Prefabricated polypropylene pipework is the perfect partner for offsite construction and traditional building.
Advances in polypropylene pipe technology amid the growing popularity of offsite construction make a powerful case for factory fabrication of piping & plumbing assemblies – for both, modern methods of construction, and fast-track traditional building projects. Among its many benefits, pipework prefabrication cuts costs by up to 30% and offers quality assurance that is hard to match with conventional onsite piping. Overall, it makes a valuable contribution to greater efficiency in building.
Against a backdrop of tighter money and stricter regulations, the ups and downs of the building industry have made investors, specifiers and contractors increasingly aware of the need to build more smartly. Efficiency is the watchword in the ongoing campaign to raise standards – but without too much upward pressure on costs. This affects all the building trades and professions to a greater or lesser extent, and it’s fair to predict that those who most successfully survive the current blip on the growth curve will be the people who grasp the potential of new products and systems developed to streamline the building process.
The major strength of offsite construction is the high standard of assembly achieved on production lines. Components are transported to site and then simply lifted into position. Quality is assured through tight controls on production, and the specialist skills of the teams involved.
Piping is a key element of modern building – typically for hot and cold water supplies, cooling, heating, and fire protection. Modern polypropylene pipe is suitable for all these services and it teams up well with offsite construction, as well as traditional building, to provide solutions based on the offsite model and delivering significant cost and quality benefits. The case for offsite construction is compelling – and the same arguments support prefabrication of pipework assemblies.
Pre-plumbing is especially attractive in buildings where design is repetitive, such as apartments, hotels, hospitals, schools, student accommodation, military barracks and prisons. Prefabricated assemblies are also ideal for plant rooms and risers. The use of prefabricated piping assemblies can also be a viable option for retro-fitting as part of a major building refurbishment project.
The Aquatherm prefabrication facility is a production line specialising in the manufacture of pipework assemblies to order – for commercial plant rooms and offsite fabricators. Pipes from 16 to 315mm in diameter are cut to length and fusion jointed as required – the only limitations on design are the size of vehicles which transport the assemblies and the ability to handle them on arrival at building site or offsite construction factory.
For the contractor, prefabrication of pipe assemblies means that overall piping installation time is significantly reduced. Prefabrication leaves the installer with minimal cutting and jointing to do on site, so systems are ready for testing and commissioning sooner. This translates to fewer people on site, less equipment and less waste to remove. Because fusion jointing of larger diameter pipes is technically more challenging than smaller pipes, it makes sense to complete as many of these joints as possible under ideal conditions in the factory, rather than on site.
The benefits of prefabricated pipework go much further. There is greater predictability in piping costs, because labour and material elements are priced into the delivered assemblies. The production line process means that joints in an assembly are formed under the best possible conditions in a controlled and clean environment, with experienced operators and specialist equipment. All assemblies are inspected before shipment.
Aquatherm's tough and durable polypropylene pipes are lighter than comparable steel and copper pipework, which makes them ideal for installations where load is an issue. For example, they have been used to great effect in the new P&O cruise liner Ventura, saving a considerable amount of dead weight in the plumbing installation serving the ship’s 15 decks.
Both afloat and ashore, polypropylene pipes contribute to ongoing energy efficiency, helping to reduce carbon footprints. This is because the pipes themselves are more thermally efficient than metal pipes, so less heat is lost in circulation, meaning less energy input is required for a satisfactory temperature at the tap or radiator.
Aquatherm pipes are manufactured from polypropylene PP-R, a non-polluting and future-orientated material. Pipes and fittings, such as sockets, elbows or tees, are fusion- jointed in a process creating a homogenous connection.
- Heating element socket fusion – a machine or handheld device is used to apply the necessary heat to pipe and fitting which are then simply pushed together and allowed to cool.
- Electrofusion socket welding – special fittings with integral resistance wires are placed on the pipe and heated by an electrofusion device, creating a melting mass on both parts.
- Butt welding – connection surfaces of the largest pipes are levelled under pressure and heated to welding temperature, then allowed to cool to a perfect weld.
All three fusion techniques produce welds that are as strong as the pipes and material itself, giving the assurance that the pipework will last indefinitely under normal operating conditions. The PP-R material has proved itself in piping installations that have already clocked up more than 30 years’ trouble-free service and look good for many years to come. The fundamentals of pipework prefabrication have been in place for this significant period: as a result, Aquatherm are able to offer truly smart pipework solutions.