26 April 2023
A free app developed by two industry bodies is helping to improve the quality of pipework specifications across the construction and building services sectors, according to users.
The BESA Pipe Plus specification tool was launched a year ago following a development project led by the Pipework Group of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the British Metal Tubes and Fittings Association (BMTFA).
It is now being used by designers, contractors, consultants and specifiers to access technical guidance that helps them select the most appropriate metal pipework solution for their projects. It also ensures they are referring to the latest industry standards and best practice.
The two organisations joined forces so they could bring together manufacturers’ technical expertise with distributors’ understanding of poor specifications and address installers’ concerns about reducing the risks of poor or incorrect product selection.
The app covers all aspects of pipework specification for construction and building engineering projects including guidance on materials such as carbon steel, stainless steel, and copper, and the appropriate jointing options as a function of temperature and pressure.
Both BESA and the BMTFA had repeatedly warned about the risks of people making poorly informed product choices, which can have an impact on the pressure integrity, temperature suitability, service life and performance of an installation, resulting in increased risks, extra maintenance, compliance and sign off challenges, as well as reduced system lifetime.
They pointed out that 45% of failures in pipework systems were caused by incorrect or poor installation and 25% were the result of the wrong product being selected. The app was, therefore, designed to provide much needed peace of mind to specifiers and reduce potential health and safety issues.
Kevin Morrissey, engineering manager at HE Simm Group, said the app had turned out to be “a very useful and versatile tool”.
“It is straightforward and quick to use, so from the initial entry of application details and operating parameters the user is presented with a material selection and specification sheet that can be used for technical submission and procurement purposes,” he added.
He said the app had been particularly welcomed by contractors who often have the difficult job of trying to resolve specification problems at the installation stage.
“We saw this on a recent project where there were high-pressure and low-pressure steam systems. The specification wasn’t clear and so there was uncertainty in the supply chain, but the BESA app provided the right choice of materials,” explained Morrissey.
However, he warned that problematic specifications had not disappeared.
“We still see too many third-party specifications that refer to legacy standards for metal tube and fittings, or incorrect materials for the application. Dealing with these issues has historically been quite challenging, but the app has provided a reliable common point of reference that can be used to resolve these conflicts,” he said, adding that this made it very important that the app continued to be promoted widely.
Dr Chris Owen, chair of the BMTFA technical committee, also believes the sector has seen considerable benefits from the app because it promotes relevant and up-to-date product standards.
“This helps to combat the issues associated with legacy standards and outdated project specifications that cause confusion and may leave projects exposed to the wrong products being used, or performance and compliance risks,” said Owen.
“The supporting content also helps people new to the industry understand the basics and provides signposts so they can get more advice from BESA or from BMTFA product manufacturers and distributor members.”
The BESA Pipework Group said it was now planning to include plastic products as part of an update to the app and would also be adding compliance and sustainability information for metal pipework products. Members are also working with the Thermal Insulation Contractors Association (TICA) so that pipework insulation could be covered in the future making it possible for the app to provide a total ‘systems approach’.
Future work may also include linking data from the app to BESA’s industry standard for building maintenance SFG20 to help with long-term operating issues and replacement or retrofitting work.
The app is available from all regular app stores.