Automated Data Extraction From Piping And Instrumentation Diagrams


How to convert Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams from paper to digital format to save time and money? How to transfer tons of paper documents to a hard drive or even to the cloud? Thanks to the technology of optical character recognition (OCR), converting scanned documents into readable and editable digital files is quite simple.

What is OCR?

The main idea of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is to identify and convert scanned handwritten or printed text characters into a digital form recognized by specific software and other programs. The recognition process involves text analysis and character translation into semi-structured data.

The technology consists of a combination of hardware and software processing methods used to convert physical (paper) documents into machine-readable text. Hardware, such as an optical scanner, specialized circuit board, or even a smartphone, is used to make scanned images of the document. Modern OCR software is powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computer vision to implement more accurate recognition methods, such as language identification or handwriting styles.

To learn more about document digitization check the article:
Document Digitization: Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Never Told

Why do businesses need document digitization software

Imagine that you have a paper document, for example, an article you need to turn to a digital format. Unfortunately, if you want to edit a file further, it cannot be just scanned or photographed. You have a picture that can be edited in a graphical editor, but we need a document that we can edit, for example, in MS Word.

Scanning and text recognition are crucial stages in document digitization processes. Automated data extraction requires less time to convert the paper document into a digital format (like .rtf, .doc, .docx, .txt) than manual text retyping or even diagrams redrawing. As a result, you get a document that can be processed by any text editor.

Document digitization helps to:

  • Convert complex document, containing charts or diagrams into digital format
  • Provide automated data extraction processes
  • Store important documents in a digital database and provide the ability to edit them anytime
  • Save document patterns for more accurate recognition through machine learning

Relevant Case Study: Cloud System for Document Digitization

It’s all about Azati OCR

Azati OCR is an intelligent system for digitizing complex documents based on artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide more accurate results and perform sophisticated document processing.

Let us briefly explain how Azati OCR works.

Step #1: Our engineers use documents to train the machine learning models. It is a necessary step to create a possibility to recognize documents fields and automatically divide them into different categories, such as invoices, passports or Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams. Afterward, the system can define a template for the documents with similar fields and sections.

Step #2: When templates are already predefined it becomes easy to process volumes of one-type or similar documents automatically. To achieve maximum accuracy, azati specialists manually map documents fields.

Due to the integration of artificial intelligence and computer vision Azati OCR provides automatic layout detection. It aimed to look for similarities in different documents and processes these parts separately. After all OCR connects all the pieces found in the single document into a template.

This method is usually applied to complex documents containing charts, diagrams, images or other non-text characters. At first, the abbreviations and designations are defined manually, and then these objects are searched in all documents.

Step #3: Azati OCR processes each document several times to increase accuracy and processing efficiency. As a result, the system exports all the extracted data (in the structured or semi-structured form) to any possible format, for example: XML, CSV, JSON, or plain text.

Quality Control: Azati specialists select a certain number of documents as a focus group. These documents are examined manually to define the accuracy rate. The minimum accuracy rate at the moment is equal to 97%. If the required standard is not achieved, our specialists re-map the templates and run processing repeatedly.

Our engineers can deploy the OCR engine in every country, or even to a self-made cloud without any access from the Internet. At Azati, we respect user privacy and data security.

Azati OCR Benefits

Today, there is a considerable amount of digitization software on the market of similar tools. However, most of them are insufficient for most corporate needs, especially when it comes to the digitization of Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams. These documents have a complex structure due to the presence of a large number of non-text characters.

Let’s have a look at the main benefits of the Azati OCR

#1 AI-powered Product

To efficiently analyze, recognize, and digitize paper documents that contain diagrams, charts, or images, Azati improved the product by integrating artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision. It helps increase recognition accuracy: each new document added to the database is used to train and improve the mapping algorithms.

#2 High accuracy of character recognition and efficiency

At the moment, Azati OCR allows:

  • Decrease single document processing cost by 5 times (compared to manual digitization)
  • Reduce document processing time (120K documents in less than 24 hours)
  • Speed up data extraction process in 4 times
  • Increase character recognition accuracy on 97%

#3 Possibility to choose how to pay

Most of the similar products on the mass market provide only one payment method – subscription. This is convenient for companies who want to systematically and continuously process and digitize documents. However, this approach is not always suitable for those who want to handle a massive group of documents once.

Therefore, Azati OCR provides the ability to pay in two ways:

  • Pay-per-Document – you pay for each processed document, depending on the document’s complexity – ideal for many different documents. Our engineers continuously improve the system, and recognition quality increases over time.
  • An independent version – we install our engine in your environment at a fixed price and sign a maintenance contract. This option is best for small amounts of well-standardized documents, regardless of complexity.

How Azati OCR treats piping and instrument diagrams

Pipelines are exposed to significant pressures, high temperatures, corrode, and periodic system cooling and heating. Their design is becoming increasingly sophisticated due to stricter reliability requirements and the presence of various significant system elements.

All this requires in-depth knowledge from specialists, strict adherence to the rules, and specialized technological requirements for the construction and installation of pipelines.

Due to a large number of relevant documents that engineers should use while designing, construction, and further maintenance, digitization will help speed up data extraction, convert paper versions to digital format for easier editing of Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams.

There are standard and generally accepted signs and symbols for designating equipment and even processes on P&ID. It is possible to prepare predefined templates for recognizing certain sections, image segments, and abbreviations. Signatures, letters and numbers are used alongside other elements to identify the type of equipment. 

Often P&ID consists of the following components:

  • Symbols of pipe fittings (valves, taps, gate valves, etc.)
  • Vessels
  • Pumps, Fans & Compressors 
  • Numbers & letters inside the characters.
  • Designation of control signals
  • Other elements

Since such diagrams follow specific designing rules and have generally used abbreviations, it becomes easy to create predefined templates computer vision can match to apply them to any document that looks similar to Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams. Moreover, Azati OCR is already successfully used to treat Invoices and Passport or ID Card data.

Sometimes Azati OCR cannot match a document to a predefined template. 

There are two scenarios of document processing:

  1. Manual mapping to extract data from custom diagrams with high complexity requiring human help.
  2. Partially automated data extraction when Azati OCR handles all possible symbols and designations that can be recognized. Later it expects the user to determine which information is useful and which is not.

How to use Azati OCR for automated data extraction from P&ID

P&ID (piping and instrumentation diagrams) is a diagram showing the relationship of technological equipment and devices used to control the process. 

P&IDs play an important role in maintaining and modifying the process that they describe. It is very important to demonstrate the physical consistency of the equipment.

There are several stages where Azati OCR is helpful:

Re-design the layout of the technological process (system)

Pipeline design is a crucial part of the construction process in many domains, such as industrial or petroleum engineering, etc. At the same time, solving key problems, including the pipelines layout, the selection of the necessary pipeline fittings and specification development causes certain difficulties, which can be successfully solved by converting paper documents into digital formats with Azati OCR.

Hardware Specification Processing

The specification of equipment and materials is a text project document that contains information on each element’s composition and basic characteristics. Document digitization provides the possibility to make all necessary changes and edits faster and efficiently by using specific software without manual text retyping.

Analysis of operational hazards 

It is critical to solve issues related to the prevention of potential emergencies to minimize technological risks. This is especially relevant to ensure the safety of petroleum facilities, the operation of which is carried out with an increased risk of transportation or storage accidents. Digital charts and diagrams can help to check system status more accurately and provide the ability to apply various ways to solve existing problems without redrawing or retyping.

Maintenance and system (process) modifications

For further maintenance and modification of pipeline systems, engineers need all previous documentation and diagrams that are much more economical and efficient to store on digital media. Moreover, thanks to the digitization of piping and instrument diagrams, it becomes possible to make edits without rewriting or redrawing them from scratch.


Before Azati OCR, the only method of paper digitization was manual text reprinting. This process took a lot of time, and also often led to a lot of mistakes. Azati OCR saves time, helps to eliminate errors and minimize effort. 

The technology allows you to perform actions that are not available for physical copies. For example, you can perform compression to ZIP files, highlight keywords, post documents on a website, and attach them to e-mail.

Azati provides an opportunity to develop a personalized trial version for free. This will help the customer understand whether Azati OCR meets all business requirements and needs.

How our team makes a personalized demo:

  1. You send us a few samples for OCR training.
  2. You send us another group of documents, and we show you how the system processes these documents in real-time.
  3. We tune an engine to decrease the number of errors and run processing for a huge set of documents
  4. Our specialists send you the results, reports, and comments concerning your samples.

If you need a product to digitize your complex documents containing Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams – drop us a line and we’ll have a chat on how Azati OCR can help your business.

Drop us a line

If you are interested in the development of a custom solution - send us the message and we'll schedule a talk about it.