Quick, safe, reliable installation of external pneumatic post system

Supplier: KCES
28 October, 2010

Straub pipe couplings on the external pneumatic post system at Lonza in Visp.

At the Lonza chemical and biotechnology plant in Visp, the existing external pneumatic post system is central to the production and quality assurance processes.

Weather-related ageing made it necessary to renew the original pipe couplings. The replacements are specially modified STRAUB-REP 1L pipe couplings, ensuring reliable connection and continuous availability of the pneumatic post system.

The challenge:

The more than 4-kilometre-long pneumatic post network of Lonza AG in Visp could certainly be described as the main artery in the company’s production and quality assurance process. It is used primarily to send chemical samples to the various laboratories distributed around the huge complex.

Production is allowed to go ahead in the relevant plant only when the particular production batch has been passed fit by the laboratory. Every month, around 10,000 samples are moved around by the pneumatic post system. Failure of the system would therefore have a huge impact on production, bringing with it a high cost burden.

The pneumatic post system runs in the open on the production site and as such is exposed to all weather conditions. The temperature related expansion and contraction of the pipes subjected the originally installed pipe couplings to enormous stresses, impairing the reliability of the overall system at an ever increasing rate. Prior to the refurbishment work, the pipes were essentially joined by duct tape wrapped around the joints and secured with a pipe clip.

Whenever temperature changes caused the pipes to expand or contract, the gaps at the joints widened or narrowed. These constant movements led to overstretching of the adhesive tape which, over time, crept inside through the gap, reducing the effective bore of the tubes. At these points, the capsules were slowed down or even completely stopped.

After only a few years, the first signs of corrosion were visible, and leaks impaired the reliability of the installation. Operation could therefore not be secured in the long term. What was needed was a solution offering a high degree of reliability over many years.