There is an alarming trend among manufacturers wherein they put lesser priority on their hose safety yet have all sorts of policies and specifications surrounding the fittings, tubing, and valves of their pressure-containing systems and other equipment. It should be abundantly clear how disastrous a hose failure can be, which can occur for many different reasons, such as improper routing, using a hose that does not match the application, and more.
But even with the right material selection and hose setup, hoses still experience wear and tear over time, hence the importance of maintenance. When leaks occur, speedy response is vital to prevent putting workers in unsafe situations, adversely affecting the working environment, and increasing operating costs. Thankfully, by following these best practices for industrial hose safety, organisations can avoid such dangerous incidents and unwanted downtime while also improving plant efficiency.
1. Choose the hose type best suited to the application
Every manufacturer naturally wants to extract as much production value from their processes and equipment, which places a higher demand on industrial hoses. As such, make sure no matter what hose you are using, be it steel, rubber, or Teflon hose, it is rated for such demands and regularly check whether their temperature, pressure and chemical compatibility specifications continue to meet the application requirements over time.
When selecting a hose, there are several key areas for consideration to ensure your chosen hose type is the best option for your intended application. Being deliberate in this regard is vital as it will determine your total cost of ownership and whether the initial purchase price will lead to a greater lifetime value. These key areas mainly include:
- End connections
Hose performance largely depends on its manufacturer’s ability to securely attach its end connections and put them through rigorous testing. If the proper process for end connection assembly is not followed, you are still likely to experience leaks despite choosing the proper hose type and end connection for your needs.
- Reinforcement layer
This layer generally consists of fibre woven braid or stainless steel to improve flexibility and pressure containment. When examining this part, consider how it contributes to the hose bend radius and the required amount of ‘force to bend’. Multiple or thicker layers naturally mean a higher pressure rating at the expense of a stiffer and less pliable hose ill-suited for more dynamic applications.
This outermost layer of the hose, commonly made of polyurethane, silicone or rubber, is the first line of defence that protects both the underlying layers as well as personnel and the surrounding equipment. As the immediate factor contributing to hose handling safety, be sure to choose the right material that can withstand the conditions within your plant.
2. Follow proper routing and storage practices
Many organisations are guilty of having the right hoses for their needs only to install them improperly. One common error is letting a hose hang vertically from a horizontal-ended connection and not installing a 90° elbow fitting first. Improper hose length, whether too long or too short, can also lead to many different installation errors, ranging from causing the hose to rub against other equipment or itself to inducing unnecessary stretching that causes leakage. The proper hose length ensures enough slack to allow movement without the risk of kinking, rubbing, or interference.
When it comes to hose storage, following the tips below is key to keeping your hoses in good condition for the long term:
- Avoid stacking hoses on top of each other.
- Choose a storage space that is clean, dry, and away from UV light/sunlight.
- Close the hose ends with a cap to prevent contamination from dirt, dust, and debris.
- To prevent kinking, store your hoses by hanging them (be sure to follow the manufacturer’s bend radius when doing so) or simply lay them out horizontally on a surface.
3. Conduct regular hose maintenance
As mentioned, hoses are just as vulnerable to failure as any other type of equipment, but thankfully, one can predict when they might break down. Hoses need to be checked and replaced regularly depending on their type and what they are used for, and it is highly inadvisable to take the reactive approach and only wait until a leak occurs before doing any maintenance. Hose type and its application are also the cornerstone behind a proper hose maintenance schedule, as certain hose types wear out faster than others. When making your own schedule, do also take into account the following variables that lead to faster wear:
- Repetitive movement
- Pressure impulses
- Incorrect routing
Industrial hoses are vital in any industrial environment and provide a quick and convenient way of connecting two points in your fluid system. By taking the necessary steps to ensure their safe handling and storage, organisations can prevent costly injuries and downtimes that dampen productivity.
To source industrial hoses you can count on, reach out to us at Pharmchem Engineering, where we supply an extensive range of hoses and fittings made from different materials like stainless steel, Teflon, rubber, and more. If you need a custom hose solution, our customisation services can deliver a product that matches your exact needs and specifications. For more information about our other industrial engineering products, like pipe-pigging equipment and breakaway couplings, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time.