For high-density polyethylene pipe (HDPE) fusion jobs, pipe handling and setup are key to increasing job site efficiency and safety in the field.
Typically, producing more fused joints would require bringing in more machinery and operators, which leads to higher overall project costs. But, by using the McElroy PolyHorse, an increase in production can be accomplished simply by strategic staging of pipe.
The PolyHorse helps reduce manpower and the need for some loading equipment while promoting a safer working environment by providing a more productive way to store and handle pipe on the job.
Studying the setup
While developing the PolyHorse, McElroy studied pipe storage at typical job sites. Commonly, pipe is placed on the ground beside the movable jaw of a fusion machine. Pipe stands are then set up on both sides of the machine, and loading equipment is used to individually pick up pipe from the stack and load it into the fusion machine. This arrangement requires two operators and two pieces of equipment for loading and pulling the pipe.
Stacking the pipe on the ground is not an ideal setup. It leads to increased contamination of the pipe and can even damage the pipe. In
addition, when moving the pipe from the ground and into the fusion machine, there is a higher probability for damage to the fusion machine and possible injury to the fusion operator. Simply removing loading equipment from the equation and moving the pipe by hand is not a foolproof solution either, especially when handling large-diameter pipe. In fact, hand-loading pipe can lead to one of the most common worker compensation claims: back strain.
The PolyHorse was designed to solve many of these jobsite problems. It consists of a series of adjustable pipe racks positioned on the movable jaw side of a fusion machine. For use with PE pipe sizes 3-inch IPS to 20-inch OD (90 mm to 500 mm), the PolyHorse can enhance productivity on the job site by 150 per cent.
A second version of the PolyHorse, the MegaMc PolyHorse, is designed to be used with 20-inch to 48-inch OD (500 mm to 1200 mm) HDPE.
With the PolyHorse, PE pipe is off-loaded from the delivery truck and directly onto the PolyHorse, where it stays until needed. To retrieve the pipe, the operator rolls the pipe down the rack and onto the integral pipe rollers, where it is easily loaded into a McElroy fusion machine. When the fusion joint is complete, the pipe can be pulled through the fusion machine, and the fusion machine operator can load another piece of pipe. This means the fusion operator is never waiting for pipe to be loaded, which ultimately means more joints per day.
This method was used near Sugarloaf, Maine (US) for the Poland Spring Natural Water Company. The job was located on a meadow of grass less than 12 metres above a natural aquifer and has been a drinking water source for more than 10,000 years. For this project, a pipeline was built through the meadow to pump water from the aquifer to a nearby bottling facility. Cleanliness and environmental protection were high priorities.
With the help of the PolyHorse, operators were able to complete the job 1.5 days sooner than anticipated, reducing costs and rivaling the production efficiency of coiled pipe. In one analysis of the job site, 100 joints were fused, with an average of 29 joints per day. Thus, a five-day job became a 3.45-day job.
In Melbourne, the PolyHorse was used to boost efficiency on a Port Rail project installing a fire service line to provide water to sprinklers. This 3.5 km project included fusing 225 mm SDR 11 pipe using a TracStar 412. In all, 300 fusions were completed.
Darren Chandler, National Sales Manager for GEM Industrial Services said the PolyHorse utilized for this job not only saved contractors time, but they also decreased the amount of labor needed on the jobsite, allowing this project to be completed well ahead of schedule.
Standards and features
Both the standard PolyHorse and the MegaMc PolyHorse offer solutions to increase jobsite productivity and safety. The PolyHorse can be purchased in a manual model or with hydraulic PowerAssist, which helps manoeuvre pipe up, down, and into the fusion carriage. The MegaMc PolyHorse features a powered, tracked pipe stand that is operated by remote control and offers up to 24 inches (600 mm) of lateral and 34 inches (860 mm) of vertical movement to align out-of-round or curved pipe.
The PolyHorse is a proven asset for cost savings on the job site. By staging an entire load of pipe in the racks of a PolyHorse, in one location, efficiency and job site safety can be increased, lowering costs to the contractor and increasing profit and productivity overall.
For more information, go to www.mcelroy.com.
This article is featured in the September edition of The Australian Pipeliner.