Alignment Guides

Today we will be discussing pipe guides known as pipe alignment guides. The purpose of pipe alignment is to keep the pipe aligned. What is pipe alignment? In an industrial or commercial piping system, pipe guides or piping alignment guides are used to help control pipe motion due to thermal growth and movement. Piping must be allowed to grow unobstructed in the axial plane. Pipe guides also, work in conjunction with expansion joints. The pipe guides permit axial movement while restricting the lateral or buckling movement.

There are many causes of pipe misalignment. Shifting due to soil, erosion, settlement is some of the reasons you may need pipe alignment guides. In a piping system, it is exceedingly difficult to get the right tolerances. Heavy equipment and damage to the pipe system will cause alignment issues after time. This misalignment can cause strains on the flanges and failure of the system. It is important to diagnose the cause of the piping alignment issues. There can be angular, lateral, or a combination of the two. It is important to anticipate what further problems may arise from subsistence. The slightest movement can cause extreme damage to the pipe system. Sometimes, rubber expansion joints or metal expansion joints are used for alignment around equipment. Pumps and compressors have vibration movement and thermal growth, which can cause misalignment. The larger the pipe, the harder it is to get proper alignment. Sometimes you must use multiple means to get the correct pipe alignment. This can be accomplished with pipe spools, expansion joints, and engineered pipe alignment guides.

It is very important to know the piping systems’ design parameters. Anchor guides or pipe guides.  These factors can influence the alignment needs for the piping system.  The key to remember is the anacronym “STAMP.”  Size Temperature Axial Material/Media Pressure. The temperature and material are important to determine the piping growth. Here is the full expansion formula: Change in Inches = [Y (T1-T2) /10] x [L/100] Y = Expansion Coefficient (T1-T2) = Temperature change in degrees between the installation temperature (the temperature at which the pipe was installed) and either the max or min temperature it will endure. These calculations are important for sizing pipe alignment guides. The pressure is important due to the “pressure thrust.” Pressure thrust is the force created by pressure acting on bellows, it is a force equal to the media pressure multiplied by the effective cross-sectional area of a bellow. What is the difference between pressure and pressure thrust? The amount of force exerted (thrust) on a surface per unit area is defined as ‘Pressure’. It can also be defined as the ratio of the force to the area (over which the force is acting). Formula and Unit of Pressure (P) = Thrust/ Area All pipes with or without expansion joints have pressure thrust, which is reacted at each end by anchors. All have to be known to select the proper alignment guide.

In conclusion, we have learned that piping guides/piping alignment guides are an essential part of a proper piping system. A piping system can include pipe expansion joints, rubber expansion joints, metal expansion joints, pipe anchors, flanges, pipe alignment guides, pipe guides, and auxiliary items.