Importing PCF Files


Before Importing PCF Files

Before importing a group of PCF or IDF files, it is a good idea to first run an estimate, as described in article K0012-Estimating Based on IDF or PCF Files. Running an estimate has the following advantages:

  1. Running an estimate gives you a quick overview of the job without consuming any drawing counts. From it you can generate a Material Summary, Materials Search, Item Report, Weld Report, Weld Summary, and Connection Report.
  2. After running an estimate, you can examine the materials summary, comparing the interpreted item descriptions with those read verbatim from the PCFs. This will help you fine-tune the specs so that each item is assigned the correct material type.
  3. PCF Importing issues can be caused by errors in the PCF file, or by the presence of items that SpoolFab has never encountered before. Running an estimate at the outset helps flag those issues early on, so you can get the issue resolved before you reach the stage of actually importing the problem file.

Suggestions on How to Stay Organized

To help keep track of your progress, go to your estimate and select File, Copy All, then Paste into a blank spreadsheet. If you prefer to retain the leading zeros of the control number, format column A as text before you paste. Adjust the column widths and save the spreadsheet. As you import each file, bold its filename as shown in the example below. Or print the list and mark each file as you complete it.

Importing PCF Files

To import a PCF file, select Installation Drawings. If you have not already chosen a layout, you will be prompted to do so. For installation drawings, it is useful to select a layout with no inspection columns as this maximizes the space available for the drawing.

Select File, Read IDF/PCF File and select a file to be imported. When first imported, the drawing might look something like the example below.

To make it easier to see what is going on, select Hide All Dimensions and Hide Item Tags, both of which are found under the Dimension menu. <cf>

Do not save this drawing yet. <cf>

In the drawing, one flange is obscuring another. We can fix this by adjusting the various pipe lengths as follows:

Press Ctrl-J. A blue focus circle highlights the first item and a small window appears as shown below.

Press the right arrow key and the blue focus circle moves to the next item. Move the focus to a pipe and then press the Up arrow several times. The pipe turns red and gets longer with each additional press of the Up key.

Press Enter. The drawing re-imports but this time it assigns a longer length to the pipe, resulting in an improved drawing as shown below.

Note that you can lengthen or shorten multiple pipes before pressing Enter to reimport. Also, each improvement builds on the previous one. You can also speed things up by using Ctrl-right arrow, which moves the focus to the next pipe, skipping the items in between.

Below is an example of a drawing where the branches are too crowded, so their location dimensions would not be legible. By extending the pipe, the dimensions can be made legible as shown on the next page.

Sometimes it may be impossible to make a drawing legible just by adjusting pipe lengths. In that case you can change the north arrow direction using Set, North Arrow Direction, Right and Down etc. This effectively lets you view the assembly from another direction. You can also adjust the pipe lengths as described above.

When you have completed all desired adjustments, select File, Save As, and assign a control number to the drawing. To simplify fabrication spool numbering, you may want to make the first character of this drawing’s control number a zero.

Next: See article K0075 for how to split an installation drawing into fabrication spools.