When you’re working in a busy industrial environment, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the intensity and variety of tasks in front of you.
Often times you’re working on tight deadlines in close proximity to heavy equipment with concerns about handling hazardous materials. In those circumstances, you may not be taking the time to consider every variable which might affect your productivity.
When you’re working hard and on deadline, it can be a challenge stop and consider when the pipes you’re working on were last serviced. Unfortunately, without taking that time, you might allow maintenance tasks to fall by the wayside.
When that occurs, you’re almost certainly at risk of putting yourself and those people you’re responsible for in a degree of danger.
It’s vital that you don’t allow yourself to get wrapped up in the moment and, instead, take a broader view of worker safety that encompasses those concerns.
Below, you’ll find a guide to some tips you should follow for maintaining your steel pipe fittings.
These fittings, along with butt weld fittings, are often times the areas of biggest concern in maintaining a high stress environment because they’re located at points in the setup with the highest potential for a failure rate.
Unfortunately, since steel pipe fittings are often times engineered to hide in the deepest and darkest recesses of your setup, they can go unnoticed and under-serviced.
In a management role, it’s your responsibility to break down that error chain and make sure that regular maintenance jumps to the top of your list of concerns.
By following these suggestions, you can take significant strides in creating a safer workplace that not only works on behalf of your employees to keep them safe, but also will demonstrate your commitment to more thoroughly understanding your management role.
Regular Inspection Scheduling
It’s rare that you’ll be made aware of a sudden failure in a steel pipe fitting or a butt weld fitting. Indeed, if you do find yourself dealing with such a failure, it’s likely that you’ll be in the midst of navigating an emergency situation.
Rather than simply capitulating to that inevitability and bracing yourself for the worst case scenario, it’s vital that you do everything you can to get out in front of the problem.
That requires special preemption and scheduling out regular inspections that may need to occur more frequently than the suggested amount of time for the lifespan of your fittings, but in this case, being conservative can be a huge benefit.
In fact, maintaining a regular inspection schedule can have several ancillary benefits which go a long way toward improving the overall health of your working environment. In that way, you can see a significant incentive to stay ahead of the curve.
The first step in developing a regular inspection schedule is to consult with the manufacturer of the fittings to see if they can share the expected failure rate of each individual piece.
With that information factored in to the equation, you should then be able to compare that to your inspection plan and determine how much it needs to be accelerated.
You should then take the time to train each of your employees responsible for an oversight role in the signs that may come before a potential fitting problem. That will allow you to shut the operation down if necessary and directly address the issue before a major breach.
You should also be sure that your inspections cover the full physical location of where your pipes are installed. Cutting corners and trusting previous results will only result in your being surprised in the event of an emergency and therefore scrambling to keep up.
Proper Equipment Installation
Pipe fittings and butt weld fittings will truly be resilient and strong if you manage to select the right tools for the job. Though inspections are important, professional manufacturers generally provide reliable products that should stand up to rigorous use in most environments.
However, if you select the wrong tool for the job, you shouldn’t be surprised if you end up with performance that doesn’t quite meet your standards.
Though the average pipe fitting can handle average stress, a round peg shouldn’t be forced through a square hole.
Too often, maintenance crews simply look around for pieces of leftover material that may be conveniently accessible to complete a repair rather than reaching out and machining a proper replacement.
Making sure that you avoid the call of convenience will go a long way toward making sure you also benefit from proper performance.
Always make sure that you consult with the original manufacturer of your pipe setup where possible in order guarantee that the proper fittings are being installed for your equipment.
You may even want to go a step further and develop a relationship with the foundry in charge of processing the replacement parts in order to make sure you’re alerted if any issues arise in the manufacturing process.
If your shop prefers to machine its own replacements, always be sure that every fitting is completed to the manufacturer’s precise requirements.
Any corners being cut are corners that will eventually catch up to you down the road and which could put your full operation in jeopardy.
Making sure to precisely match fit and materials is the only way to guarantee that your new pipe fittings, once installed, will always perform up to snuff.
Proper Cleanliness and Lubrication
Anyone who’s ever worked for an extended period in an industrial context can tell you that it’s a challenge to keep people and equipment as clean as possible.
The grit and dirt which builds up over a full day’s work is often times treated as an inevitability rather than the hazard it truly is.
In fact, often times, preventative steps which might help to keep a workspace more orderly are disregarded due to a mistaken belief that there’s not much to be done to keep things in order.
This allows grime and dirt to gather around joints and other exposed areas and can leave your pipe fittings uniquely affected.
Because of the nature of the crevices and exposed areas that come with a pipe fitting, you might find yourself trying to dig through a layer of scum just to verify that your fittings are connected the way they should be.
Make sure to always emphasize a clean working environment that seeks to minimize contamination.
To the extent possible, you should have a company-wide focus on the dangers of particulate matter and the ways in which your end products will be damaged by a lack of appropriate responsible to particle risk.
Additionally, keep in mind that fitting pipes together without taking the time to properly lubricate the joints will also create particle contamination.
Metal rubbing on metal will create a fine dust that, eventually, builds up into occlusions which can cause serious damage to your industrial equipment.
If your pipe fittings ever need to be manipulated, you need to be sure that they’re taken care with all of the proper lubricating steps in play. Always use the grease that’s recommended by the equipment manufacturer, as the original designer of your fittings will best know about the risks associated with them.
Correct Equipment Operation
In many cases the biggest risk to the stability of a fitting or other equipment in a setup is simply operator error.
With the threat of deadlines baring down, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re tempted to push past capacity or otherwise expose yourself to the risk that comes from not following all of your manufacturer’s suggestions.
Unfortunately, while the rush may benefit you in the short term, it’s also likely to put severe stress on the components of your pipes which are most easily altered by stress.
In many cases, that ends up being fittings and caps, as those components are exposed to the elements and weaker than more stable and central areas.
Since fittings are also often the least frequently monitored components, you’re likely to be doubling down on a risk and creating an environment where your pipes are doomed to failure.
Always take care to verify that your equipment operates exclusively within capacity.
Any increased output should be measured to make sure you’re not exposing your firm to risk.
While clients may consistently push for hard deadlines and pressure you to guarantee you can meet quotas by a certain date, that pressure can backfire if it creates the the propensity for excessive risk.
If your entire operation is left dealing with a structural integrity failure because you decided to push your fittings past the breaking point, you’ll find yourself falling far behind what a normal delay might otherwise have created.
These situations can be avoided by communicating openly with your customers and discussing the limitations of your equipment frankly.
In most cases, that’s the best way to guarantee that you’re able to secure high-functioning equipment that doesn’t break down at its most vulnerable spots, thus damaging your fittings.
Regular Equipment Rotation
Ultimately, the lifespan of your fittings needs to be respected. Despite your best efforts, eventually all of your industrial components will be pushed to the extremes of their usefulness.
Your pipe fittings are no different, nor are your butt welds. As a result, it’s vital that you track the usage of those components and take the necessary steps to cycle in new equipment as recommended by the manufacturer.
Though it may be challenging from both a time and financial investment perspective to force yourself to consistently rotate out equipment in an industrial setting, it’s the best way to get the biggest return on your initial investment.
It’s often said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and when it comes to monitoring the strength and health of your pipe fittings, taking those preventative steps can be extremely profitable.
The failure of things that are counted on the most can often be the most unexpected challenges for people to deal with, and pipe fittings certainly fit into that category.
Once a setup is established and operational, it’s a natural instinct to trust it to continue to operate at capacity without requiring excessive oversight. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality of most industrial environments, and it’s vital that you work to maintain your responsiveness.
Following these suggestions will go a long way toward guaranteeing you’re putting yourself in the best possible position to generate a profitable business that operates safely and securely.
Oversight and maintenance of your pipe fittings may be a task that you never expected having to be in charge of, but taking that extra step is vital in enhancing your management abilities. Better management can create happier customers and build the reputation you’ve always wanted.