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RAC - Expert Commentary

Overcoming Engineering Challenges In Riser Design
Overcoming Engineering Challenges In Riser Design

How grooved solutions have been making contractors and engineers reimagine the way they construct risers in vertical buildings? Enter into the right pub, or head to a city’s museum or town hall, and you can often find a picture of how the surrounding area used to look. An image from twenty years ago and the difference isn’t too vast. Fifty years back and there’s a definite change. A picture from over a hundred years ago and it’s practically unrecognizable. And what’s the common theme running through these images? Cities are getting taller. As more people migrated to urban areas, developers saw the need to go higher. But with this comes its own unique set of challenges. How can the safety of ground floor be transferred to, in the most extreme case, level 163? Grooved mechanical pipe joining solutions When it comes to high-rise buildings, there are a number of potential challenges for a piping engineer To find out how grooved mechanical pipe joining solutions are helping developers & engineers go higher, we spoke to Matthew Strohm, Director of Product Development (Piping System Design) at Victaulic. When it comes to high-rise buildings, there are a number of potential challenges that a piping engineer will need to take into consideration, most of which relate to thermal movement and the resulting forces on the building. Other issues such as seismic activity and building creep (the natural movement of a building due to settlement) also need to be taken into account. Compensating for thermal expansion and contraction Specifically related to piping systems and subsequently, pipe joining solutions, is the unique problem of having to compensate for thermal expansion and contraction, while at the same time, accommodating for higher pressure. Change in pipe diameter is not an uncommon concern for engineers, however, providing a solution which could operate at a pressure gauge of 25 bars, or the fluctuating temperature of water, presents its own challenges. It’s with these issues in mind that engineers choose their joining solutions, which is why these are the very criteria we set our Victaulic pipe joining solutions against. Grooved vs. Traditional Pipe Joining For decades, the traditional solutions for joining pipes have been welding, threading or flanging. These are good solutions to choose from, but there is a distinct lack of flexibility in a solution that fuses or flanges system components together. This is where flexible grooved couplings come in. They are solutions that allow controlled linear and angular movement at each joint to accommodate not only for thermal expansion and contraction, but also building sway and creep. So how do flexible grooved couplings manage this? It’s essentially down to the design of their components. The dimensions of the pipe coupling housing key is narrower than the pipe groove, allowing room for movement. Furthermore, the width of the pipe coupling housing allows for pipe end separation, which in turn allows the grooved pipe joint to accommodate movement. Benefits of Grooved couplings There are many benefits of grooved couplings, with space-saving being a key advantage on projects, both large and small There are many benefits of grooved couplings, with space-saving being a key advantage on projects, both large and small. As many project managers and engineers know, saving on space can be the key to unlocking extra value above initial planning. Additionally, grooved couplings are perfectly placed to accommodate for piping movement, whereas welded joints that in their very nature are designed to be fixed in place, need to have an area of space to allow for a welded expansion loop or alternatively, enough space to allow the star-pattern tightening of a flanged flex connector. Saving time, money and labor Besides the savings on space, grooved connections offer contractors savings in three key areas: time, money and labor. The installation-ready design of Victaulic’s grooved couplings allow for an easier installation, meaning a process which might take 30 minutes through a welded solution for instance, can now take just five minutes. As any contractor will testify to, this is valuable time that can be used for other parts of the project. With a reduction in time comes savings in cost and labor. Naturally, less labor is used for the same job and in the case of grooved couplings, less skilled labor is required (in comparison to the high skill level needed for welded joints). It’s these aspects that will ultimately deliver contractors with valuable project savings. Grooved connections offer savings in three key areas: time, money and labor Mechanical riser solutions There are 3 ways to accommodate for thermal movement within risers using a grooved mechanical system: The first method is called top of riser free-floating method and involves installing rigid couplings on the riser and two flexible couplings on the horizontal adjacent piping at the top of the riser, which can reduce the need for riser clamps or other structural during installation and allows the system to move freely within the design tolerances. The second method involves working with grooved expansion loops that help to save up as much as 2/3rd of the size of welded U-shaped expansion loops and avoids forced welded pipe deflection. While welded expansion loops require eight welded joints to assemble, the forces exerted on the joint are far greater than those applied on a grooved expansion loop, and generate greater stress, which ultimately requires larger anchors and guides in order to direct the movement. The third method is working with grooved expansion joints instead of traditional in-line expansion joints, which typically have wear parts and manufacturer-recommended maintenance cycles of five years, which also poses problems due to riser accessibility once the construction is complete. Grooved expansion joints like the Victaulic Style 155 are maintenance-free for the life of the system. Importance of anchors In a system using only flexible joints, risers are installed with anchors at the top and bottom and the piping guided every other length to prevent angular deflection at the joints within the piping run. Anchors distribute the movement forces across the structure and also provide the important task of directing pipe movement. At the pipe anchor location, there will be no differential movement between the piping and the building structure, which forces the pipe to thermally expand or contract from that location. This allows the design engineer to control how and where the movement in a system occurs and to provide the best solution to accommodate that movement. A10 Grooved Riser Anchors upgraded A good manufacturer will always listen to customer demand, especially in an evolving market A good manufacturer will always listen to customer demand, especially in an evolving market. Off the back of strong feedback from contractors, Victaulic recently upgraded its A10 Grooved Riser Anchors to a standard product. With the primary functions of carrying the weights and forces that act downward to the base of the riser and connecting the riser to the rest of the structure, the anchor has been providing sturdy support for some of the tallest buildings around the world. Future trends for high-rise buildings One trend already taking place, and I expect to continue, is contractors bringing riser experts into the project at an earlier stage. It just seems to make logistical sense to operate in this fashion. it’s a more efficient use of time to collaborate early in the process. I believe contractors and engineers will seek assistance from companies such as us to help design blueprints together, working in tandem to produce the right solution. Vertical buildings are on the rise. For generations, people have been moving to urban areas, putting greater demand on housing residents and employees. Through the use of grooved coupling solutions as an alternative to traditional methods, contractors can benefit from greater flexibility, reliability, ease of installation and ultimately and most importantly, speed of the installation process.

Why Commercial Air Conditioning Should Have A Regular Maintenance Plan
Why Commercial Air Conditioning Should Have A Regular Maintenance Plan

Air conditioning has become a huge part of our lives whether we know it or not. Most offices have them so that members of staff can enjoy a regulated working environment without having to shiver or overheat. This often makes the office a nice place to work in and helps staff to stay productive throughout the day, regardless of what is going on with the weather. Commercial air conditioning is something that we often take for granted because we barely realize that it’s there. The only time that we notice it is when it breaks down or it doesn’t function as efficiently as we want it to. Why is it important to regularly maintain an HVAC unit? When an AC unit isn’t looked after in the right way, there can be a number of things that can either go wrong Air conditioning maintenance is something that so many people overlook. This can be for a whole host of reasons, including whether it’s that they are unaware that it needs regular maintenance or they think it’s too costly to take on. These are often the most common reasons that air conditioning units aren’t looked after properly. When an air conditioner unit isn’t looked after in the right way, there can be a number of things that can either go wrong and disable air conditioning or just hinder its ability to do its job. Temperatures With a well looked after, fully functioning commercial air conditioner, you’ll find that the temperatures are very accurate and work as intended. This means that everything within your unit is in top condition and working well. For example, on a hot day, when you set your thermostat to a low temperature, you’ll get exactly that.  Over time you may find that your air conditioning starts to struggle a little. This can be in a few different forms. You may detect that it takes a lot longer for your air conditioning to get up or down to the right temperature. This can be for a whole host of reasons and so keeping it regularly maintained will help to reduce this risk. Cost-effective As mentioned, a poorly maintained air conditioning unit will likely mean that it takes longer to get to the right temperatures or it may not be efficient enough to even reach the temperature you’re after. With that in mind, it can start to cost a lot more to run your HVAC system in this state. Due to the fact that it might take longer to reach your preferred temperature, you could end up paying more as time goes on. If you don’t rectify this problem, you may end up with an air conditioning unit that no longer works enough to be worth running. This will have adverse effects on the working environment and your members of staff. Safety of staff Depending on where you are in the world, heatstroke is also a very dangerous problem One of the biggest concerns for a business owner, the HR department and the individuals themselves, is that the office needs to be suitable to work in. From a health and safety standpoint, employees need to be safe and protected. Often air conditioning maintenance falls under this and is a necessity. Depending on where you are in the world, heatstroke is also a very dangerous problem. Having an inefficient air conditioning unit that can’t keep up with the rising temperatures could potentially put your employees at risk! The same also goes for those in more densely populated cities like London, New York City and even France. The air quality in and around these cities can be awful and so having air conditioning to clean and filter the air before it arrives in your office can make a big difference. Preventative maintenance Preventative maintenance is possibly one of the most important parts of owning any sort of machinery. Whether we’re talking about a car or air conditioning, preventative maintenance is a must. Preventative maintenance is just the act of regular maintenance throughout the lifetime of a product. It often involves changing of parts or fluids, even if they don’t need it in that instant. For example, if you take your car for a service and the engine oil is still sort of okay but will need replacing in 2 months’ time, would you just leave it or get it changed there and then? This type of preventative maintenance is designed to make sure that everything is in top condition and works perfectly all of the time. The biggest problem we face is that people think preventative maintenance isn’t necessary and while, yes your AC system will run without it, it’s likely to cost you so much more in the long run and could end up upsetting your staff too with a drop in temperatures. Employee satisfaction Commercial air conditioning is still a huge part of employee satisfaction Although at the time of writing this, many people are working from home, commercial air conditioning is still a huge part of employee satisfaction. Having an operating office, warehouse, school or indeed home, with air conditioning can help to keep people happy throughout the year. As a business owner, HR or general manager, it’s part of your job to keep employees happy and working in an optimal environment. Without this, employees may start to get fed up with attending an office that’s way too hot to work in. Importance of a regular maintenance plan A regular maintenance plan is going to help you keep your air conditioning system in the best state possible. You‘ll be able to detect faults and malfunctions before they have a direct impact on your commercial air conditioning system and prevent any further damage. Through the utilization of a proper plan, you should find that your system has a longer lifespan than those that don’t and should work more efficiently saving you time, money and the hassle of a broken system. Keeping your staff members happy is also a must and so dedicating some of your budget to air conditioning maintenance might just help you to keep morale and employee satisfaction on the right level.

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