PE Handling and Storage
Vinidex PE pipes are robust, flexible, and offer the installer many cost saving advantages. Whilst they are resistant to site damage, normal care and good housekeeping practices are necessary to ensure trouble free operations.
Handling of Vinidex PE pipes is made easier due to the light weights of both coiled and straight length pipe. Care must be exercised however, to avoid damage to the pipe walls, pre-assembled end fittings, or sub-assemblies.
Safety aspects need to be addressed. In cold and wet weather PE pipes may become slippery and difficult to handle. In these circumstances, additional care should be exercised when handling coils or bundles of pipe. In hot weather, especially with black pipes, the pipe surface may reach 70°C, when the ambient temperatures reach 40°C. Handling PE pipes at these temperatures requires gloves, or other protection, to prevent the possibility of skin burns. In conditions approaching freezing, the impact resistance of PE reduces, and care must be exercised to prevent damage during handling.
Fabric slings are recommended for lifting and handling PE pipe in order to prevent damage. Wire ropes or chains should not be used. Where pipes are in coils, the slings must be placed evenly around the entire coil. Similarly, where coils or straight lengths are lifted by forklift the contact points must be protected. When lifting coils, the lifting must be performed on the entire coil, and the fork lift tynes not inserted into the coil winding. When lifting packs of pipes, the tynes must be placed under the entire pack, and the tynes not pushed into the pack. Pipes must not be lifted by placing metal hooks into the ends of straight lengths.
Pipe lengths greater than 6 metres should be lifted using a spreader bar, and wide band slings. PE pipes will flex during lifting, and care needs to be exercised to prevent damage to pipes or end fittings arising from contact with the ground. Care needs to be taken to centre the pipe in the slings.
Care should be taken to release and uncoiled coiled pipe in a controlled manner. Coils are under tension and the amount of energy stored can be significant, causing injury, damage or death if released in an uncontrolled manner. Coil ends should be restrained at all times and straps released sequentially, starting from the outer layers.
A reduction in the pipe wall thickness of up to 10% may be tolerated. However, sections with sharp notches should be rejected, or the damaged area buffed out to remove the sharp edges.
PE pipes stacked for transport must be evenly supported in order to prevent distortion. All bearing surfaces must be free from contact with sharp objects. Any projecting sections such as stub flanges must be supported to prevent damage.
For large diameter pipes (DN 630 and above) it may be necessary to tom, or internally support the ends of the pipe in order to prevent distortion. Where end treatments such as flanges are applied in the factory, these treatments must be protected from damage.
Where coils are stacked vertically the stacks may need to be restrained in order to prevent the bottom section of the coil being flattened or distorted.
Pipes should be stored in an area that is flat and does not have any sharp objects or projections which may cause damage or distortion to the pipes. Stacks of straight length pipes are suitably supported by timber spacers of minimum width 75mm placed at 1.5 metre centres. The recommended maximum height of long term stacks is as listed in the table below. Where pipes are crated, the crates may be stacked with the frames close together and alternating. The maximum height shall be such that the stacks are stable, and the pipe is not permanently deformed.
|PE Material||Height (m)
above SDR 21
up to SDR 21
Where coils are stacked flat they should be evenly supported. The maximum height should be such that the bottom coil of pipes is not distorted. Pipe coils may also be stacked vertically. Vertical or near vertical stacks may need to be restrained in order to prevent the bottom section of the coil being flattened or distorted. Care should also be taken that the support against which the pipes are leant is able to withstand the load.
PE pipes are capable of supporting combustion and need to be isolated from ignition sources. PE pipes and fittings must be kept away from high temperature sources, and not be in contact with objects of temperature higher than 70°C. Storage of PE pipes in field locations may be subject to fire regulations, and the requirements of the local authorities must be observed.
Black pipes do not need protection from the effects of UV exposure, but coloured pipes, if potentially exposed for longer than 24 months, may need protection. In selecting the method of protection consideration may need to be given to temperature effects, as elevated temperatures may lead to pipe distortion.
Compression, mechanical and fabricated fittings should be stored, transported and handled in a manner that does not cause damage to the fitting or the sealing surfaces. Electrofusion fittings are typically supplied in sealed plastic bags. Electrofusion fittings should be stored in the original packaging until immediately before use to protect the fusion zone from contamination and oxidation. Any electrofusion fittings with a broken or damaged bag should be thoroughly cleaned prior to use with a suitable welding wipe.
For more information on packaging, handling and storage of PE pipes and fittings, see PIPA Guideline POP005 – Packing, handling and storage of polyethylene pipes and fittings.