In a century-old manufacturing plant, things have been done the same way for a long, long time. But when crews had to completely rebuild a blast furnace and had just nine weeks to finish the project, traditional methods had to go out the window.
The large steel-manufacturing plant needed to put in about 3,000 feet of 1½ and 5,000 feet of 2 piping, and a spokesman for the company said traditionally, all their pipe is threaded. But given the nature of the situation, they had to think outside the box.
“First we were looking at Victaulic, but our local sales group had told us about Viega so we brought in the local reps and got serious, talking numbers,” the spokesman said. “We talked about how long this would take, and that [Viega] would save us significant time and money. On paper, it was a huge win.”
The group was also limited on pipefitter manpower, so between that and the schedule restrictions, Viega’s MegaPress Stainless became more and more appealing. Another advantage was the ability to run stainless pipe in Schedule 10, which can’t be threaded, so they could save on pipe costs as well.
“We have a very corrosive environment in the blast furnace. We rot from the outside in, way more than the other way around,” the spokesman said.
With everyone on board, the company purchased Viega MegaPress Stainless 316 fittings, and a team of six got to work on the project.
“Once we got into it and started pressing, we were talking to the tradesmen and they said it was saving time,” the spokesman said. “When the job was over and every inch of pipe was done, we turned on the water for a test and found just two fittings that hadn’t been pressed. [Once pressed] there were zero leaks. Everybody was thoroughly impressed, and it looked beautiful.”
The blast furnace is the traditional way of making pure iron to produce steel. In fact, the method has been the same for about 300 years. The particular furnace that was worked on was built in 1930 and is a “work of art,” so the manufacturer spokesman said preserving it and all its history was important.
Water runs through piping in the furnace to cool it – it’s producing molten iron that is 2,800 degrees. Based on corrosion rates, the piping has to be replaced every 20 years or so. It had always been done in carbon steel, but thanks to the Viega fittings, now the piping is stainless.
“The maintenance guys have tools and fittings, and they’ve been using Viega on water and air applications,” the spokesman said. “Repairs can be expedited. Runs of pipes are bundled together, so if you have one next to another it’s difficult with threading, but with the press tool it will be much easier to make a repair.”
Work on the blast furnace, planned years in advance, was completed at the end of May 2019. And despite the nine-week window available for repairs, thanks to Viega press technology, the job was finished in plenty of time.
“There is no way we could thread and run all of that pipe if we hadn’t pressed it,” the spokesman said.