Chapter 5 pg 2
 C. Electrofusion Welding

C.1   Introduction

Electrofusion is a method of joining PE pipes with special fittings that have built-in electric heating elements which are used to weld the joint together.

The pipes to be joined are cleaned, scraped and inserted into electrofusion fitting and voltage is applied for a fixed time depending on the fitting in use. The built-in heater coils then melt the inside of the fitting and the outside of the pipe wall which weld together producing a strong homogeneous joint. The assembly is then left to cool for a specific time.

The maxim that a pipeline can only be as good as the joints is particularly relevant to PE pipe systems. Therefore, emphasis must be placed on the importance of making good joints and connections.

All joints and connections should be made taking advantage of the good fusible characteristics of PE materials. Joints and connections are also important to make PE pipe systems fully end-load bearing so that anchorages will not normally be required at junctions or bends. This is one of the fundamental features of fully integrated fusion welded pipe systems. This latter point is one important aspect (amongst others) if capital cost is one of the criteria to be considered when a PE pipe system is to be compared with other non end-load resistance pipe systems like PC and uPVC.

The elecrofusion welding technology was introduced in Malaysia by AWT Fusion Sdn Bhd (AWT Fusion) which was incorporated in 1992 and I was one of the founder members.

C.2  The Evolution Of AWT Fusion Sdn Bhd

AWT Fusion started as a Malaysian-British joint venture company to promote the modern techniques and jointing systems for PE pipes used in water, gas, sewerage and industrial water distribution systems. The Malaysian shareholders of AWT Fusion were MMC (40%) and Advanced Water Technology (M) Sdn Bhd (AWT) (30%). The shareholders of the latter are my nephew, C T and me. The foreign shareholders were Fusion Group Plc (Fusion), located in Chesterfield, England, a world leader in the development and manufacture of jointing systems used solely for PE pipes since 1971. The total paid up capital of AWT Fusion was RM3millions.

AWT Fusion started its operation as a manufacturer of electrofusion fittings in one of the two factories AWT Fusion bought in Section 23, Shah Alam in 1993 through MIDF. The injection moulding machines, tools and other equipments were supplied by Fusion. There was no problem in the manufacturing operation, but the sale of its manufactured fittings was poor, not only in Malaysia but also in other South East Asian countries. Particularly in Malaysia then, the PE pipe manufacturers were using cheap and unsuitable mechanical pipe joints in their efforts to promote the sales of their products. Also during that period, there were no SIRIM Standards or JKR’s specifications for jointing of PE pipes.

After about two years of operation, the accumulated loss of the company was excessive and practically there was no sign of recovery in the foreseeable future. First and foremost, MMC then decided to quit and finally in mid 1996 sold all its shares in AWT Fusion with a discount of 45%! Its shares were jointly acquired by AWT and Fusion. With this acquisition, AWT now holds 51% and Fusion 49% of the company.

  

With MMC out of the picture, we decided to abandon the manufacturing plant and just concentrate on marketing electrofusion welding products produced by Fusion. The factory occupied by AWT Fusion was too big and not suitable just for marketing purposes. So we disposed of the two factories in Shah Alam in 1997 and moved into an office workshop in Hicom-Glenmarie, Shah Alam. This building was purchased by my Realty Company and rented to AWT Fusion. In early 2000s CT also purchased the adjacent building and now AWT Fusion occupies the two rented buildings for its operations.

It is interesting to note that the profit derived from the disposal of the two factories in Shah Alam by AWT Fusion had made a remarkable turnaround in the company’s financial status from a near insolvent company to a thriving enterprise.

          

AWT Fusion has been the leading supplier of these jointing systems for PE pipes in Malaysia since 1997. Its fields of specialization are: supply of jointing systems and techniques for PE pipes, namely Automatic Butt Fusion, Fusamatic Electrofusion Fittings, equipment and installation tooling. A hire fleet of the above machines, equipment and tooling are also available on a rental basis.

The “Fusamatic System”, which uses the electrofusion welding process, is developed by Fusion Group with its UK manufacturing base and Headquarters in Chesterfield. The system is designed to provide an easy and convenient method of jointing PE pipes and fittings to PE pipes. Its major benefit is simplicity of operation and its inbuilt quality control process.

Using this system, PE fittings and tapping saddles can be fusion welded to PE pipes by means of a lightweight controller powered by a small portable generator and a clamping device securing the electrofusion fitting onto the pipe during the fusing welding process.

 

The unique characteristic of the system is the incorporation of the “auto recognition” feature, which is the “Fusamatic Pin”. When the controller is connected to the fitting, it automatically recognizes the type of fitting and identifies the correct required fusing time. Furthermore, when the controller is energized, it enables the operator to check all necessary procedures via visual display before carrying out the fusion process. This inbuilt checklist eliminates any potential human errors and ensures a high quality and leak-free joint. For monitoring of the joint quality, the “Fusamatic System” also provides a data retrieval facility. Records of critical parameters of each joint that has been made can be extracted from the controller through its printer.

Fusamatic Pin

 

All Fusamatic fittings are tested, accredited and approved against international performance standards. The electrofusion fittings available for PE pipe joints are Couplers, Elbows, Equal Tees, Reducers, Tapping Tees, Branch Saddles, Hydrant Products and Transition fittings. The fitting sizes range from 20mm to 355mm. 

The uses for some of these fittings are shown below.

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