PolyHorse Proves Critical In Speeding HDPE Pipe Handling Operations

The McElroy PolyHorse can reduce labor expenses, provide a less hazardous working environment and enhance productivity up to 150 percent in some instances. The productivity tool can be used with 3-inch IPS through 20-inch OD (90 mm to 500 mm) polyethylene pipe.

The advantages of the PolyHorse start as soon as the delivery truck arrives at the site. The pipe can be loaded directly onto the PolyHorse. From this position, the fusion operator can roll the pipe down the rack and onto integrated pipe rollers where it is then easily loaded into a fusion machine. The process eliminates the cost of additional heavy lifting equipment needed to bring a stick of pipe over to the machine and the labor cost involved in the process.

This new way of setting up a job site is already paying dividends to contractors across the United States.

Cross-country installations
In April 2009, R & R Pipeline was chosen by Dominion East Ohio to install 38,000 feet of HDPE. Four days later, the first six trucks delivered pipe, with an aggressive expected project completion date of May 31.

However, the installation wouldn’t be simple. The installation across the hilly Ohio countryside would require trenchless considerations. R & R was forced to use directional bores under cornfields and open pastures, a requirement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA wanted to protect fields that are believed to hold artifacts from the Mohican Indians, as well as other tribes.

With 30,000 feet of 12-inch pipe and 8,000 feet of 8-inch pipe to install, R & R Vice President Jeff Emery began mobilizing resources that included 50 fusion operators from the 140 person firm. Above and beyond the miles of pipe to be installed, Emery’s group would make 29 tie-ins.


The rural hills created a few hurdles, leaving spotty to non-existent cell phone reception to communicate between R & R workers on site. Multiple job sites operated in unison, but at distances just out of walkie-talkie range. Tree-covered hillsides also offered little in terms of right-of-ways. To find solutions and shortcuts that wouldn’t undermine the integrity of their work, R & R turned to McElroy distributor Morain Sales and Service for answers.

Morain Sales and Service recommended putting a PolyHorse with PowerAssist into the field. The PowerAssist is a hydraulically powered roller attachment that replaces the pivoting roller on a standard PolyHorse. The powered roller just boosts the PolyHorse’s productivity even more, creating an aid for maneuvering sticks of pipe up, down and into the fusion machine.

With the PolyHorse and a TracStar 412 fusion machine, R & R’s fusion operators averaged 29 joints of 12-inch pipe per work day. The productivity didn’t stop there. When fusing some of the longer lengths of pipe, R & R used a technique called piggybacking. Piggybacking is the practice of having two machines staged at one location so that a fusion technician can fuse one joint while another cools. Once a joint is cooled and pulled out of the machine, the process starts over and rotates from machine to machine, using the downtime of the cooling period to the operator’s advantage.

Emery said he found great value in the McElroy PolyHorse.

When all was said and done, R & R completed the job a week and a half early. The productivity of all the tools, finding a job site setup that works and working hand-in-hand with a local McElroy distributor to find solutions was the pipeline to success.

Beating deadlines
Damascus, in the state of Arkansas, is a hub of activity and work, seemingly all focused on extracting gas from the Fayetteville Shale. Highway 65, north of Damascus, is littered with contractor facilities, pipe and fittings distributors and pipe storage yards. One thing is clear – miles and miles of pipelines are being built in the area.

Wayne Holden and Company is one of the contractors with an office on Highway 65 that gets a fair share of the gas pipeline work in the area. A recent contract with Southwestern Energy required 19,000 feet of 12- and 16-inch HDPE pipe to be put in over a short amount of time. With an early April 2010 deadline bearing down, company Superintendent Stanley Eaves placed an order for the company’s third PolyHorse.

“Having a PolyHorse where I can load it up with pipe helps us out,” said Joe Charton, Wayne Holden and Company supervisor at a job site near Quitman, AR.

A well site in nearby Quitman was busy with activity, using heavy machinery in different locations throughout the site consistently. With the PolyHorse, a loader brought the pipe over to the PolyHorse to fill the racks as needed, allowing the heavy machinery to focus on other tasks. The PolyHorse essentially frees up heavy machinery on some job sites.

Job site setup and pipe handling are the keys to improved productivity and safety. R& R Pipeline and Wayne Holden and Company are examples of contractors using pipe-handling systems to beat the clock, be more productive, and positively influence their bottom line.

PolyHorse time study
In developing the PolyHorse, McElroy conducted a study to determine just how much time was saved by using the PolyHorse over traditional pipelining methods.

On a job site where 100 joints of 12-inch pipe were required, typical job site construction methods yielded 20 joints per day, for a total of five days. With the PolyHorse, the 100 joints were made in 3.45 days with 29 joints per day.

To determine cost savings, McElroy estimated fusion equipment rental at $275 per day, fusion operator labor at $480 per day, loading and pulling equipment at $325 per day, loading and pulling equipment operator at $480 per day and PolyHorse rental at $100 per day. Given the time required for completing the joints in both typical construction methods or with the PolyHorse, the PolyHorse cost $5,185 less than with typical methods.

McElroy Manufacturing, (918) 836-8611, www.mcelroy.com

Related Articles