There are several Plant Design software currently on the market, some more than three decades old, others quite new. We have been knowing the main actors in this field for the last twenty five years or so and we are willing to share with you our findings and thoughts, but bear in mind that this is far from a complete list.

We take no responsibility whatsoever with respect the statements below; they are intended only as a help for you to better evaluate other vendors. Bear in mind that traditionally the CAD market has been a hype prone arena, far from the seriousness of the technical/scientific software business.

PDS by Intergraph

One of the oldest systems. Graphic interface is based on Microstation interacting with a proprietary and relational databases. Reveals a systematic patchy architecture. Main flaws: piping specification tied to the so called Commodity Code, a source of errors induced by duplication of descriptions, chaotic rules in piping definition codes, difficult to operate, uses a subset of Microstation. No Undo available. The main point: why make things easier if you could do them more complicated.

Many plant owners have been asking for years PDS electronic model for new built plants. Intergraph has done a wonderful job in selling the idea of the electronic model, although the real plant engineering was often done by hand because the system was and still is really cumbersome. Lobby with engineering personal does the rest: everyone likes going to User Groups, Steering Committees and the like.

No Material Requisition generation. Depends from other system such as its own Materials or from different providers like Puma.

For more information on PDS download a free report study (22 Kb).

To compare PDS with our EPLANT-Piping module download a free Comparison study between our EPLANT-Piping and PDS/PDMS/CCPLANT (46 Kb).

Smart Plant by Intergraph

It was intended as a replacement for PDS. It does not use any commercial CAD system and mimics in some way the same architecture of PDMS. It seems that Intergraph did not learn anything from the mistakes made with PDS: it is an unnecessary complicated system to use and a quite expensive too, but the usual lobby inside big users gives it an automatic market share.

PDMS by Aveva (former Cadcentre)

One of the first plant design system. It is a proprietary hierarchical database, with an interactive graphic interface. It has undoubtedly the best architecture, best graphics and a very strong point: the export/import PML language, designed to be a long lasting format for data exchange. That's all.
If you want to used it in a project you'll get crazy manually defining specs: explicit diameter definition is a must (a half coupling may have as many as two hundred entries just to cover main and secondary diameter combination, you've never heard of diameter ranges, have you?), each object in the catalog is referenced by means of an arbitrary code that is the only way to enter the catalog instead of a parametric entry (like those used by either PDS and EPLANT).

Project database is dynamically connected to the catalog. What seems a handy automatic respecification, can be a nightmare: a change in the catalog may disrupt the existing model and you don't have the chance to know it. The same kind of lobby existing for Intergraph is working here, but at least this one is a solid system.

For more information on PDMS download a free report study (22 Kb).

To compare PMDS with our EPLANT-Piping module download a free Comparison study between our EPLANT-Piping and PDS/PDMS/CCPLANT (46 Kb).

Autoplant by Rebis/Bentley

Perhaps the most sold AutoCAD based system, at least some years ago. It is mainly a drawing aid, with weak material support. Piping classes are intermixed with dimension standards and mto is not very reliable. The system has not changed significantly in the last fifteen years, save for the introduction of the so called object oriented technology, with the net result to generate AutoCAD incompatible drawing files of huge dimensions: Autoplant files require a special viewer and have sizes as much 15 times bigger than equivalent EPLANT files, making almost impossible to work in medium to big projects or to send this information by email.
The new owner (Bentley August 2002) rises reasonable doubts about the future of the former Rebis AutoCAD applications. Right now it seems that Bentley is giving a low profile to Autoplant, in preparation of a total dismissal in the near future.

No Material Requisition generation.

For more information on Autoplant download a free comparison study with our EPLANT-Piping (24 Kb).

PlantSpace by Bently

Based on Microstation. It has very few users.

CADWorx by COADE, but bought some years ago by Intergraph

A quite recent product (ten years). COADE is a known and respected developer of plant related software: CAESAR is a standard in piping stress analysis, and other programs for vessel and tank design. We never used this system, but studied the Piping demo in its firsts versions. It uses Xdata to attach information to objects, as our EPLANT does, but its scope seems to be limited to drawing isometrics, plan views and small 3D models. It is a closed system, no symbology changes are allowed, material management is weak due to simple specification data. It seems suitable only for small projects, and little configuration is available.

No Material Requisition generation.

To help you comparing CADWorx with our EPLANT-Piping module download a free Comparison study between our EPLANT-Piping and CADWorx (46 Kb).

AutoCAD Plant 3D by Autodesk

A flavor of AutoCAD. It has a nice graphics, but poor material consistency and big limitations as the size of the plant that cannot go more than few hundred piping lines at most. Component Catalog cannot be modified by the user.
3D models have sizes as much 30 times bigger than equivalent EPLANT files.

No Material Requisition generation.

To compare Plant 3D with our EPLANT-Piping module download a free Comparison study between our EPLANT-Piping and Plant 3D (14 Kb).

Last updated August 28, 2015.