New solutions to increase efficiency: The benefits of mechanically-joined HDPE pipe in civil works and infrastructure developments

A new mechanical pipe joining solution from Victaulic offers valuable cost-and time-saving advantages for civil works and water infrastructure projects.The Australian government has spent unprecedented sums on infrastructure in the past few decades, driven by the needs of a growing economy and population. It is estimated that by 2030, the population will increase by another 8 million people, putting further pressure on infrastructure for transport, water and wastewater.

With the implementation of the 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan, both private and state-owned companies are encouraged to “place a high priority on productivity growth. This can be achieved through efficient management of existing infrastructure…and efficient delivery of new assets.”[1] The plan also looks specifically at workforce productivity stating that labour costs can account for up to 39 per cent of overall infrastructure project costs. Improving efficiency can free up funds for other areas of the project.[2]

The future of water infrastructure

From regional towns and growing cities to manufacturing and mining operations, water supply and wastewater infrastructure are critical services required to meet Australia’s growing population. High density polyethylene (HDPE) is the fastest-growing piping material in civil works and water transport infrastructure applications, with adoption expected to increase by 5 per cent per year.

Lightweight, economical and erosion-resistant, HDPE is the ideal material for underground buried and outdoor exposed pipelines. In response to this trend, Victaulic has developed a WaterMark approved mechanical joint for HDPE piping. Strong and durable, the solution is set to increase installation efficiencies, minimise project cost, and overcome the harsh Australian weather conditions, which typically challenge fused poly pipe installations on infrastructure projects around the country.

While butt fusion and electrofusion are currently the standard joining practices for HDPE pipe, these methods of installation are frequently delayed or compromised due to site conditions. Weather conditions (like extreme heat, humidity, rain, and wind) can not only affect the time required to fuse a joint, but also the integrity of the joint itself by creating a sub-par fuse.

With the Victaulic mechanical Refuse-to-Fuse system, joints can be completed regardless of site conditions, reducing risky variables and providing greater efficiency on the project. What’s more, the joint can be visually verified for correct installation, so there’s no guessing whether the joint is secure. Ultimately, the Victaulic Refuse-to-Fuse system allows for an installer to know how many joints a day can be completed regardless of site conditions, which in turn allows for better planning, allocation of workforce and investment.

Speed of installation and accessibility

The Victaulic system can be installed up to 10 times faster than fusing, while providing a consistent joint every time. 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 complex infrastructure 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.

WaterMark approved

With successful uptake in the mining and commercial building markets in Australia, the Victaulic Refuse-to-Fuse system is already helping installers save time and cost of their projects. Now, with the recent addition of a WaterMark certified version of the Victaulic product, the benefits can be shared across the water and infrastructure markets. Specifically formulated to meet the Australian water industry’s WaterMark standard of excellence, the coupling housing is coated in Fusion Bonded Epoxy and the bolts and nuts are Xylan-coated to ensure protection against corrosion in underground buried water lines and outdoor lines exposed to the elements. For added durability, the gasket is comprised of EPDM grade rubber formulated specifically for water systems.

Looking ahead

Quality infrastructure for transport, water and wastewater is a fundamental element that will support Australia’s future wellbeing.

“As leaders in the mechanical joining business, we are extremely proud of the Refuse-to-Fuse solution. We’re excited by the operational efficiencies and savings that can be achieved by switching from fusion to mechanical joining in civil works and water infrastructure projects across Australia,” said David Sharkey, Victaulic VP-GM of South Asia Pacific.

[1] Australian Infrastructure Plan, Infrastructure Australia, February 2016, Page 15

[2] Australian Infrastructure Plan, Infrastructure Australia, February 2016, Page 20

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