This book is, in essence, an encyclopedia and handbook of practical process plant layout practice. Its first edition, published in 1985, was written by a small committee, mostly of senior practitioners, and led by an academic researcher, Dr. John Mecklenburgh. Although I spent some years in an academic role (at the same institution where Mecklenburgh worked before his premature death), I am a practitioner rather than a researcher and have personally designed and laid out many process plants. I nevertheless attempted, initially, to follow the lead of the first edition in offering academic references wherever possible to support the text.
However, my literature review made it clear that this was not going to be possible in the vast majority of cases. There is simply almost no professionally relevant contemporary research in this area, and it is a long time since there has been any. This book is therefore based upon my own professional experience and my own primary research into contemporary professional practice in process plant layout. It is a book about how to lay out a process plant as a professional plant layout designer would, and it is founded in the experience of very many such designers. Despite all of the scientific references cited in the first edition, professional experience was in fact the true source of its most useful and enduringly correct content, so this is less of a change than it might initially seem. Layout design is—and always has been—a practical, rather than a theoretical business.
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