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PFD's, P&ID's, and UFD's are among the most basic of the drawings or schematics used to depict a

process, whether it be in 1the refining, petrocheasdmi1cal, chemical, power, or virtually any other

industry. I'll add one other type of drawing, the BFD, and then describe each.


BFD or Block Flow Diagram is the samost basic drawing type. Typically, it would show entire processing

units as rectangles with lines drawn between rectangles to indicate major process flows between units.

The Process Flow Diagram (PFD) is just one step beyond the BFD in terms of complexity. Ideally, you

would have one PFD for each of your major processing units. It would show the major equipment and

controls. Typically the major streams are identified (e.g. by a number inside a diamond) which

corresponds to a heat and material balance stream. The full mass balance table could be placed along

the bottom of the PFD, or it may be placed on a separate sheet(s). The main purpose of the PFD, in my

opinion, is to show the entire processing unit on a single sheet. Details are omited so that "the big

picture" can be seen and understood. In pursuit of this goal, for example, a single pump symbol would

often be used to represent multiple pumps in the same service. Basic process specifications for the main

equipment are often listed. For complex units, it becomes difficult to show all that is needed on a single

drawing, and multiple PFD's may be used to depict the process. (As you may gather, I do not favor that


I think of PFD's and UFD's or Utility Flow Diagrams to be essentially the same thing. UFD's would show

the same type of information as PFD's, but merely geared to utility streams rather than process streams.

When you get to P&ID's, or Piping & Instrumentation Flow Diagrams, you're starting to approach reality.

These diagrams identify the size and specification of piping and define the instrumentation
requirements. All equipment is shown and identified on the P&ID's. Valves and specialty items are also

shown. If you're doing a modification to an existing unit, then tie-in points should be shown. In this case,

you should have two sets of the P&ID's - one for Demo (demolition) only, and one for D&C (or Design

and Construct). Combined, these drawings define what is going to be removed and what is going to be


I don't want to imply that that's all there is or that you always have all these types of drawings. Drawings

are routinely omited if not pertinent to the process. For largely mechanical systems, they sometimes use

Mechanical Flow Diagrams in place of P&ID's. There may be Material Selection Diagrams showing

materials of construction choices.

This is just scratching the surface of what's needed to define a complex processing facility. There are

many other disciplines besides our own that produce their own drawings. So there are dozens of types of

drawings that may be produced for a single facility.



After not adding to this topic in over 5-1/2 years, I thought I'd go ahead and add some other thoughts for

these most important products of process engineering.

There are many different ways of depicting those things we wish to show on process-oriented drawings.

Despite attempts to reach concensus, you will very seldom see two organizations with the same
approach and symbology, especially as you move to the level of detail shown on a P&ID. In particular, I'd

like to offer up my opinions to the two most important process drawings in our field. Specifically, I'd like

to do a sort of compare and contrast between the two.

Process Flow Diagrams (PFD's) should schematically define the process. In conjunction with the heat and

material balances, they depict in fair detail what happens within the process. One can also glean the

process conditions, the order of processing, and the "duties" of the various equipments throughout the

process. (Here I am using the term duties rather loosely.) I feel strongly that the PFD should be geared to

show process information such as vessel capacities and residence times, exchanger and heater duties,

etc. The PFD should be a "one stop drawing" for getting an overview of how the process works. Spare,

auxilliary, and minor equipment should NOT be shown since showing anything that does not enhance

one's understanding to the process will dilute the utility of the drawing. If at all possible (and it is always

possible in my opinion), a process unit should be shown on a single drawing. Failure to depict a complete

processing unit on a single drawing enormously diminishes the drawing's value. I would freely simplify

what is and is not shown so as to enable this objective. The most important controls in the system

should also be shown, but in a form that is simplest to depict. Thus if it's important to show a level

control system that is actually used to reset a flow control system (i.e. cascade control) depict the

controls as a level controller modulating a level control valve. That's enough to get the idea across.

In contrast, the Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&ID's) evolved from mechanical drawings and

should show as much of the mechanical equipment as possible (i.e. all of it if possible). Important

mechanical information should be presented. For example, a typical shell and tube heat exchanger

should have its length, diameter, TEMA type, and design conditions stated. Heat duty should NOT be

included in the P&ID because it is strictly process information, independent of the mechanical
equipment. I like to show and identify all mechanical equipment and all instrumentation on the P&ID.

Here, perhaps more than anywhere else, practices vary widely as most organizations will condense the

way instrumentation is depicted. Because the P&ID's can be burdened with "excruciating detail", I like to

use references to details for minor hardware that can benefit from a more simplistic depiction and that is

repeatedly done in the same or very similar fashion throughout the unit. Control system logic can be

shown in other types of drawings and merely referenced in the P&ID's.

I'm in a bit of conflict concerning how important it is to accurate depict arrangements within a P&ID. On

one hand, a P&ID is a schematic, which implies that a certain amount of "artistic license" is allowable.

And they are not drawn to any sort of scale. However, to the degree possible, I like to show

configurations as they actually exist (or will exist). So if I have a hot diesel product stream entering the

top of a S&T exchanger and leaving the bottom on the opposite side, I try to show it that way. That's not

always practical, but I personally demand to have a reason before depicting things in a way that could

lead to confusion or misunderstanding. If I really do have a very busy drawing that would get even more

so if I attempted to enforce these standards, then I might grudgingly relax those requirements. In no

case, however, should you alter (corrupt) the depiction of your system without due cause.

I welcome any additional thoughts you might have on this topic. It seems to me that many process

engineers get overly focused on (what may be thought of as) glamorous topics such as modeling, reactor

design, and distillation topics while neglecting topics such as the above. This is, however, our "bread and

butter" and I daresay that many more productive process engineering manhours are devoted to our

drawings than to other more esoteric process topics.