Pipelines play an important role in industrial and municipal applications. Any disruptions to pipeline operations can result in costly downtimes and lost revenue.
Hot tapping is an innovative technique that allows operators to repair pipelines without shutting down plant operations. This minimizes disruptions and allows operators to continue meeting their clients' needs.
Read on to learn more about hot tapping and the benefits of using this method to fix or maintain pipelines.
Hot Tapping Basics
Hot tapping is the process of adding a new pipe branch to the main pipeline without stopping the flow of gas or liquid inside the pipe.
Hot taps can be successfully installed on any type of pipe including PVC and steel and in pipes transporting different types of content for example chemicals, gas, steam, and water.
The process of installing a hot tap entails the use of a hot tapping machine, gate valve, and a fitting. Inside the hot tapping machine is a cutter and a drill. The cutter passes through the valve to cut through the pipe when the machine is engaged.
Once the hole is cut, the cutter retracts, the fitting or new branch is affixed to the main pipe, the valve closes, and the operator removes the machine. The part of the pipe that is cut out is known as a coupon. The drill in the machine catches and prevents the coupon from falling off the main pipeline.
Hot Tapping Benefits
Pipeline operators and owners have at their disposal a variety of methods for pipe maintenance and repair. However, hot tapping offers several outstanding benefits.
The goal for any pipeline operator is to minimize plant disruptions. Shutting down your plant to perform work on a pipeline can lose you money and inconvenience end users.
The main benefit of hot tapping is that you can install new pipe branches without the need to interrupt pipeline operations, therefore avoiding costly downtimes.
Some pipe extension methods require redesigning the main pipeline. Such techniques can be costly, time-consuming, and disruptive to the environment and pipeline operations.
Hot tapping, on the other hand, does not require any major adjustment to the main pipeline. Using a noninvasive hot tapping machine, the operator simply welds the permanent valve and fitting to add an extension to the main pipeline.
Working on any pipeline presents significant risks due to the massive amount of pressure inside these pipes. With hot tapping, operators can work on live pipelines without risking exposure to high-pressure fluids and potentially harmful gases.
Additionally, hot tapping mitigates gas leaks, making this an environment-friendly pipeline maintenance technique.
Hot Tapping Considerations
Not all applications will benefit from hot tapping. Before using hot tapping in industrial or municipal pipe applications, weigh the benefits and downsides of this technique.
Some important considerations to make include:
Condition of the Main Pipeline
Consider the amount of pressure inside the pipe, the contents of the pipe, and the material of the pipe to determine whether hot tapping would be safe and feasible based on these conditions.
In some instances, hot tapping can deliver significant cost savings. However, determine whether the additional labor expenses, cost of renting a hot tapping machine, and related overheads make economic sense in your particular situation.
Rent or Buy
If you are just getting started with hot tapping or if you typically work on smaller pipelines, renting instead of buying a tapping machine might be a feasible option.
With adequate planning, anticipating inherent risks, and evaluating cost-benefits, hot tapping can deliver value for money in any pipeline application.
If you want to rent a hot tapping machine for onshore or offshore operations, you can trust Fast Flow Pipe & Supply, Inc., to deliver reliable and affordable equipment. Call us today to learn more about our products and services.