There is no disputing that the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to have a devastating impact on the South African construction sector. According to construction market intelligence firm Industry Insight, the impact of COVID-19 on the sector will result in it shedding an estimated 120 000 to 140 000 formal jobs. The commercial building sector is under extreme pressure to not only contain costs but to ensure they meet construction deadlines despite delays incurred by the nationwide lock down. For new and current commercial developments, innovative technologies and solutions that decrease construction times, limit labour costs, and prove more versatile will be particularly important in order contain costs and ensure timely delivery.
Marcel Ley, Victaulic Regional Manager for South Africa, says grooved mechanical pipe joining systems are one such solution to the previously mentioned challenges identified. They offer an alternative to the use of flanges or welding to connect piping systems and drastically reduce the time necessary to install and maintain these connections. In commercial buildings – such as offices, shopping centres or mixed-use developments –piping systems are installed for heating, cooling, plumbing and fire protection.
Ley continues, using grooved mechanical pipe joining systems can have a significant impact on construction schedules. “Contractors are always under pressure to finish a project in time and unplanned stoppages can put increased pressure on schedules and budgets- as we have seen over the last few months. Victaulic can relieve some of this pressure through quicker installation.”
Victaulic’s grooved mechanical pipe joining system requires fewer and less skilled workers, therefore further reducing installation costs. “With no fire risk there is no need for costly fire watch manpower or fire shielding, tanks, torches and potentially dangerous lead lines, thus drastically decreasing the health and safety risks on the job site. You also need fewer people working on site for a shorter period of time, which in itself reduces health and safety risks,” explains Ley.
Grooved technology is especially suited to commercial building projects as it can easily accommodate changes in the scope of the project. Unlike a welded system, a grooved mechanical pipe joining system can easily be taken apart and the same parts can be reassembled. The initial installation of the Victaulic system is about five times faster than welding, but when a welded systems need to be reworked, the Victaulic system can be ten times faster.
Victaulic Vibration isolation pump drops can also be optimized to reduce the number of joints done on sites. Pump rooms can benefit from this practice and field joints can be reduced from 30 on site connections to only 4 connections with Victaulic solutions. This not only reduces time and risk on site but also ensures that joint integrity is maintained.
Yet there is still a widely held perception that coupling technology can only be used on a temporary basis. It must be stressed that this is not the case. Victaulic offers a permanent solution that lasts the lifetime of the pipe system. Our pipe joining technology has been used in buildings like the CN Tower in Canada, the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and Trump Tower in the United States. South African installations include the Telkom Data Centre in Centurion as well as the Standard Bank Building in Rosebank.
The Standard Bank Head Office, which was built to reflect sustainability, is a particularly compelling case study of how mechanical pipe joining is a far more efficient and effective way of installing an HVAC system than with traditional joining methods. The developers faced numerous challenges when it came to construction of the building. Space constraints made it impossible for flanges and traditional expansion and contraction methods to be installed, while welding would have meant longer lead times and safety risks due to open flames and noxious emissions.
Victaulic QuickVicTM Installation-Ready couplings and grooved fittings overcame these challenges and ensured a fast, safe and efficient installation of the riser pipelines. Tight installation spaces were easily overcome due to the single-piece design of QuickVicTM couplings. There were no loose bolts, nuts or gaskets that could be dropped within the vertical riser space, which resulted in improved efficiency and minimised time wasted. The couplings arrive on the site ready to be installed and don’t require disassembly prior to installation and can just be pushed on a piece of grooved pipe, valve or fitting. Additionally, the fact that the joint integrity can be visual verified to confirm its validity eliminated additional checks and rework. Originally estimated to require two full weeks to complete the system by welding, Victaulic QuickVicTM couplings helped to compress the assembly to 19 hours – nearly 75% savings in installation time – and 1½ weeks ahead of schedule.
As the global leading innovator in mechanical pipe joining solutions, Victaulic continues to transform various industries, to help them recover in these challenging times, with the most advanced engineering technologies and services that allow customers to tackle even the most unique construction challenges.