Getting started

This page explains the basics of VES including project management, pressure vessels and pressure parts. We will show how to create new pressure vessels like heat exchangers, horizontal vessels and vertical columns. We will use VES to analyze pressure vessels and to activate RToD (Rules for pressure vessels), ASME VIII, AD Merkblätter or EN 13445 calculations. The aim is to provide you with all information needed to design and check pressure vessels with VES.

Ves program

When you start Ves (Programs→P3 Engineering→VES xxxx, where xxxx is the program version number) it will first check for your licenses. A license enables one or more code modules like, ASME, AD Merkblätter, etc. See the code modules pages for available modules, implemented calculations and examples. If you want to extend your license with a new code module you can do this through our online shop or contact us directly.

VES can be used to manage all your project related mechanical design data. The RToD, ASME VIII, EN 13445 and AD Merkblätter modules are incorporated dynamically by selecting one of the pressure code options available on screen. Only the options present in your license agreement will be enabled. Use the mouse to activate the required pressure code option.

Using menus

This paragraph explains how to use the built in menus. In Figure 2 you see the Project menu. You can open the menu either with the mouse (left-click) or with a keyboard shortcut (Alt+P). The same works for the Item menu (for equipments) with, Alt+I, and the Part menu with Alt+A or any other menu in VES.

Similarly, to select one of the sub menu entries of the Project menu as shown in Figure 2, you can use the mouse or one of the shortcut keys.


Any new project will start by creating a new project entry in VES. Projects are used to collect all equipments related to that project. An equipment, in turn, will contain all mechanical design data for the pressure vessels of that equipment.

This paragraph explains how to create, open, close and delete projects. How to how to add pressure vessels to your new project entries will be explained later.

When VES starts for the first time you will see the Project Entries Window as shown in Figure 3 with demo validation projects. The projects are filled with several pressure vessel parts which are used to test the program. This is useful for ISO certification, because with the tested and checked calculations in the validation projects you can prove the correctness of the software.

Create a new project

To create a new project select "New" in the project entry list or select "New" in the Project menu. You will see the New Project window as shown in Figure 4.

In the New Project window enter a unique project number, description, client name, plant location, company and calculation code. Check the input and use the Ok button. VES will create and open the new project entry with no equipments and no parts.

Open a project

Open a project by using Project Selection window as mentioned before and shown in Figure 4. Use mouse or arrow keys to select a project and click Open or press ENTER to open the selected project.

Delete a project

When you delete a project the currently open project entry and all related equipments (pressure vessels) and parts will be deleted. However, VES will first ask for confirmation before deleting the project as shown in Figure 5.

If you select "Yes", VES checks if there are still project related equipments and will warn if one or more equipments are found. If you select "No" the project deletion process will be aborted and the project will remain intact and unchanged. Selecting Yes will remove all project related equipments and parts and finally delete the project. Warning: there is no way to recover deleted projects, therefore we advise you to create regular backups of your project data.


To create, open, delete and copy equipment items use the item menu as show in Figure 6.

Make sure that you have first opened a project as described earlier.

In VES the equipment can be any type of pressure vessel. Below we will show how to create horizontal vessels, heat exchangers and generic vessels. A generic vessel is a piece of equipment with an arbitrary number of pressure parts. You can use this type of vessel to design one or more custom made pressure parts or to experiment with alternative design data or conditions.

Create an equipment

Create a new equipment by selecting "New" in the Item menu then and select one the sub entries. You can choose one of the following pressure vessels types:

  1. General vessel
  2. Horizontal vessel on two saddles
  3. Vertical vessel
  4. Shell and tube heat exchanger

For each new equipment you must enter an equipment number which must be unique within the project you are working on.

Open an equipment

Open an existing equipment by selecting it through the Item menu. VES will load the selected equipment data and all the pressure parts connected to the equipment.

For each equipment you can change the equipment data like the revision number and equipment description.

The bottom half of the screen will show a list of the equipment related design documents and pressure parts. Below we will explain how to start the mechanical design of, for example, a heat exchanger.

Copy an equipment

Use the Item Menu copy function to copy an equipment from one project number to another or create copies of an equipment within the same project number. This way you can create multiple copies of an equipment with different revision numbers. You could also create copies to redesign the equipment for changed conditions or alternative materials.

The Item copy window has two sections. The upper section is called Source project & item and is for selecting the source to copy from. The lower section is called the Destination project & item where you can select the project number to copy to and enter a new equipment number. This equipment number must be unique within the destination project number you selected. To start the copy function, click the Start Copy button. VES will copy all equipment data and related pressure parts to the new equipment number.

Delete an equipment

To delete an equipment use the Item menu entry Delete. You can only delete the currently open equipment.

Creating particular types of equipment

To create a new equipment use the Item menu entry New and select one if the sub entries (see Figure 7). You can choose one of the following pressure vessels types:

  1. General vessel
  2. Horizontal vessel on two saddles
  3. Vertical vessel
  4. Shell and tube heat exchanger

For each new equipment you must enter a unique equipment number. This number must be unique within the project you are working on. Below each of the options is explained in more detail.

General vessel

This option starts the "new general vessel" dialog. Enter a unique equipment number and other vessel data and click the OK button.

VES will create a new equipment of type General Vessel. You can use this type of vessel to make separate calculations for pressure parts like cylinders, heads, flanges etc. You can read about adding and deleting parts later.

Horizontal vessel

This option will open the new horizontal vessel dialog. You must enter a unique equipment number (Vessel number/tag) and you can choose the type of head from a drop down list. Click the Ok button to create the vessel. VES will create a new horizontal vessel and add the 4 default pressure parts (1 cylinder, 2 heads and saddles).

Optionally you can change the default numbers for the pressure parts. For example you can change the default pressure part number Shell barrel.

Vertical vessel

This option will open the new vertical vessel dialog. You must enter a unique equipment number (Vessel number/tag) and you can choose the heads and the type of support.

Heat exchanger

This option will start the "New heat exchanger" dialog. The dialog allows you to select the TEMA type for the heat exchanger you want to create.

  1. Use the mouse to select on one of the Front end channel pictures. In the center of the window you will find a character indicating the TEMA type for the selected front end channel. The lower part of the window will show an enlarged image.
  2. Click on one the small Shell pictures you find in the top middle of the screen. Again the dialog will show you the TEMA type character and an enlarged copy of the selected Shell section.
  3. Click on one of the Rear end Channel pictures.
  4. Check the heat exchanger configuration (removable bundle and tubesheet type) and click the Create button. This will open the "New Heat Exchanger" dialog.
  5. Enter a unique item number and selected the type of head. Optional you can change the pressure part numbers and descriptions. Click the Ok button to create the heat exchanger.

The Heat Exchanger Design chapter will give more details about the mechanical design of the newly created heat exchanger.

While selecting the TEMA type of heat exchanger look carefully at the number of flanges around the tubesheet. If you create a TEMA AEU type heat exchanger there are two possible configurations:

  • With a removable bundle. This configuration will have flanges on both sides of the tube sheet.
  • With a non-removable bundle. This configuration will have only one flange connected to tube side of the tubesheet.


To create or delete pressure parts use the "Part" menu as shown in Figure 16.

Before you can create or calculate a pressure part you have to create or open a project and equipment as described in the previous paragraphs.

Create a part

Select Part→New to create a new part. A dialog will pop up with options for different kinds of pressure parts. The newly created pressure parts will be added to the currently open equipment. Each pressure part must have a unique number within the equipment it belongs to.

An example part with category Flange and type Slip-On/Integrally welded is shown below.

You can add shells, heads, flanges, flat covers, dished heads, tubesheets and bellows. To add nozzles you must open the nozzle list document. This document is the second entry in the pressure part list, just below the material list entry. To open the nozzle list double click on the document.

Delete a part

Select Part→Delete to remove the selected part from the equipment.

Open a pressure part calculation document

Make sure you have opened a project and an equipment. Then select the required pressure code option: RToD, ASME VIII, AD Merkblätter or EN 13445. Use the mouse or arrow keys to select the pressure part. Click on the plus sign at the left of the selected part (or pressure the ENTER key) to open the document list. This list contains all applicable documents for the pressure part category and type.

To open a pressure code document select the document with the mouse or arrow keys. Double click or press the ENTER key to activate the document. Change the input data and click the Calculate menu to refresh the calculation or use ALT+C.

Introduction Heat Exchanger Design

This chapter will introduce you to the heat exchanger design module. First open a project and create a new heat exchanger as described here.

The next paragraphs will tell you how to start entering the data for the heat exchanger design. It will start by editing the Nozzle list document. Then we will continue with the mechanical vessel design. We will enter mechanical design data and materials for the heat exchanger. The process will be supported by a custom made material list especially designed for heat exchangers.

Edit the nozzle list

Select and open the nozzle list. The default number of nozzles for a heat exchanger is 4. For each nozzle you must enter the following data:

  • Nozzle mark
  • Service description
  • Flange rating
  • Flange type
  • Flange facing type
  • Nominal nozzle neck outside diameter
  • Nozzle neck wall thickness
  • Nozzle neck wall tolerance

Do not enter the reinforcement pad dimensions and the standout. The heat exchanger design module will calculate these values for you. You can use the option menus to select pipe schedules, rating and flange types.

Edit the mechanical datasheet

Select and open the document called Mechanical vessel design. This will open the mechanical datasheet. The MDS is divided into four sections:

  • Design data: pressures, temperatures, join efficiency, number of passes etc.
  • Design data cylinders: diameters, optional thickness and optional reinforcement pad dimensions.
  • Design data girth flanges: type of flange and gasket properties.
  • Design data tubesheet and bundle: tube properties, tube pitch layout, baffle cuts and spacing, optional tubesheet thickness.

Fill in the mechanical datasheet completely and use the File menu entry Save to secure the data. It is good practice to save the mechanical datasheet every time you made some important changes to the data.

Optional data entries

Some of the data entries are marked as optional. A value of zero indicates the design module must calculate an optimised value for this entry. You can force the heat exchanger design to use a specific user defined value by entering a none-zero value for the optional data entry.

Example: you want use a 13 mm thick plate for the channel. In the section called "Design data cylinders" enter the value 13 in the entry called Wall thickness (this entry is marked as optional). The design module will design the channels using a 13 mm wall thickness. If the 13 mm plate is not enough for the design pressure you will get a warning indicating there is not enough wall thickness to satisfy the pressure code regulations.

There are optional data entries for the cylinder wall thickness, reinforcement pads, tubesheet thickness and flat cover thickness (if applicable).

Reinforcement pads

You can force the design module to design the heat exchanger with integral nozzle reinforcement. If you fill the data entry called Allow reinforcement pads with No the design module will calculate the cylinder wall thickness to be sufficient for internal pressure and nozzle reinforcement. There will be no reinforcement pads required because of the oversized wall thickness of the cylinders.

In case of large reinforcement pads you could try this option to reduce the length of the channels.

Gasket parameters

Use the Edit menu entry called Gasket to select one of the standard ASME gaskets. VES has added some new gaskets to the end of the list (Camprofiles). If you want to use none standard gaskets you must enter the gasket parameters like the compression factor and the seating pressure yourself. You can get these parameters from your gasket supplier.

Edit the material list

Use the Edit menu entry Material list to open the material list. This is a custom made material list especially for the heat exchanger design module. In this list you can find the allowable stress values and the specific gravity for each material.

You can select materials from the material database supplied by VES. Or you can enter materials not available in the material database.

To enter a material from the material database:

  1. Move the cursor onto the cell of the material you want to edit.
  2. Use the Materials button to open a selection window containing the database materials.
  3. Select on of the materials and click the Ok button.
  4. The material and allowable stress values will appear in selected cell of the material list.

To enter a custom material not available from the material database:

  1. Move the cursor onto the cell of the material you want to edit.
  2. Enter the custom material description.
  3. Enter the allowable stress values and the specific gravity (Kg per cubic decimeter).

For each design cycle the design module will check if the design temperature has changed. For the materials selected from the VES material database it will adjust the allowable stress values for the new design temperature. If you have entered materials not available from the VES material database you have to check the allowable stress values for these materials yourself.

If you are ready entering materials click the Close button and use the Save menu to secure the data changes.

Starting a heat exchanger design cycle

Design & View

If you have filled the nozzle list, mechanical data sheet and the material list you are ready to start a design cycle. To start a design cycle use the View menu entry Design & View… from the mechanical data sheet. To design the heat exchanger you have two options:

  1. Design & View the heat exchanger dimensions. This option will design the heat exchanger and show you a workbook filled with the mechanical datasheet, all pressure part dimensions, nozzle list and the material list. You can use the Export to Excel button to create a MS Excel work of this output. This is useful if you want to E-mail the heat exchanger design over the Internet.
  2. Design & View the ASME VIII calculations. This option will design the heat exchanger and show you a workbook filled with all applicable ASME VIII calculations. This workbook can also be exported to a MS Excel formatted file.

Each time you run a design cycle all dimensions will be recalculated. You have to run at least one design cycle to get a complete heat exchanger design. After running a design cycle you can use the View menu to get a weight table or to view the setting plan drawings.

Check & View (customization)

After running at least one design cycle you can use the RToD, ASME VIII or AD Merblätter modules to customise one of the pressure parts. Now you can only use one of the Check & View … menu entries. Using one of these entries will not change the heat exchanger design and only report if there are inconsistencies in the heat exchanger design.

If you want to discard the customized pressure parts you can rerun a Design & View … cycle. This will restore the default pressure part dimensions. After a Design & View cycle all customized data will be lost (you could use the Item menu entry Copy to secure your customized heat exchanger design).

Design options

The Edit menu entry Options will open the option window. This window is filled with design parameters you can use the control the heat exchanger design. There are options for:

  • Flange design
  • Minimum bolt sizes
  • Tubesheet design
  • Nozzle position and orientations
  • Saddle positions
  • Dished covers design
  • Flat cover design
  • Floating tubesheet design

You can get technical help for all options by clicking the Help button at the bottom of the options window. In the help file you will find picture and text explaining the use of all options.

Some options will change the heat exchanger design details. Therefore it is useful to print the option worksheet if you have finalized your heat exchanger design. Use the print button to get a printed design parameter worksheet.