A fitting response – MEP
INTERVIEWED BY JAYASHREE MENDES
What are some of the product innovations that have emerged from R&D at Victaulic?
Mechanical grooved pipe joining has been proven through research, testing and extensive evaluation. Pioneered during World War I, the system was invented 95-years ago by the company now known as Victaulic, today the world leader in mechanical pipe joining and fire protection systems.
A mechanical joint is a joining method comprising of four elements: the pipe groove, the gasket, coupling housings, and the nuts and bolts. The pipe groove is formed by cold forming or machining a groove into the end of a pipe. The key section of the coupling housing engages the groove and within the housings is a resilient, pressure-responsive, C-shaped elastomer gasket that provides a triple seal. The coupling housing fully encloses the gasket, reinforcing it and securing it in position.
Victaulic systems have stood the test of time in some of the most impressive engineering feats including the Hoover dam in the United States, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the All England Lawn Tennis Club centre court at Wimbledon. The company’s products are used in nearly every conceivable market including commercial, industrial and fire protection. In India, Victaulic mechanical pipe joining systems can be found in projects as diverse as Tetra Pak in Pune, the Park Hotel Hyderabad and the IOCL naphtha cracker plant at the Panipat refinery in Haryana. Recent innovations in mechanical pipe joining systems introduced by Victaulic include installation-ready technology couplings, delivered to the job site ready to install, without the requirement to first disassemble prior to installation.
In fact, these couplings can be installed up to ten times faster than welding, six times faster than flanging, and twice as fast as standard mechanical grooved couplings. The coupling can simply be pushed onto grooved pipe ends as a single unit, and tightened with an impact wrench or standard hand tools. With fewer steps to install, the result is consistently faster pipe joints and reduced piping installation time, which allows contractors to optimise crew sizes and meet or beat project schedules. Our products are available in nearly every market conceivable from mining and power to HVAC and fire protection.
In addition, the advanced groove system (AGS) was developed by Victaulic for medium to large diameter pipes between 350mm and 1,525mm. They are designed to offer strength and reliability through a robust coupling housing and a patented wedge-shaped roll groove that is deeper and wider thus providing increased coupling-to-pipe engagement and higher pressure ratings. The AGS design results in a 40% increase in end load carrying capabilities compared to previous joining methods.
In your involvement with sustainability, what are some of the initiatives Victaulic has taken?
Victaulic takes sustainability extremely seriously, is a founding member of the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) and is involved with Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and other international initiatives.
Victaulic components are manufactured from 90% recycled materials. Furthermore, grooved pipe joining technology is rooted in sustainability; its inherent qualities naturally make it environmentally- friendly. Even before the evolution of green building the grooved piping system has been providing an efficient, cleaner and safer system when compared with other pipe joining methods, such as welding, soldering or brazing.
Reducing this need means better air quality, less particulate matter released into the atmosphere and decreased fire risk. By-products of solder fumes can contain lead oxide, carbon monoxide, V.O.C. (volatile organic compounds) and hydrochloric acid in addition to many other harmful particles and gases. There also is less material waste, reducing site impact. A grooved mechanical pipe joint does not require the use of electricity during installation, reducing the draw on burdened power resources. Pipes that are joined by welding or soldering require the use of vast amounts of electricity for prolonged periods of time, consuming up to 4,000 watts of energy per hour on a 200mm (DN200) joint.
What are the advantages offered by grooved systems as compared to soldering?
A traditional welded piping system requires highly-skilled workers and is labour intensive.
Additionally, traditional welded or flanged piping systems have rubber bellows or braided flexible hose to accommodate vibrations; however these materials tend to wear out during the lifetime of the system, requiring periodic repair or replacement which can be costly and time consuming. Failure of such items can be sudden and unpredictable, causing serious health and safety risks if, for example, rubber splits in a heating system and hot water escapes.
Rubber compensators can be eliminated by using the grooved-end mechanical pipe-joining method and placing three flexible couplings either side of a pump or other source of vibration.
A flame-free pipe-joining method offers obvious safety advantages. It eliminates the risk of fire and the need for special fire safety precautions and protective wear and minimises potential disruption to normal plant operations. Use of flame-free pipe joining methods also significantly decreases insurance liability.
System behaviour is very similar to welded or flanged systems, with all piping remaining in strict alignment and not subject to deflections during operation.
This makes grooved systems ideal for use with pumps and valves, or where rigid pipe runs are critical. In addition, the availability of flexible mechanical couplings in the Victaulic product line provides a natural solution to noise and vibration attenuation, removing the need for additional flexible connections around pump sets.
Tests have also shown that grooved piping systems – using a combination of flexible and rigid couplings – have advantages over traditional joints in seismic conditions. Rigid couplings offer strength whilst flexible couplings can bare deflection and move with pipes, which reduces damage from vibration. These same qualities make them highly suited for accommodating sway in tall buildings.
Could you tell us of some new product developments at Victaulic for the construction business?
Victaulic invests heavily in research and is constantly innovating. An example of a new product development is the VicFlex Series AH2 braided hose designed for the fire protection market and the most recent extension of the VicFlex sprinkler fitting system. This new hose is kink-resistant and offers the tightest bend radius on the market, at two inches (per cULus listing), as well as the most allowed bends, delivering a new level of installation ease and advantage.
The VicFlex Series AH2 hose is ideally suited for use with the VicFlex Style AB1 Bracket, eliminating the need for sprinkler installers to handle ceiling tiles, cut holes in ceiling tiles and coordinate with the ceiling trade on the job site, reducing hands-on installation time by as much as 39%.
Another recent development is an update to the popular Style 107 QuickVic Rigid Coupling, now available in sizes from 50mm to 300mm, featuring technology designed to address the industry’s need to compress project schedules.
What are the safety measures offered by Victaulic through its products?
Safety adds real value in construction. In addition to the personal side of work injuries, safety affects contractors and owners, workers and managers, company reputations and even performance, productivity and profitability.
Mechanical pipe joining systems are easy to install and provide a union at every joint, giving contractors maximum field flexibility and enhanced on-site decision making capabilities. And as grooved mechanical pipe joining is a no-flame solution, it also requires no costly fire watch manpower or fire shielding, and no tanks, no torches and no potentially dangerous lead lines.
The grooved pipe joining method eliminates many of the safety concerns associated with openflame pipe joining methods, delivering enhanced job site safety and cost savings for owners and contractors. Risks are reduced and pipe fitters are not exposed to the damaging fumes and serious health issues associated with hot works. Grooved piping systems mean safer job sites for all.
Victaulic conservatively estimates that jobs requiring welding applications demand up to 45% more man-hours on average over its own no-flame piping solutions.
Could you tell us something more about your prefabrication strategies?
Time spent on the job site is a critical cost factor, leading contractors to prefabricate as much as possible off site. Prefabrication offers major productivity gains and labour efficiencies – especially when there is limited space on site. Creating a controlled working environment enables the optimum organisation of work and utilisation of skills, facilitating the highest standard of workmanship and reducing material waste.
The Victaulic grooved system lends itself to prefabrication, since pipes can be cut and grooved off site and valves fitted to pump assemblies ready for final assembly in the field as needed. Working in such a way avoids the risk of loss or damage to components on the job site, whilst reduced material handling lowers the potential for accidents.