Pipe Support Span is defined as the optimum distance between two supports so as to avoid excessive stress, sagging, or failure of the piping or pipeline system in extreme cases. We all know that while routing aboveground piping or pipeline from one part or equipment to another we have to support the pipe at some definite spans. A properly designed pipe support span helps the piping design personnel to support pipes at regular spacings, thus reducing his work for unnecessary calculations. Pipe Support Span is also known as Pipe Support Spacing. Refer to Fig. 1 that defines the pipe support span for a pipeline system.
Factors on Which Pipe Support Span Depends
There are various factors that influence the pipe support span. Pipe support spacing varies with changes in
- Pipe Material: Pipe Support spacing varies with pipe material, For non-metallic pipe, the support span is lower than metallic pipes of the same size.
- Nominal Diameter of Pipe & Schedule: With the increase in pipe diameter and schedule, pipe support span increases.
- Type of fluid service: Piping support span varies with fluid service; Pipes carrying liquid service have less support span as compared to pipes carrying gaseous fluids.
- Type and Thickness of Insulation Material: With an increase in thickness and density of the insulation material, pipe support spacing reduces.
- Piping configuration (Straight pipe and Pipe with elbows): Straight pipe has more support span as compared to pipes with directional changes.
- Locations of valves and rigid bodies: The presence of rigid bodies in a piping or pipeline system reduces the pipe support span.
- The structure available for support: Available structures are normally used for supporting the pipe. So pipe span chart may be reduced in those places.
- Pulsating lines: For vibrating or pulsating lines pipe support span is reduced to avoid vibration tendency and to increase the natural frequency of the piping system.
- Temperature: With an increase in fluid temperature as allowable stress value reduces, the pipe is supported nearby position and thus reducing the pipe support spacing.
Deciding Pipe Support Span
Pipe Support Span Length Depends On-
- Bending Stress
- Allowable Loads
- Vibration Possibility and Natural Frequency of the piping system
Bending is caused mainly due to two reasons:
- Uniform Weight Load
- Concentrated Weight Load
Uniform Weight Load
- Own Weight Of Pipe
- Insulation Weight
- Weight of Fluid During operation
- Weight of hydrostatic fluid During Hydro Test
- Weight Of Valve, Flanges,
- Strainer, specialty items, inline items, etc.
Deflection (Δ) is defined as a relative displacement of the point from its original position.
- The basic piping practice to limit pipe deflection between supports to 1” or 1/2 the nominal pipe diameter, whichever is the smaller.
- The most important reason for limiting deflection is to make the pipe stiff enough, that is , of high enough natural frequency, to avoid large amplitude response under any slight perturbing force. As a rough rule, for average piping, a natural frequency of 4 cycles per second will be found satisfactory. The natural frequency can be calculated by
- t=corroded Thickness of pipe Wall(mm)
- R=Radius of pipe (mm)
- d=Bearing Length(mm)
- b=Bearing width(mm)
Allowable Load at Support
- Pa=Allowable Load at the Support point
- t=effective local thickness (pipe wall +Reinforced Pad If Any)
- R=outer radius of Pipe
- b=Bearing length of pipe (along the axis) on the support structure
IF ACTUAL LOAD AT SUPPORT IS GREATER THAN ALLOWABLE LOAD GIVEN BY ABOVE FORMULA, REINFORCEMENT PAD WILL BE REQUIRED.
Normally project-specific Support Span is provided in tabular format for straight pipes that are known as “Pipe Support Span Chart”. But for elbows or turns the span to be reduced by a factor as shown in the below-attached figure (Fig. 2). Readymade support spans for specific pipe diameter and thickness are available in the MSS code. For Shell group of companies’ support span is provided in DEP in tabular format.
Pipe Support Span Chart
Pipe support span chart is a tabular chart giving a rough idea of supporting distance. These charts are normally mentioned in piping stress analysis project specifications. In the following image (Fig. 3) pipe support span chart from MSS SP-69 is reproduced as a sample.
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