Pipe installation in the heart of London – overcoming major challenges

Date: 22 October 2018

In January 2018, isoplus Piping Systems Ltd. began its biggest ever project in the UK. The project – which is expected to be completed in November involves a replacement of the district heating pipeline to the Acorn Estate, a residential area in Peckham in south-eastern London.

The project amounts to about GBP 2.5 million and will ensure an urgently needed new heat supply system for approximately 150 households. “The existing network is about to collapse due to poor operation and maintainance. This is the third time it has needed to be replaced since 1963. Now, however, it has been decided to use high-quality isoplus pipes which have a service life of 30 to 50 years, provided proper long-term maintenance”, says Steve Webster, managing director of isoplus UK.

The old network was so unstable that the residents’ heaters often cracked and, in some cases, almost exploded because of the high water pressure. According to the local newspaper, one woman had her heater replaced 36 times in one year! “In addition, the energy waste has been enormous because of constant leaks”, Steve Webster concludes.

Severe difficulties
According to the managing director, the installation of about 3.5 kilometres of pipeline in inner-city London is a major challenge. “We run into various old mains, some of which are just about to collapse. In addition to this, there are newer cable tv connections, fibre-optic broadband lines, etc. Because a comprehensive overview of all connections and services does not exist, we have to be very careful. Working in densely populated residential areas causes great difficulties as well. Although there is no vehicular traffic in the area, we have to pay regard to large volumes of residents in the streets, on the pavements, on paths and passageways. Acorn Estate is a low-income area with many elderly, disabled and people who have difficulties walking. Therefore, we have to show great consideration for their impaired mobility. If the situation requires it, isoplus’ employees do not hesitate helping them to carry home their shopping or lift/help them over troublesome passages”, Steve Webster says with a smile.

A satisfied customer
isoplus’ employees had to think creatively and produce special pipe fittings in order to manage some different obstacles – and they had to cut, weld and insulate in somewhat unusual ways to carry out almost impossible tasks while still maintaining the system’s robustness and heat loss values.

isoplus is carrying out the project on behalf of Mitie Property Services (UK) Ltd. that gives high praise for the work done.

Senior Project Manager Trevor Thomas says: “The project as a whole and in particular the works isoplus undertook as part of the process at Acorn Estate has been extremely demanding from a logistical and practical perspective. I’m pleased to say that isoplus played an effective role in support of Mitie Property Services (UK) Ltd in the delivery of the project by overcoming site specific challengers on an almost day to day basis.”

Huge potential
Steve Webster believes the successful project may well entail a similar assignment a few kilometres away from the current site and, all in all, isoplus UK is facing busy times. “There is a vast potential in the UK – partly a large number of pipe connections which are utterly worn down, partly a huge volume of new projects”. Steve Webster makes clear that there is no scope for boredom.