When the project you’re building takes 12-18 months and might contain 8,000 or more fittings, it’s easy to see how a little bit of time savings per fitting can add up to enormous gains.

That’s what St. Johns Ship Building in Palatka, Florida, has learned in recent years, and why the company is so excited about Viega systems.

St. Johns builds just about anything that can float – barges, tugboats, off-shore supply vessels and more. William Mann, the Pipe Fitting Supervisor at St. Johns, encourages as many people as he can to consider Viega fittings in their builds. He’s got personal use statistics to back up his recommendations, too.

“It’s a tremendous labor savings. That’s the first thing that drives it,” Mann said. “Also, there’s no hot work to deal with on the fittings. If you’ve got to make a repair you just trap out the section, put in the new pipe and repress the fittings. You don’t have to de-gas the vessel just to go in and make a repair.”

Mann has been in the business nearly 30 years and said he considers Viega’s systems a unique product for shipbuilding. He called Viega the “best thing I’ve seen come along in a long time.”

He did his own case study, comparing the hours needed to install Viega fittings versus traditional stainless steel and copper joining methods in two similar ships. He said he cut nearly 400 man-hours out of the installation time.

“It was a tremendous savings!” he said. “If you take an average 300-foot offshore supply vessel, you’re looking at thousands and thousands of feet of pipe. An average socket- weld fitting is about an hour and a half per fitting, where with MegaPress, you’re sanded in five minutes and you’ve got less than 10 minutes total for one fitting. Multiply that by 8,000 or 10,000 fittings …”

Plus, Mann said, the work is easier on employees, making it even more attractive. Also, they can assemble an entire pipe system from one end to the other without pressing any fittings, making sure everything is running just how they want it to or they can make any slight adjustments if necessary. Then employees go down the line, pressing all the fittings.

“We didn’t have any leaks in the first 3,000 fittings we put in,” Mann said. “Once in a great while, if we find a leak it’s because someone didn’t press a fitting. But we always air- pressure test first.”

A few years ago, an engineer told Mann about a company in Maryland that had used a different press fitting system for their water lines in their tugs. Intrigued, Mann looked it up and found that “a lot of people were complaining about the company, but nobody seemed to be saying anything negative about Viega fittings.”

Mann connected with Viega online and set up an appointment to learn more. He convinced his company it could be a better, easier and more cost-effective way to join pipes than socket welding, and they gave it a go. These days, many of the projects St. Johns takes on use Viega, and all of Mann’s crew members have been trained on press technology.

St. Johns Ship Building first started using ProPress products a couple of years ago, and as the company became more comfortable with it, they began incorporating MegaPress as well.

They use ProPress Copper for potable water, run MegaPress for compressed air and use MegaPressG for fuel systems. Viega products are U.S. Coast Guard approved, so there’s no question about their usability at St. Johns.

“It’s just tremendous savings everywhere I look. I can’t find a flaw to the fittings or the installation,” he said. “I love the stuff and recommend it to everyone who comes along.”

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