The plant design system M4 PLANT is a database-driven suite of powerful, multi-user plant engineering applications, providing the complete solution for every plant design or factory layout challenge. The system allows plant designers to plan and design complete process lines, plants or factories regardless of size.
M4 PLANT provides several options, among others grinds, to support the creation of plans in 3D. Grids are intelligent overlay data consisting of points that are connected with each other by lines. Grid points help users to create and position elements in 3D, for example to align models or steel beams. On the other hand, grid lines are only a visual aid. The colour of the grid line style can be changed. A grid can be enabled or disabled as well as made visible or invisible.
Coordinate systems and GPS coordinates
Different coordinates systems for the entire plan can be created in M4 PLANT. The alignment of each coordinate system with respect to the original coordinate system can be defined. Each coordinate system can then be activated to continue the planning based on it. These coordinates systems can also be used for positioning individual layouts from 2D. In addition, M4 PLANT has the option to assign a GPS coordinate for the base coordinate system so that all further placements can be done according to the associated GPS coordinates.
Importing 3D models
For setting up a company or a plant, it is very important that the operating resources like machines or tanks must not be created again, but imported from existing models. M4 PLANT offers extensive 3D interfaces like STEP, IGES, DWG, DXF, STL, VRML, VDA-FS and COLLADA. M4 PLANT contains different model simplification functions that reduce the detailing of a model when importing it. As a result, very large models can also be imported and used effectively in a common 3D installation plan. Flanges can be provided with matching connecting points.
Creating parametric 3D models
The 3D COMPONENT DESIGNER modelling tool can be used to create extensive parametric 3D models of plant or company components in M4 PLANT. Individual parameters can be stored such that the diameter or the height can be changed when importing a tank. Tables containing different variants of a model can also be stored and selected when loading.
Free placement, movement and copying
In M4 PLANT, the users have the option to place the 3D models or components either at the exact point or freely. The user gets a preview of the model before the free placement. It can be rotated or aligned with respect to a connection point and then imported in the current plan. In case of a free placement of catalogue components such as a bend in a pipeline, the component is automatically aligned along the course of pipeline while it is placed. After placement, all 3D models can be rotated and moved dynamically. The user can set a distance or angle of engagement for the exact rotation or movement. All components can be copied one or more times at a defined distance in the X, Y and Z directions.
Connections between components
3D components in M4 PLANT always have connecting points. These contain information as to where this component can be connected. The routing tool can be used to create a connection in the form of a pipeline, a cable duct or a ventilation channel between two components or their connecting points. The routing tools offers adequate function scope to draw the route selected for a line precisely. In addition, it can also adapt existing connections completely dynamically.
The auto routing tool in M4 PLANT can be used to calculate a connection between two connecting points automatically. The auto routing function searches for the shortest route in the system automatically. Digital information about usable routes, minimum distances and types such as pipeline, cable duct or air conditioning channel is used to determine an optimum connection. The user can select one of the suggested routes and types and create, e.g. a pipeline. The auto routing tool offers further setting options for the coordinate system to be used or for a minimum distance from the connecting point to which the pipeline should be laid in a straight line. An additional function offers the option of automatically routing multiple connections at a time using a connection list.