Serving Essential Industries with High-Purity Piping

Stainless Piping Systems
Written by Jen Hocken

Stainless Piping Systems (SPS) is committed to the design, manufacturing, and installation of high-purity, intricate piping systems. SPS provides its services in applications ranging from multi-residential and commercial developments to industrial and laboratory settings. The company has built its success on a foundation of innovative engineering design, true prefabrication, and efficient installation. This results in a systemic approach to minimizing on-site interferences, which produces tremendously accurate manufacturing and the ability to meet construction schedules with expedited installation times.

The strategy has allowed SPS to develop solutions for even the most difficult problems. For example, the Canadian pharmaceutical industry has strict regulatory compliance requirements for high-purity piping systems, and SPS has been completely unrivalled in its service to that market. Being able to develop systems that meet these strict specifications is a key component of the company’s success and a direct result of its approach.

In the late eighties, a Canadian pipe fabrication outfit was acquired by an American company. The Canadian facility was quickly closed and all operations were moved to a new factory in Wisconsin. This left a talented group of engineers, welders, fabricators, and construction workers in a bind. They were offered positions at the new facility, but the prospect of relocating to an entirely different country made that option a tough one to choose. Eventually, those workers decided to bet on themselves, by pooling their skills together and forming a new company in the wake of that takeover.

Today, after more than thirty years in business, Stainless Piping Systems has a dedicated team of professional engineers, technical designers, specialized steamfitters, welders, and installation experts. This level of experience and proficiency has resulted in a well-deserved reputation for quality and a stunning portfolio of landmark projects.

The company more than doubled in size in 2018 to work on several large projects taken on that year and then doubled again in 2019. Despite issues affecting the entire industry throughout 2020, SPS has been pushing forward and has maintained its size.

Stainless Piping Systems leverages the latest technology to ensure that its designs are perfectly suited to the project at hand, and to make certain that the installations are completely accurate in following those designs. The company’s design team harnesses the power of building information modelling, or BIM, to model not only the equipment but the entire building and all the piping within it to within one-sixteenth of an inch.

The design team will model the building and piping systems in a virtual, three-dimensional drawing, and then design the new system within that virtual environment before installing a single pipe. This permits the team to engineer the best possible solution, while significantly reducing oversights and errors.

Once the design team has finished engineering a solution for the project at hand, the BIM outcome is sent to the fabrication team which will use them to prefabricate sections of the system to those specifications. The prefabricated piping components are then shipped to the on-site installation team which can use GPS positioning technology to install the components precisely where they are meant to go according to the model.

“We use BIM to essentially turn the virtual world into reality. We have used this method for very small to extremely large construction projects and all with great success,” says President and Senior Project Manager Dave Damen.

As the technology advances, Stainless Piping Systems is prepared to adapt. The next phase in modelling technology is the PointCloud system. Where BIM helps the company turn virtual models into reality, PointCloud helps it turn reality into an accurate virtual model. Traditionally, BIM models have been generated using measurement data from the original architectural drawings of a building. Unfortunately, these drawings are not always a flawless reflection of the space. For some older buildings, they might not even exist.

With PointCloud technology, SPS can take pictures of the space from various angles, and the software can calculate the exact measurements on its own, rather than depending on old measurements that may or may not be accurate. This method returns precise data from just a simple series of photographs leading to huge cost and time savings for installations in existing facilities.

“So there’s no more confusion of going by old drawings of what the building was intended to be, but it’s what the building actually is. All of this put together means that we’re able to install with the same efficiency in existing buildings that we are currently able to do in new buildings,” says Damen.

Although site offices are located all across Canada, the operational base of SPS can be found in Toronto, where it has 25,000 square feet of fabrication and testing space in its state-of-the-art facility and an additional 25,000 square feet of warehousing availability for project-specific requirements.

The company has completed exciting projects straight across the nation from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island, and it plans to have a more active role south of the nation’s border in the coming years. This plan has unfortunately been stalled due to the complications of COVID-19, but SPS has stayed in touch with its American partners and looks forward to a time when it will be possible to establish a larger presence in the American market.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, SPS has continued to provide steadfast support to its partners in the five essential industries it serves. The company’s main presence is within the pharmaceutical industry, but it also operates in the medical, food and beverage, manufacturing, and construction markets. Serving such a breadth of marketplaces is a challenge in that each has a specific set of requirements, but by diversifying its customer base, SPS has remained strong and prepared for any unpredictable obstacles in the road ahead.

SPS has worked on several notable and memorable projects over the course of its history. One of many examples was eight years ago when it installed high-purity piping on every floor of a twenty-one-storey building for the research tower at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, also known as SickKids.

“We have a proven track record in the industry. In fact, recently the company was nominated for a CanBIM Spotlight award for the design, fabrication, and installation of twenty-seven kilometres of high-purity piping and twelve process skids at a 500-million-dollar Canadian vaccine facility built in Toronto,” says Damen. The piping was packed into the massive building so tightly that it would not have been possible to coordinate without the use of BIM. This nomination demonstrates that the company has become known throughout the industry for quality service and skill across every facet of its operation.

“We’re trying to harness the power of technology to work on these projects, and that was a great project to work on that really showcased the use of technology and the resources we have available,” says Damen. As a strong, unionized company that works well collaboratively, SPS was able to pull together a team of one hundred employees to support this construction project over a two-year span.

The company’s ability to successfully merge the three core disciplines of engineering, manufacturing, and construction into one efficient operation is a major differentiator. Typically, separate organizations will be brought in for each of these tasks, and this can create communication issues. Having everything under one roof enables close alliances between teams, resulting in less risk, more precision, and faster delivery.

Stainless Piping Systems will continue to embrace the industry’s shift toward a digital reality. Having been at the forefront of technology from its beginning, the company is prepared to adopt any technology that can improve its ability to serve its customers.

“We are a driven company comprised of forward-thinking team players, ready to change the industry and have fun while doing it. We strive to always learn, connect, and deliver excellence,” says Damen.

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