Tool manufacturer Hilti is launching a new ductwork and pipe channelling system for M&E contractors, and the company has also unveiled a direct fastening system that allows installers to work on ceiling installations from ground level.
HVN paid a visit to Hilti’s offices in Manchester to take a closer look at the new ways of putting up pipes.
The firm says it has developed its MM channel system to be quicker and easier to fit and more environmentally friendly than the competition.
Hilti product manager Eddie Mills says: “We’ve been trying to find a way to make the system easier to use and more sustainable, with less steel.”
The entire principle behind the system is that instead of the usual fiddling around on top of a ladder, screwing in bolts to the ceiling, the majority of the pieces can be snapped into place at ground level.
Mr Mills explains this reduces the time taken to fit the channels, which in turn reduces the cost of labour onsite.
“We have had the system tested at the National Construction College in Erith as part of a time and motion study, and the findings from that have shown us that our system is significantly quicker than the traditional screw-in systems,” says Mr Mills.
The study found that on average, using the new system resulted in a 67 per cent reduction in labour time, alongside a reduction in installation cost of about 59 per cent compared with traditional 41/41 profiles and standard components.
The MM system has been designed for light to medium-weight applications, so while it can’t be used for heavy pipe installations, the largest channel depth (30 mm x 36 mm) can be used to hold water-carrying steel pipes.
Channels are supplied pre-cut, saving on having to cut them to the correct size on site. The pipe saddle can then be pushed into the channel where it clips into place.
Finally, the pipe clip can be screwed onto the bolt on the pipe saddle (or alternatively this can be done at ground level and then the whole component snapped into place) and the pipe can be threaded through.
One interesting detail is that the actual pipe clips also feature a click system.
“The traditional pipe clip is over-engineered. You’ve usually got two screws you have to fit,” explains Mr Mills.
Instead of adjusting the clips with screws, the fitter can click the clip into place to secure the pipe.
Cutting out the screws and other parts means Hilti’s new offering simply has fewer components than traditional systems.
A traditional system would usually have 47 different components, whereas the MM system has 21.
“We’ve been able to reduce the steel content required by around 60 per cent,” says Mr Mills.
“This means we’ve also been able to bring the weight down from an average of around 2.7 kg per m to 1.4 kg per m.”
While the channel system can reduce the amount of steel and time required on a pipework installation, the tool manufacturer is also looking at reintroducing an old way of installing ductwork that has been out of favour for some years - shot-fired direct fastening.
Shot firing traditionally has had something of a poor reputation due to safety concerns, although the HSE actually recommends direct fastening as an alternative to drilling as it creates less dust and can negate the need to send a worker up a ladder.
Hilti’s DX351 CT tool can be used from ground level to install a fastening in a roof. “The tool has been designed in such a way that it can only fire a shot when it is pressed against ceiling,” says Mr Mills.
The safety system is based on a pendulum at the base of the tool - the shot-firing mechanism only fires when the pendulum points downwards and there is full contact across the entire end of the barrel.
It’s then a relatively simple case of the installer pressing the tool against each point in the ceiling where a fastening is required.
According to Mr Mills, the system uses even less material than the channelling system. “To install 8,000 m of pipework, you’d need around 5.5 tonnes of steel for channelling. With wire, you need around 350 kg.”