Pipe Problem Solver

April 5, 2010

A contractor was faced with two distinct problems. The first was due to the ever-growing competitive market. In a down economy such as the one 2009 delivered, all contractors begin to seek ways to improve their bottom line and bid jobs more competitively.

The second problem is one that every contractor faces on a daily basis: safety. When installing pipe, especially large-diameter concrete-coated steel water pipe, employees are forced down in the trench for the “joining” procedure. This is a very dangerous step in the pipe installation process, and simply handling pipe safely is a challenge in itself.

Solution Lift Off

The aforementioned contractor was located in Queretaro, Mexico, and a division of a company headquartered in the U.S. The parent company introduced the contractor to Vacuworx Intl. , a manufacturer of field-use vacuum lifting systems that the company had been using for a number of years.

The system enables the contractor to safely load, unload, string and join pipe more quickly than with traditional methods. Previously, contractors were forced to move the pipe on their jobs with slings, chains and hooks and use an additional two to three employees. The vacuum lifting system , on the other hand, is an average of seven to 12 times faster; it lets the contractor achieve more with fewer workers, allowing for greater efficiency and, ultimately, profitability.

The system uses a closed-frequency wireless remote control; all lift functions can be controlled safely by the equipment operator from the cab of his or her excavator. Employees no longer need to climb onto a truck, risking life and limb, to attach hooks or slings. They no longer need to attach and hold on to tag lines in an attempt to manipulate or maneuver the pipe.

The next step in this particular case was the joining process. The pipe being used was approximately 56 in. in outer diameter and weighed close to 20,000 lb. The contractor’s goal was to install hundreds of miles of pipe from the mountains down into the town of Queretaro, bringing water to the city.

Smarter Handling

With the Vacuworx system , gone is the past joining step in which a number of employees were down in the trench with chains and come-a-longs, “wrestling” pipe together. Now the operator can lower the pipe down into the trench and, with the help of a spotter, slip the joint of pipe into the piece of existing pipe. Vacunomics offers a safe, fast and smart way to handle pipe, plate and other large and bulky material in the field.

About the Author

Shawn Lowman