A piping designer engineers piping or tubing systems and related components. These systems are used to transport items ranging from water and sewage to petroleum and natural gas. This designer combines his knowledge of these systems with applicable performance criteria and industry standards to create a system that is safe, yet functional. Depending on his position and responsibilities, a piping designer may have a degree in engineering, construction, or a related field, though some rely on experience and skills gained on the job. These professionals use computer-aided drafting (CAD) software to transform their designs into detailed drawings, which buildings use to install and maintain these systems.
The job description for a piping designer can vary based on his role and responsibilities. In the construction industry, these professionals plan plumbing and sprinkler systems used in homes and commercial buildings. In industrial settings, these designers create systems capable of transporting chemicals, pharmaceutical products, and food. Others work for municipal agencies, where they layout sewage and water distribution piping. Finally, these designers may work in the petroleum industry, where they create effective systems for transporting oil and natural gas.
When awarded a new project, the first thing a designer does is review the project specifications to see exactly what is required. He may also meet with the owner or other consultants to gain a clearer understanding of what type of design is needed. He asks questions regarding materials that will be transported, volume, and layout restrictions, then uses this information to determine pipe size and other criteria. The piping designer relies heavily on basic engineering principles, which determine things like flow rate and pressure, as well as industry codes and standards that help maximize safety and performance.
Once he determines the basic design for the piping system, the piping designer uses CAD software to create a graphical representation of the system. He includes notes and symbols that will help installers determine pipe size, materials, and other characteristics. The drawings also incorporate any equipment related to the piping, including how the pipes should be connected to these units. Piping drawings often show supports and fasteners for the pipes, as well as any details related to controls or wiring.
After he completes the piping drawings, the designer presents the plans to the owner for final approval. The owner then distributes the drawings to the contractors who will fabricate and install the piping. The piping designer is typically required to answer any questions or solve any problems that come up during installation that are related to his designs.