Tailor-made for slurry pipe: Hobas

Managing Director of Global Pipe (Australia) Pty Ltd Andy Holman spoke with The Australian Pipeliner to discuss some of HOBAS’s latest developments and how the company is positioned within the Australian industry.

Speaking on the capabilities of glass-reinforced pipe (GRP) Mr Holman says “In the world of GRP pipe, there are three big players and HOBAS is one of them. Of the three players, only one is focused on centrifugally cast pipe, which is HOBAS. Where they’ve really taken off is in research and development (R&D) and advanced design of pipes. They’re coming up with intelligent pipes that will notify the user of the pipe when it’s starting to reach its wear limits or when it’s having a problem. And they’ve pulled these devices from the medical industry.”

The company is a lead supplier of high performance GRP pipe systems for applications such as potable water, wastewater, hydropower penstocks, cooling water lines, irrigation and drainage and can be used for all installation methods (open cut, jacking and relining, above ground and sea outlets).

Products include circular and non-circular pipes, various coupling systems, shafts and manholes, tees, bends and other tailor-made fittings and accessories. HOBAS GRP Pipe Systems are available in diameters from
150 mm to 3,500 mm in various pressure and stiffness classes.

Built for slurry

Mr Holman discussed that moving solids such as minerals and rocks through a pipe is very abrasive and does quite a bit of damage on the inside of the pipe.

“In some cases, you want a pipe where the inside of the pipe is close to diamond hardness so to be able to resist the abrasion that can be caused by that rough media coming through the pipe. Just as often, you want something that’s soft and gooey which will withstand the attack of the slurry better than something hard.

“What HOBAS has done is they’ve developed this R&D system where they say “˜Because every slurry is different, different temp, different chemical attack, different abrasive materials – give us a sample of your slurry and a sample of the pipe you’re currently using. We’ll take it back to the lab and use that slurry and test it against the whole range of different possible ground materials until we’ve developed a pipe with a wall that will outlast, outperform what you’ve got by a factor of whatever’.”

Mr Holman says that GRP as a material is very cost effective which enables you to do a bit more with it. When you combine that with whatever that inner layer has to be so that it holds up better than anything else, you essentially have this completely customised pipe for your specific application.

“Going to industry and saying “˜Give us what goes through your pipe, tell us what temperature it goes through, give us the chemical make-up that may affect it, the range of variance, sometimes it’s got this much water, maybe the temperature will vary’ – all this comes into play.”

This customisation of a slurry pipe will also be cost effective as it helps ensure the integrity and longevity which means less risk to your pipeline.

How the idea came about

When asked about how this idea of customisation came about Mr Holman said that he had a customer that said, “˜We need a slurry pipe, how will your pipe hold up?’

“There’s a machine called a miller machine which essentially lays your pipe on the machine and it has arms that push down at a certain amount and it rubs back and forth on the pipe and grinds the slurry into the pipe in a very measured and controlled way so they can determine how well the pipe will hold up in an accelerated way. They’ll take all the bits and pieces and put in machine and compare against old pipe and just keep on testing until they have something that will maximise the performance of the pipe.

“The first time they used their standard HOBAS pipe with standard HOBAS liner, which in the world of the water industry and in all typical scenarios it outperformed the abrasion resistance of most standard pipes. But in the slurry application, it got ripped to shreds in no time at all.

This is what led HOBAS to develop a pipe that would work with slurry. Mr Holman says that a new company came to them with entirely different slurry, different temperature, and their great new design failed.

“But within two weeks that had developed a whole other kind of liner that worked great with this application,” Mr Holman says.

Creating intelligence in the pipe

When asked about what type of products HOBAS offers the industry, Mr Holman says that they can offer the best slurry
pipe for your application while still being cost-effective.

“Typically, you’ve got companies replacing their slurry pipes every six months. A whole pipeline – it’s really expensive. A lot of times there’ll be a steel pipe where every two months they have to turn it because the pipe abrades more on one side then the other.

This of course can be very expensive and time consuming.

Mr Holman says “We developed this pipe R&D system that allows them to not only develop the right pipe for the specific application but now they’re adding components to the pipe which make it an intelligent pipe. They’ve taken from the medical industry, these sensors that they can put into the pipe and once the liner of the pipe has worn to a point where it needs attention, it sends a signal.”

In regards to how long the pipe will last Mr Holman says that it depends on the application – but it is still longer than any other material due to its customisation.

GRP in Poland

A global industry supplier, HOBAS has been involved in a number of successful projects in many countries.

“Most recent slurry application is for a coal mine in Poland where they had real challenges with coal burning through the slurry lines very quickly. HOBAS has supplied them with a pipe for this application and is doing and lasting well,” Mr Holman says.

Getting the message out

When asked about current opportunities and challenges HOBAS sees for slurry pipelines Mr Holman says that getting the message out and getting companies to make the change is a big challenge.

“The Australian industry in general changes at a glacial pace. Everybody’s very comfortable with the pipes that they’re currently using and they’re currently lasting amount. They’ve grown comfortable with the fact that they have to replace it all the time. Getting the message out that there’s a different material that you can use, that will not only be cost effective but which will outlast what you’re currently using, because it was designed especially for the application,” Mr Holman says.

Mr Holman adds “One of the issues with slurry and tailings is that in order to change the slurry line, you have to take it offline in order to repair it. Downtime costs are really significant. If you can reduce your down time, the amount of savings is really substantial.”

Take the challenge

As this R&D has just been introduced into the Australian market and is still very new, at the time of writing it has not been involved in any projects as of yet.

Mr Holman encourages the industry to bring HOBAS a challenge they can’t overcome. “Take the HOBAS slurry challenge. Give us a bit of your slurry and a bit of your pipe and we’ll come back with something that’s better and more cost-effective.”

For more information visit www.hobas.com.au

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