Water follows the path of least resistance. So do we.

Traditionally, hydrotest packages are created using a laborious and time-consuming process. Crafting an optimum package requires the effort of a number of analysts reviewing the input of multiple line lists, isometrics, and piping and instrumentation drawings. That’s why PCL created Cascade—a new method of defining and optimizing test packages that uses intelligent 3D models to source key data points from the surrounding noise. Our proprietary algorithms extract, sort, process, and analyze data within the 3D process models, and allow analysts to define and scope test packages at twice the current rate while avoiding ongoing revisions, delays, and increased project costs.

Hydrotesting—filling a vessel or piping arrangement with fluid, and then pressurizing the system—proves the underlying strength or weaknesses of the process system under review and is a major component of almost every heavy industrial construction project. By exposing potential systemic defects or demonstrating its strength, hydrotests serve as the ultimate validation of the constructed system. They confirm that the system will operate without deficiency; within the conditions it was designed for; and that fabrication, installation, and design standards have been met.
Test package creation was formerly a manual process used industry-wide to maximize the number of lines and/or equipment elements that have the same test pressures into a single system for testing. Test packages create manageable scopes of work for planning, progressing, and execution of related tasks. They are traditionally built well in advance of the testing date to ensure that packages are available for use as soon as systems are ready for pre-test deficiency walk down. A substantial amount of time and effort is required to manually retrieve and mark up drawings, and to address any discrepancies found during test package creation. In addition to the laboriousness of the manual process, test package development is heavily dependent on obtaining the required engineering deliverables from the client and/or engineer.

Defining and creating test packages with the current methodology presents a number of disadvantages and inefficiencies.

“Often, project documents are delayed or issued only in large packages when engineering is near complete,” said manager of construction services Tyler Holdner. “To maintain schedule efficiency, project teams require test packages as early as possible to begin scheduling and prioritizing work, deficiency walk-downs, and test preparation activities. To avoid test package development delay, the process must often be started despite the likelihood of drawings needing to be revised and reissued.
In addition to requiring all the engineering deliverables to begin package development, the traditional method is slow to discover potential design problems. As each discrepancy is discovered, the hydrotesting coordinator must stop scoping the test package and gather the required documents and information to compile a request for information. Common issues include test pressure discrepancies and the inability to perform a test at the test pressure stated in the line designation table. Test packages cannot be completed and must be put on hold until a formal answer is received by engineering.
Correct and complete information for every test package is key to making informed decisions and mitigating risks. The management and distribution of the latest design and technical documents within a test package is a critical and continuous task during the development and management phases of the hydrotesting program. Regardless of the type of engineering document that gets revised, effort is still required to review the change, transfer hydrotest mark-up information, and update both the field and electronic versions of the test package.​
In an effort to increase efficiency and accuracy in test package creation, PCL has developed Cascade—an in-house application that defines test packages using intelligent 3D models and the data they contain. By extracting, sorting, processing and analyzing the data within the 3D model to identify relationships and potential issues, PCL is able to define and scope test packages at more than twice the current rate while reducing common mistakes and oversights.
“For the past 10 years at least, we’ve been receiving and recording intelligent 3D models on the major industrial projects we’ve built,” said manager of construction engineering Rick Hermann. “These 3D models contain geometric shapes, spatial relationships, geographic information, and quantities and properties of major building components. We store this material in a database within the 3D model itself. We then use our application to mine the data and extract the data required for test package creation.”
Once the test package definition criteria have been finalized, the algorithm can be run, and a number of system outputs are generated—most importantly, a list of isometrics to be grouped in the same test package. By automating the iterative process of test package definition through computer processing, PCL has achieved a significant reduction in the time required to create test packages. By creating a listing of all of the isometrics and their associated test packages early in a project, site teams are able to better plan which test packages they will require on-site to begin walk-downs and test preparation.
In addition to combining all relevant piping isometrics and their continuations together, the program can easily identify what and where the test limits are. Through a set of rules that identifies the last component in each run of pipe and pairing that data with a lookup table, a complete list of all required testing material can be efficiently generated.
By using the data that is contained within the 3D model, the time in which test package definition and issue identification can begin is no longer dependent on receiving all engineering deliverables. Historically, each project department maintained its own master set of piping isometrics. Although the content of the markups between departments varied, they were all completed on copies of the same drawing. This inefficiency created the potential for missed changes and difficulty in revision management.

“Cascade gives us the ability to access live documents where all information is captured on one drawing. It makes the process significantly more efficient and accurate for all groups,” said Holdner. “Along with the live document markup process, the same customized markup tools are used by all groups to maintain quality, consistency, and clarity throughout the project.”

Common and digital document markup allows PCL to process drawing revisions with significantly less administration and update the revision only once. The old method requires each department on site to maintain their own “versions” of a document and every group would have to update their copy. Common toolsets create consistency in the markup process.

“Since our document management system is integrated with the majority of our industrial applications, various project groups receive real-time notification when a revised drawing is available for review. Simultaneously, user details are recorded regarding when a markup is completed per drawing, which allows for traceability and greater accountability.”

Cascade also has the ability to deliver just-in-time printing. By printing the test package only when it’s required, PCL has significantly reduced the administration of document revision updating. By printing only when the work is ready to start, PCL ensure that packages always have the latest version of the drawings.

“Quantifying each of the key benefits that Cascade provides,” said vice president Travis Chorney, “PCL can comfortably estimate a 70% reduction in the cost of hydrotest package creation for future projects. By automating previously manual processes through the use of intelligent 3D models, PCL provides clients with savings in both time and money.”