There is an omnipresent demand for connecting hydraulic units with machines and equipment, both as part of new installations and in the overhauling of existing equipment. Although welded connections have been the traditional solution, there are a number of inherent problems with welded pipe joints that are driving demand for an alternative solution.
Among the main issues are those regarding the accuracy and reliability of connections; even experienced welders cannot always produce 100% perfect welds. Moreover, inherent problems with welded joints include the potential for stress cracking and subsequent corrosion, while ongoing weld integrity can only be proven with regular, expensive and time-consuming x-ray testing or other non-destructive methods. Add to this the current industry issues in sourcing specialist welders, and the challenges are plain to see. Then there are the costs to consider. Not only does welding consume high levels of energy, but there exist numerous time and cost issues around cleaning, degreasing agents, and anti-corrosion resources. Safety is another concern, particularly those relating to welding fumes and fire risks. Indeed, increased system pressure (especially in hydraulic systems) means there is growing industry focus on safety, a fact supported by a new European directive for pressure vessels. For these reasons, some industries, such as oil and gas, shipbuilding and mining, have already started specifying the use of weld-free technology.
The increased pressure on operators to ensure machine and production efficiency means that system failures and unscheduled maintenance due to piping and connection faults are expensive; both in terms of emergency repairs and production downtime. Throw in the growing importance of safety and environmental protection, which is, in turn, fuelling demand for safer and more reliable systems, and it becomes clear why replacing welded connections with tested and approved weld-free technology is a growing issue in almost every industry and application. It is well documented that weld-free technologies such as flange connection systems deliver superior performance in comparison with welded joints, especially where compressive strength, reduced leakage, and contamination-free lines are critical. Furthermore, cold forming is much quicker, enables conformity with regulation and facilitates integrated connection into existing hydraulic systems. Unlike welding, such solutions can also be prefabricated off-site to further accelerate on-site installation, while flanges that can be oriented make assembly easier and quicker. Additional benefits include the elimination of degreasing or anti-corrosion agents, increased safety with no dangerous gases or fire risks, reduced energy consumption, less downtime and extended piping lifespan.
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