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Cogbill’s RedLineIPS Shim Block Assembly

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Cogbill’s RedLineIPS Shim Block Assembly

By Hani Almufti – 10/23/2023

In the realm of above-ground piping systems in the petrochemical industry, accuracy, stability, and safety are of paramount importance. This is where shim block assemblies play a vital role as pipe supports for maintaining the integrity and functionality of piping systems and associated structural supports. Let’s delve into what shim block assemblies are, how they work, and their role in industrial piping systems.

What is a Shim Block Assembly?

Shim block assemblies are designed to provide adjustment and alignment within a piping system. Their primary purpose is to ensure that pipes and their support structures are securely held in place, correctly aligned, and adequately supported, while at the same time allow the pipe to move axially.

Pipes are often subjected to temperature fluctuations. As the temperature changes, pipes expand and contract. Allowing axial movement accommodates this expansion and contraction, preventing undue stress on the piping system and the supporting structure. This is particularly important in long pipelines and systems where expansion and contraction are significant.

Shim block assemblies are available in a diverse range of configurations and materials to suit different applications. In this discussion, we will focus on one specific type of configuration made entirely from steel. Such an assembly typically includes the following components:

  1. Adjustable Support Block: This critical component consists of two bent plates supported by stiffener plates. Its unique configuration enables it to provide support to a pipe from underneath. It serves as the primary load-bearing element that holds the weight of the pipe.
  2. Stiffener Plates: Four sets of stiffener plates complement the adjustable support block. They offer additional structural support and rigidity to the assembly, enhancing its ability to hold and support steel pipes and their contents. Stiffener plates contribute to the overall stability of the assembly.
  3. Fastener Assemblies: The fastener assemblies, which may include all-thread rods, heavy hex nuts, washers, or other appropriate fastening mechanisms, play an important role in adjusting the height and position of the shim blocks. By either bringing the shim blocks closer together or moving them apart, these fasteners enable height adjustments, allowing for optimal alignment.
  4. Base Plate: The shim block assembly is typically mounted on a base plate. This base plate is secured to the supporting structure using bolts or other suitable attachment methods. The base plate not only provides stability to the assembly but also contributes to its structural integrity. Additionally, it can be used to secure an optional hold-down clamp, enhancing the overall functionality of the assembly.
  5. Optional Liners: In environments where corrosion and vibration are prevalent concerns, optional liners can be used to protect the pipes from friction and vibration. These non-corrosive liners can be applied to both the shim block assembly as well as to the inside perimeter of an optional hold-down clamp. Common liner materials include PTFE and EPDM, among others, which effectively reduce wear, mitigate friction, and dampen vibrations to ensure the longevity and reliability of the piping system.

Shim Block Assembly Installation and Operation

The installation and operation of a shim block assembly are essential for achieving pipe alignment and support within a piping system. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how the process typically works:

Initial Positioning: Shim Block Placement: Fastener Installation: Adjustment: Fine-Tuning:

Shim Block Assembly Benefits for Piping Systems

Shim block assemblies offer a range of significant benefits for piping systems, enhancing their efficiency, longevity, and reliability. Here are some of the key advantages they provide:

  1. Alignment: Alignment of pipes within a piping network is important for ensuring the efficient flow of materials. Shim block assemblies enable adjustments to achieve correct pipe alignment. This reduces stress on the piping system, promoting optimal performance and preventing issues related to misalignment.
  2. Support: Shim block assemblies play an important role in providing essential support to pipes and associated structures. Operators can easily adjust the elevation and positioning of pipes, ensuring they are adequately supported and securely held in place. This support is of great importance for the structural integrity of the piping system.
  3. Adjustability: These assemblies are designed with user-friendly adjustability in mind. They allow for quick modifications to the elevation and alignment of pipes. This flexibility promotes efficient operations and simplifies maintenance tasks, reducing downtime and operational disruptions.
  4. Corrosion Protection, and Vibration and Noise Mitigation: When corrosion, vibration, and noise are constant concerns, shim block assemblies may include specially designed liners. These liners prevent metal-to-metal contact, reducing wear and tear. Liner materials like PTFE, EPDM, and PVC act as a protective barrier, mitigating friction, dampening vibration, and reducing noise. These liners can be attached to either the shim block assembly block, the optional hold-down clamp, or both. The use of such liners ensures the longevity and reliability of the piping system, even in harsh conditions.

Protective Liner Types

The choice of liner material depends on the specific requirements of the application and the environmental conditions. The following are common liner materials used in shim block assemblies:

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