U.S. manufacturer of monolithic isolation joints beats importing

 In Damage Prevention of Utilities

The decision to use insulating flange kits or the monolithic isolation joint just got easier as one United States manufacturer is offering attractive alternatives to the notorious long lead times from importing.

Recently I explored the pros and cons of using monolithic insulating joints versus insulating flange kits to provide passive corrosion control in pipelines.  Based on those findings, monolithic isolation is a more advantageous method, aside from two points.

First, the initial expense of monolithic joints exceeds insulating flange kits. However, most agree that this argument doesn’t hold water because when considering the lifecycle cost, monolithic isolation is the cost-effective choice. The second and most significant disadvantage is lengthy delivery times commonly associated with monolithic insulating joints. Since the majority of the insulating joints used in the United States are from Europe, mostly Italy, it’s typical that lead times run up to 30 weeks.

IMAC Systems acquired Barlow, a United States manufacturer of insulating joints in 1998. Barlow has been manufacturing insulating flange joints for nearly 60 years and a reliable source on the east coast, with no reported failures. A couple of years ago, Barlow was approached by a large transmission company. The company was attracted to Barlow’s “American Made” product with only a 4-6 week lead time. The transmission company had just spent over $200K to charter a private plane to expedite a 30-week delivery of monolithic joints from Italy.

Recently I spoke with Nicholas Kohart, Vice President of Operations and General Manager at IMAC Systems. “Barlow is relatively unknown west of the Mississippi,” says Kohart. “The transmission company mentioned that their pipelines run across mountainous terrains and are prone to earth movement. They expressed concern with Barlow’s joints in mountainous regions and asked if we’d consider having our products tested to demonstrate their strength.”

 
 While there are no ASME standards for strength of monolithic joints, Barlow’s joints exceed ASME B31.8 Para. 833.3 pipe strength standards.

Barlow monolithic insulating flanges were sent to Packer Engineering, an independent third party to test the products. The engineering company tested three Barlow joints in four sizes (4”, 6”, 8” and 12”), by bending them to simulate underground pipeline stress. The joints were measured for strength. “The Barlow joint performed very well,” Kohart said. “Unfortunately, there are no ASME standards for strength of insulating joints, but the test revealed that the Barlow joint outperformed the pipe the joints were attached to.”

The independent testing is giving Barlow a second look by utility companies across the United States. Transmission companies in challenging terrain now realize there’s an alternative to the 30-week deliveries commonly associated with European manufacturers. More information on this test can be made available to companies interested in considering using the Barlow’s joints.

 

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