power line design is another function facilitated by software programs. LineSoft, Spokane, Wash., offers several applications including:

– LD-Pro: functions include structural analysis, electrical calculations, span and clearance analysis, labor and material estimates, plan drawings, profile drawings and work sketches, bill of materials and compatible units.

– LD-Pro Lite: a scaled-down subset of LD-Pro developed to generate work orders, ensure code and standards compliance, and optimize designs.

– LD-Sub: substation application works with LD-Pro to help the designer and engineer estimate a substation project.

– LD-Track: tracks each work order produced with LD-Pro and compares the expected cost of the work to the one calculated from the actual design.

– LD-Field: allows a single user to gather all field data necessary for optimized line design, then build the computer model required to analyze or design new and existing facilities.

– TLCADD: optimizes the cost of transmission by automatically selecting structure locations, types and heights to minimize the total installed costs.

– Nip&Tuck: works with the existing conductor and structures to minimize the expensive modifications of raising or changing out structures often required in traditional uprating projects. With Nip&Tuck, the clearance violations caused by high temperature conductor operations may be eliminated by cutting out small lengths of wire (nips) and/or sliding conductor support clamps (tucks).

– LaserAmazer: real-time monitoring of conductor sag.

Convergent Group, Englewood, Colo., recently introduced its own design tool for overhead and underground utility network design, Convergent Work Integration Manager. It is a stand-alone application that can be used to initiate, design and maintain graphically designed jobs within an Energy Delivery Resource Planning (EDRP) environment. It integrates with any object-component GIS, and also integrates through plug-ins with any network-oriented Work Management System.

This program consists of four major components: work request administration, work request design, standards maintenance and system administration. n

More information about these products is available at www.syntha.com (508-270-0020), www.rebis.com (925-933-2525), www.linesoft. com (509-928-1707), and www.convergentgroup.com (303-741-8400).

Click here to enlarge image

Modeling software simulates physical and performance data, supporting the plant from design through acceptance. (Photo courtesy of Burns & McDonnell; Southern Energy`s 350 MW Neenah Power Plant under construction in Neenah, Wis.)

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