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Small Bore Tubing Can Be a Big Plus For Manufacturing Plants

by Jeff Hopkins, on 12/25/19 9:00 AM

Streamline maintenance while also enhancing system performance

"Swagelok small-bore solutions eliminate the oils, sealants, dies, complicated equipment, fire boxes, air tests, and threaded fitting alignment issues."

- From Small Bore Tubing Solutions

If you need to service your steam turbine throttling valves, you want to get in and out of the system quickly. Or suppose you need to change out pilot solenoid valves in your electrohydraulic controls (EHC). Again, you want to get in and out of the system quickly. Downtime is lost revenue.

Small bore tubing

Unfortunately, cutting, welding, and threading hard pipe is slow and labor intensive. A better alternative may be stainless steel tubing.

Simple solution

Most control systems in manufacturing plants depend on fluid delivery of one kind or another – steam, condensate, hydraulic fluid, chemicals, pressurized air, etc. These fluids are delivered through piping systems, many of which are 2 inches in diameter or less. For these fluid systems, stainless steel tubing, instead of hard pipe, can greatly simplify installation and plant maintenance.

Imagine two teams of technicians building any typical configuration involving 90-degree turns and other complexities. One team is working with stainless steel tubing and the other with hard pipe. It's not hard to see how the stainless steel tubing team probably would finish many minutes, even hours, ahead of the piping team.

The tubing team could be your own technicians who have been trained to manage the bending and assembly. That means no need for special contractors or welding teams on the plant floor.

Efficient solution

Let’s take another look at your EHC, but this time from the standpoint of fluid power efficiency. A pump drives hydraulic fluid to a set of electronically controlled valves. In turn, these electronic valves send precise signals to the actuator of the steam turbine throttling valves. So, the whole system depends on the efficient transfer of fluid power from one location to the next. The EHC must be quick and responsive. If your power demand is up, you need greater steam volume at the turbine, and you need it fast.

Small Bore tubeAnd yet, hard piping systems are inefficient by their very nature. They contain hard 90-degree turns (elbows), which create pressure drop. They also contain threaded pipe fittings, which are likely to leak, especially if your system generates vibration or thermal expansion and contraction.
These leaks can starve your system of pressure.
By contrast, stainless steel tubing is bendable to precise radiuses. So instead of 90-degree elbows, you can create gradual sweeps, which minimize pressure drop.

Through a combination of tube bending and automated orbital welding, you can greatly reduce the number of potential leak points or mechanical connections. Where mechanical connections are necessary, Swagelok tube fittings will not back off with thermal cycling or high vibration, unlike hard pipe threaded connections.

As a result, stainless steel tubing systems can pay for themselves many times over.



Just ask

Swagelok Northern California has a great deal of exposure to all aspects of fluid system design and engineering. Whether you have a simple question or a complex challenge, we're glad to hear from you. 

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