Cutting the Cost of Consumables

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The cost of consumables can seem minor when calculating a job.

Compared to the costs of labor, tools, material and transportation, the expenditure for consumables can seem unavoidable and of relatively minor importance.

But when using traditional methods of joining pipe, such as welding, soldering and threading, consumables are a constant cost and one that can easily cut into profit margins.

This sample bill of materials explains it well:

Say a job requires a contractor to make 1,500 x ½” pipe connections and, based on material and application, he chooses to use threading to join the pipe.

Consumables for the job are a cutting die, cutting oil, Teflon tape and pipe thread compound. Let’s look at the quantities involved:

  • The ½” cutting die has a 1,500-cut life span.
  • For those 1,500 cuts, two gallons of cutting oil are used.
  • Three wraps of Teflon pipe are used on each pipe joint.
  • One pint of pipe thread compound lasts five times as long as the Teflon rolls.

At face value, here are the price points associated with each of these consumables:

  • Die: $123.48
  • Cutting oil: $33.27
  • Teflon tape: $15.78
  • Pipe thread compound: $10.32

When you spread these numbers across 1,500 connections, you end up with a total cost of $0.318 per joint.

If you think about this from a long-term perspective, it’s easy to see where the dent in your budget forms. Perform the same job above 50 times over and the consumable bill reaches nearly $24,000.

Now, consider a scenario where you need a 2″ pipe joint to perform the above job. In this case, you have a total cost of $0.749 per joint. Perform this same job 50 times and your consumable bill stretches to more than $56,000.

(While on the topic of costs, it’s also worth mentioning that a threading machine alone will run you about $7,000.)

While the above example uses threading, other traditional pipe-joining techniques like soldering and welding introduce the same concerns over consumable costs. Whether you need spools of solder, flux and fuel or welding sticks, grinding discs and a galvanizing spray, you’ll have payments that never cease and are bound to add up.

The best way to eliminate consumable costs is to use press tool technology. While the greatest efficiencies with press technology comes with reduced labor costs, the savings on consumables will add up, job after job, year after year.

In addition, there’s no need for open flame and you’ll have the ability to install in any weather conditions, so you’ll avoid the cost of fire watches and hot work permits, as well as potential costly delays in project schedules due to environmental conditions.

Will Dutcher, Associate Product Manager – Industrial, has been with Viega LLC for three years, beginning as a product engineer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from The State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) and has engineering experience in a variety of industries, including pharmaceutical, high-end jewelry and consumer plastics.

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