PFM 20 7 - Page 18

The Cost of Leaking Pipes
three millimetre hole doesn’t
seem like it would cause a lot
of damage. However, a three
millimetre hole in a metal pipe at a
pressure of 40psi will result in a leak
of 8,450 litres of liquid in 24 hours.
Factories and plants rely on pipes to
transport vital fluids, so even the
smallest amount of damage can have
a serious consequence. Here, Peter
Crossen, VP of the Maintenance and
Partsmaster platform at global water,
energy and maintenance solutions
provider NCH Europe looks at the
cost of a leaking pipe.
Pipes are found everywhere. From
manufacturing facilities to hospitals,
pipes are used to transport a wide range
of substances, such as steam, water, oil
and chemical solutions. If pipe work
systems fail, there is the very real
potential that a facility’s entire operation
will fail. The severity of water leaks is
clearly demonstrated by the fact that
they cost European businesses around
€80 billion a year.
The most common cause of pipe
damage is age, which is a common issue
in many older European plants where
infrastructure has not been updated for
decades. Other common causes include
vibration, heat, rust, corrosion and bends
in pipes. While most companies will
instantly replace a burst pipe, small
leaks often go ignored. Companies
wrongly wait for the next period of
scheduled maintenance to repair the
pipe, rather than shutting the plant down
and repairing it instantly.
These small leaks have a large impact
on a business. For example, by not fixing
a pipe, employers are putting employees
health and safety at risk by increasing
the chance of slips and trips. In Europe,
Article 137 of the European Union treaty
states that all companies are required to
ensure the safety of their workers. Not
only do slips and trips present a legal
concern to employers, they also threaten
the productivity of the workforce. Each
year in Europe, 210 million working days
are lost due to work-related accidents,
diminishing output and worker morale.
So, what should plant managers do?
Shutting the plant down for one
damaged pipe stops production, results
in delayed orders and there is the
expense of the skilled labourers needed
to fix the problem.
The easy solution is simple — online
pipe repair.
There are a range of products that can
allow plant managers to repair a leaky
pipe without shutting down production.
Pipe repair tape, for example, covers a
leak and allows normal output to
continue until scheduled shut down. By
using flexible self-amalgamating tape
which is resistant to high heat and
pressure, the leak is dealt with quickly
and easily. The bandages can also be
put in place by any member of staff.
Facilities managers should also consider
the needs of their plant when choosing
a pipe repair product. For example, in a
food processing plant, pipes must be
quickly fixed to ensure that no chemicals
contaminate the food production line.
This means that any product chosen
should be NSF approved in accordance
with food safety regulations.
A small leak from a pipe may not seem
like the kind of problem that should
concern a facilities manager, but with
issues such as workplace accidents,
contamination, loss of productivity,
downtime and high costs, they cannot
be ignored. By conducting pipe repair
while the system is online, plant
managers can easily avoid slipping up.
For more information:
Twitter: NCH Europe
Facebook: ncheurope
LinkedIn: nch-europe
Reader Reply: 207032


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