Which pipes are safer?
The pipe safety issue has long been one of the most contentious topics in the pipe industry, with the pipes and fittings industry facing more than a decade of lawsuits and regulatory fines over pipe and pipe products.
Now, the question of which pipes are safest is becoming more complicated thanks to research published this week by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Researchers from the NIST’s Institute for Standards and Engineering and the American Society of Pipeliners surveyed more than 200 pipe and fittling professionals and found that some pipe and pipework manufacturers were actually more likely to be over-insulating the pipes they produce than the pipes made in their plants.
“We were surprised to find that many manufacturers had been making piping that had been designed to be more flexible,” says John Lippard, the senior research engineer on the NISE study.
“They had been over-expanding the pipe, and some of the manufacturers had not even made the pipes with enough flex to meet federal standards.”
The NISe study found that the average length of a pipe made in a pipe manufacturing facility ranged from 14 inches to more than 30 inches, with some companies making pipe as long as 45 inches, making it one of a handful of industries where the pipe length exceeded federal safety standards.
“We found that most manufacturers did not meet federal guidelines,” says Lippards senior research scientist Mark Bowers.
“Even the smallest manufacturers were over-stressing the pipe.”
As part of the study, Lipps team looked at pipe and piping produced at nearly 150 pipe and plumbing companies in the United States and found a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and materials.
The NIST researchers used a variety of measurement methods, including the millimeter and centimeter measurements, to identify the pipes used in pipe and pipes.
Some of the more popular types of pipes, such as the standard size, pipe size, and length, were identified, too.
“This study has really opened the door to a whole new level of scrutiny,” says Bowers, “and it shows that manufacturers are not doing a very good job of being aware of their pipe safety.”
The research also revealed that the vast majority of pipe and pips made in the U.S. are made with the pipe and conduit pipe, not the steel pipe, which is a less-flexible material.
“It is not clear to us that the pipe used in most of the pipe-related products sold in the marketplace is more safe than the steel conduit,” says David DeYoung, director of the NisE’s Center for Safety, Quality, and Cost.
“The pipe industry should make it a priority to increase their manufacturing and testing practices.”
In addition to Lipp’s research, the NISM has also released a report analyzing pipe and pipeline pipe safety and the impact it is having on consumers and businesses.
The report is available online at: http://www.nist.gov/safepipesafety/pdf/pipal_report.pdf.
The U.N. also has issued a report examining the safety of the products and pipes they use.
The latest study, which was funded by the World Bank, found that all of the major pipe brands in the global supply chain are over-supplied with pipe and equipment.
“At this point, we believe that the industry is over-investing in pipe-making and equipment,” says Andrew Deutsch, the lead author on the UN report.
“Our data shows that this is an unsustainable approach to the problem, and we believe it is not sustainable.”
“These findings have important implications for consumers and the communities they serve,” Deutsch says.
“With over-production of pipe-products and over-use of the industry’s capacity to repair, we are facing a future of reduced demand for the pipes that will negatively impact public health and the environment.”
The researchers say the findings of their study highlight the need for better and more efficient methods of pipe testing and inspection to help determine the safety and effectiveness of products in the supply chain.
“As pipe and infrastructure systems continue to increase in complexity, it becomes increasingly important to understand the source of that complexity,” says Deutsch.
“In this case, we found that it is the product manufacturers themselves, rather than the quality assurance agencies, who are most likely to make errors and not properly test their products.”
The study is part of a larger research effort that was launched in April 2016 by the NSSE to assess the performance of pipe products and pipe supplies.
The study included a survey of nearly 1,000 pipe and distribution workers, pipe and supply chain managers, pipe professionals, and other industry stakeholders to gather data and identify areas for improvement.
In the study published this month, the authors found that pipe and packaging companies had over-stretched the supply of the materials they used in their products, and that consumers and suppliers were paying more for the same products.
The paper was based on more than 60