P&I business review – eXchanger – the next piece of the puzzle

Sami Koponen, Vice President: Process & Industry, discusses the exchange of 3D models between different design and review applications

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Written by Sami Koponen

Posted on February 08, 2021

When you see the word ‘eXchanger,’ do you picture a heat exchanger? Or does it remind you of currency exchange rates?

Well, I’m not talking about either. I am using the word eXchanger the CADMATIC way, meaning a solution to exchange 3D models between different design and review applications.

Here at CADMATIC, we have an extensive eXchanger product family as part of our interoperability offering, and we are about to add some new features that will enable interesting use cases of which you can read about later on in this article.

Importance of interoperability

An engineering project typically uses many different systems, each of them very specialized to serve a certain discipline or task. In this diverse environment and due to ever tightening schedules, more complex designs, and the pressure to stay ahead of the competition, collaboration between project parties is becoming more and more important.

Because of the above factors, data quality, consistency, and interconnectivity, as well as maximized automation of data-handling throughout the plant-engineering and construction process, are all key in unlocking greater efficiency, increasing productivity and boosting profitability.

CADMATIC software has been designed to be as open as possible, to allow smooth cooperation, integration, and interfacing with other technology suppliers and software systems. Our open database and numerous interoperability functions enable the easy transfer of data between systems.

What is the PCF format all about?

Regarding our newest interoperability option, let’s talk about the PCF format. To make a long story short, PCF stands for Piping Component File, and it has primarily been used to transfer piping between different software solutions.

In a plant engineering project, the largest and most complex section is usually the piping, so it’s easy to understand what this new option can mean in practice. The PCF format is a simple solution compared to the complex and demanding 3D CAD development environment we are managing today, but it opens many opportunities for both CADMATIC users and those considering to update to another 3D CAD software solution.

Practical use cases

One of PCF’s use cases is to integrate 3D CAD with point cloud software. Revamps are becoming increasingly popular, and there is a need to automate shape recognition from the cloud to save time and costs. The 3D-piping PCF created in a point cloud software can be used to transfer a native 3D-piping model to CAD.

Another use case is to convert an existing 3D-piping model from one CAD software to another. Here PCF provides the opportunity to have the native 3D piping in the receiving CAD. This is handy if you need to maintain or use an earlier 3D-piping model for revamping in another CAD software.

In addition, a piping contractor can use 3D CAD when receiving project piping information in PCF format from an engineering company. This way, the piping contractor has a chance to fine-tune the piping design and match their production with its components.

Perhaps the most important use case is the second one I mentioned: when you are updating to another 3D CAD software and wondering how to deal with the existing 3D models still needed for your projects. The PCF format is an easy solution to convert all your piping models from one 3D software to another.

Working with yet another piece of the puzzle!