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FEATURE MAINTENANCE


MAKING THE MOVE TO WELD-FREE


by Tobias Hammer, services manager EMEA, Parker Hannifin


systems. Unlike welding, such solutions can also be prefabricated off-site to further accelerate on-site installation, while flanges that can be oriented make assembly easier and quicker. Additional benefits include the


elimination of degreasing or anti- corrosion agents, increased safety with no dangerous gases or fire risks, reduced energy consumption, less downtime and extended piping lifespan.


T


here are numerous issues associated with modern welded pipes, not least


those concerning accuracy, reliability and cost. As a result, moving to a weld- free piping solution presents many advantageous opportunities, particularly if it can be backed by on- site support to help optimise system performance and uptime. There is an omnipresent demand for connecting hydraulic units with machines and equipment, both as part of new intallations and in the overhauling of existing equipment. Although welded connections have been the traditional solution, there are a number of inherent problems with welded pipe joints that are driving demand for an alternative solution. Among the main issues are those regarding the accuracy and reliability of connections; even experienced welders cannot always produce 100 per cent perfect welds. Moreover, inherent problems with welded joints include the potential for stress cracking and subsequence corrosion, while ongoing weld integrity can only be proven with regular, expensive and time consuming x-ray testing on other non-destructive methods. Add this to the current industry issues in sourcing specialist welders, and the challenges are plain to see. Then there are the costs to consider.


Not only does welding consume high levels of energy, but there exist numerous time and cost issues around cleaning, degreasing agents and anti- corrosion resources. Safety is another


24 APRIL 2018 | FACTORY EQUIPMENT


concern, particularly those relating to welding fumes and fire risks. Indeed, increased system pressure (especially in hydraulic systems) means there is growing industry focus on safety; a fact supported by a new European directive for pressure vessels. For these reasons, some industries, such as oil and gas, shipbuilding and mining, have already started specifying the use of weld-free technology.


GO WELD-FREE The increased pressure on operators to ensure machine and production efficiency means that system failures and unscheduled maintenance due to piping and connection faults is expensive; both in terms of emergency repairs and production downtime. Throw in the growing importance of safety and environmental protection, which is in turn fuelling demand for safer and more reliable systems, and it becomes clear why replacing welded connections with tested and approved weld-free technology is a growing issue in almost every industry and application. It is well documented that the weld- free technologies such as flange connection systems deliver superior performance in comparison with welded joints, especially where compressive strength, reduced leakage and contamination-free lines are critical. Furthermore, cold forming is much quicker, enables conformity with regulation and facilities integrated connection into existing hydraulic


ON SITE SUPPORT Ensuring the effective delivery of these advantages, however, can only be assured through the support of on-site services/solutions. Considerable added value can be achieved using a complete on-site solution provider. This single point of contact will be able to offer everything from expert advice, design and pre-configuration, to delivery and installation; not only saving time and money through faster installation and reduced downtime, but maximising system efficiency and reliability. Using an on-site support service takes the pressure and workload off internal teams, saving management and co- ordination time, as well as costs. In addition, customised solutions can be designed to meet each customer’s individual needs.


TECHNICAL COMPETENCE On-site recourses offer up a number of technical competences, not least regarding the development and design of new systems and upgrades. This task can be supported by the latest CAD and simulation software to optimise pipe layout and dimensioning, as well as advanced measurement systems; the data from which can be used to further enhance quality control and reliability. Additional technical competencies


offered by reputable on-site support providers should include pipe bending, tube-end processing, tube cleaning and flushing, and pressure testing - all backed with expert assembly, installation and customer training.


PARKER ENGINEERED SERIVCE CENTRES One such service is the Complete Piping Solutions (CPS) programme from Parker. This global service network has been established in response to identified market needs for service partners with


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