Within industry, piping is a system of pipes used to convey fluids (liquids and gases) from one location to another. The engineering discipline of piping design studies the efficient transport of fluid.
Industrial process piping (and accompanying in-line components) can be manufactured from wood, fiberglass, glass, steel, aluminum, plastic, copper, and concrete. The in-line components, known as fittings, valves, and other devices, typically sense and control the pressure, flow rate and temperature of the transmitted fluid, and usually are included in the field of Piping Design (or Piping Engineering). Piping systems are documented in piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs). If necessary, pipes can be cleaned by the tube cleaning process.
“Piping” sometimes refers to Piping Design, the detailed specification of the physical piping layout within a process plant or commercial building. In earlier days, this was sometimes called Drafting, Technical Drawing, Engineering Drawing, and Design but is today commonly performed by Designers who have learned to use automated Computer Aided Drawing / Computer Aided Design (CAD) software.,
Plumbing is a piping system with which most people are familiar, as it constitutes the form of fluid transportation that is used to provide potable water and fuels to their homes and businesses. Plumbing pipes also remove waste in the form of sewage, and allow venting of sewage gases to the outdoors. Fire sprinkler systems also use piping, and may transport non potable or potable water, or other fire-suppression fluids.
Piping also has many other industrial applications, which are crucial for moving raw and semi-processed fluids for refining into more useful products. Some of the more exotic materials of construction are Inconel, titanium, chrome-moly and various other steel alloys.
There are certain standard codes that need to be followed while designing or manufacturing any piping system. Organizations that promulgate piping standards include:
- ASME – The American Society of Mechanical Engineers – B31 series
- ASME B31.1 Power piping (steam piping etc.)
- ASME B31.3 Process piping
- ASME B31.4 Pipeline Transportation Systems for Liquid Hydrocarbons and Other Liquids
- ASME B31.5 Refrigeration piping and heat transfer components
- ASME B31.8 Gas transmission and distribution piping systems
- ASME B31.9 Building services piping
- ASME B31.11 Slurry Transportation Piping Systems (Withdrawn, Superseded by B31.4)
- ASME B31.12 Hydrogen Piping and Pipelines
- ASTM – American Society for Testing and Materials
- ASTM A252 Standard Specification for Welded and Seamless Steel Pipe Piles
- API – American Petroleum Institute
- API 5L Petroleum and natural gas industries—Steel pipe for pipeline transportation system
In the U.S, piping on offshore facilities is mandated by regulation to be done in accordance with ANSI/ASME Standard B31.3. Most onshore facilities are designed in accordance with ANSI/ASME Standard B31.4 or B31.8, depending on whether it is an oil or gas facility. respectively. Some companies use the more stringent ANSI/ASME Standard B31.3 for onshore facilities.
In other countries, similar standards apply with minor variations. For simplicity, we will discuss only the U.S. standards in this chapter. The engineer should check to see if there are different standards that must be applied in the specific location of the design.