When looking through any facility you really just have to look up (or in most any other direction) to see how many pipes are running through the area. In most situations people don’t give it a second thought, but it really is quite remarkable how many different types of things are being safely transported throughout the facility at any given time.
If the pipes have a leak, clog or other issue, however, the production in a facility can be brought to a halt. In some cases, problems with these pipes can present a variety of safety issues that need to be addressed right away.
When there is a problem, or even when working on general maintenance, teams need to be able to immediately and accurately know as much about the pipe and its contents as possible. To make this possible, facilities need to implement and maintain a comprehensive pipe marking strategy.
Specific Pipe Marking Ideas
Every facility is going to be different in what types of pipe markings they can benefit from. The following pipe marking ideas can help to generate discussion and provide tips on how you can get started. Whether you follow these specific ideas for pipe marking or come up with your own, the important thing is to make sure your pipes are marked in a way that will help improve the safety and efficiency of your facility.
Idea #1 – Where Pipe is Going
As you can see in this picture, putting a pipe marking that identifies where the contents of a pipe are being sent to can be very important. These simple markings will let people track pipes much more easily so they can track down leaks, clogs or other issues much more quickly.
Idea #2 – Supply & Return
The following two images can show how you can use pipe markings to show the supply and return flows for different machines. This type of piping is very common in many facilities. Liquid coolant, for example, often has to go into a machine to cool it down and then return to another area to dispense the heat.
Being able to clearly follow these pipes, and know which ones are which, will help you to diagnose issues much more quickly and accurately. Another benefit is that you can be confident that you’re working on the right pipes so the others can remain in operation without a problem.
Idea #3 – Seasonal Piping
Many facilities have to use different solutions or machines depending on the season. Using pipe markings can show those in the area which ones are used during which seasons. Being able to quickly identify the piping’s used for summer and winter modes for a machine can help to improve the efficiency of your facility. The following images are two simple examples of this:
Idea #4 – Contents of Pipe
This is perhaps the most popular and useful type of pipe marking. You can use pipe labels (which can be purchased here) to show exactly what is being transported through a given pipe. This is very important because if there is a leak or if you are going to be working on a pipe, you need to know what is in there.
For example, if a pipe contains flammable gasses, you will need to take additional precautions that would not be necessary if the pipe simply contained water. The following images identify pipes as containing things like oxygen gas and hot water but you can use pipe markings for any type of solution or gas that is traveling through your pipes.
Idea #5 – Use Industry Standard Colors
Another key thing to keep in mind when labeling your pipes is that it is important to follow industry standards. In some cases this is required by ANSI or OSHA, but even when that is not the case it can be very helpful. Following standards will make it easier for all types of employees, visitors and emergency workers to quickly get the information they need.
There are different labeling standards in place for almost every type of pipe. The following are some common standards to keep in mind whenever planning out the labeling of your facility:
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Open Loop – If the pipe you are marking is part of an open loop than the label should be green.
Cooling Water – Any pipe that transports water that is used for cooling should marked with labels that are light blue in color.
Heating Water – Many facilities use hot water for heating. When this is the case, the labels should be orange in color. In addition, the labels should have a red banding on them for easy identification.
HVAC Chiller Condenser and/or HVAC Chilled Water – when cool or chilled water is going through an HVAC system the label on the pipes should be purple. The banding should typically be green (if it exists at all).
PSU Chiller Condenser or Cooling Water – When using a PSU unit the cooling water is critical for proper performance. Marking the piping needs to be done using pink labels. When in winter mode, the labels should have white banding. When in summer mode, it should have yellow banding.
Potable Water – Pipes transporting potable water should always be labeled with white text on either blue or green labels.
Nitrogen Gas Systems – Depending on the standard you are following, nitrogen gas pipes should be white text on blue labels or black lettering on yellow labels.
Compressed Air – Compressed air needs to be labeled with white text on blue labels or black lettering on white labels.
Non-Potable Water – Service water should be black text on yellow or white text on blue labels.
When there are multiple options in terms of the coloring of the labels it is because there are more than one set of standards. The standards that should be followed will typically be determined by the type of industry that your facility is in.
If you have multiple options for your company, the best thing you can do is to choose one set of standards and stick with it throughout your facility. This will help ensure everyone knows what to expect when in the facility so that they can remain safe and work without issues related to the markings of the pipes.
Idea #6 – Flow Direction
Another important tip when using pipe markings is to always identify the flow direction within the pipe. This can be added to any type of label by simply adding an arrow that points in the proper direction. You can see on this nitrogen label that the arrow is pointing to the right of the image. Having this arrow there will let people follow the pipe along until its destination.
There are many situations when knowing the direction of the flow will be critical for maintenance, safety and other things within your facility. One critical thing to keep in mind when creating labels for your pipes is the orientation of how you will apply the labels. If you put them on improperly, the arrow may point in the wrong direction, which could result in a variety of problems.
If you take the time to plan things out, however, you can avoid this type of problem and help ensure that people can see which direction the contents of a pipe are flowing at a glance.
Idea #7 – Marking Pipes & Destinations
Keeping the pipes marked properly is very important and can help ensure your facility can quickly identify what the pipes are used for. To take this strategy a step further, you can also put labels on the destination from the pipe.
The following pictures show how you can use a normal pipe marking label that can be on the pipe itself and the machine or container that is being fed by the pipe. In some situations it will make sense to simply use the exact same label that would normally go on the pipe itself. In others you will want to use a different label for the destination of the pipe.
Taking the time to figure out exactly what you want on the pipe and what you want on the machine can help ensure the information people are able to see is as clear as possible.
Keeping Your Pipe Markings in Good Shape
Whether you use any of the above pipe marking ideas or you come up with all your own ideas for labeling your pipes, make sure you also plan out how you will keep the labels in good condition. Most pipe markings are made to last for years without a problem, as long as you keep them clean. Furthermore, an industrial label printer (such as a LabelTac 4 Pro) can help make the job of creating labels much easier by printing long lasting, durable labels right in house.
Most companies simply have their maintenance team wipe the pipes down on a set schedule so people can easily read the labels, even from a distance. By having an effective labeling strategy and an effective maintenance strategy you will be able to ensure your facility is as safe as possible when it comes to the piping system you have in place.