Local Alberta Health hospital leaders faced a large issue: They needed a new valve in the water piping system.
Although this may not sound complex, due to the way the hospital was constructed, water had to travel from the basement to each floor above in a continuous system. However, in order to simplify maintenance and repairs, Alberta Health decision-makers wanted an isolation valve on one of the upper floors.
“With a valve in place, they won’t have to shut off water to the entire hospital for future repairs,” INNOVATOR Quality Manager Chris Coombs explains.
Unfortunately, in order to install the valve, traditional installation methods would’ve required hospital maintenance employees to turn off and completely drain the system.
“That was not an option,” Coombs says. “A working hospital needs to have water.”
Because they needed a unique, safe, and cost-effective solution, Alberta Health leaders turned to INNOVATOR professionals for help.
New cutting-edge technology
“In this industry, there are two standard methods of achieving live line isolation: line freezing or a hot tap and line stop,” Coombs says.
Because a hot tap and line stop involves a significant amount of hot work, it was not a good fit for the hospital project. That’s why, at this point, most contractors turn to line freezing.
“Line freezing has been around for a very long time, and it’s well-known in the industry,” Coombs explains. “Everyone is interested in using line freezing as an isolation method because it’s economical, faster, and safer.”
However, even line freezing involves welding to install a new flange. And in a clean facility that’s bustling with patients and employees, INNOVATOR experts knew that the resulting smoke, fumes, and ventilation concerns associated with welding weren’t appropriate for this application.
Instead, they turned to the newest cutting-edge technology for cold work: Quickflange.
“When you do a line freeze, you still have to do welding, and until Quickflange, there was no alternative for midsize to larger pipe diameters,” Coombs says. “With Quickflange as part of our toolbox, we were able to perform a double line freeze and complete the project using only cold work with minimal impact to hospital operations. In fact, I bet there was hospital staff just down the hall who had no idea we were there.”
Cross-trained INNOVATOR crews made an ice plug above the location and below, drained a small amount of water from the system, and installed four Quickflanges to bolt up the new valve — all without a single spark.
Not only was the Quickflange solution the safest option for this facility but it was also the speediest.
“We were able to install the hospital’s new valve in one 12-hour shift. We got to work around midnight and we were ready to turn the water back on in the morning,” Coombs says.
While welding certainly would’ve gotten the job done at the hospital, it wouldn’t have been nearly as fast, clean, or easy.
“When you compare doing a Quickflange to a weld, sometimes a weld is easier — if you’re in a shop setup for it,” Coombs says. “But when you take that into a large facility where there are other factors like people, hazardous gasses, and confined spaces — that’s when it gets complicated.”
Welding in scenarios like these requires safety teams, special equipment, and a long list of other precautions before work can begin.
“You eliminate all of that with Quickflange,” Coombs says. “On a 4-inch line like the one in the hospital, it takes less than 30 minutes to install a flange using Quickflange.”
Available, approved, and safe for use
It makes sense to use this safe, quick, and cost-effective technology in a clean facility like the hospital, but Coombs points out that it’s also perfect for a variety of other applications.
“Any time that hot work has potential for issues — safety or cost — Quickflange can be used,” Coombs says.
And thanks to INNOVATOR experts, taking advantage of Quickflange is getting much easier.
“This year, we obtained approval through a National CRN to use Quickflange on pressure piping in facilities throughout Canada,” says Coombs. “It’s still very new to the market and we just got approval, so we’re trying to inform everyone that it’s available, approved, and safe for use.”
In fact, INNOVATOR professionals are working out the details on a project for a nearby oil and gas production facility. Some leaking equipment at this particular site desperately needs to be repaired or replaced, but the next scheduled shutdown isn’t for three more years.
“They can’t repair the leak using traditional methods because they can’t do hot work due to the risk of fire or explosion,” Coombs explains. “We’re working with them now on a Quickflange solution so they don’t have to live with their leak for the next three years.”
Whether it’s a hospital or an industrial production facility, at INNOVATOR, we’re committed to finding the latest, greatest, and safest technologies to help us keep our clients leak-free. Quickflange is just one of the ways we’re making that happen.