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Maximize StoryMinimize StoryProblem solving Pronal cushions win national award for ability to safely handle tricky lifts - December 2016

Air Springs has won the Best Practice in WH&S category of the 2016 Australian Bulk Handling Awards for its Pronal Cushions that help lift irregular shapes, delicate load surfaces or loads in problematic site conditions.

The Pronal innovation recognised by these awards can lift weights of more than 60 tons with ultra-thin bags (just 20mm thick deflated), which are particularly relevant to applications such as construction and infrastructure, pipelines, oil and gas, water and wastewater as well as heavy industry, transport and mobile and stationary plant in industries such as mining and energy, manufacturing and rail.

"Winning this award is a great honour for us," said Mr James Maslin, Technical Product Manager, Air Springs Supply at the Bulk Handling Awards, held at Doltone House in Sydney in November. "Pronal technologies assist bulk handling companies to do tricky tasks more safely and efficiently, and to be recognised amongst the industry's best and brightest is testament to the hard work put in by our entire team," says Mr Maslin on behalf of Air Springs Supply, which is the exclusive national distributor for Pronal products in Australia.

Pronal inflatable cushions from Air Springs Supply cope with irregular shapes, off-centre loads and damage-prone surfaces
Pronal inflatable cushions from Air Springs Supply cope with irregular shapes, off-centre loads and damage-prone surfaces

Pronal Cushions

Standard cranes may have difficulty operating around soft ground, uneven earthworks, rocky surfaces, confined trenches and obstructed vehicle maintenance or crash recovery areas.

Sometimes there is insufficient room overhead to employ suitable cranes, even if they can be brought overland to a remote site. Sometimes also there is insufficient stability underfoot to employ pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders that produce high point loads both on the ground and on the object being lifted, which may be constructed of softer or formed metal in the case of land-based machinery, or fibreglass and aluminium in the case of maritime vessels and plant.

A simple, safe and proven solution to such challenges can be provided by light but extraordinarily strong seamless inflatable lifting cushions from the global Pronal elastomer product organisation, distributed in Australia by Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd.

The Pronal range of CLT lifting cushions from Air Springs Supply - which can be easily transported by 4wd or helicopter - can delicately raise loads ranging from heavy vehicles, pipelines and plant through to beams, bridge components, building components, machinery and resource development structures and maritime vessels and structures used in resource exploration and development.

Pronal's newest cushions range from ultra-thin bags (just 20mm thick deflated) that can lift weights of more than 60 tons, to vulcanised cushions constructed from a specially formulated fabric coated with synthetic rubber.

Pronal cushions employed in Australia on pipeline projects in soft site conditions
Pronal cushions employed in Australia on pipeline projects in soft site conditions

CLT cushions, featured on www.pronal.com.au, range from ultra-thin bags (just 20mm thick deflated) that can lift weights of more than 65 tonnes each, to powerful spreading cushions that can exert hundreds of tonnes of force to part plant and machinery components for servicing, or to extract quarried material. Complementary low-pressure CLC Maxi-Lift cushions offer greater strokes of up to 700mm (or 1400mm where a pair are employed).

Mr Maslin says Pronal bags combine the advantages of high durability and power with gentle, precisely controlled lifting that can spread the load over broader surfaces of the object being lifted, rather than focusing the power on point loads potentially creating slippage hazards or damage to the object being lifted.

"Avoidance of damage is obviously a prime consideration in maritime and offshore structures and vessels, such as those employed in the oil and gas industries, where safety and reliability of fixed and mobile plant is crucial. Similarly, mining and pipeline applications need to happen as time-efficiently as possible, with the least downtime in the case of maintenance and repairs."

Thin, deflated Pronal cushions can be used in confined spaces underneath inaccessible loads ranging from engines and plant, through to foundations of bridges, buildings, machinery, pipeline structures and resource development rigs requiring lifting for inspection and repair.

"Sometimes cranes, slings or cylinders may not be the right choice for lifts with particular technical challenges in terms of lifting surfaces or surfaces to which lifting force is to be applied. Where companies are contemplating considerable investments in custom-engineering conventional lifting platforms, it may be well worth considering the simple principle of pneumatic actuation," he said.

This can be particularly so when working in confined spaces, such as trenches and mines, where there is little room beneath pipelines and plant.

Rapid inflation of Pronal cylinders is also a major advantage in emergency situations, for which special low-pressure types are also available.

Features of the Pronal product (above) include:

  • As well as straight lifting, they can be used for pressing, clamping, tilting and guiding
  • Strokes from 70-585mm (CLT), with longer strokes provided by combinations of cushions
  • In addition to standard sizes, specific sizes and shapes can be made to order to suit particular applications.
  • Ease of use, with inflation either by compressor or simple air cylinders
  • Inflation pressures up to eight bar, regardless of stroke (CLT models - CLC pressures vary from under one bar, depending on model)
  • Construction from Aramid fabric coated with chemical resistant elastomer, hot vulcanised under pressure in one operation.
  • Non-slip surface providing maximum friction when stacking two cushions
  • Control systems tailored to particular uses

For additional information about Pronal Lifting Bags, please visit www.pronal-liftingbag.com. All other Pronal products can be found at www.pronal.com.au.

For more information about Air Springs Supply's national distribution and technical support network, please contact Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, Unit 18, 38-46 South Street, Rydalmere, Sydney 2116, ph (02) 9807 4077, fax (02) 9807 6979, sales@airsprings.com.au


Air Springs Supply Technical Product Manager James Maslin with the bulk handling award and an example of a Pronal cushion
Air Springs Supply Technical Product Manager James Maslin with the bulk handling award and an example of a Pronal cushion
 
 
Pronal cushions can be used to help lift off-centre or unusual loads like the example shown above
Pronal cushions can be used to help lift off-centre or unusual loads like the example shown above
 
 
Pronal cushions provide versatile lifting and emergency response for road and rail vehicles
Pronal cushions provide versatile lifting and emergency response for road and rail vehicles
 
 
Pronal Cushions

Maximize StoryMinimize StoryPronal an environmental finalist at the 2016 Mining Prospect Awards - October 2016

Air Springs Supply was selected as a finalist in the environmental category of the 2016 Mining Prospect Awards, for its inflatable multi-size Vari-Plug stoppers for rapid and safe deployment in testing and maintenance of concrete, steel and cast iron pipes used throughout industry.

The Prospect Awards are the largest national mining awards, and recognise industry leaders in safety, technology and innovation. This year they will be held at the Doltone House in Pyrmont, Sydney.

"It was great to be recognised amongst industry leaders for our innovations - especially in the increasingly competitive environmental category," says Mr James Maslin, National Sales and Marketing Manager, Air Springs Supply.

"Pipeline stoppers may seem small compared with large mining equipment, but their ability to swiftly and effectively block flow through pipes has a range of emergency, maintenance and other applications in mining and industry more broadly," he said.

Vari-Plugs

The inflatable multi-size Vari-Plug stoppers - each of which can fit several pipe diameters between 45-1200mm - feature flexible and strong vulcanised construction that moulds into the inside circumference of pipelines as the stoppers are pressurised, providing complete tightness and high safety thanks to large contact areas and circumferential rings.

Available without or with bypass so that pipelines can remain functional during maintenance and testing, Vari-Plugs offer wide compatibility with most pipe contents and come in weights and shape that allow rapid deployment for tasks such as:

  • Intervention to prevent leaks
  • Repair of pipeline sections
  • Tests of seals
  • Air tests
  • Downstream repair with continuous flow

The broader and cost-competitive ranges of Vari-Plugs build on the successful application of complementary ranges of Pronal stoppers in this country by national companies concerned about spills of potentially hazardous or harmful liquids. Increasing volumes have reduced costs and increase cost-competitiveness.

For years, inflatable stoppers have provided professionals in many different industries with the ability to do their jobs both safely and effectively. When content flow needs to be stopped, inflatable stoppers are an efficient solution. By creating an airtight seal within the pipe, they effectively stop the water flow and allow users to resolve the situation.

In addition to stopping water, they can also be used in testing air and water pressure, locating leaks, and can even allow the injection of chemicals into a pipeline. The material used in the stoppers and the production method (customised dilatability) means they are extremely versatile. External surfaces are also customised to particular needs, such as exposure to gas or petroleum products or where long term installation is required. Naturally (as with any rubber-based product) direct or prolonged exposure to petroleum-based products is not recommended, but even so they have strong emergency use applications in such industries, where speed of deployment is vital.

The Vari-Plug® range is purpose built and designed for multi sized pipe stopper applications, with just four models being required to plug pipes ranging from 200mm to 1200mm, for example. The smallest examples weigh from just half a kilogram with the greater part of the range weighing from .9-19 kg for easy handling and rapid insertion. Even the larger models, fitting pipes up to 1200mm, weigh under 70kg.

Pronal produce a range of inflatable stoppers for varying applications. These include Inspection Stoppers, Joint Testing Stoppers, Anti-Pollution Stoppers, Medium & High Pressure Stoppers for Off-Shore Use and self-contained Stoppers for hazardous and nuclear use. These light and strong products from Pronal are absolutely top quality," says Mr Maslin. With more than 40 years experience in specialist elastomers, Pronal, is the company that manufactured the massively strong elastomer bags use to lift sections of the ocean liner Titanic from 4km down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Information about Pronal products can be obtained through the Pronal website of Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, www.pronal.com.au . Air Springs Supply's complementary website, www.airsprings.com.au is one of Australia's most comprehensive guides to pneumatic actuation, isolation and suspension.

For more information about Air Springs Supply's national distribution and technical support network, please contact Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, Unit 18, 38-46 South Street, Rydalmere, Sydney 2116, ph (02) 9807 4077, fax (02) 9807 6979, sales@airsprings.com.au


 
ORJ stopper (top) and ORJT stopper with bypass (right), each of which can fit several pipe diameters
ORJ stopper (top) and ORJT stopper with bypass (right), each of which can fit several pipe diameters

Maximize StoryMinimize StoryExplosively quick protection helps safeguards waterways against materials handling mishaps and spills - August 2016

One of the simplest and quickest ways to prevent accidental contamination of waterways from spills into water, sewerage and other pipelines lines during materials handling operations is provided by Pollu-Plug stoppers from Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd.

The proven range of Pollu-Plugs manufactured by global elastomer specialist Pronal is designed to provide protection against mishaps and spills involving potentially hazardous liquids and chemicals.

Pollu-plugs are permanently and unobtrusively fitted into such pipelines ready for virtually instantaneous inflation by remote triggering as soon as an emergency arises in industrial, agribusiness, civil, military, emergency and municipal applications.

When an emergency arises - such as the urgent need to contain a toxic fluid spill or to prevent spreading of firefighting or contaminated process water - they are triggered by a gust of compressed air from standard factory pneumatic systems, or from cylinders of compressed nitrogen in more remote situations.

The rapid inflation acts immediately to protect environmentally sensitive waterways downstream from the pipelines, an environmental risk management issue which is common both as industry operates close to urban infrastructure or adjacent to water tables in remote agribusiness process and farming areas.

When pipelines are not subject to an emergency, the uninflated stoper allows normal non-polluted contents to pass beneath the elastomer-coated Pollu-Plug, which is snugly located to conform to the internal diameter of the upper half of the pipe. It is connected by an air supply line to an all-weather control panel or to a nitrogen inflation cylinder supplied by the customer and located outside the pipe.

Early users of the Pollu-Plug system include major Australian packaging, processing and military manufacturing plants, which had concerns about many multiple vehicles moving through plants with numerous forklifts and other materials handling technology shifting bulk containers and drums of materials including liquid chemicals and fuels, glues, paints, urethanes and common process substances.

"In a couple of instances such Australian plants were located adjacent to environmentally sensitive urban bushland waterways, which they wished to protect from potential spills by permanent installations of Pronal plugs that can be activated virtually instantaneously," said Air Springs Supply National Sales and Marketing Manager Mr James Maslin.

"The beauty of this technology is its absolute simplicity, efficiency and near total lack of maintenance. The quality and durability of the product - and of related Pronal pipeline products - is backed by Pronal's global experience in elastomer technology, with more than 3,000 global customers relying on Pronal design projects in fields as diverse as military, aerospace, offshore, industrial, mechanical, hydraulic, nuclear, water and waste water and environmental areas."

Pollu-Plugs are available in diameters of 100-1000mm and lengths of 450-2050mm (both measurements when empty). Custom sizes can be produced on request.

Inflated at pressures of between 40 and 120 KPa, depending on pipeline diameter, they complement Pronal's extensive range of OFR stoppers designed for maximum sealing diameters of 770-2115mm. They also feature rapid inflation for tight sealing to prevent accidental pollution.

One of the major advantages of Pronal technology - in addition to its proven performance globally - is that its inflatable elastomer products can also be custom-fabricated to suit particular applications, said Mr Maslin. Air springs supply also has more than 30 years specialist national experience in applying pneumatic actuation and isolation technologies.

Pollu-Plugs are part of an extensive Pronal range of inflatable emergency, rescue and maintenance equipment used by industrial, military and civil defence organisations worldwide (including transportable water and fuel tanks and lifting cushions used to raise equipment such as mining plant and pipelines needing installation or maintenance).

Information about Pronal products can be obtained through the Pronal website of Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, www.pronal.com.au . Air Springs Supply's complementary website, www.airsprings.com.au is one of Australia's most comprehensive guides to pneumatic actuation, isolation and suspension.

For more information about Air Springs Supply's national distribution and technical support network, please contact Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, Unit 18, 38-46 South Street, Rydalmere, Sydney 2116, ph (02) 9807 4077, fax (02) 9807 6979, sales@airsprings.com.au

The custom fabricated 900mm stopper with three supporting feet per end
James Maslin demonstrates Pollu-Plug installation
 
Pronal ORJ and ORJT stoppers, with and without bypass
Pronal Vari-Plug stoppers, another member of the Pronal family, used for pipeline maintenance and repair.

Maximize StoryMinimize StorySoft-touch technology aids environmentally cost-effective and safe solution of $15 billion pipeline asbestos removal - May 2016

Simple, non-destructive and cost-effective solutions to pipeline maintenance needs are being introduced to Australasia in response to expanding environmental issues such as the multi-billion dollar job of replacing or repairing asbestos-laced cement pipes in water networks.

The Water Services Association estimates it could cost approximately $15 billion in Australia alone to repair or replace the asbestos cement pipelines used in water networks, with half of this focussed on pipelines that are expected to come to the end of their lifespan over the next decade.

"The central issue in the pipeline network renewal task is not any health risk from drinking water passing through the pipelines while they are intact, but rather worker safety and community safety during the task of renewal," says James Maslin, Sales and Marketing Manager for Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd. "It is important in this regard that repair and removal technology touches lightly on the affected pipelines and does not contribute to damage or breakage."

Air Springs Supply is the national distributor for the globally proven range of Pronal elastomer inflatable pipe stoppers, lifting cushions, seals, tanks and environmental protection products used by municipal, industrial, civil emergency and military forces to repair and restore environmentally sensitive services including pipeline networks.

Inflatable Pronal stoppers - equipped with bypasses where water supply must be retained while pipeline sections are replaced - are inflated to create a powerful, watertight and non-destructive seal to safeguard maintenance workers and preserve the integrity of networks. (www.pronal.com.au)

Pronal lifting cushions, meanwhile, provide a way to lift, shift and position old or replacement pipelines even in sandy trenches or on soft surfaces. The cushions - larger versions of which are powerful enough to lift railway locomotives and damaged aircraft - spread their lifting power evenly over a wide area, thus avoiding point loads that could damage object being lifted or cause instability and breakages.

"Pronal stoppers and lifters have been proven globally to address many environmental issues involving industrial and municipal pipelines of all types, including concrete, cast iron, steel, stainless steel and PVC. The issue of asbestos in cement pipes is not unique to Australia, but common to many countries, including North America and the UK," says Mr Maslin.

"Pronal technology is used not only on water pipeline networks, but also their environmental credentials have been demonstrated in Australasia on industrial pipeline networks where their stopping efficiency, light weight and reusability are useful to manufacturers, miners and other big users of water and process solutions," said Mr Maslin.

Pronal inflatable pipe stoppers are already in widespread use for maintenance, testing and emergency tasks in applications as diverse as industrial and municipal water and waste water, and pollution prevention in mining, energy and industrial projects where sealing and testing operations need to be conducted not only with complete safety and environmental security, but also with considerable speed, to maintain flows of liquids and gases.

The stoppers - most recently put into service Down Under with national food and beverage, defence manufacturing and chemical processing companies - can be rapidly deployed, easily transported and widely applied in remote, temporary and permanent industrial situations.

Their affordability and cost-effectiveness has expanded greatly as more are brought into service, says Mr Maslin "Their local and global success means that increasing volumes and types are available at even more competitive installation costs than previously. Advantages of scale are also producing a broader range of stock types and sizes to fit pipelines up to 2115mm inside diameter and custom-produced models over 3000mm," he says.

The expanded ranges and greater cost-efficiency are particularly timely not only to address the asbestos issue in public water supply, but also for Australian industry because of the safety focus on preventing industrial spills. Safety is a major focus of State Environmental Protection organisations and of national bodies such as Safe Work Australia, which has introduced its Code of Practice for Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the workplace.

Risk Management

Pipelines are a particularly important component of risk management plans not only involving purity of water supplies, but also where companies may be handling increased quantities and types of hazardous materials associated with production and process engineering, cleaning, vehicle maintenance and plant upkeep, for example. In addition to potential hazards to people in the workplace, environmental authorities are particularly concerned about possible spillages of contaminated waste water into nearby streams, rivers, seas and groundwater systems.

The common factor with maintenance, testing and emergency situations is that they need stoppers that can be rapidly and securely deployed to provide primary or secondary safety and environmental security as required by both by Safe Work Australia and State Environmental Protection Agencies.

Sometimes stoppers are permanently located in pipelines for instant remote inflation with compressed air or other gas where there is a risk of toxic runoff at different stages of production, or where spillages occur. In other instances, they are used to seal off sections of pipe where leaks are occurring, serving the dual role of enabling pressurisation of that section so leaks can be detected, then protecting the men in the pipeline from any product flows while they work to fix the problem.

They are extremely strong and durable in service, being hot vulcanised in a mould to give outstanding service life. The material used in the stoppers and the production method (customised dilatability) means they are extremely versatile.

Pronal products are based on more than 40 years of producing specialist pneumatic elastomer designs for demanding applications, including government, military, heavy industrial, emergency service, sub-sea and exploration. Australian distributor Air Springs Supply also has more than 30 years specialist experience in applying pneumatic actuation and isolation technologies.

The big advantages of the technology also include simplicity, portability and re-use. Maintenance staff don't need huge amounts of gear on-site and the stoppers themselves are easy to transport around plants to remote locations, where they can be used, moved on, and used again and again. They are an ideal method by which to achieve compliance with statutory requirements in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Information about Pronal products can be obtained through the Pronal website of Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, www.pronal.com.au . Air Springs Supply's complementary website, www.airsprings.com.au is one of Australia's most comprehensive guides to pneumatic actuation, isolation and suspension.

For more information about Air Springs Supply's national distribution and technical support network, please contact Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, Unit 18, 38-46 South Street, Rydalmere, Sydney 2116, ph (02) 9807 4077, fax (02) 9807 6979, sales@airsprings.com.au


 
 
 
 
Pronal inflatable cushions
 
Pronal inflatable cushions
 
Pronal lifting cushions Pronal pipeline stoppers as easily transportable solutions to pipeline maintenance issuesPronal lifting cushions, shown inflated and deflated top, complement Pronal pipeline stoppers as easily transportable solutions to pipeline maintenance issues

Maximize StoryMinimize StorySimple, safe and outstandingly tough cushion lifters solve awkward industrial and resources lifting challenges - March 2016

Irregularly shaped machinery, delicate load surfaces and problematic site conditions underfoot can all create challenges for conventional lifting technologies.

Standard cranes may have difficulty operating around soft ground, uneven earthworks, rocky surfaces, confined trenches and obstructed vehicle maintenance or crash recovery areas.

Sometimes there is insufficient room overhead to employ suitable cranes, even if they can be brought overland to a remote site. Sometimes also there is insufficient stability underfoot to employ pneumatic or hydraulic cylinders that produce high point loads both on the ground and on the object being lifted, which may be constructed of softer or formed metal in the case of land-based machinery, or fibreglass and aluminium in the case of maritime vessels and plant.

A simple, safe and proven solution to such challenges can be provided by light but extraordinarily strong seamless inflatable lifting cushions from the global Pronal elastomer product organisation, distributed in Australia by Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd.

The Pronal range of CLP lifting cushions from Air Springs Supply - which can be easily transported by 4wd or helicopter - can delicately raise loads ranging from heavy vehicles, pipelines and plant through to beams, bridge components, building components, machinery and resource development structures and maritime vessels and structures used in resource exploration and development.

Pronal's newest cushions range from ultra-thin bags (just 20mm thick deflated) that can lift weights of more than 60 tons, to vulcanised Aircraft Recovery Cushions constructed from a specially formulated fabric coated with synthetic rubber that is chemically compatible with environmental agents such as kerosene.

CLP cushions, featured on www.pronal.com.au, range from ultra-thin bags (just 20mm thick deflated) that can lift weights of more than 65 tonnes each, to powerful spreading cushions that can exert hundreds of tonnes of force to part plant and machinery components for servicing, or to extract quarried material. Complementary low-pressure CPB Maxi-Lift cushions can be used on land and under water, offering greater strokes of up to 700mm (or 1400mm where a pair are employed).

Air Springs Sales and Marketing Manager Mr James Maslin says Pronal bags combine the advantages of high durability and power with gentle, precisely controlled lifting that can spread the load over broader surfaces of the object being lifted, rather than focusing the power on point loads potentially creating slippage hazards or damage to the object being lifted.

"Avoidance of damage is obviously a prime consideration in maritime and offshore structures and vessels, such as those employed in the oil and gas industries, where safety and reliability of fixed and mobile plant is crucial. Similarly, mining and pipeline applications need to happen as time-efficiently as possible, with the least downtime in the case of maintenance and repairs."

Thin, deflated Pronal cushions can be used in confined spaces underneath inaccessible loads ranging from engines and plant, through to foundations of bridges, buildings, machinery, pipeline structures and resource development rigs requiring lifting for inspection and repair.

"Sometimes cranes, slings or cylinders may not be the right choice for lifts with particular technical challenges in terms of lifting surfaces or surfaces to which lifting force is to be applied. Where companies are contemplating considerable investments in custom-engineering conventional lifting platforms, it may be well worth considering the simple principle of pneumatic actuation," he said.

This can be particularly so when working in confined spaces, such as trenches and mines, where there is little room beneath pipelines and plant.

Rapid inflation of Pronal cylinders is also a major advantage in emergency situations, for which special low-pressure types are also available.

Features of the Pronal product (right) include:

  • As well as straight lifting, they can be used for pressing, clamping, tilting and guiding
  • Strokes from 70-585smm (CLP), with longer strokes provided by combinations of cushions
  • In addition to standard sizes, specific sizes and shapes can be made to order to suit particular applications.
  • Ease of use, with inflation either by compressor or simple air cylinders
  • Inflation pressures up to eight bar, regardless of stroke (CLP models - CPB pressures vary from under one bar, depending on model)
  • Construction from threaded layers coated with chemical resistant elastomer, hot vlucanised under pressure in one operation.
  • Non-slip surface providing maximum friction when stacking two cushions
  • Control systems tailored to particular uses

Pronal equipment such as the PAC series of lifting cushions can be supplied with trailers, lifting bases and control systems developed to the demanding standards of Pronal's world-wide customer base, including military and civil aviation applications.

For more information about Air Springs Supply's national distribution and technical support network, please contact Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, Unit 18, 38-46 South Street, Rydalmere, Sydney 2116, ph (02) 9807 4077, fax (02) 9807 6979, sales@airsprings.com.au

Pronal inflatable cushions
 
Pronal inflatable cushions
Pronal inflatable cushions from Air Springs Supply cope with irregular shapes, off-centre loads and damage-prone surfaces
Pronal inflatable cushions
 
Pronal inflatable cushions
Pronal cushions provide versatile lifting and emergency response for road and rail vehicles
Pronal inflatable cushions
Pronal cushions employed in Australia on pipeline projects in soft site conditions

Maximize StoryMinimize StorySMARTSHORE® trench protection sets up quickly to protect workers - February 2016

During trenching or excavation works on site, it is essential to ensure the safety of operators.

Because works of this type involve risks of collapse and burial, safety codes based on Australia's national model developed by Safe Work Australia* typically apply to excavation work, including bulk excavations more than 1.5 metres deep, trenches, shafts and tunnels.

SMARTSHORE®, a shoring system available from Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd, provides a pneumatic protection shield that is easily and quickly set up to guard against cave-ins in a wide variety of excavation work.

This new technology reinforces the walls of trenches and in appropriate applications and can replace the use of conventional shoring, which can be cumbersome to handle and install, particularly for trenches of limited depth , as well as involving the transport of unwieldy material to remote sites.

The SMARTSHORE® system, manufactured by the globally respected Pronal elastomer engineering company, involves a twin-walled rubber-coated construction, finished by hot vulcanization, and featuring inflatable shields that are resistant to impacts, abrasion and tearing.

The design of inflatable shields and their accessories allows the system to be installed horizontally or vertically, while optimising safety, says Air Springs Supply National Sales and Marketing Manager Mr James Maslin, whose company has been a national leader in pneumatic actuation, isolation and suspension for more than 30 years.

Internationally SMARTSHORE® is designed for use in such areas as building and construction; civil engineering and earthworks, electrical and telecommunications; mining, energy and petroleum sites; pipeline installation and maintenance; road making; manufacturing and food and beverage and primary production pits and pipelines; plumbing and sewerage and water and waste water infrastructure.

Statutory provisions

"Naturally each industry in Australia must consider the statutory safety provisions relating to its unique workplace conditions, but SMARTSHORE® is a highly practical and robust product engineered in response to a global safety issue relating to excavations including pits and trenches," said Mr Maslin.

"Pronal is already respected globally as an engineering company for its extensive ranges of environmental and workplace protection products, including tough inflatable elastomer pipe stoppers used to prevent pollution and to protect staff during pipeline inspection and maintenance."

SMARTSHORE® cushions are equipped with handling straps, a quick air connector and a safety valve to avoid the risk of bursting. Their advantages include:

  • High resistance construction with anti-burst design*
  • Re-usable, easy maintenance
  • Easy handling and setup. Each cushion weighs only 13kg
  • Flexible and foldable

Air volume required is 400/660 litres with a maximum pressure of 650 mbar. Inflated by standard workplace compressors - or from compressed air/gas cylinders at remote locations - the standard product is complemented by an inflation line with safety valve for quick coupling and a venture for quicker deflation.

*Such work is considered to be high risk construction work for which a safe work method statement must be prepared, according to the recently published Excavation Work Code of Practice of WorkCover NSW, which is based on the national code.

Smartshore pneumatic protection shield
 
Smartshore pneumatic protection shield
 
Smartshore pneumatic protection shield

Maximize StoryMinimize StoryAgribusiness benefits from cost-effective, easily installed and environmentally advantageous inflatable pipeline stoppers - January 2016

Broader ranges of environmentally cost-effective Pronal pipe stoppers are being introduced to Australia by Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd to help food, beverage, primary industry and agribusiness concerned about spills and runoff of potentially hazardous or harmful liquids, fertilizers and nutrients.

Pronal inflatable pipe stoppers are used for rapid and effective blockage of such spills into pipeline systems from which they might enter environmentally sensitive watersheds surrounding businesses ranging from meat, fish, poultry, crop, paper, packaging and processing centres to growing areas for sugarcane, cotton, fruit and vegetables, timber and horticultural products.

"Pollution or cross-contamination of water supplies has become a much bigger issue in recent times as, increasingly, urban and rural areas overlap with population growth. This is placing pressure on agribusiness to ensure that it demonstrates community awareness of shared water resources by ensuring it has anti-pollution planning in place," says Air Springs Supply National Marketing Manager Mr James Maslin.

"Then too there is the issue of organic and genetically modified crops existing alongside each other, with legal issues arising from maintenance of borders, integrity of watersheds and avoidance of waterborne organic material," he said.

Pronal plugs from Air Springs Supply are used in Australia and globally for maintenance, testing and emergency tasks in industrial and municipal water and waste water, as well as for pollution prevention in projects where sealing and testing operations need to be conducted not only with complete safety and environmental security, but also with considerable speed, to maintain flows of liquids and gases.

The stoppers - most recently put into service Down Under with national food and beverage, defence manufacturing and chemical processing companies - can be rapidly deployed, easily transported and widely applied in remote, temporary and permanent industrial situations. They are suitable for all types of pipelines including concrete, cast iron, steel, stainless steel and PVC.

"Their local and global success means that increasing volumes and types are available at even more competitive installation costs than previously. Advantages of scale are also producing a broader range of stock types and sizes to fit pipelines up to 2115m metres inside diameter and custom-produced models over 3000mm," says Mr Maslin.

Sometimes stoppers are permanently located in pipelines for instant remote inflation with compressed air or other gas where there is a risk of toxic runoff at different stages of production, or where spillages occur. In other instances, they are used to seal off sections of pipe where leaks are occurring, serving the dual role of enabling pressurisation of that section so leaks can be detected, then protecting the men in the pipeline from any product flows while they work to fix the problem.

They are extremely strong and durable in service, being hot vulcanised in a mould to give outstanding service life. The enormously strong stoppers are the result of the global experience of elastomer products specialists Pronal, the company that produced the inflatable bags used to lift sections of the liner Titanic from nearly four kilometres underwater in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Pipelines are a particularly important component of risk management plans where food, business and agribusiness companies may be handling increased quantities and types of hazardous materials associated with production and process engineering, cleaning, vehicle maintenance and plant upkeep, for example, says Mr Maslin. In addition to potential hazards to people in the workplace, environmental authorities are particularly concerned about possible spillages of contaminated waste water into nearby streams, rivers, seas and groundwater systems.

The common factor with maintenance, testing and emergency situations is that they need stoppers that can be rapidly and securely deployed to provide primary or secondary safety and environmental security as required by both by Safe Work Australia and State Environmental Protection Agencies.

The material used in the stoppers and the production method (customised dilatability) means they are extremely versatile. External surfaces are also customised to particular needs, such as exposure to gas or petroleum products or where long term installation is required. Naturally (as with any rubber-based product) direct or prolonged exposure to petroleum-based products is not recommended, but even so they have strong emergency use applications in such industries, where speed of deployment is vital.

Pronal products are based on more than 40 years of producing specialist pneumatic elastomer designs for demanding applications, including government, military, heavy industrial, emergency service, sub-sea and exploration. Australian distributor Air Springs Supply also has more than 30 years specialist experience in applying pneumatic actuation and isolation technologies.

The big advantages of the technology also include simplicity, portability and re-use. Maintenance staff don't need huge amounts of gear on-site and the stoppers themselves are easy to transport around plants to remote locations, where they can be used, moved on, and used again and again. They are an ideal method by which to achieve compliance with statutory requirements in a cost-effective and efficient manner.


 
OFR stoppers used in retaining pits
One of the Pronal stopper ranges
 
The custom fabricated 900mm stopper with three supporting feet per end
A stopper in-situ, right demonstrated by James Maslin. High pressure models can withstand a back pressure of 30 bar and are used on onshore, offshore and critical applications including nuclear

 
James Maslin demonstrates a Pollu-Plug
Permanently installed Pronal stoppers remain within pipelines ...
 
James Maslin demonstrates a Pollu-Plug
... until they are inflated for emergency use

 
James Maslin demonstrates a Pollu-Plug
Permanently installed Pronal stoppers can be used within pipelines to protect liquid tankage, lagoons, pondage and process liquids