Updating Plant Drawings – Unmatched Return on Investment

No matter the industry, your job as an industrial plant manager never changes, whether you work in an oil refinery, at a steel mill, at a data center, or in food production: you put out fires – figuratively speaking. A failed pump, a blown valve, an unpredictable increase in pressure, redundant power issues.

Your day is consumed with these issues, and you are the first point of contact for a solution. As a result, your attention is constantly in high demand, putting out one fire after another, preventing you from focusing on tasks that are important, but not urgent.


One such task is the updating of site-wide drawing packages, ranging from architectural and structural sets to the MEP detail drawings.

This seemingly menial task does not need much in terms of manpower or budget allocation to address but has the potential for surprisingly drastic consequences if neglected for too long.

Most plants stress that their primary concern is the safety of their on-site teams and that their safety culture is strictly enforced. However, even the most benign of issues can become catastrophic with incorrect or misleading information due to inaccurate plant-wide prints. A few examples of critical drawing information include:

  • Locations of hazardous material storage and spill stations
  • Emergency egress plans and rally point locations
  • Lines and in-line devices regulating the supply of pressurized gasses, liquids
  • Fire suppression and coolant infrastructure

The list continues, with each plant and industry having a host of unique challenges, all of which can be greatly mitigated with a diligent attitude towards maintaining site-wide drawing packages.

When undergoing standard preventative maintenance, an accurate set of MEP drawings can mean the difference between a predictive 24-hour outage and a reactive indefinite one.

Every extra hour that contractors and vendors need to spend searching for a particular shutoff valve, diagnosing a parasitic voltage, or navigating around unexpected obstacles is an hour that the plant is not generating revenue. Although the True Cost of Downtime (TCD) is already high, due to ever-increasing tangible and intangible costs, there is plenty that an industrial plant manager can do to minimize it, and a great place to start is with the plant’s documentation across all disciplines.

When an industrial plant manager isn’t putting out fires or taking care of an outage, they are often looking for opportunities to maximize their plant’s efficiency, whether the metric is improved up-time or increased throughput. These improvements can come in the form of equipment upgrades, enclosure expansions, process improvements, or ergonomic adjustment projects. However, having an initial state to begin with is a critical – and often overlooked – first step to any capital expansion project. Before a new process can be designed, the existing one needs to be documented and analyzed; before a new pump can be commissioned, the existing MEP infrastructure needs to be analyzed for its capability to provide adequately; before additional enclosures can be built, an accurate site plan with property lines, setbacks, and utilities is necessary to provide a starting point. The list goes on and on – as will the conflicts that are encountered, should a large project be tackled without proper documentation.

On a cost-vs-value basis, it’s challenging to find a tool that has a better return on investment than an updated site-wide drawing package. Fortunately, the process of creating the package does not have to be arduous. Start with the documentation that you have and dedicate several hours of work a week to verify and update specific sections of the plant. If finding even a few hours a week is a challenge, ARY Engineering can support you in that task, consolidating and cleaning up geometry, performing walkdowns, and providing you with an updated drawing package. Whether faced with a fire, a predicted outage, or a grand new venture, you’ll be glad that you took the time and resources to update your documentation, and your vendors will be too.

Stuck with a messy site plan entangled with unclear utilities and out-of-date architectural features? Need assistance tracking down long-lost MEP details? Would you like further training opportunities for AutoCAD and its tools? ARY Engineering can help! Reach out to us at 509-491-7865, or [email protected].