March 21, 2018
The Economic Advantages of Composites over Traditional Repair Methods

Posted by: Natalie Swift

When deciding on a pipe repair, money can be a huge factor in your decision. A more traditional repair method may seem “easier” because it’s what you’ve used in the past, but is it really the best option? Though the price of the physical composite material may be higher, the overall cost of the repair would be less expensive. Here’s how:

Matching your Repair with the Appropriate Defect

Most importantly, any repair used on a pipeline should be a repair system that has been proven to repair the addressed type of defect. In many cases, the defect itself will lend toward a certain repair system (such as a composite repair on reinforcing wrinkle bends). A composite repair can be used to repair many defects commonly associated with pipelines including corrosion, dents, gouges, wrinkle bends and some weld defects. Certain defects, such as corrosion above 80%, crack like features or internal wall loss may not be suitable for composite repairs in some instances.

Considering Pipe Geometry

A lot of pipes are no longer perfectly round, but the clamps manufactured for securing steel sleeves are round, so there is a significant difficulty in finding a perfect match. If the pipe is too misshapen, perhaps from a severe dent, the clamp won’t fit over the pipe at all unless you purchase an oversized clamp. When you choose to use a composite pipe wrap, however, it doesn’t matter if the pipe is irregularly shaped—you can still have it wrapped with a “form fitting” wet lay-up composite system. Composite wraps should be able to conform to various geometries easily, so if there is an elbow, tees, fitting or any kind of nozzle, composite wraps will wrap around it and a customized clamp purchase can be avoided. Composite wraps can be designed to create any length, thickness or geometry using standard stock materials and no custom sizes are necessary.

Considering Overall Cost of the Repair

Composite Wrap

Composite wraps are installed by teams of general laborers. At Milliken Infrastructure Solutions, LLC (MIS), we provide the option of a one-day training with part of the time in a classroom setting and the other part engaging in hands-on applications. MIS could also send a member of our Pipe Wrap team to the job site to provide simplified training on a live repair. There is no hot work required and the pipe does not have to be shut down, although the pressure of the pipe should ideally be reduced. Typically, after an ILI run, the operator will find multiple potential repair sites that it would dig up and do verification inspections on before ultimately deciding how to fix the defect. With a composite wrap repair, a certified team could come in and complete over 30 discontinuous feet worth of repairs in one day. Though composites are not ILI detectable, our patented ILI Markers are installed during the repair to prevent costly re-digging during the next ILI run.  

Steel Sleeve

There are two types of sleeves to consider when you choose a steel sleeve for your repair:

  • Type A sleeve – This sleeve is not welded to the pipe, but the two sides of the sleeve are welded together. A composite wrap is typically capable of everything that a type A steel sleeve can do and more.
  • Type B sleeve – This sleeve is welded to the pipe, basically creating a new pipe on top of the existing pipe. If the defect fails, there is essentially a new pipe to ensure the continuous flow of the pipe’s material. However, there is a new risk of failure introduced in the heat-affected zones caused by welding the Type B sleeve. Currently, Type B sleeves can be used to fix some defects that composite repairs have not been validated for, such as crack like features.

A standard, premanufactured steel sleeve can cost less, but you also should consider the cost of a certified welder, which brings about the risk of sparking along with the required x-ray inspection of the welds. Steel sleeves typically only repair about two to three feet at a time. For “high risk” defects or unknown defects, a Type B steel sleeve could be a safer option. If the job would require a custom steel sleeve, however, then a composite repair option would be more economical.

Cut Out

If the pipe must be physically cut, then the pipe has to be shut down or the flow within the pipe must be rerouted around the defect by building a temporary pipe. Both scenarios are costly options for pipe repair, potentially costing your company hundreds of thousands of dollars in material flow costs.

What’s Next?

Next time you’re considering your options for a pipe repair, don’t just look at the cost of the repair material but the overall cost of the job. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Pipe Wrap team with any questions you have about choosing a composite repair method over a more traditional or familiar option.

Category: Feature Articles, Pipe Wrap


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