Pipe joining: quality on time


12 September 2018
When Austrian automotive manufacturer Benteler Automotive opened a new component plant in the Czech Republic, it partnered with cooling systems expert ČEZ Energetické služby and pipe joining specialist Victaulic for the installation of its industrial cooling system.
Delivering for automotive giants
In April 2017, Benteler opened its new facility in Klášterec nad Ohří, Czech Republic. The production line is predominantly focused on hot-forming steel parts, alongside blanking, welding and laser-cutting parts for its key customers: Volvo, BMW, Škoda Auto and Daimler.

Benteler contracted ČEZ Energetické služby to install the cooling system, which allows for car bodies to be set in the required form, after being ‘baked’ in hot-forming ovens.

The most challenging aspect was that ČEZ Energetické služby had to complete the installation while working to very tight deadlines. The contractor knew immediately that traditional, time-consuming pipe joining methods, like welding and flanging, were not the answer. Partnering with Victaulic, whose grooved products are designed to enable a fast and reliable installation, provided the solution and a total of 3,400 Victaulic products were installed, including couplings, valves, Mechanical-T outlets and fittings.

Planning and preparation
BIM-enabling technology allowed all parties to visualise, monitor and update project design using 3D modelling. This improved collaboration at the planning stage and resulted in even less time spent installing the system on site.
By applying this technology, Victaulic prepared a 3D model of the cooling system which compartmentalises the design of the system in various zones so that it can be visualised in more detail. These granular 3D drawings demonstrated where each product was required and how they would be built on site, with all components in situ.

Greater on-site efficiency
When looking for opportunities to achieve further installation time savings, many contractors still overlook the possibility of prefabricating components off site. Common practice in the construction industry is for products to be delivered at the beginning of a project. As such, spools are assembled on site, which can be tricky, due to the processes involved, including searching and preparing the correct amount of material for the specified work zone.

Victaulic recommends fabricating parts of the system upfront, whereby pipes are prepared and pre-assembled in the required quantities. At Benteler, for example, one and two-metre long grooved pump drops were delivered ready for installation, helping to speed up the process and avoid uncertainties associated with weather that other pipe joining methods, such as welding, for example, are heavily dependent on. 

Future-proof technology
The cooling system at Benteler is future-ready and can be expanded or rerouted at any point in time. The use of grooved solutions means that an entire installed piping system can be disassembled and remodelled, or fittings can be interchanged. Also, easy access to the system also makes the maintenance of grooved piping systems quick and cost-effective.

Furthermore, by having the Building Information Model of the project, any future changes can be swiftly updated in the model, as the piping design is easily accessible and can be modified and adjusted, before changing the real thing.

Victaulic says the partnership with ČEZ Energetické služby and Benteler demonstrates how the use of technology and smarter planning can both improve on-site efficiency and mitigate risk, both in the short and long term.

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