Plant Documentation Untie the Gordion Knot: Plant Documentation vs. Plant Reality

Author / Editor: Claudius Menzel, Stefan Panarisi / Dominik Stephan

Processing plants usually operate for decades and therefore it becomes important and essential to modernize its systems. Carrying out the necessary activities during ongoing plant operations becomes difficult when the process control systems become old and thus should be modernised or completely replaced.

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The LiveDOK principle.
The LiveDOK principle.
(Picture: Rösberg Engineering)

One requires an efficient documentation tool that is able to process a plant’s data from various sources and, consequentially, offers the required information for modernization projects as well as practice-oriented use during operation. This is the key to success and will prove beneficial when supported by systematic planning and preparation.

Lower Saxony in Germany is the main region where natural gas is produced. Natural gas is a mixture of methane and other different gases, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, higher hydrocarbons and in most deposits hydrogen sulphide in various concentrations is also present. This is the scenario in northern Germany where natural gas is ‘washed’ in treatment plants before it is used.


This is due to the fact that hydrogen sulphide not only smells bad but is also corrosive and poisonous. As a large capital project during operations, the process control systems of such plants was extensively modernized from 2009 until the end of 2013.

Specialists Working Hand in Hand

An important part of the modernization process was reconstructing and making arrangements for all the documentations related to instrumentation and control technology. The next step was to update the existing data accordingly, integrate new sources of data and continuously update any resulting changes during the modernization phase.

Specialists in industrial process technology from Honeywell, Germany were responsible for modernizing the natural gas treatment plants. “As a partner in developing documentation, we brought the Karlsruhe-based company Rösberg on board at an early stage” explains Project Manager, Honeywell, Torsten Wildgrube. “The original planning of the plant was performed by using Karlsruhe firm’s I&C–CAE system ProDOK in the plant (see techbox 1). It

benefited us as we had already decided on LiveDOK, based on logistical and commercial reasons for on-site documentation (see techbox 2) developed by the same company. The whole project considerably profited from the intensive collaboration with Rösberg.”

Typical Plant Documentation Phases

Documentation went through various phases such as capturing existing ‘old’ data, creating raw documentation, adopting all current changes after functional test of the individual plant sections and, finally, generating the final ‘as built’ version after on-site commissioning. Initially the existing wiring had to be provided in an up-to-date form.