Pipes, Tubes and Hoses for Pneumatics
Select the right piping, hoses, brackets and accessories for compressed air reticulation systems, or you could waste money on installation and increase significantly Total Cost of Ownership.

Connections from compressors mainline.

Flexible connection to minimise vibration transmission to air line and the compressor.  Hard joints are prone to metal fatigue and consequent component failure and costly leaks.

Neither the compressor nor the airline like vibration / resonance.
Stainless steel braided convoluted or high temperature, oil resistant rubber hydraulic hose is best.  It can cope with the high temperatures and oil but is initially expensive.

The Air Line – Materials

1.  Copper Tubing

Excellent material, relatively smooth bore, low friction loss.  It’s lightweight and easy to install. Initial cost      expensive compared with steel.  Mostly used for installations requiring Ø50 mm or smaller.
Capillary weld joints best though compression fittings good if properly used.

2.   Galvanised Piping (Steel)
Costly. No real advantage. Cutting and threading damages the galvanised layer. The pipeline still has to be primed with specific galvanising primer before final coat.

3.   Steel
Medium black plain uncoated probably the most cost effective material.
Wall thickness more than adequate for threading (light weight piping – wall thickness thin for common compressed air installations). Care should be taken that supporting brackets or hangers are correctly spaced. Adequate scaling agent, not too much or too little to seal joints for threaded piping.

Large diameter joints are often welded. Use only coded professional welders – not a job for the average pipe fitter!

4.  Synthetics

Generally not good for main airline, some types tend to sag causing ponding.  One commonly used type (commonly referred to as “polycop”) for airlines is not recommended by the makers.  No specifications available for “shatter” characteristics, severe safety risk.
Remember airlines are reservoirs of huge amounts of stored energy so take care to select the right piping and tubing for the job!

Colour Coding

Compressed air distribution systems: Special colour specification to comply with Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements
Base coat – red oxide or other suitable primer for the pipe material used
Top coat – Artic Blue F28 to SABS Standards

Hoses / Tubing Connected to Air Tools & Pneumatic Equipment
For cylinders, valves, motors etc. where flexibility is required, use only top quality  polyurethane or nylon tubing.

Don’t economise on push in fittings, air leaks cost a fortune!
In a welding / furnace etc environment, heat resistant hose with protector sleeve to be used.

From Take Off Points (Usage Points) to Tools & Equipment
Medium oil resistant hose (minimum requirement and not too expensive)
Oil carry-over from the compressor and oil mist from lubricators destroys ordinary rubber hose, the resultant gunge enters air tools, vales, cylinders and other sensitive equipment and repairs and maintenance costs escalate exponentially.

Choose all piping, hoses and tubing with care.  Buy the best, it’s better in the long run.

Conclusion

Most in-house DIY type compressed air systems are frequently down sized in pipe diameters to “save costs”.  Airline design and installation by professionals will ensure the right diameters, the right type of material and an effective lowest cost of ownership system.

Plumbers are concerned mostly only with flow except for fire prevention systems.  Compressed air or gas has an associated cost for pressure drop.  Compressed air distribution systems should be designed and installed by professionals, taking short and long term factors into consideration.

Compressed air distribution systems should be designed for maximum production, productivity and flexibility to cater for changing factory utilisation.

Every benefit has a cost but so has bad planning and under capitalisation.

Fittings
Fittings include steel, stainless steel, brass, plastic and range from pipe fittings for steel piping, copper tubing, plastic tubing, rubber and PVC pipe, and various other.

Support Brackets

A new “click-on-beam” support bracket for air, gas and water piping installations, has been developed by Air Systems, the Pretoria based compressed air technology company.

The bracket eliminates the questionable method of welding support brackets to roof trusses and other beams.

The very simple bracket, which takes minutes to fix, results in really significant saving in pipe- work installation costs.

The new system was used for the first time by Air Systems in Voith’s new factory at Jet Part, Boksburg. (Voith are major operators in mining & vehicle converter transmission systems).

The Voith installation also incorporated Air Systems patented water traps at all major usage points.