By Ed Nunes
You might think that if a pipe repair is made quickly, it won’t be done properly. It is possible, however, to make repairs quickly without compromising on quality. There are several other benefits to making repairs quickly. Workers are less at risk due to reduced time in the ditch, labor costs are minimized and workers can get home faster. This is especially important at night when repairs are more complicated, riskier to make, and installers are more tired than during the day.
Here are three ways to make repairs quickly while ensuring a quality repair:
1. Maintain a properly resourced inventory.
Many times, making quick repairs is about having the right product on hand when you need it. There is nothing worse than not having the right parts during an emergency repair. Poor planning will result in the job taking longer to complete, delays in returning water service to normal, and disgruntled customers.
Properly maintaining your inventory is fundamental to good planning and can help avoid the need to make emergency orders. Taking this on while minimizing costs can be a challenge, however, particularly for smaller utilities who might not have the space or budget to maintain a wide range of repair products.
Before deciding on how much inventory you need, carefully look at the demand for repair products and when they are used most frequently. Look at your orders over the course of the last three or four years and try to detect trends. See if there are periods when the demand for certain clamps or couplings is high, and other periods when it is low. This will help you decide which products should be in high supply and which ones can be lower. Knowing the size and types of pipes that are in the ground can also help predict what kind of products and repair tools to store.
Weather can play a key role in determining which repair supplies will be in high demand and how fast you can obtain them. Repairs are often required when the ground shifts during the spring thaw, and at other times of the year when the weather is harsh (e.g., hurricane season). Keep in mind when ordering products that orders will also be harder to fill when weather conditions might get in the way of quick deliveries. It only takes one snowed-in regional shipping hub to delay orders across the entire country.
2. Use clamps and couplings that can work with a range of outside diameters and pipe materials.
There are a number of coupling products that offer full transition that will fit pipes of varying types and sizes within your water or wastewater infrastructure. There are also products that have the versatility to either join or repair pipes, offering a high degree of flexibility to make repairs as required. These kinds of clamps and couplings can take the place of up to three traditional products, on the shelf or in the truck, given their capacity to be used on a variety of pipes and repair situations.
3. Use high quality products that are easy to install.
Couplings and clamps that are easy to install can make repair jobs more efficient, save time and help eliminate installation errors. There are a variety of repair couplings that are quick and easy to install, which are particularly useful for night conditions. Couplings with top-facing bolts, for example, are simple to tighten and drastically cut installers’ repair time. Products that don’t have to be disassembled can also make a big difference in making a quick installation. There is nothing more aggravating for an operator than losing a bolt in a water-filled ditch at night.
You cannot afford to purchase products that will fail early, requiring another repair, and no utility can afford the cost of making a second repair at the same location. It pays to use high-quality products that are exceptionally durable, even in harsh conditions, and designed to prevent future pipe damage. Krausz products, such as the HYMAX, allow for repairs to maintain a flexible connection to prevent damage from post-installation ground shifts and temperature changes, protecting your investment over the long-term.
Making quality repairs quickly is in large part about being prepared with materials before a break happens. Ensure your inventory includes the products you will most likely need based on past experience and by keeping track of existing pipes in the ground. Clamps and couplings that can work with a wide range of materials and outside diameters will help to fix pipes regardless of what is uncovered under the ground.
Finally, there’s no substitute for high-quality products that can prevent breaks in the future, and easy-to-install products that don’t have to be disassembled. If you follow these strategies, you can help ensure pipe repairs are made quickly and securely to save money and time, and ensure that your crews get home safe and as soon as possible.
About the Author: Ed Nunes is a product manager for Krausz USA, the creators of HYMAX. To learn more, visit krauszusa.com.