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Pipelayer

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Construction Equipment
1997 Bron 150P Crawler Pipelayer
Pipelayers are used to implant pipes into trenches for pipeline construction. Pipes are most commonly used to safely transport materials such as oil, natural gas, gasoline, and other materials from their point of origin to a refinery.

Cranes, crawlers, and excavators have been known to act as pipelayers, sometimes with the help of pipelayer attachments.

Contents

[edit] History

The first pipelines were built to transport gas from brine wells in China around 500 B.C. The building of pipelines was essential in the production of salt. It is not known for certain what was used to embed these pipes but it is likely that the concept of a pipe laying device had its beginnings here and the use of machinery to do so would soon follow.[1]

Pipelaying became an industry when oil refineries started opening up all over the world. A railroad conductor from Titusville, Pennsylvania, Colonel Edwin Drake, built the first commercial oil well.

By the late 19th century, the oil industry was booming. John D. Rockefeller launched Standard Oil in 1870, a company that would be responsible for 80 percent of the oil refineries throughout the world. Five years before this, the first wooden pipeline was constructed; it was nine miles (14.5 km) long. Pipelines were constructed all over North America: Texas, California, Okalahoma, and Kansas, from Bow Island to Calgary, and Ohio to the Sarnia area.

The growth of the auto industry meant the oil market was about to get bigger. Pipelines were attempting new lengths. By 1906, there were 115,000 miles (185,074 km) of pipelines laid. The longest pipeline constructed at this time was from Bow Island to Calgary, which broke the record at 168 miles (270 km) in 1912.

Pipelayers changed very little during this time, with construction companies opting to use excavators, cranes, and crawler tractors to lay pipes. Few inventions were made for the process of laying pipes with more focus on developing pipes. Pipes went from being wooden logs to having special leak-proof couplings.

Large projects demanded more from machines used as pipelayers. The construction of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) in 1970 meant pipelayers had to contend with freezing temperatures, frozen ground, and snow.[2]

The world’s longest pipeline project to be completed is the Langeled Pipeline, extending from Norway to Great Britain. The underwater gas pipeline extends 725 miles (1,166 km).[3]

1978 International TD8 Pipelayer

[edit] Alternative Pipelayers

Cranes were often used as pipelayers due to their high lifting capabilities. Cranes that performed the tasks of pipelayers became known as bore towers or derricks. Common manufacturers of these types of cranes were the American Hoist, Derrick Co., C. Tobler Maschinen, and Schmidt-Tychesen, a north German crane firm.

Schmidt-Tychsen cranes were known “for every kind of application in wood and iron construction,” and had a lifting capacity as much as 60 tons, so it was not unlikely that they would be used to erect pipes.[4]

The PM 150 loader was a well-known derrick crane used for pipelaying. It was a crane placed on a Fiat A07 dozer that had the blade points removed, and was largely used for welding and laying pipes.

Another version was the Demag MC 600, a four-axled crane with a 140-ton lifting capacity that loaded pipes with the help of a hydraulic jib for construction projects in Russia.[5]

Volvo used dozers with a boom on the side as pipelayers. The company designed a basic prototype in the 1930s, with very little changing until present day.

Excavators and crawlers were also commonly used as pipelayers with some construction equipment manufacturers utilizing this by producing attachments and other devices that could transform this machine for pipelaying functions. One such company, Laurini Officine Meccaniche (Busseto, Italy), invented the Side Excavator Kit, a device mounted onto a Cat 325 excavator. The kit removed the arm of the excavator and replaced it with a main frame in order to use it as a pipelaying machine.[6]

Tractors were also used as pipelayer combinations. The T-330 tractor was used as the base of a pipelaying machine in 1974. The T-330 model was built for the purpose of lifting pipes that were especially large in diameter and installing them in trenches for gas and oil refineries. The first type was produced in 1977. Others to follow were the T-25.01, the T-20.01 and the T-15.01. These tractors had horsepower ranging from 240 to 280 and were developed in 1996.[7]

[edit] Recent News

1957 Caterpillar 583E Crawler Pipelayer
More attention is now being paid to pipelaying machines and with good reason: the Pipeline & Gas Journal has conducted a worldwide survey that estimates 144,096 miles (231,900 km) of oil and gas pipelines are either in the works of the near future or already in the process of being constructed. In North America, as much as 46,072 miles (74,146 km) are being planned for 2008. Pipelines will be constructed throughout Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.[8]

Caterpillar introduced two new pipelayers this year: the 587T with lift capacity of 210,999 pounds (91,625 kg) and 583T pipelayer with a lift capacity of 140,002 pounds (63,504 kg). Both pipelayers run on a CATC15 engine with ACERT technology. Features include one-handed steering gear selection and improved electronic control.[9]

Volvo Construction Equipment claims to have the most innovative pipelayer to be introduced to the market in almost 80 years. Volvo’s newest lines of pipelaying machines are based on a prototype of Volvo excavators. Five models to be unveiled in 2008 are from the Volvo PL Series. The lifting capacities of these models range from 20 to 150 tons. Features include a wider gauge and lower center of gravity than that found on other pipelayers. The 360-swing is said to contain a lifting capability and functionality in all directions, a feature not included in traditional pipelayers.

The PL7015C, the largest of the line has a 150-ton maximum tipping lift capacity, said to be almost 50 percent higher than that of other side-based booms. They are also said to have longer booms, ranging from 30 to 38 feet (9.1 to 11.6 m), enabling them to work at heights higher than the typical pipelayer.[10]

[edit] Features/How it Works

The pipelayer is transported to the location of the site and uses its tractor feet to navigate to short distances. An attachable boom with a set of cables is used to collect the diameter of the pipe and slowly lower it into a trench that is already excavated and prepared. Usually, several pipelayers work at the same time to hold sections of a pipe that is lowered one section at a time.

[edit] Common Manufacturers

[edit] References

  1. History of Pipelines. Cepa. 2008-00-25.
  2. Design and Construction. Pipeline 101. 2008-09-25.
  3. Langeled Pipeline. Oil Publishing. 2008-09-25.
  4. Bachman, Oliver and Cohrs, Heinz-Herbert and Whiteman, Tim and Wislicki, Prof. Alfred. The History of Cranes. KHL Group:Hanover, 1997.
  5. Bachman, Oliver and Cohrs, Heinz-Herbert and Whiteman, Tim and Wislicki, Prof. Alfred. The History of Cranes. KHL Group:Hanover, 1997.
  6. Kit turns hydraulic excavator into pipe-layer. Goliath. 2008-09-25.
  7. Page. Promtractor. 2008-09-25.
  8. Backhoe Loaders. Equipment Spotlight. 2008-09-25.
  9. Productive Power for More Profitability. Canadian Pipeliner. 2008-09-25.
  10. Volvo Construction Equipment Will Introduce a New Product Class of Innovative Pipelayers. Volvo CE. 2008-09-25.