In April 2015, Bill Walters opened a second location in Odessa, Texas to bring years of high-density polyethylene pipe (HDPE) fusion experience to the Permian Basin. Walter’s company, Accel Fusion, is a leader in quality fusion operations. In that time, Walters and his crew have excelled at delivering quality fusion operations to their customers.
Speed and quality is king in West Texas. New projects are announced and bid daily, and polyethylene pipe is considered for most of them.
“Polyethylene pipe is mainly used due to the fact that it stands up better to produced water than steel lines. Saltwater doesn’t effect it. It’s a lot cheaper than running steel lines, and a lot faster to install. Speed matters quite a bit out here. But the most important thing to us is quality,” said Walters, president of Accel Fusion. “Even when training our new operators, we really stress that. We let the guys know that quality is primary, and the speed will come.”
Polyethylene pipe gets used for a variety of reasons in the Permian Basin, but it is primarily used for water disposal lines. The lines take produced water that is returned after a frack and move it to a disposal well or to a facility to be reconditioned and reused for fracking. However, polyethylene pipe gets used for gas and freshwater lines as well. In the construction of these lines, miles and miles of sticks of pipe are fused to create a monolithic, flexible pipe with no mechanical joints that are prone to leaking.
At the time Fast Fusion visited Walters, his team were in the middle of a project consisting of more than 30,000 feet of 12-inch DR 7 and 6,000 feet of 16-inch DR 7 pipe for saltwater disposal lines. At the center of the fusion operations were two Fast Fusion MobileFusion Trac® 20 machines from the Accel Fusion fleet.
“We use Fast Fusion equipment for the quality of the fuses that we consistently see out there, the protection from the elements, and to cut down on manpower on the job site,” states Walters.
The MobileFusion Trac® 20 is a tracked fusion machine that features a climate-controlled cabin and advancements that cut down on the manpower and heavy equipment needed on the site. Most of all, the MobileFusion Trac machines are proven to speed fusion operations with the incorporation of Fast Fusion technology and a patented FastLoad® system that lifts pipe up and into the fusion carriage. The fusion machine can fuse pipe from 6 to 20 inches in diameter (160 to 500mm).
What makes Fast Fusion machines vastly different from conventional fusion machines on the market is Fast Fusion Technology. The technology is a proprietary innovation used with industry pipe jointing fusion procedures. Fast Fusion® Technology takes full advantage of both conductive and forced convection cooling to dramatically reduce the amount of time required to cool a butt fusion joint to a temperature that the fusion joint can be released from the fusion machine. The Fast Fusion process reduces the cooling time by applying conditioned and pressurized air to the joint, monitoring the joint temperature and controlling the movement of air around the jointing area to remove heat from the surface. This process has been proven through third-party testing to meet ISO 21307 and ASTM F2620 standards.
The mix of Fast Fusion® Technology and productivity advancements of the equipment have Accel Fusion crews recognizing about twice the production of conventional fusion operations on this project.
One of the biggest challenges to fusion operations in West Texas is the wind and dust. As the wind comes sweeping down the plains, it’s not unusual to see sites shut down. Dust is capable of contaminating the fusion joint in the polyethylene pipe.
“In West Texas, wind is probably the biggest hurdle that we have with fusing pipe. Being able to fuse pipe in a controlled environment is very important,” Walters says. “We do have some issues with rain, sleet, hail — and quite often we get flash floods out here.”
For the West Texas heat, the cabin of Fast Fusion’s MobileFusion Trac® machines features temperature controls for operator comfort. The operator can also see through all four sides of the cabin for 360-degree visibility. The dust isn’t able to blow freely through the cab, meaning pipe fusion can take place in an optimal, controlled state.
All of these elements and considerations into their fusion equipment and operations have Accel Fusion in the driver’s seat to help on the current project that is lagging more than 45 days behind.
“This project was started without Fast Fusion, and they are now more than 45 days behind schedule,” said Walters. “We were brought in later in the project. Needless to say, we have a tight timeline. We are currently seeing about twice the production from what they were doing with conventional methods.”
Accel Fusion has one of the largest Fast Fusion fleets available, with a MobileFusion Trac® 12, five MobileFusion Trac® 20s, and three MobileFusion Trac® 36. They are capable of serving any client in the lower 48 states.
Another key to Accel’s success is a strong belief in training operators. Walters has operators train for a minimum of two weeks on both fusing with Fast Fusion, but also with McElroy trainers twice a year to get certified in pipe fusion operations. Competent operators is a proactive step to ensuring accurate and professional welding.
Accel’s excellence in the field also shows in that they are leading the charge to promote Fast Fusion in the area, as well as being the first call when projects need to get back up to speed.
“When I first came to West Texas about 4 and a half years ago, there were very few customers down here that were using Fast Fusion machines. I spent a lot of time meeting with contractors, oil companies, customers getting them used to the idea of using a new process, so it’s been a struggle,” said Walters. “There’s still a lot of new customers and oil companies out there that still haven’t heard of Fast Fusion.”
Accel Fusion puts an emphasis on training and giving operators exceptional equipment to perform fusion operations. Operators go through several weeks of training and yearly updates for certification.
Accel depends on MobileFusion Trac® 20 machines for a majority of their West Texas operations. The machine features 360-degree visibility, climate-control, and a place for the operator to work out of the elements.