Landmark Irish Hospital Installs Mechanical Pipe Joining Solution
Safe, quick, clean and cost-efficient pipe joining helps the hospital meet construction schedule and earn green credentials
A full range of pipe-joining solutions can be found in healthcare facilities across India and globally – including welding, flanging and mechanical grooved systems.
Welding pipe work is potentially hazardous, creates toxic fumes and is a fire risk. Entire systems are required to be drained and dried prior to performing maintenance work – because a pipe could burst when flames come into contact with liquid. For example, if a welder accidentally opened the wrong pipe or if a system is not fully drained, the worker can suffer from molten metal splatter. An area where work is being carried out needs to be evacuated and costly fire-watch is necessary.
Grooved piping system assembly requires no hot work and eliminates many of the risks traditionally associated with joining pipes, as well as allows healthcare or other activities to carry on unhampered in surrounding areas of a facility. For instance, work can continue safely with patients still in beds, and only nearby wards have to be vacated.
Other inherent benefits of installing a mechanical pipe joining system include accommodation of noise and vibration as well as movement within the system, without the need for periodic product repair or replacement. Vibration in a piping system could result in noise that becomes cyclical and droning or something that arrives in sudden bursts when equipment is switched on. Increased noise levels increase patient anxiety and stress, which may lead to slower healing times or even lead to additional ailments.
The prestigious Mater Adult Hospital built in Dublin for Ireland´s Health Services Executive is a national landmark. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities including 12 operating theatres, extensive emergency and outpatient departments and 120 individual en-suite rooms for inpatients, the hospital is the largest healthcare project undertaken in Ireland in the last two decades. It is also the greenest and most technologically driven hospital in Ireland.
Safety was a major consideration according to Leo Lynch’s Director-in-charge, Brian Sterling. “The hospital occupies an area of 67,000 square metres over ten floors and was handed over in phases, so parts of the hospital were live while construction work was still going on elsewhere. Because of that, avoiding hot work to eliminate fire risk was our first concern,” he explained.
Without hot work, hospital departments were able to function normally and other trades operated safely alongside, when the HVAC installation process was on.
Familiar with the quality of Victaulic products and the advantages of using the company’s grooved-end mechanical method for joining pipes, mechanical contractor Leo Lynch selected the Victaulic system for HVAC services of the project. The company’s couplings, valves and fittings were used on 50mm – 300mm (2” – 12”) pipe for the hospital’s chilled water and low pressure hot water services as well as in the plant room.
Keeping labour costs down was another factor. “Using mechanical pipe joining is a lot quicker than welding. That’s a major labour-saving benefit. The biggest cost of any job is predominantly labour, and that’s where you very often lose. Materials can be bought at the right price but you can run over on labour cost and it kills the job,” Sterling said.
The fire watch requirement during the welding process has additional cost implications – not only is there the cost of having someone to check that there are no sparks at the end of the welding operation but productivity is also reduced, since welding has to stop an hour earlier in order to allow for this.
To speed up the job further, Victaulic QuickVicTM rigid and flexible couplings were used. These special installation-ready couplings are simple to install without the need to disassemble the bolts, nuts, gasket and housings and do not require an impact gun. This meant installation was faster, easier and safer than using welded systems or standard grooved couplings.
“Using QuickVic makes a difference of probably 15% per joint in terms of time and labour savings,” Sterling said. The absence of loose components likely to drop or get misplaced also made for a more efficient jobsite.
Choosing grooved pipe joining rather than welding was also much cleaner. Sterling said: “When you weld, the inner coating of the pipe normally comes away localised to the weld and creates a lot of slag and dirt in the piping system. With a lot of small-bore pipework, that leads to potential problems like blocking up strainers and control valves. With Victaulic, it’s a lot cleaner. You’re just grooving and pressing down the pipe so it doesn’t flake or descale and you get much cleaner water.”
The HVAC installation for the hospital was completed on time and on budget. Not only did Leo Lynch reap the benefits of safety, speed, labour saving and cleanliness, but the contractor also took advantage of the support on offer.
The Victaulic Construction Piping Services department added value on the technical side by providing calculations of thermal expansion for the risers and distribution piping to maximise the efficiency of the system. A local Victaulic representative delivered product training to installers and ongoing jobsite support.
The Mater Adult Hospital was designed at the outset to reduce the environmental impact and minimise waste during construction. This, alongwith efforts of sub contractors working to implement waste minimisation strategies onsite, resulted in an award for environmental excellence from the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management for the project. Victaulic contributed to reducing the carbon footprint.
The task of joining pipes itself produces no harmful emissions and requires zero electrical energy compared with welding, while reducing rework and its associated wastes. In addition, Victaulic’s principles of lean and sustainable manufacture chimed well with the design and build objectives for the hospital.
Natural elements – water, fire, metal and sand – are used in the manufacture and products are made from 90% recycled materials. More than 95% of couplings and fittings are dip coated rather than spray painted to reduce wasted paint as well as avoid hazardous air pollution risks.
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AUTHOR CREDIT & PHOTOGRAPH
Victaulic Country Manager