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Academy expands pipe joints training to meet industry demand

The Academy of Joint Integrity, which was formed to provide industry best practice training for sealing bolted flange connections, is increasing its portfolio of training to support the water industry's drive for efficiency and quality standards.

Training in progress for a pipe installationTraining in progress for a pipe installation

This will be delivered through a partnership between the Academy, its parent company Flexitallic, the sealing solution supplier and its specialist utilities distributor William Johnston and Company Limited. Together they will offer new training programmes, which build upon the adoption of smart technology and underpin competency among the sector’s technical workforce, managers, trainees, and contractors.

The training combines the Academy and Flexitallic’s recognised experience in the sealing industry in safety critical industries with William Johnston’s extensive presence as the leading supplier of gaskets and bolt sets to the UK’s pipeline utilities.

The new courses, Bolted Flange and Stub Connection Competency (BFSCC), and Training and Flanged Utility Pipeline Integrity Management (FUPIM), are accredited by the Energy Institute and offer theoretical and practical elements that utilises specialist training equipment and scenarios prevalent in the water and gas industries.

Currently uncontrolled tightening of flange connections between water pipes, valves and pumps is believed to be responsible for a large proportion of leakage from water companies, due to pipes expanding and contracting with temperature variations. In addition to the loss of water, this can add to the costs water authorities or their contractors incur, depending on which party is responsible for repairs.

There is a large diversity of flange material types and finishes that contractors need to seal on a regular basis. Pipe flanges in steel, ductile iron and polyethylene, dismantling joints, flange adaptors, valves, pumps, and many more, are all addressed in the training.

Thermal expansion and contraction, vibration, end thrust, component quality/dimensional awareness, lubrication, and health and safety are also built in to the courses. Harmonisation of installation practice in line with Best Available Techniques (BAT) to eliminate uncontrolled tightening and premature seal failure are reinforced by various international authorities.

To deliver the BFSCC training, the Academy has invested in a specialist version of its mobile training rig to include stub/flange connections used in the water industry, which will allow courses for up to 20 people to be delivered on client premises, including remote satellite sites.

The Academy also utilises a unique Flange Assembly Demonstration Unit an invaluable learning tool permitting candidates to gain practical hands-on experience of identifying and addressing sealing issues, while also viewing unique real-time graphics of the flange assembly process.

The training programmes covers areas including correct bolt and gasket selection, bolt-up patterns, the relationship between applied bolt torque and gasket stress, and practical recommendations on avoiding installation pitfalls, in challenging environments.

These Training courses have been introduced following a successful pilot programme delivered to operatives at Farrans, the UK-wide Construction and Civil Engineering Group. Farrans was working on a major Scottish Water project, which is a diversion of essential water mains used to supply the Glencorse Water Treatment Works that provides drinking water to more than 500,000 people residing in parts of Edinburgh and areas of Midlothian. A ‘right first time’ approach was essential due to the critical nature of the application.

William Johnston and Company Limited has a long-standing relationship with Farrans and introduced the training as part of a commission to resolve gasket and bolt challenges on the water mains project.

Gary Milne, the Academy of Joint Integrity’s Training Director, said: “The level of high-tech innovation in the water industry, especially in the field of smart cities and adoption of smart metres in pipeline monitoring, has the power to be transformational and the additional level of insight this can deliver will demand more advanced solutions to water loss and leakage.

“Flexitallic and the Academy of Joint Integrity have a wealth of experience gained from decades sealing safety-critical pipes in the process and energy industries, which we believe can give the companies supplying our water the edge they are looking for.”

“Our BFSCC courses cover the connection and sealing of pipe connections in a way that compensates the resistance to temperature variation of joints and the necessary safety practice for the operatives doing the work.”

Craig Edwards, Director of William Johnson & Company, added: “The water industry, like other utilities, constantly strives for greater efficiency, but this requires a ground-up approach to ensure the skills of the workforce meet the ambitions of the sector.”

“Over tightening of rubber gaskets is a critical failure mechanism. More than 90% of all rubber gaskets are overtightened when installed. The resultant joint will pass a hydrostatic test, but, in reality, will fail when temperatures increase or decrease in line with our standard UK climate.

“Therefore Water Authorities need the confidence that the installation, in which they have made a substantial investment, has been completed using Best Practice to ensure that leakage is eliminated, compliance increased and ultimately money saved.”

Author: James Brockett,
Topic: Pipes & Pipelines
Tags: training , pipelines , leakage

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