Many customers when adding compressed air equipment or expanding production process with new compressed air system tend to work with plumbing or mechanical contractors with specification to stay with current black iron or copper piping and fittings. The installation of compressed air or vacuum pump equipment is typically part of the scope of purchase for pending plant upgrades or new projects.
The upfront costs of piping material and the compatibility with existing piping is normally primary concern versus the time and labor of installation.
Many compressed air manufacturers are now supplying new technology lightweight aluminum piping with quick connect fittings and elbows such as GARDNER DENVER’s Quick-Lock Tubing. The structural integrity of the new aluminum piping or tubing meets current ASME standards and unlike black iron pipe, no pipe saddles or hangers are needed. The new aluminum tubing is supplied in standard lengths and cut on site easily for mounting with quick connect fittings. Black iron pipe installations may also require special lifting equipment due to weight of pipe and hangers required. This not required for lightweight aluminum.
The price difference for old school black iron pipe and fittings versus aluminum lightweight pipe and quick connect fittings is approximately 10 percent higher for the aluminum but where a normal installation of black iron pipe upgrade may take 3 to 4 days, the new aluminum lightweight piping is typically installed in one day; drastically reducing the downtime and labor for iron pipe install.
Some customers expressed concern over the availability of the new aluminum piping and fittings compared to iron, galvanized, or copper pipe. GARDNER DENVER keeps extensive inventory in local warehouse in North Carolina. Many local mechanical contractors are also keeping the new aluminum piping and fittings in their inventory.
One local customer who has seen the benefits of this new technology is International Paper in Lithonia GA. They upgraded their plant piping network with the new aluminum piping. Their current air system has three air compressors, one GARDNER DENVER RDS cycling type air dryer, and a 5000 gallon vertical air receiver. The time frame for complete piping installation was two days.
The technical specifications for the GARDNER DENVER Quick-Lock aluminum tubing (reference documents GA-QLT-100 or GA-BLT-100) show maximum pressure of 220 psig and maximum temperature of 176 deg F. The maximum pressure for vacuum pump installations is 29.6 inches hg V. These ratings meet most ASME compressed air or vacuum system requirements.