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Pipes and fittings:Fast track piping solutions which work in the real world

In today’s world of building and plant construction, the process of facility design and engineering moves at a rapid pace. Often, fast track construction is the rule, not the exception. David Snodgrass, UK and Ireland country manager for Victaulic, pipe joining system manufacturer, shows how to manage those accelerated schedules with improved piping system construction, while meeting or exceeding design standards.
Pipes and fittings:Fast track piping solutions which work in the real world
The ever-increasing pressures being placed on commercial construction teams has led to more and more off-site preparation work. However, with piping the essential ingredient, what options are there for increased speed?

Pre-planning equals speed in plant construction and the trend of buying piping and joints 'bagged and tagged', so that a Meccano-like set arrives on-site for assembly, is increasing in popularity, as is the provision of off-site pre-cut pipe to length. Victaulic, which specialises in the provision of grooved-end jointing systems, has seen a dramatic increase in the use of its non-weld systems in the UK during the last few years because of the demand to save even more time on-site. The Victaulic jointing system has proved so popular it has been transforming the way customers manage their projects and the speed of their installations.

A good example of design flexibility and installation challenges is the Swiss Re HQ, 30 St Mary Axe in London where Victaulic couplings were used for various water, fire protection and sprinkler systems within the building.

The Victaulic system was chosen by Skanska Rashleigh Weatherfoil for its years of proven joint reliability, as well as its ease and simplicity of installation, which contributed to controlling cost and offered benefits to the installation programme.

Because of the variety, size and scale of the individual pipe systems required for the 40-floor building, up to 450mm diameter sized couplings were used to connect the multitude of building services systems, which included condenser, chilled, low temperature hot water and boosted cold water applications.

The use of these couplings by Skanska Rashleigh Weatherfoil was essential to the company's philosophy for a modular system of pre-fabricated risers which could be progressively installed. This enabled a complete floor of riser pipework to be installed in one day, equivalent to approximately 250 metres.

Design flexibility was also an issue for contractor Drake & Scull Engineering (now Emcor Engineering Services) when faced with the construction of the Sun Life building in Bristol.

How to install three different piping systems within an underground service tunnel from the energy centre to the main building?

Two 350mm chilled water pipes (flow and return), two 250mm low temperature hot water pipes and a 150mm potable water main had to be accommodated.

Yet the confined space meant jointing methods requiring heat and generating fumes would make conditions extremely uncomfortable for anyone working in the tunnel.

The Victaulic jointing system was chosen for the steel LTHW, chilled water and potable water lines because of its ease of installation in confined spaces.

Victaulic was used throughout the Sun Life building by Emcor and not only ensured faster installation for the sub contractors but enabled the company to work with maximum safety and cost effectiveness in extremely confined spaces.

Maintenance and longevity

As well as speed of installation and design flexibility, today's project managers are also under increasing pressure from plant managers to ensure easy maintenance and longevity are built into the piping system.

With its 80th anniversary this year, Victaulic is well placed to show the viability of non-welded piping joints in even the toughest environments. A case in point is the Vine Lane Thames subway. Built in 1925, 24in Victaulic shouldered couplings were installed in the subway on two large diameter water mains (800psi).

One of London's first commercially-built subways, Vine Lane was originally a foot tunnel between north and south banks of the Thames but decreased in popularity with the opening of Tower Bridge. A small passenger tramway was built but later de-commissioned and the tunnel was bought by the London & Hydraulic Power Co (now owned by Mercury Communications).

Today these same pipes and Victaulic couplings still exist to ship water under the Thames in an emergency. Recently, because of the London Bridge City development, Thames Water wanted to extend the original mains. It achieved this by using a large number of 24inch Victaulic couplings with their proven reliability alongside the original Victaulic couplings, already in maintenance-free service for more than 67 years!

The pressures being placed on building and plant construction may be increasing but accelerated schedules are also an opportunity for project managers to look at alternatives to the traditional time-intensive welded pipe. Off-site cutting and 'bagging and tagging' are viable options for time-saving on-site, as well as tried and tested engineering methods such as the grooved-end piping system.

Some 80 years on, the essence of Victaulic's engineering remains the same - providing construction managers with a jointing system which performs as well as welded piping but with built-in flexibility and time-saving installation methods.

T: 01438 741100
1 January 2006

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