AutoCAD Plant and Xrefs


AutoCAD Plant is great for combining the disciplines of piping, structural components and equipment into one environment quickly and easily.  A problem that might (okay probably definitely) when working with large assemblies is the managing of the files.  Bigger files will equate to slower performance in your models, so what can we do to negate this….External reference (Xref) it.

So what is an Xref you might ask? 
You create an Xref when you want to reference any of the following into the current drawing you are working on.
  • DWG
  • Image File
  • DWF
  • DGN
  • PDF
  • Point Cloud
  • Coordination Model
  • Vault file

The beauty of these files is that it is not physically in the drawing you are working on.  Think about tracing paper.  You place it over the drawing you want to copy and can see exactly what is going on in the drawing but you are not able to modify it.

With Xrefs, if they are modified you will see that modification in your current drawing you are working on.

Going back to AutoCAD Plant, what is the best way to utilise the Xrefs in your drawing session.
Firstly plan, plan, plan.  Without planning first you can get horribly unstuck.  When dividing up your drawing you will create separate files for your structural components, your equipment as well as your piping.
Creating an Xref can be done exactly the same as Xref’s in normal AutoCAD with the one exception.
  • Attach all Xrefs to the origin (0,0,0)

This is not mandatory only best practice but if not done it can make your AutoCAD Plant 3D become horribly unstuck.