One of the basic human rights of today’s society is the right to live a healthy and disease-free life. This is heavily dependent on basic building services, but specifically, plumbing. The design of effective plumbing services, or hydraulic building services, is necessary to maintain public health and help ensure that diseases don’t spread. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, roughly 3.1 million people die annually due to not being able to access clean drinking water and not having access to sanitary systems. This makes hydraulic engineering, part of the wider MEP (M&E) design engineering umbrella, a vital part of the construction process in any part of the world. At a time when outsourcing building services design is gaining in popularity, it is important to find an offshore CAD team with the requisite experience in hydraulic engineering.
So, what precisely constitutes hydraulic engineering?
Hydraulic engineering is concerned with water movement and the surrounding environment. It involves the application of fluid mechanics principles to water engineering in structures. Hydraulic services in engineering is concerned with the flow of fluids, such as water, sewage and storm water. The design of a hydraulic structure within structural and hydraulic constraints can be complex. While designing hydraulic services for a structure, a series of questions must be answered, namely: What are the design objectives? What are the options? Are there any constraints? For example, do hydraulic services providers make accurate measurements of angles for drainage and sewage pipes in order to avoid post-construction maintenance issues?
During the design stage, digital models can help understand how each design option fares. Hydraulic services engineers must deal with several complexities. They must apply current fire-safety, water supply and sewage solutions, while ensuring building and system compliance. Specifications on sprinklers, water mists, deluges, hydrants and hose reels must be followed. Computer-aided hydraulic design tests, such as energy efficiency upgrades, calculations and cost comparisons, contribute to cost-effective manufacture, construction, maintenance and safety monitoring.
Being the earth’s driest inhabited continent and the fourth highest user of water per capita in the world, smart water usage management in Australia is becoming a point of focus for governments, businesses and homeowners. Building hydraulic services for residential and commercial projects thus needs to be clear, cost effective and efficient. Hydraulic engineers need to understand the hydraulic requirements and constraints of the site early on in the project.
In general, the hydraulic design services provided include:
- Rainwater harvesting
- Sanitary plumbing and drainage
- Liquid trade waste
- Potable and non-potable water reticulation
- Hot water and warm water systems
- Energy efficient and solar hot water heating
- Water efficient designs
- Consumer gas services
- Commercial fire hydrant and hose reel design
Hydraulic engineering in building services has witnessed substantial progress in the last few decades, with greater concentration on sustainable engineering, black water mining, grey water recycling and blueroof storage attenuation. Blueroof storage focuses on using space for attenuation, so that the water can be released at a controlled rate through an outlet that will keep the flow within permitted levels. When considering permitted levels, it is worth understanding that building codes and standards must adapt to technological advances. Fluctuation of air pressure and cross-contamination are issues that also need to be attended to.
In Australia, engineers use the AS3500 standard to accurately decide pipe size. However, when it comes to installing rainwater harvesting systems and tanks, current Australian standards are not yet established, though rainwater harvesting is becoming increasingly popular in the country. In addition, research on plumbing and drainage may lead to new modelling and simulation tools, with the in-depth ongoing study of pressure surge analysis in fluid flow systems. These developments in the industry call for skilled, updated professionals with thorough knowledge of the industry, and it is here that Australia is experiencing certain challenges. Professionals with the requisite skills are in short supply. Hydraulics engineering and sewerage are fields of engineering which are rapidly losing appeal among the younger generation, and existing skilled construction personnel are getting older and less adaptable. Pipe design is seeing a skill shortage as well.
There is an economical, practical and efficient solution to these challenges – outsourcing.
How important, then, is the experience of outsourcing companies in delivering hydraulic design services?
It is vitally important for the industry to find solutions of skilled manpower that have experience and are adept at maneuvering through a diverse spectrum of industries and sectors. They should ideally be able to design for a range of projects, from residential to multiple and mixed-use options, from retail stores to regional shopping malls, luxury developments, breweries, commercial establishments, old age homes, daycare centres, resorts to large private hospitals, schools or colleges. Every project has unique requirements and challenges, which can involve safety in the design process, system life cycles, site or area constraints, maintenance requirements, service requirements and sustainability procedures. A design team that takes on the responsibility to deliver viable hydraulic designs must be up to date with new technology and processes within the hydraulic services industry. Quality management and work standards need to be followed stringently, keeping in mind ‘best practice’ principles, regulations and codes of the local government. Regardless of project complexity, design services must be able to competently design:
- Sewerage systems
- Sanitary plumbing and drainage systems
- Industrial waste drainage systems
- Storm water drainage systems – Hot and cold water services
- Natural and LP gas services
- Fire hydrant, hose reel services
Outsourced companies must be able to consult and coordinate with all project stakeholders and consistently produce high quality documents, offer practical designs, solve design challenges and complete work on schedule and within budget. It is fundamental that an outsourced partner is experienced in and can adapt to global standards of hydraulic design. Comprehensive product knowledge in hydraulic systems enables designs that incorporate proper usage, application and performance. Ideally, outsourced partners should bring well-rounded technical expertise to the table and be open to collaboration and trouble-shooting for any challenges that may crop up during the project, rather than deliver expertise in hydraulics engineering alone. The services provided could also deal with and include:
- Scope of work preparation
- System price estimates
- Site surveys/feasibility studies
- Detailed scope of work
- Details of technical specification and design
- Project programme
- Hydraulic designs with details
- Electrical engineering
- Systems engineering
- Design calculations
Outsourced partners in the industry are renowned for their grasp and expertise in utilising software tools to produce hydraulic designs. A range of software tools are available to help design plumbing services. These include: AutoCAD, PDMS, CAESAR II, CAEPipe, AFT IMPULSE and elecworks™ Fluid. For fluid flow simulations, Star CCM, Autodesk Simulation or Ansys can also be used. Even Excel or Matlab/Simulink can be used for analysis by professionals with a fundamental understanding of hydraulics. Additionally, i-Design, Ver. 3, is known as a hydraulic system design software that can enable the creation of custom integrated manifolds, with a 3D layout tool and pricing tool.
Automation Studio™ hosts a library with more than 4000 hydraulic components with preconfigured properties, all of ISO standard. Automation Studio™ is a system design and simulation software known for:
- Hydraulics design and simulation
- Pneumatic design and simulation
- Electro-hydraulic and electro-pneumatic design and simulation
- Fluid power component sizing
E3.fluid is another hydraulics design software option for designing and documenting fluid systems. It is useful to develop schematics for fluid design or mixed fluid and electrical design.
These software tools help provide the following:
- Hydraulic and pneumatic drawings
- Specific hydraulic and pneumatic library
- Connection points by function
- Cross-references between hydraulic and pneumatic and control components
- Pipes automatic numbering
- Connection labels of elements
- Hydraulic and pneumatic specific documentation
AutoCAD is becoming steadily popular in the industry due to the services it facilitates, and most outsourced firms are adept at using AutoCAD. They include:
- Converting designs from paper or blueprint to CAD
- Creating 2D piping layouts
- Creating 3D piping layouts
- Creating conceptual pipe routing
- Piping design criteria development
- Calculating pipe sizing
Outsourced partners for hydraulic design services, especially in countries such as India, are adept at using AutoCAD and other software tools and therefore can provide several competent options for an effective offshore CAD team.
Advantages of Outsourcing
Outsourcing hydraulics design helps keep project life cycles short, provide easy access to expert technical skills and keep costs under control. According to global studies in 2016, drafting and 3D modelling services were one of the most regularly outsourced engineering services. The bountiful availability of highly qualified technical personnel in countries such as India makes this possible. Outsourcing these services creates extra time and allows clients to reinvest their time in other areas of their business, such as marketing or concentrating on complex engineering tasks. Outsourcing with an experienced overseas partner offers several advantages that can be summarised as follows:
Easy Availability of Technical Experts:
A large pool of technical resources, with many years of experience in developing hydraulics models and drawings, are available offshore.
Using requisite software tools and following best practices, offshore teams can increase design efficiency and productivity, ultimately saving costs.
Efficient Design Software:
Sophisticated CAD systems and software available with outsourced companies reduce licensed software costs and costs associated with skilled in-house design personnel.
Compliant with Standards:
Standards of ASME, ANSI, DIN and other international design codes are followed diligently by outsourced partners to ensure compliance.
Ultimately, outsourcing hydraulics design services is a strategic decision that can result in significant payback and benefits. By using an an experienced firm one can effectively reduce costs and assist in adhering to project schedules, whilst still ensuring high quality technical expertise and output.