Ever since 2007, Flagsol has been using AVEVA PDMS, a 3D design system, to dimension and design the solar array. Before that, the solar experts relied on a CAD tool, which was close to the limit of its capabilities. Daniel Müllenborn, responsible for CAD usage at Flagsol, explains, 'We required software which was capable of handling large volumes of data and which could be used for international projects.' For over 30 years PDMS has proved its worth, handling both small-scale change projects and the new-build construction of large industrial plants. It offers vital features such as error correction, revision management and change control. 'We first tested the software here in Cologne and later received training courses at AVEVA,' Daniel Müllenborn says, describing the decision-making process. After these test runs, Flagsol decided to commit to PDMS. Productive use of the software started soon afterwards - in fact, Andasol 3, the third parabolic trough power plant, was designed using PDMS. 'There is always a learning curve,' Daniel Müllenborn remembers with regard to the start-up phase - but he is keen to emphasise that the company had no regrets about this change.Quick results despite a complex projectDuring the course of the project, the team increasingly explored the full functionality of PDMS. Today, the tool is mostly used for tubing system planning, as well as steel and concrete construction. AVEVA World Magazine 2011|Issue 221Background: solar thermal power plants'Solar thermal power plant' is a collective term covering various types of technology, all of them based on solar radiation being transformed into heat to generate electric energy. The thermal energy produced in this way reaches temperatures well in excess of 100°C and is usually released to a steam circuit. Just as in conventional power plants, the steam is used in a turbine to generate electricity.A parabolic trough solar collector unit is 12 metres long and weighs around 2.5 tons. More than 7000 collectors are installed at the Andasol 3 plant. Photograph courtesy of Solar Millennium AG / Paul Langrock.
AVEVA PDMS model of the Andasol 3 plant. Image courtesy of Flagsol GmbH. While the designers work on their assigned tasks in special modules, the overall design is always visible to them. PDMS takes the results of the designers' work to set up a comprehensive plant database which can be used to automatically generate all layout and detail drawings, BOMs (MTO data) and isometrics. Based on pipe catalogues and technical specifications in the piping module, a detailed model of all piping systems can be produced. The piping model can then be used to generate assembly drawings, isometrics and BOMs. A key advantage is the ability to manage all phases of pipeline planning and integrate them into PDMS, from the rough routing of lines at project start, to basic and detailed designs and the specification of pipeline elements for manufacturing.At Andasol, a total of 1,300 pipelines were designed, measuring in all between 40 and 50 kilometres, together with supports and cabling with a total length of 30 kilometres. Thanks to shared component data and the reuse of design data in new projects, the processing effort is greatly reduced and design times are shortened. 'We have a high degree of repetition, for instance, several hundred pipelines which are generally identical but are located in different places. PDMS generates the BOMs for us, thus saving a lot of work,' says Daniel Müllenborn. Altogether, the Andasol 3 project comprised several thousands of pipeline components that had to be planned, managed and documented. Pipe supports can be planned using PDMS Piping and AVEVA Multi-Discipline Supports. AVEVA Pipe Stress Interface enables the efficient transfer of piping design to third-party stress analysis software.What is more, PDMS provides special functions for the basic and detailed design of steel and concrete constructions. For instance, the Beams and Columns function defines and maintains a fully connected nodal network of structural sections, including all joint and fitting details. Simple regular structures are created in one single step. The nodal network is coupled with the ability to define loads in the model. Finally, slabs of any shape, floors, ceilings and matching fittings can be defined and managed.A consistent approachPDMS has no limits in terms of project size or complexity. 'PDMS is very attractive to us, as all the data is in one single location, a large common database,' Daniel Müllenborn explains. Various interfaces are provided for analysis systems, design systems and third-party design applications. Many data exchange formats are supported, including DXF, DGN, SDNF and CSV. In the light of international project work, the standard interface, STEP, is becoming increasingly important.All drawings are generated directly from the PDMS database. Labels and dimension labels in the drawings are also generated straight from the database, to ensure that the documents match the design. When re-generating drawings, the latest design changes are automatically taken into consideration. Thanks to the automatic highlighting function, any modifications to earlier design versions are easily identified.Daniel Müllenborn is particularly impressed with the reliability of PDMS. He says, 'It is obvious that someone thought it through before they started programming.' Unusually, the system uses its own programming language, which offers a clear benefit in day-to-day operations. 'Every action suggested by PDMS is highly transparent and comprehensible,' states Daniel Müllenborn. He goes on to mention another benefit, 'The software can therefore be very easily customised to suit my requirements, so we enjoy maximum flexibility.'Safe cable routingSince spring 2010, Flagsol has been using the Cable Design tool, which was only developed recently. Its use offers significant benefits. Where cable routings used to be designed manually based on drawings, the optimal routing is now suggested by Cable Design. The software takes into account the ambient conditions and the type of cable, for example, power or signal cable. A positive additional benefit is that, where the cable lengths required were previously estimated and therefore generously dimensioned, today, just the right length can be identified right from the start. This leads to a significant reduction in waste.22AVEVA World Magazine 2011|Issue 2