What Is Industrial Piping?


Businesses in the engineering, manufacturing, food service, and chemical industries need reliable industrial piping systems to transport liquids, gases, and particles from one location to the next. If you need new pipes installed, contact industrial piping specialists. They’ll plan, build, and maintain your system, so you don’t experience corrosion or leaks.

What Is Industrial Piping?

The term industrial piping refers to pipes used in industrial operations. The aim is to safely transfer a substance from one location to the next. Industrial pipes often transport water, chemicals, gases, or fine particles, and they can be made out of metals, PVC, or concrete. The way the pipes are constructed depends on the temperature, the substance being transported, the pressure, and the potential for corrosion.

Industrial piping is used in a variety of industries, such as manufacturing and food production. When setting up piping, it’s important to choose experienced contractors who can design a safe and functional system and service it regularly. Pipe failure could lead to corrosion and expensive, dangerous leaks. Working with professionals is the best way of preventing such problems.

What Types of Piping Are There?

Most buildings have a plumbing system that supplies fresh water and removes wastewater. This can be set up and maintained by almost any plumbing company. Factories and processing plants require a much more advanced system, so their systems need to be built by experts.

Some of the elements of a commercial plumbing system are gathering pipelines, transportation pipelines, and distribution pipelines. Many companies use industrial process piping in addition to a regular plumbing system.

Gathering Pipelines

Gathering pipelines are used at the start of a process. As the name suggests, they gather the necessary materials and transfer them from the intake point to the factory, where they are processed. If a business creates a product from natural resources like spring water or minerals, the gathering pipelines are located in a minimally populated area where these resources are plentiful.

These pipes are generally small in diameter, and they operate at a low pressure. Unfortunately, it is getting harder to use gathering pipelines because many areas of the country are becoming more heavily populated. Despite this, pipes are still the safest method of transporting natural gas and hazardous liquids.

Transportation Pipelines

If raw materials are located far away from a factory or processing plant, they are transferred from gathering pipelines to transportation pipelines. These pipes are thicker, sturdier, and designed to withstand high pressure because they have to transport goods through cities and extreme environments. The materials used depend on the nature of the substance being transported and the outside environment.

In the US, most transportation pipelines are privately owned and located underground. The largest network is 1.23 million miles long and contains natural gas. Other substances that are commonly transported include oil, hazardous chemicals, and slurry.

Distribution Pipelines

Once the raw materials have been processed at the factory, they are transferred to distribution pipelines. These pipes transport the product to its final destination.

Distribution pipelines are used to deliver natural gas, oil, and water to homes and commercial properties. If your business is transporting goods via distribution pipes, you must adhere to special guidelines.

Industrial Process Piping 

Plumbing systems are only used for transport, but the water and waste products aren’t altered inside the pipes. Process piping is different because the raw materials are converted into a usable form during the transportation process. Substances might be added, separated, pressurized, or moved around. When they come out of the pipeline, they are ready to be used in an industrial process.

Process piping systems are often very complicated. In addition to pipes, they might contain strainers, valves, gaskets, pressure hoses, tubing, traps, and flanges. These pipes don’t fall under the same codes and regulations as plumbing systems. Because different processes require different conditions, manufacturers are allowed to use a broader range of materials for process piping systems.

Engineering Piping 

Various types of pipes are used in the engineering industry. Companies might need a supply of fresh water throughout the building, a system that safely disposes of wastewater, and pipes designed to transport harsh and corrosive chemicals. Common materials used in engineering piping are PVC, galvanized steel, cast iron, concrete, stone, and asbestos. To set up a functional system, engineers must collaborate with experienced piping specialists.

What Are Common Industrial Piping Problems? 

The most common industrial piping problems are corrosion, clogs, and leaks. Sometimes, companies also experience issues because their pipes aren’t accessible. Closed piping systems are particularly dangerous because they are often pressurized or contain hazardous materials. It’s important to follow all guidelines set by industrial piping specialists and to conduct a thorough risk assessment before setting up a piping system.


There are many reasons why commercial piping systems might corrode. The most common issues include wrong pH levels, excessive pressure and velocity, contamination, and a high water temperature. If a commercial plumbing system corrodes, there might be stained fixtures, bad odors, and inefficiencies.

Corrosion in an industrial process piping system is even more problematic because it can lead to dangerous leaks and system failure. The problem can usually be prevented by treating pipes with chemical solutions that clear away the corrosion product. Some pipes are coated with a material that is less likely to corrode.

No Access for Maintenance 

Most industrial businesses don’t have unlimited space, so they fit pipes into small spaces. This sometimes causes a problem because the pipes are no longer accessible once they have been installed.

Piping systems have to be drained, cleaned, and inspected regularly. They also need to be easily accessible if there is an issue. It’s best to consider accessibility during the planning phase carefully. Speak to your plumbing experts about the optimal way of installing your pipes so you don’t run into issues.

Problems with Closed Systems

Closed piping systems don’t exchange materials or interact with their environment. They are often either pressurized or contain dangerous chemicals, so any incidents are potentially life-threatening. Many of the piping-related accidents seen on the news are caused by neglected systems that were not properly labeled or used by inexperienced people.

Businesses using closed systems have to construct a process hazard analysis to prevent incidents. They must make sure that everyone who has access to the systems is properly trained. All components have to be clearly labeled, and warning messages must be displayed.


Commercial plumbing and piping systems sometimes get clogged. This reduces the efficiency of the system and can lead to dangerously high pressure. Waste pipes get clogged in businesses because employees and visitors drop paper towels and debris into the drains, causing a blockage.

Pipes might also clog due to a buildup of grease, oil, and fats because these substances aren’t soluble in water. Sometimes, underground piping systems change their position because the ground shifts, so the pipes are no longer perfectly aligned. This can affect the flow of substances to and from a building. The best way to prevent issues is to use pipes only for their intended purpose and to have them maintained regularly.

How to Choose Industrial Piping Specialists 

When setting up an industrial piping system, always choose a company with a lot of experience in your industry. Check that the contractors have worked on similar systems before and that they have the necessary qualifications. It’s usually best to choose someone from your state because they will understand all the federal and local regulations.

At McIntosh Corporation, we have worked with some of the biggest industrial manufacturing businesses in Oklahoma. We are involved in the entire process, from the initial planning phase to the ongoing maintenance. We design each piping system from scratch so it fits the space and the customer’s requirements.

How Often Does a Piping System Need to Be Serviced? 

Once a piping system has been constructed, it needs to be maintained properly. Basic checks for leaks and corrosion need to be conducted every week. Once a week or month, employees need to add anti-corrosion chemicals and clean the pipes. If the piping system is used to transport and process food or fresh water, it has to be cleaned more frequently.

Typical monthly tasks might include replacing valves and checking pumps. If your business is seasonal, you might need to create a start-up and shut-down checklist. In this case, getting the system serviced twice a year, before shutting it down and before starting it back up, is sensible. Other pipelines might only need to be serviced once a year. It all depends on the piping system’s age, purpose, and the risks involved.

Industrial piping systems transport liquids, gases, or particles. They are used in industries like manufacturing or food service. A corroded or leaky piping system can cause dangerous and expensive issues. Give us a call at McIntosh Corporation in Tulsa, OK to find out more about our services. Our industrial piping specialists have been working in the local area for over 60 years, so we have plenty of experience serving a range of industries.