What’s the Difference Between Process Piping and Plumbing?

Insulated process piping

Piping systems can be broadly divided into two categories: process piping and plumbing. When selecting the right piping for your operation, it is important to understand which piping you need for your application. Both process piping and plumbing offer unique benefits, and each must comply with specific industry standards and material requirements, depending on their use.

What is Process Piping?

Process piping refers to the system of tubes, pipes, hoses, valves, flanges, fittings, gaskets, and other components specifically used in manufacturing and conversion operations. Process piping arrays are specifically used to mix, separate, transport, and otherwise control the flow of fluids from one point to another. Most manufacturing processes require process pi

ping to facilitate the conversion of raw materials into finished products such as beverages, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and paper products.

Process piping is used to convey gases and liquids for a wide range of industries and applications, including:

  • Oil and Gas Processing
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Food and Beverage Processing
  • Power and COGEN Plants
  • Paper Mills
  • Plastic Manufacturing
  • Brewing Applications
  • Aerospace and Automotive Manufacturing
  • Wastewater and Water Treatment
  • Semiconductor Manufacturing

Since process piping is in direct contact with a product that could be acidic, caustic, corrosive, or toxic, it is manufactured in a variety of materials. These include 304 or 316 stainless steel, Inconel, fiberglass resin, chrome moly, heavy wall carbon steel, and many others. In some cases, the actual pipe is internally lined with a glass, plastic or epoxy coating for protection.

plumbingWhat is Plumbing Piping?

Most of the utility systems and equipment in a commercial building or home are connected with piping that is considered plumbing. This would typically include piping to showers, faucets, toilets and drains. Common materials used in plumbing systems are copper, carbon steel, brass, PVC, CPVC, and other plastic types.

Process Piping vs. Plumbing: Key Differences

Plumbing systems must comply with a variety of codes, regulations, and industry standards for installation, maintenance, and inspection. Plumbing is typically found in heating and cooling, waste removal, and water distribution operations. In order to meet regulatory standards for corrosion resistance and strength, copper and plastic are the most popular plumbing materials. Plumbing equipment must also be built to comply with standards specific to its intended use.

There are two primary differences between process piping and plumbing. These include:

  • Building Codes. While detailed building codes govern the materials, size, and configuration of plumbing within a facility or system, process piping must meet far fewer requirements. Process piping is less regulated and can be designed with materials that are particularly suitable for the process application at the engineer’s discretion.
  • Purpose. Plumbing and process piping have different purposes. For example, if your system is used to transport water to the facility and move wastewater away, it is a plumbing system. If your piping system conveys, mixes, or removes chemicals, water, gases, and other fluids that are incorporated into or in direct contact with the finished product, it is process piping.

Process Piping Contractor Services at Waco, Inc.

Waco, Inc. specializes in the development of custom piping systems for heavy industrial processes where reliability and dependability are a must. Our superior craftsmanship, consistent performance, and attention to our in-house quality assurance guidelines create an exceptionally precise piping system guaranteed to meet the needs of even the most complex applications. We maintain records for complete verification and testing of materials and components to ensure optimal compliance.

Our extensive selection of piping services includes:

  • Custom Spooling
  • Sanitary Stainless Steel
  • Air / Instrumentation
  • Large and Small Bore Piping
  • Extensive In-House Fabrication / Storage
  • Process Skid Packages
  • Hi Purity Systems
  • Natural Gas and Fuel Piping
  • Shutdowns / Outages
  • Steam / Condensate Piping (R-Stamp)

Process Piping Experience

Waco, Inc. is the go-to provider for complex industrial process piping projects. Since 1963, we have served businesses, industries, and institutions while completing complex projects for some of the nation’s largest, most established Fortune 500 companies. We have decades of experience, adhere to safety and regulatory standards, and maintain a reputation for completing complex jobs on time and on budget. This makes us the company of choice for custom piping solutions, from design through completion. For more information on our process piping capabilities, contact us today or request a proposal for your next project.

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