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SPECIFICATIONS: "Process Industry Practices"

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As the petroleum processing industry has taken off to unprecedented levels* in the recent past--and will probably be quite busy for the foreseeable future--I have taken to working "full time" for a single client, who is an old-line fabricator and constructor of steel-plate structures and equipment that has purchased a small EPC (that's Engineering, Procurement and Construction for the curious) firm in Texas and is moving into the EPC business.

The company is a hodge-podge of folks from all the various players in the EPC business. The Houston office is expected to grow from the fifty people they had a year ago, to about 700 by the end of this year.

Anyway, one problem they're struggling with is developing civil and structural engineering standards, especially construction specifications. Since these are typically EPC contracts--that would be called "design build" in the commercial and facilities world--you're really writing specs as the engineering division that will be used by the construction division of the same company, so these aren't typically documents "for bid." However, the functional or procedural importance of engineer specifications remains.

It's been awhile since I've been in this "bidness," and the last time I was, it was a company that already had established specifications and procedures (for better or worse). So I haven't had to do anything like this "from scratch" before. And most of my spec-writing experience has been with documents for bid, and I'm conscious of the fact that there could be a difference.

I'm now aware that there is an entity called "Process Industry Practices" (PIP) that is described as being "a consortium of process industry owners and engineering construction contractors (usually known as EPC firms) who serve the [process] industry." It appears to be the brainchild of the Construction Industry Institute which is headquartered at the University of Texas at Austin. The website for PIP is at

The documents produced by PIP, called "Practices," are not limited to specifications per se, but also "guidelines," etc. The whole body of Practices seems more akin to the various ACI standards published in the Manual of Concrete Practice. That said, there are a limited number of Civil and Structural Practices that read pretty much like construction specifications, but they do not follow a standard format like CSI (although the standard numbering system appears to utilize the CSI Masterformat 1994 divisions), and they don't appear to be intended as "boilerplate" specs that one would tailor to a specific project.

As I'm sure there are folks here who have had experience in the "process industry" side of things, I'd like to solicit comments about the PIP documents, and some idea of how you've used them, or seen them used.

Thanks in advance.

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