Rapidly deployed multi-sized Vari-Plug pipeline stoppers expand their effectiveness and local cost advantage

Jun 12, 2014 in June 2014, News 2014
ORJ stoppers

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

New ranges of cost-effective Pronal Vari-Plug inflatable pipe stoppers are being introduced to Australia by Air Springs Supply Pty Ltd for rapid and safe deployment in testing and maintenance of concrete, steel and cast iron pipes used throughout industry.

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

Pronal pipe stoppers are being used in testing and maintenance of pipes

The broader and cost-competitive ranges of Vari-Plugs now being introduced to Australia 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, says Air Springs Supply National Marketing Manager Mr James Maslin.

Pronal stoppers are used for maintenance, testing and emergency tasks in applications as diverse as oil and gas delivery, 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 greater volumes now being deployed within Australian industry mean unit costs have reduced with products such as the Vari-Plugs, which are an extensively proven product, says Mr Maslin. “For years, inflatable stoppers have provided professionals in many different industries with the ability to do their jobs both safely and effectively. When water flow needs to be stopped, inflatable stoppers are easily the most 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 without a hazardous backup,” says Mr Maslin.

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.

With inflation pressure of 2.5 bar and back pressure capability of 1 bar (10m water column equivalent), Vari-Plug® temporarily or definitively stop piping when used for maintenance, containment of pollutants and performance of network sealing tests. In the field of sanitation, Vari-Plug® inflatable stoppers are used to test the water-tightness of pipes and for maintenance operations.

Pronal stoppers – for which Air Springs Supply is exclusive national distributor – were most recently put into service Down Under with national food and beverage, defence manufacturing and chemical processing companies for whom they can be rapidly deployed, easily transported and widely applied in remote, temporary and permanent industrial situations.

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 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.

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 staffs 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.