Refusing To Fuse HDPE Pipe: The Benefits Of Mechanical Joining In Mining Operations

In the unpredictable Australian environment, a new mechanical pipe joining solution from Victaulic offers cost- and time-saving advantages over traditional fusing methods.

High density polyethylene (HDPE) is the fastest-growing piping material in mining applications, with adoption expected to increase by five per cent per year. In response to this trend, Victaulic, the world’s leading producer of mechanical pipe joining solutions, has developed a Watermark™ Approved mechanical joint for HDPE piping. The solution is set to increase installation efficiencies and overcome the harsh weather barriers which typically blight fusing installations on mining sites.

Combatting all weather conditions

Mechanical pipe joints completely overcome the environmental challenges that typically affect traditional fusing processes. Unlike fusion, where weather conditions can affect both the time required to complete a joint, as well as the integrity of the joint itself, mechanical joining ensures installations go ahead as planned – rain or shine.

With no need for fusion tents, no concerns about contamination of pipe ends, and no extra heating or cooling time during extreme weather, pipe installation processes become streamlined and hassle free. For mine sites located in some of Australia’s harshest environments, the ability to complete projects without weather delays will ensure both operational and cost benefits.

Speed of installation and accessibility

Widely accepted for use on steel pipe, mechanical joining can be installed up to 10 times faster than fusing. Through the simple act of tightening two bolts and nuts, there is no need for expensive fusing equipment, power sources or certified fusion installers. This means skilled workers can be deployed to more demanding areas of mining projects.

Additionally, without the need for complex equipment, mechanical joints can be quickly installed in tighter spaces and places that traditional fusing gear can’t reach.

“In the post-boom era of the Australian mining industry, we know businesses are serious about cutting costs and boosting productivity. We developed the Victaulic Refuse-To-Fuse™ HDPE couplings with these business needs in mind. From an operational perspective, the efficiency gains offered by mechanical joining are extraordinary,” said David Sharkey, Victaulic VP-GM of South Asia Pacific. “Our design also ensures the performance of our mechanical joints equals, or exceeds, the function of traditional fused joints”.

The next evolution in pipe joining

For more than 100 years, mechanical joints have improved the installation, operation and maintenance of piping systems, with large scale adoption on steel pipe in the mining, commercial building and fire protection markets. As mines continue to find more applications for HDPE pipe, the Victaulic Refuse-to-Fuse couplings can help mines realize increased savings while still enjoying the same benefits of the light-weight, flexible and durable qualities offered by HDPE pipes.

“While butt fusion and electrofusion were previously accepted as the standard in joining techniques, these methods of installation are frequently delayed or compromised due to the challenging conditions on mining sites,” said Sharkey.

“As leaders in the mechanical joining business, we are extremely proud of the Refuse-to-Fuse solution. We understand the mining industry is looking to cut costs through faster, more efficient and affordable processes. We’re excited by the potential operational benefits and savings that can be achieved by switching from fusion to mechanical joining in mining projects,” he added.

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