7 Steps for Building Safer Fluid Systems
When it comes to the reliable operation of fluid systems, there is a real answer: Safe working conditions start with careful design considerations. Before you replace parts or put a completely new system in place, brush up on these best practices
1. Never mix components from different manufacturers
Though components from different suppliers may look alike, there is no assurance they are manufactured to the same rigorous standards, meaning they may not perform properly when used with other manufacturers components. Read is it safe to intermix fittings
2. Minimise opportunities for mistakes
Consider how better labeling and safety-minded system design can reduce opportunities for mistakes to happen. For instance, be sure to place tags on your equipment to indicate what an operator is viewing. Try to colour-code handles, tubing, and pipe to make it clear at a glance what types of fluids or gases are flowing through them, even in processes where hydrocarbons are not present. Also take care to orient components in a way that avoids accidental contact with moving objects or people passing by.
3. Only use ideal materials for the job
It may be tempting to make a price-based decision, but where the stakes are highest it is rarely worth the risk, and you should only rely on products with a proven reputation. The market has become saturated with counterfeit and substandard inventory that can harm your operation. Only purchase through trusted partners and authorised channels.
4. Remove complexity wherever you can
Reduce system complexity where possible to minimise potential complications, and never stop looking for opportunities to make improvements. Simplifying systems also helps down the line, as it will be easier to troubleshoot problems when there are not as many components to analyse. Consult an expert who can make recommendations for making fewer connections.
5. Always follow manufacturer instructions carefully
Failure to follow documented assembly and disassembly procedures might seem like a minor mistake but it can lead to major consequences. Common errors include:
- Under-tightening fittings, creating opportunities for leaks and blowouts
- Over-tightening fittings, limiting the potential number of remakes
- Not ensuring tubing rests firmly on the shoulder of the tube fitting body before tightening
- Not following proper protocols for tube insertion depth or not "bottoming out" the tube
- Failing to properly check tubes for ovality, defects or scratches that can compromise a seal
6. Factor for vibration and motion in your designs
When assembling a de-energised system (something you must always do, as working on a pressurized system is highly dangerous), it can be easy to forget about the effects of machine vibration. Be sure you have the proper supports in place to ensure tubing and fittings will not be unduly fatigued or dislodged during high-pressure usage.
7. Account for material hardness when making tube systems
It is important that component materials be compatible with each other and will have the appropriate hardness to stay connected. Metal tubing materials should be softer than fitting materials to
allow the fitting to grip and collet the tube well.
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