Care of Pipes and Fittings

You will find that a milk processing plant is full of various types of pipes. Various utilities like milk, water, air, steam, chilled water, hot water, refrigerant, electricity,etc. are transported/conveyed through these pipes. To regulate and control flow,different valves and fittings are provided within this piping network. This network must work without the loss of product, energy, corrosion, noise/vibration, leakage, etc. They should also offer ease in working and accident free operation.

i. Care of pipelines

Pipeline once laid, very little can be done. Only protection from moisture, oxygen and acidic environment should be done. If pipe is imbedded in soil, asphalt covering will protect it. Overhead pipes are kept dry and painted. Inside pipe corrosion can only be minimized if entry of oxygen could be reduced. Even dissolved oxygen in water affects it.

ii. Care during installation of pipes
Water hammering is due to movement of water with jerk. This is caused by sudden closure of opening of fluid and accumulation of residual fluid inside pipe. This obstructs the normal flow. Hence, pipelines are given proper slope and drainage point to avoid any accumulation. Pipe supports are adjusted to give proper slope to the pipes.

iii. Maintenance of pipes joints
Some pipes carry hot and cold fluid like steam and chilled water. The temperature change causes thermal expansion of metallic pipes. These pipes have provision to absorb expansion. Check for roller support and expansion joint/loops of pipes.Similarly, the leakages from pipe joint should never be allowed to continue. As soon as a leak is noticed, it should be plugged by replacing the gasket or correcting the alignment.

iv. Care with pipe insulation

You will note that certain pipes have insulation covered with Aluminum cover (cladding). Pipelines carry hot or cold fluid. Steam line is insulated with glass wool reinforced with chicken wire mesh and cladded for long life. Similarly, chilled and refrigerant lines are covered with thermocole insulation and cladded. We must ensure proper insulation if it is found removed or not in good condition.

v. Care of valves and fittings
These are integral part of pipeline system and of different types and shapes. Valves may develop leakage either from gland of the stem or valve seat may not close the valve fully. If gland is leaky, it is repacked and lightened. The stem threads of the valve should also be lubricated if the gland is dry. The valve seat is also cleaned and grounded if seating is not proper. In most of the cases valves are replaced.Fittings, i.e., the elbow, bends, unions, flanges, sockets, tee, cross, plug, etc. help in change of direction or connection to the equipments. Usually for any defect,these are replaced.

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