In the marine market, tight deadlines and budget constraints are common obstacles to overcome. Even finding a qualified welder for a marine application is a challenge, so being able to join pipe without flame can make all the difference in the marine world. Reducing time spent on repairs and labor expenses means you can focus on doing your job and keeping your crew safe. However, when dealing with a work environment that involves floating on a volatile sea, it can be difficult to ensure safety and precision while operating ocean-based support vessels, drill ships and oil platforms.
When the ship you’re building takes 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 own builds.
“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 he has seen come along in a long time. Mann has personal use statistics to back up his recommendations, too.
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!” Mann explained. “If you take an average 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 ...”
An incomplete connection could cause substantial damage if it holds pressure during a test and then subsequently fails. Viega press fittings carry Smart Connect technology which helps identify unpressed connections during testing, helping installers be confident in their connections.
“It’s just tremendous savings everywhere I look. I can’t find a flaw to the fittings or the installation,” Mann said. “I love the stuff and recommend it to everyone who comes along.”
Plus, according to Mann, 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.”
All Points Boats, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, finds a similar value in Viega press systems.
“We use the forgiveness Viega offers by being able to dry-fit,” explained Nate Goodwin, owner of All Points Boats. “By checking things two or three times prior to pressing, you can negate any changes with minimal cost in materials.”
When using a press tool, other trades can work around piping installations which expedites more of the project than just the piping. That is why shipbuilders who use Viega products use it wherever possible, because of all the savings in downtime and labor.
With welding, there are several different levels of difficulty to consider, with copper nickel being one of the more challenging materials to work with. Shipyards need qualified welders. Viega reduces the reliance on the need to qualify welders. Viega can easily and quickly certify the workers at the yard or on a ship to effectively install copper nickel pipe. Factory support and training is provided free of charge.
Emergency repairs on a ship are challenging and often fixed with a temporary repair solution. Viega fittings offer a permanent solution that can be installed while still at sea. The installer does not have to go back and readdress a temporary solution at a later date. Viega ProPress and MegaPress fittings offer a permanent damage control solution.
Mann connected with Viega online and set up an appointment to learn more. He convinced St. Johns 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.
Viega recently introduced Viega MegaPress CuNi, a new copper nickel press fitting system designed specifically for applications on commercial ships, private yachts and offshore rigs.
Viega’s new expansion to the MegaPress line offers all of the benefits of a copper nickel system without the need for welding. The press fitting system eliminates the need for fire watches and downtime at sea, and also makes it possible for other trades to continue working in the area during on-ship repairs. The fittings have low biofouling properties and resist seawater corrosion for reliable performance.
Using a single sealing element and single tool to install, MegaPress CuNi simplifies the installation and repair process and can make connections both wet and dry. The system makes secure press connections in seconds and can reduce installation time by up to 90 percent when compared to welding.
“MegaPress for copper nickel provides another solution for marine applications that doesn’t require welding and saves our customers a ton of time, which translates into other savings,” said Paul Switzer, manager, shipbuilding and offshore, at Viega. “Viega customers in the marine and offshore industries recognize and appreciate the other benefits of pressing as well, including flexibility, safety, the ability to work in small spaces and make repairs or replacements while on the water.”
Many shipyards already own a RIDGID pressing tool, so they will be able to leverage their existing assets to start using Viega MegaPress jaws for multiple materials — carbon steel, stainless steel and now copper nickel. A handheld battery-powered tool allows installers to freely move around the piping project. Now installers can quickly and easily move from deck to deck to install piping, which cannot be done with welding or threading.
“A lot of the shipyards are often asked to buy new tools for different systems and applications,” explained Switzer. “Now, Viega’s customers will be able to use one set of Viega MegaPress jaws on the ship to install fittings in stainless steel, carbon steel and copper nickel. Leveraging one tool kit allows for faster tool selection and helps minimize the on-hand tooling inventory and overhead.”
MegaPress CuNi fittings are constructed from 90/10 copper nickel alloy and are available in a variety of configurations in sizes ½- to MegaPress CuNi can be installed in previously welded systems and is compatible with off-the-shelf pipe. The system is suitable for a variety of applications including:
For more information on the new Viega MegaPress CuNi, visit viega.us/RuleNow.
Whether it’s working on tugs, barges, work boats, passenger ferries, casino boats or inland cruise ships, take advantage of Viega’s fast, flameless and secure connections. This is important as ships become more technologically advanced. From the world’s first vessels powered by liquefied nitrogen gas that reduces sulfur emissions, to high-tech navigational software, the marine industry is eager for technology that will keep it running more efficiently and for longer periods of time. That said, many of today’s ships maintain similar design styles to minimize risk. In order to meet the demands of schedule and budget, shipbuilders must increase efficiencies and reduce manpower. But that doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice productivity.
Viega offers the widest range of marine-approved press pipe-joining systems in the industry. Viega’s press technology extends to a full line of marine press fittings that reduce reliance on qualified welders, hot work permits, gas freeing and chemists. Viega fittings for marine are tested and comply with the International Association of Classification Societies, so the engineering approvals are already completed. Viega fittings are a press-type compression coupling, so they are not subjected to slip-on joint restrictions, which can limit the areas of use. Viega systems can also reduce the lifecycle cost of vessels and oil platforms.
The Viega Group, with a tradition of innovation for more than 115 years, has more than 4,000 employees worldwide and is among the leading manufacturers of pipe fitting installation technology. In metal press systems for industrial, commercial and residential projects, the company is the global market leader. In the U.S., Viega LLC employs nearly 500 people and offers more than 3,000 products. These include Viega ProPress for copper and stainless, Viega MegaPress for black iron and stainless pipe, the Viega PureFlow System including PEX and fittings in high-performance polymer and Zero Lead bronze, as well as MegaPress CuNi and SeaPress systems for marine applications. Viega also specializes in the design, production and installation of ProRadiant™ heating and cooling systems, and offers In-Wall Flushing Technology including carriers and flush plates. For more information, visit viega.us.