Maintaining and carrying out repairs on pipe networks is an essential service, but not one without risk. Here we look at how valve technology can offer greater protection to both operators and the overall water system.
A key service provision in the water distribution sector is maintaining the pipe network and carrying out repairs when necessary. Water supply pipes are predominantly concentrated in urban areas, with the block valves that control water flow situated in the middle of busy roads and streets. Whenever operation technicians need to open a valve for maintenance or repair, they are working in areas of heavy traffic – which presents significant dangers.
Equally, much of the water supply pipe network is very old, and many of the original manual block valves (valves that are opened and closed by turning an iron rod inserted in the hand-wheel) have deteriorated over time, becoming more difficult to manoeuvre. This means that operators must exert greater force to open the valves, increasing the threat of repetitive strain injury – notably tennis elbow – as well as the risk of opening the block valve too quickly and creating a water hammer effect, which can cause serious damage in a water supply system.
Portable valve actuators to the rescue
System operators are seeking a way to manage these valves that offers greater protection to both operators and the overall water system.
Modec has adapted portable valve actuators to fulfil this requirement. Rather than two operators exerting equal pressure on each end of an iron rod fixed to the hand-wheel, the procedure requires just one operator to set up the tool and hold it in place.
The technician is stationary, therefore better able to observe the traffic, and there is no risk of occupational strain or injury as the portable actuator is doing all the hard work. It also does the work in around half the time. As it opens and closes the block valves at a controlled speed, it eliminates the danger of water hammer. It will also simply stop turning if the force applied threatens to break the valve.
Finding a unique solution
Health and safety is a major issue for system operators – both the safety of their personnel working on busy roads, and the safety of their equipment – and Modec is pleased to work with companies to find a unique solution to their needs. These portable actuators help to improve the security of both employees and the supply system, while at the same time improving operational efficiency.
Through research and feedback from this sector, Modec has now created a standard kit for use in operating these underground valves. This standard kit was formed within Modec to develop offerings that address specific applications in the water industry, paying particular attention to the development of solutions that address common issues that are seen globally throughout this sector.
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