PT&P is setup to offer our customers the absolute best value in Spring Supports. The following are key factors that differentiate PT&P Spring Supports:
Global Leadership – PT&P has been providing spring supports for over 40 years and has millions of Spring Supports currently in service. We are the standard used by many EPCs and Operating Plants globally.
Superior Engineering and Support – PT&P is the only major Engineered Pipe Support provider that started as a Pipe Stress Engineering company. This one of the reasons why we are the only major global provider of both engineered pipe supports and expansion joints. When you order from PT&P, you not only get our product, but you also get service from one of the world’s leading Pipe Stress Engineering firms. We can assist in product selection, installation advice, and maintenance advice. We conduct 100+ individualized Technical Training sessions each year for EPCs and Operating Plants.
Superior Manufacturing – PT&P manufactures to a higher standard than other Engineered Pipe Support providers. One of the reasons we are the only major manufacturer of Expansion Joints and Pipe Supports is that the skill level required to manufacture Expansion Joints is distinctly higher than Pipe Supports. For example, we TIG weld thin gauge Hastelloy and other superalloys every day in our Expansion Joint production.
Beyond the superior skills we keep on staff, PT&P has a unique ability to service short lead-time orders. Some of these are in as little as 12 hours. Our unique manufacturing approach is explained on this link.
Superior Quality – we have seen many Spring Supports in the field that have been highly “cost-engineered’. The easiest way to look for this is to check the support for the use of thin gauge material (you can just tap on it). This is often accompanied by a painted finish which must be used because galvanizing, while far superior (place link to paint vs galvanized) for most applications, would warp thin gauge material.
PT&P has not gone through this cycle of cost-engineering. If you check a PT&P spring support, you will quickly see we use thicker gauge material with a standard galvanized finish that is designed to last for the long term and survive in the most difficult environments.
Unparalleled Customization Options – because PT&P has set up it’s manufacturing to easily accommodate customization and has advanced manufacturing skills that other spring support manufacturers lack, we can offer the broadest range of options. These include
Custom Designed 30 Foot long Rod Hanger Assemblies for a Power Plant in North Carolina
Rod Hanger Assemblies
3-1/2” Diameter | 30′ Long
A36 Carbon Steel | SA-182 F1 | A563 Gr. C | Red Oxide
Custom Designed Length & Diameter
PT&P custom designed and manufactured sixty rod hanger assemblies for a power plant in North Carolina. The rod diameter is 3 ½” and 30 feet long and utilizes Fig. 95 clevises. The rod material is A36 carbon steel, the clevises from SA -182 F1, and hex nuts from A563 Gr. C. The assemblies were also painted with red oxide primer to protect against corrosion. The rod hangers had to be custom designed because the length and diameter required was not readily available in the marketplace.
Bellmouth Reducers & Custom Pipe Spools Designed for an Ammonia Plant
Bellmouth Reducers, Ring Flanges, Pipe Spool Elbows
36” NPS | Opened to 48″ NPS
Carbon Steel | 304 Stainless Steel
150°F | 150 PSI Operating Pressure
PT&P designed and manufactured bellmouth reducers, ring flanges and custom pipe spool elbows for an Ammonia Plant in Texas. Bellmouth reducers are a single piece component used to transition a large outside diameter into a smaller outside diameter piping. These reducers are used in the cooling process; the shape allows for drawing in maximum amounts of air while preventing loss. The bellmouths are fabricated from carbon steel and 304 stainless steel. They are designed for operating temperatures of 150°F with an operating pressure of 150 PSI. Dimensions are 36” NPS opened to 48” bellmouth. Tests that were performed are spot x-ray, visual and dimensional, PMI-alloys and stainless steel.
Sway Strut & 3-Bolt Pipe Clamp Assemblies Designed for a Power Plant in California
Sway Strut & 3-Bolt Pipe Clamp Assembly
30″ NPS | 44-1/8″ CC | 4″ Adjustment
Carbon Steel | 304 Stainless Steel
Restrain Tensile/Compressive Force in 1 Direction
Permit Movement in Other Directions
PT&P fabricated and designed sway strut and 3-bolt pipe clamp assemblies for a power plant in California. The assemblies are manufactured from carbon steel with 304 stainless steel load pins. They are designed for a 30” diameter pipe. The sway strut has a cc of 44–1/8” and 4” adjustment. The sway struts are designed to restrain either tensile or compressive force in one direction while providing for movement due to thermal expansion or contraction in other directions.
Pipe Clamps Product Video
Have a look at PT&P’s pipe clamps
High Temperature Pipe Supports (Hot Shoes) Product Video
Have a look at PT&P’s high temperature pipe supports (hot shoes)
Pre-Insulated Pipe Supports Custom Designed with 6” of High Density Insulation for a High Temperature Pipeline
High Temperature Pipe Suports (Hot Shoes)
10” NPS x 6” Hot Insulation x 12” Long
Carbon Steel with HDG finish | Casi & High Density Inserts
1200°F | 15,000 lb. Vertical | 6,245 lb. Axial
These pre-insulated high-temperature pipe supports were designed and fabricated for a 10” diameter high-temperature pipeline at a power plant in Arizona. The supports are fabricated from carbon steel with HDG finish and include casi & high-density inserts. They are designed to guide pipes that may reach up to 1200°F, high loads of up to 15,000 lb. vertical and 6,245 lb. axial. There were twenty-nine total “hot shoes” ranging in different designs. The “grooves” in the insulation are for steam tracing. Steam tracing is heat tracing performed by circulating steam around process pipes to heat them. The shoe assemblies are comprised of the four guides on the shoe and adjustable stops. They are designed to account for lateral, vertical, and axial movement. Dimensions for the supports pictured are 10” NPS x 6” thick insulation x 12” long base. Standard tests and Q.C. inspections were performed before shipping.
Graphite Slide Plates for an Technology and Engineering Company in North Carolina
Graphite Slide Plates
4”-10” Length | 4”-10″ Width
Graphite Sheets | Carbon Steel
2000 PSI Operating Pressure
PT&P manufactured multiple slide bearing plates for a technology and engineering company in North Carolina. The materials for these slide plates are made of graphite sheets with carbon steel backing pads. The dimensions range in length 4”-10” and width 4”-10” with operating pressure of 2000 PSI. All carbon steel plates will be galvanized. The graphite pad will then be bonded to carbon steel backing plates with a ¾ lip.
Personnel Protection Shields Designed for a Power Plant
PT&P custom designed these personnel protection shields for a power plant in Wyoming. The personnel protection shields are used when insulating the line is not necessary, but operating temperatures require safeguarding personnel from coming into contact with the pipe. These shields are designed for an 8” diameter pipe operating at 1050°F. They are fabricated from carbon steel and range in lengths up to 36”.
Customization Addendum for Spring Supports (PT&P’s Pipe Supports Catalog)
Unparalleled Customization from Unmatched Manufacturing Capabilities
Producing the broadest set of customization options with minimal impact on delivery timeframes.
Super Alloys (Hastelloy, Incoloy, Inconel, Monel 400…)
Paint / Primer
Paint over Galvanized
The size can be optimized to specific dimension requirements, and customized to fit in restricted spacing.
We can supply spring supports with custom load capabilities of
800,000 lb. + loads.
Standard is +/- 10%, but we can customize up to +/- 60% Load Adjustment)
Standard is +/- 10%, but we can customize up to +/- 60% Load Adjustment)
We can provide wire or chained travel stops.
Sensors for Remote Monitoring
We can provide sensors on spring supports to monitor the conditions remotely, and give warning alerts whenever a support does not perform as it should.
Unparalleled Customization from Unmatched Manufacturing Capabilities
PT&P has developed a unique approach to its manufacturing operation that produces the broadest set of customization options with minimal impact to delivery timeframes. Most producers operate as smaller scale steel fabricators or highly standardized mass production organizations. PT&P is the only organization that is set up for both scales with over 500 production employees, customization capabilities, and artisan manufacturing skills. For example, PT&P is the only Major Global Supplier of both Expansion Joints and Engineered Pipe Supports. This unmatched manufacturing technique was achieved through proprietary systems, a highly engineered approach to manufacturing, and incorporating 10+ Industrial Engineers in the production operation.
Manufacturing Approach for Pipe Support/Expansion Joint Manufacturers
G10 Micarta® can be very cost-effective insulation as compared to Polyurethane foam (PUF), especially for medium and large shoes. It offers tremendous benefits at various stages of a project, including but not limited to:
Handling, transportation, and storage
Major Advantage of G10 Micarta® Supports for Procurement
G10 Micarta® supports involve fewer steps to manufacture, allowing for a quicker fabrication turnaround. It takes 2-3 weeks less on average than PUF supports for delivery. This enables the ability to catch up on deadlines and reduce downtime.
G10 Micarta® shoes cost less than PUF shoes of the same size, meaning Low Capital Expenses:
Advantages of G10 Micarta® Supports During Construction/Installation
G10 shoes can be sent to the pipe fabricator and can weld directly to the pipe spool, meaning there is minimal installation in the field. It takes 3-5 hours to install a PUF shoe in-field, depending on the size. G10 Micarta® shoes save that FIELD installation time.
Shop welding of G10 Micarta® shoes is much cheaper. As G10 shoes are weld to pipe spool at the fabricator’s shop, they can be inspected and tested in the shop; no inspection and testing in the field. More cost savings as inspection and testing is done at cheaper rates at pipe spool fabricator facilities rather than in the field.
As G10 Micarta® shoes are handled along with the pipe spools, there are fewer chances of missing supports in the field. Less OS&Ds to worry about for both the client and supplier.
Major Advantage of G10 Micarta® Supports while Handling, Transportation & Storage
G10 Micarta® supports are less fragile than PUF, making the handling, transportation, and storage of G10 to be trouble-free. No special packaging required, saving the time & the cost of special crating. Stronger G10 supports reduce the chances of accidental damage, thereby the need to re-fabricate the support.
G10 Micarta® supports have insignificant water/moisture absorption rate, this means:
No structural deterioration in adverse weather, especially in the wake of heavy rain and storms. PUF deteriorates in wet weather or humid climates
Better life of the support
Less maintenance and more saving
Testing of G10 Micarta® Support
Comparison of G10 Micarta® vs. PUF from previous test reports:
Time-dependent temperature variations at the stated locations using G-10 Micarta®.
(i) T-pipe; (ii) T-top; (iii) T- ambient; (iv) T-Bottom, (v) T-BOS.
Time-dependent temperature variations at the stated locations using Polyurethane.
(i) T-pipe; (ii) T-top; (iii) T- ambient; (iv) T-Bottom, (v) T-BOS.
Variable Spring Supports Designed for a Highly Corrosive Environment in Peru
Piping Technology & Products, Inc. recently designed and fabricated F-type variable spring supports for a plant in Peru. The variables are fabricated from carbon steel, hot-dipped galvanized and a gloss aliphatic polyurethane topcoat was applied for corrosion protection. PTFE, 25% glass filled, slide plates are bonded to the top of the load flange to reduce the friction caused by lateral movement. The variables range from 9.5″ to 11.5″ in height and are designed for a travel range of 1/8″ upward to 3/16″ downward. To ensure quality, standard load testing was performed prior to shipping.
Custom Designed Pipe Spools for a Plant in Texas
A36 for flanges and plates, A 106 for pipe, and for stud/nuts A193 B7
Visual & Q.C. Tests
PT&P custom designed these Pipe Spools for a plant in Texas. pipe spools are relatively short assembly, consisting of a pre-determined length of pipe welded to a specified fitting (tee, elbow or reducer) or valve (gate or ball), with flanges typically welded at each end of the pipe. The materials used are carbon steel A36 for flanges and plates, A 106 for pipe, and for stud/nuts A193 B7. This order contained 2 pipe spools, ring retainer, pad eyes, & mount supports. Operating loads were 2200 lb. with standard shipping.
157 Embed Plates Designed for a Construction Company in Texas
¾” x 14” x 18” | Nelson Studs: ¾” x 7”
HDG Carbon Steel
Visual & Q.C. Tests
PT&P designed and manufactured 157 embed plates for a construction company in Texas. Embeds are essentially anchor bars used to secure steel to the concrete. The plate is ¾” x 14” x 18”, and the Nelson studs are ¾” x 7”. All components are fabricated from carbon steel with a hot-dipped galvanized finish. Visual and Q.C. tests were performed prior to shipment. This job was a 15-day turnaround in order to meet the customers’ construction schedule.
Preventative Maintenance Best Practices: Replace Spring Support Audits with Pipe Stress Audits
Piping Technology and Products has a unique perspective on best practices in preventative maintenance. PT&P has a database built from over 1,000 audits performed in 41 countries. PT&P also has experience from over 3 Million pipe supports and expansion joints currently in service.
The following is a summary of the strategies PT&P sees at operating plants:
Only fix spring supports when something is wrong (e.g. vibration, leaks, …)
Perform regular inspection and replace damaged spring supports
Periodically return piping line to its original design specification and/or set new design standard if the design has changed
The design of the piping system is a major part of the engineering of an operating plant build. On average, piping constitutes 40-48% of the engineering hours in a new refinery. The challenge facing piping engineers is rotating equipment locations and process design are defined and the piping engineers must make the piping system fit within the designated space while dealing with thermal stress, proper flow, and allowable loads for all equipment. With temperatures in high energy lines often well over 1,000 degrees, this can be very challenging. The following are some of the goals of pipe stress engineering and the placement of spring supports and expansion joints in the piping system:
Ensure stress at the interface to moving equipment is below maximum allowable loads
Minimize turbulent flow through the piping system
Ensure the longevity of piping system components
Figure 1 – Pipe Support and Expansion Joint Maintenance Strategy *Shows the strategies that PT&P commonly sees at different operating plants:
Fix When Broken
Maximize short term cash flow
Potentially moves financial impact from Opex to Capex
Limits overspending on preventative maintenance
Likely leads to allowable stress being beyond max for some moving equipment
Will lead to maintenance issues with moving equipment
Insures broken spring support are replaced prior to causing issues
Does not ensure the proper functioning of each spring without adjusting Spring Supports which are out of position
Periodically Return to Original Design Specification (System Level Focus)
Ensures the system is brought back to original design minimizing strain on moving equipment
Minimizes stress on the piping system
Higher short term expense
The business case can be challenging due to the medium/long term nature of savings
Potentially more Opex vs Capex
Minimizes risk of an unplanned outage
PT&P has seen many examples of each of the strategies above. Typically, the strategy taken at an individual plant is closely related to overall operating philosophy of the organization, including finance. However, we also speak to a number of organizations who have placed an emphasis on preventative maintenance but are not sure of the best practices for the engineered pipe supports and expansion joints.
Appendix A shows an example of a program PT&P executed March of this year on a turnaround. For preventative maintenance, best practice is to not just focus on the health of the piping system components, but on the health of the overall piping system. The following are some of the issues that PT&P has found that cause system level issues:
Spring Support Failure Impact – the failure of a spring support will impact other supports and cause them to possibly fail as they attempt to take on the additional load of the failed spring
Damage to Piping or Rigid Supports Changes Elevation of Spring Supports – a variety of issues can cause the piping to undergo strain, which causes deformation. This will cause a change of elevation or distance from the pipe support to the pipe and impact the load setting and connections to other equipment
Improper Travel Stop Management – if travel stops are not removed, the spring supports are essentially a rigid support, and the load can be redistributed among the spring supports on the same line in a way that is not consistent with the original design
Improper Initial Installation – one of the most common issues PT&P finds in its audits is that engineered supports are improperly installed during initial installation
By the time a plant reaches 10+ years of age, PT&P’s experience is that most plants have encountered one or more of the issues above. For this reason, it is essential to take an approach of resetting the line to the original design specification. Best practices for performing a “reset to design specification” are the following:
Hot and Cold Audit – required to understand the range of movement
View of Functioning of Springs/Expansion Joints Across Line – the view of how a spring is functioning can be highly dependent on whether there are many failed supports on the line versus just one
Plan for Adjustments and Replacements – the overall plan for a turnaround must be comprehensive in terms of adjustments
Proper Management of Travel Stops – we have found tremendous confusion on the proper timing for placement of travel stops; if this is not done correctly, in many cases it is not possible to reset the line to the original design specification
Repair Rigid Support Issues – a common issue we have run across is a damaged or removed pipe shoe or saddle resulting in the piping sitting on the supporting pipe rack
Assess Elevation Changes – changes in elevation due to changes or deformation of piping can cause a spring support to be out of position; this issue should be addressed as an issue with the line rather than the spring support
Identify Design Changes – PT&P sees many situations where there have been alterations to the line, such as new equipment without an update of the stress analysis; the best approach is to redo the stress analysis; however, the budget or time constraints may require a quick and dirty approach such as weighing the line
Adjust in Real Time as Needed – Given all of the issues above, resetting a piping line to design specification takes real-time decision making during an audit
The challenge with this approach to preventative maintenance is that it takes a much deeper level of expertise than a component level inspection. PT&P’s experience is that even the ability to operate a pipe stress modeling software program such as CAESAR is far different than a pragmatic understanding of the proper functioning of all the elements of the piping line. Many personnel and firms supporting piping system maintenance are challenged with managing a broad range of equipment at an operating plant, and this can make it difficult to have the depth in pipe stress that may be required to properly execute a system level audit and execute a plant to return the piping system to the original design specification.
The sole purpose of performing audits is to maintain the piping system and equipment to remain in the proper condition. Therefore, the system level (pipe stress audit) that considers the physical condition of the system, along with the spring supports system should be preferred. As mentioned earlier, the component level audit is an important part of the system level which if put together with other system and/or deformation assessment can give the overall picture of the system and finally a better direction for the proper maintenance.
An Example of System Level Repair Work: Spring Supports Issues on Manifold of a Heater
PT&P performed an installed inspection on all the springs supporting a manifold of a heater. The installed (or ”cold”) condition inspection showed that most of the supports were operating properly. However, after performing a second inspection in the operating (or ”hot”) condition, it was concluded that most of the spring supports did not show any signs of movement. This issue was brought up with the customer, and it was determined they were having some issues with the heater tubing affecting the efficiency.
During Cold Inspection
During Hot Inspection
Since this issue needed to be addressed to prevent any failures in the future, all the supports from the manifold were assessed and concluded that there is a need for system level repair. Therefore, on a 2019 turnaround, all the spring supports of the manifold were replaced.
The following pictures show that the new supports are moving as designed and system-wide repair was indeed required.
During Cold Inspection (March 2019)
During Hot Inspection (May 2019)
All together 35 spring supports on manifolds were replaced due to failure of previous spring supports.
Appendix A: Turnaround plan and Execution for a Major Refinery
> 600 Spring Supports
Expansion Joint Installation Supervision
36 Expansion Joints Replaced
Pipe supports inspection during the installed or cold condition
Supervision on adjustment of the spring supports
Installation of spring supports as per in Table A for the period of 30 days
In addition to the above, PT&P provided a supervisor (Expansion Joint Technical Expert) to supervise the installation of expansion joints.
PT&P provided two engineers about a year before the turnaround to perform the operating inspection of the spring supports while a cold inspection was done by PT&P in the previous turnaround. All these inspected supports were documented in a report and the conditions were categorized as good, replacement or adjustment required.
Based on the location provided in the inspection report, and constant communication between PT&P engineers and turnaround co-coordinators, the location where the scaffold is to be built was pre-planned.
The materials were purchased a few months before the turnaround. All the required safety training, drug tests, background checks were done prior to the turnaround date.
Out of 10 units, 4 units were “shut down” upon arrival at the site. PT&P engineers performed a quick walk-down on all the spring supports in the units to see if there were any new issues since the last inspection which required immediate attention. This gave enough time to order the materials and necessary hardware.
After the quick inspection, PT&P worked with a few client technicians on two different units. The adjustment and installation work on the two units were done concurrently.
Once those units were completed, PT&P engineers were mobilized to other units. There were a few new discoveries where PT&P engineers ordered materials for adjustment and replacement. Within a couple of days, PT&P managed to supply the parts (shipped through hot shot) and resolve the issues.
There were five times, PT&P provided the materials during the period of turnaround within 48 hours. It was very convenient to have engineers supervising the installation and repair as it allowed for design and/or engineering changes to be made on the spot.
In addition to the pre-planned turnaround work, PT&P engineers assisted, on several occasions, to help resolve issues such as bent struts, check the condition of counterweights (old style), some new expansion work which included the addition of new pipe supports.
Pictures of replaced cans:
Cracked Spring Support
Bent Rod During Turnaround Work
During Follow-up Hot Inspection
The rod was bent during the turnaround because the contractor working did not reinstall the travel stop while working with the line. The support should have been locked and disengage from the system for this specific work on the pipe coming out of the reactor. The line seemed to have higher movement than anticipated during the turnaround work. This was the second time the rod was bent. PT&P engineers, which were on site for other spring supports work, were contacted immediately. Less than an hour, PT&P field service technicians went and assessed the condition and suggested an improved, robust design. The materials were purchased as per PT&P engineers’ recommendation. Since the order came directly from the field from a PT&P employee, the approval and manufacturing process was smooth and quick. Within a couple of days, the materials arrived and were successfully installed. Everything operated correctly during the follow-up hot inspection.
For Expansion Joints (EJ):
PT&P supervisor was on site the entire time helping the contractor remove and INSTALL the new expansion joints. Almost all of the CLIENT contractor workers were inexperienced or very limited experience working with expansion joints.
PT&P supervisor gave a quick training about removing and installing the new EJs. They also pointed out the importance of being sensitive towards the EJ fabric since one small improper cut could damage the belt.
PT&P supervisor assisted the contractor with the proper marking of “backing bar” while removing the old EJ. He inspected the condition of the joint and guided contractors to efficiently install the new expansion joint. He also showed the proper way to splice the fabric materials to complete the EJ Installation.
Bronzphite® Slide Plate Assemblies Designed for an Oil Refinery in Canada
Bronzphite® Slide Plate Assemblies
1/2” x 4” x 4” | 1/2” x 7-1/2” x 7-1/2”.
1100°F Operating Temperature | 5000 PSI Load
HDG Carbon Steel | Bronzphite®
Visual & Dimensional Tests
Piping Technology & Products, Inc. manufactured Bronzphite® slide plate assemblies for an oil refinery in Canada. The Bronzphite® is 1/2” x 4” x 4”, and the backing plates are 1/2” x 7-1/2” x 7-1/2”. The materials used for this assembly are Bronzphite® (which is graphite impregnated bronze), and galvanized carbon steel. Bronzphite® serves as a self-lubricated slide bearing surface. The assembly is designed for an operating temperature up to 1100°F, with an operating load up to 5,000 PSI. Standard visual and dimensional tests were performed prior to a two-week delivery.
Custom Big Ton Springs Designed for a 122,000 lb. Load for a Chemical Plant
Big Ton Spring Supports
52-3/4″ L x 38-3/4″ W x 91″ H
121,916 lb. Load | 3/4″ Upwards Movement
HDG Carbon Steel | Neoprene Coated Springs
Load Calibration Test | Hydro-tested
PT&P custom designed a big ton spring support for a chemical plant in Pennsylvania. The big ton will be used to support a vessel in excess of 121,916 lb. and a movement of 3/4” upwards. The dimensions for this unit are 52-3/4” L x 38-3/4” W x 91” H. The big ton spring support is designed to support large and heavy units such as compressors, vessels, and pumps in power and petrochemical plants. They are designed to allow limited movement in confined areas. By doing this, it saves the customer from having to entirely redesign the piping system and saves thousands of dollars. The big ton has an internal guide and special pedestal which was designed to meet the required height of the spring and withstand the hydro-test load. A load calibration test was performed before shipping.
PT&P Mass Customized Manufacturing
PT&P’s Mass Customized Manufacturing – How to Make an Elephant Dance
Examples of Mass Customization include:
Amazon Web Services – Amazon revolutionized the IT Industry with its web services which offered customers unprecedented computing on demand with a vast array of value-added services.
Nike Customized Shoes
Pipe Support and Expansion Joint Manufacturing
One of the major challenges faced by many Pipe Support and Expansion Joint manufacturers is trying to serve Major EPCs, Operating Plants, and Mechanical Contractors. The following is a summary of the needs of these different customer groups:
Figure 1 – Customer Requirements for Different Segments of Customers
New Plant Build
Small Plant Modification
Maintenance in Turnaround
Lead Time for Products
Engineering Support from Vendor
Customer Operating Time Horizon
Turnover of Plant in 1 yr.
The challenge for this mix of customers is that the differences in customer needs’ leads to a fundamental set of choices in terms of manufacturing configuration. Figure 2 shows the choices we see in the marketplace. As can be seen from the table, the big difference is in the target customer for which the operation was designed. The following is a summary of Manufacturing Strategies we have seen:
Steel Fabricator – this type of company is typically founded by someone who is skilled at steel fabrication and is a smaller operation with a group of reasonably skilled fabricators. This type of firm tends to be good at customization but struggles at scale. It is also typically pushing for any work it can get with the goal of ultimately attaining scale.
Mass Production – almost all of the larger-scale firms in the industry fall into this category. For a steel fabricator, a transformation into mass production is a natural outcome of serving the Major EPCs. The volumes seen from major EPCs can dwarf other segments. In addition, major EPCs tend to allocate far more resources to purchasing and vendor management than other customers (Purchasing is actually the middle man). As a result, we have seen most major players migrate aggressively to this setup.
PT&P Mass Customization – PT&P’s approach is unique in the Pipe Support and Expansion Joint market. The fundamental reason for this is that our DNA is not Steel Fabrication. PT&P was founded as a Pipe Stress Engineering company and migrated into manufacturing over time from the encouragement of our customers. We grew the business from serving operating plants to partnering with Major EPCs but never left our origins of serving operating plants. Fundamentally, serving the tremendously varying needs of different customers has become an engineering problem to be solved for PT&P.
Figure 2 – Manufacturing Approach for Pipe Support / Expansion Joint Manufacturers
Steel Fabricator (Owner/Operator)
PT&P Mass Customization
Scale and Artisan
Advanced Skills (e.g. TIG welding Inconel)
For Mass Production
Advanced Systems allow Management of Complexity
Ability to Manage Contamination Across Materials
Breadth of Product Line
How Does PT&P Manage Mass Customization?
Most companies do not do mass customization because it is very, very difficult and really takes an engineering, not steel fabrication mindset. The following are some of the key elements that allow PT&P to offer Mass Customization:
Scale – PT&P has over 500 production employees and 70 Design Engineers at our Houston Headquarters location. With 40+ years in business, we have developed the reputation required to be a scale operator in terms of the quality of our products and reputation within every customer segment.
Industrial Engineering – PT&P has 10 Industrial Engineers in our manufacturing operation with most having a Master Degree. This provides both the intelligence to manage a high degree of complexity as well as a mindset of making continual process improvements.
Systems – one of the keys to our ability to uniquely manage mass customization is our systems. We have evaluated many off the shelf systems including JobBOSS, E2, Global Shop Solutions, Fishbowl, and many more. While all have major capabilities, none were a good fit for the scale and complexity of our operation. We have developed a set of systems that give us the reporting and insights required for managing Mass Customization.
Centralized Scheduling for 50+ Operations – The key to the operation is the ability to schedule down to the part level in over 50 individual operations. Jobs, Items, and Parts are analyzed on a variety of factors including lead time, natural “clubbing” between different jobs, material, complexity, run time, the status of other parts in the job or item, etc. This leads to a daily schedule for every operation that communicated to every lead and operator.
Manage By Job – every job is easily viewable with a detailed view of status. Figure 3 shows an example of the visibility we have into every order. This is also the same visibility that customers have via the customer portal.
Figure 3 – Sample Job Status Available via Customer Portal
Manage By Critical Path Operation – PT&P can view backlog, average daily production, and staffing by 50+ detailed operations across all of the production. This allows us to constantly identify bottlenecks and move resources to the most backlogged operation.
Manage By Short Lead Time Orders – PT&P maintains an entire section of production for short lead-time, smaller volume orders. These orders are delivered within 2 weeks and often times within 48 hours.
Manage By Product – Because of our scale, we maintain a specialized area of production for a number of products including Expansion Joints, Variables, Constants, Struts, Sway Braces, Pre-Insulated Supports, and Slide Plates. We are able to assess production by product to see how each of these operations are performing.
Work Instructions Software – One of the most difficult aspects of mass customization is how to deal with “tribal” knowledge. In a steel fabrication operation, high degrees of individual knowledge is relied upon for production. In a Mass Production operation, flexibility is eliminated in order to reduce dependence on specialized individual knowledge. PT&P has taken a different approach. It encapsulates complex operations into its Work Instructions Software. The challenge with complex operations is all of the “edge” cases that require “non-intuitive” procedures. For example on our Automatic Long Seam welder in the Expansion Joint operation, sheet metal must be measured as the mill tolerance is not tight enough to specify the program to be used on the welder (e.g. there is a different program for 18 Gauge vs 17 Gauge).
Figure 4 – Sample Work Instructions Software
Partnerships with Houston Colleges – PT&P has established partnerships with key colleges throughout Houston. This allows us to maintain even the most scarce skills within our production operation. PT&P has an unusually deep commitment to learning and education with our founder serving on the Board of Regents of the University of Houston.
Automation – PT&P’s scale has allowed it to invest in automation which both increases volume and quality. Automated Machinery includes CNC Plasmas, CNC Rolls, CNC Mills, Robotic Welding, Automatic Saws, Automatic Long Seam Welding, and High Volume Foam Pouring.
Product Specialization – PT&P uses scale across products where appropriate but also has specialized products for some aspects of key products including Expansion Joints, Variables, Constants, Struts, Sway Braces, Snubbers, and Pre-Insulated Supports.
Growth Plans for Key Skills – anyone with a welding background could tell you that welding carbon steel plate is a piece of cake compared to welding thin gauge Inconel. We start our welders working with carbon steel plate and structure and allow those who show the desire and skills to grow into the higher-skilled areas of welding.
Management of Material Contamination – PT&P has specific procedures in place to ensure the material remains separated to avoid contamination such as Carbon Steel contaminating Stainless. The combination of material contamination management and skill level required for thin gauge Super Alloys is one of the major reasons PT&P is the ONLY major Pipe Support manufacturer that also manufactures Expansion Joints.
The Benefit for our Customers: Always the Best Solution
Mass Production companies and Steel Fabricators will by their nature be limited in the solutions they can offer. This means they will be tempted to “force fit” customers into their capabilities. The following are just some of the options that PT&P offers with ALL of its products:
Schedule – approximately 15% of PT&P production is for short lead-time orders in 2 weeks or less with some of these even being less than 24 hours from order to delivery.
Material/Unusual Environments – one of the biggest advantages PT&P offers is that it has engineering and production skills to work with almost any type of steel or alloy. In our Expansion Joint operation, we work daily with Stainless Steel and Super Alloys including Monel 400, Inconel, Hastelloy, and Incoloy. For example, a customer recently asked us about a Paint over Galvanizing finish for plant struggling with a Caustic Environment and we educated them on the range of options offered by PT&P including an all stainless option along with the ability to even move to Super Alloys. In this case, the customer was supporting Nickel 200 piping which costs over $10/pound with a Variable made of carbon steel which costs under $1 per pound and was failing every 2-3 years.
Figure 5 – Monel 400 Clamps
Space Constraints/Size – PT&P can engineer to any dimensions feasible including the world’s smallest Constant Spring Hanger Designs. If there are challenging space requirements, PT&P can engineer the most efficient solution possible. Figure 6 shows a Nano Constant Design for 750-pound load and 77″ of movement. The overall dimensions of the Frame and Cam are 227″ x 7″ x 9-15/167″. This means PT&P is supporting over 700 pounds and 7″ of movement in with a Constant Hanger that is only 0.89 Cubic Feet!
Figure 6 – Nano Constant Design for 750 Pound Load and 7″ Movement
Challenging Load Requirements – PT&P invented the Big Ton in 1980 which placed springs in series in order to accommodate larger loads. We have engineered solutions up to 1M pounds of load including complete FEA analysis.
Figure 6 – PT&P 600,000 lb. Load Mega Ton Spring Support with Bronzphite® Slide Plates
Movement – PT&P has engineered designs across its products for larger more challenging movement requirements. For example, Figure 5 shows a Constant that was designed and produced to support 46″ of movement for a Geothermal plant in Hawaii.
Figure 7 – Constant Load Hanger for 46″ of Movement
Variable Spring Hangers Designed for a Plant in Texas
B-Type Variable Spring Supports
PTP 100 & 200 | 3′ – 8′ ft. Height
4,000 lb. – 17,000 lb. Loads
HDG Carbon Steel | Neoprene Coated Springs
Standard Load Test | Q.C. Tests
Piping Technology and Products, Inc. recently designed and fabricated B-Type variable spring supports for a plant in Texas. The operating loads range from 4,000 lb. to 17,000 lb. The variable springs are fabricated from galvanized carbon steel, have neoprene coated steel spring coils, and are designed to operate in environments up to 750°F. They have an overall height range from 3 ft. to 8 ft″. To ensure quality, standard load tests were performed prior to shipment.