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PE technical guidance
HDPE Pipe technical guidance (High quality Polyethylene Pipes)

How can I verify that the correct assembly procedures have been followed?

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Traceability is an integral part of modern quality assurance systems used for PE pipe networks. The systems available, the implementation of which is mandatory at many end-user organisations, enable tracing through the whole process from the resin batch at the PE producer, through pipe extrusion, the utility company and the installation contractor's operations. If fully implemented correctly, all installations can be traced all the way back to the resin batch from which the pipes or fittings were produced. The barcodes can record data covering:

  • fusion-jointing equipment data
  • fusion-jointing equipment operator data
  • site data (geographical location)
  • data on fittings and pipes
  • fusion-jointing parameters
  • installation dates
  • assembly procedures

This information on the barcodes can be affixed to the pipes and fittings insitu, and recorded in a database, ideally linked to a Geographical Information System (GIS). At any subsequent excavation or operation the barcode can be read and all data on the pipes and fittings concerned can be accessed. Similarly in planning operations and works the data is readily accessible from the GIS or database.

ISO 12176 Part 4 defines a traceability system for encoding the characteristics of the pipes, fittings, fusion-jointing equipment, fusion-jointing equipment operators and fusion-jointing protocols. It is applicable to PE pipes, fittings and valves conforming to EN and ISO standards and also to the assembly operation utilising methods such as butt, socket and saddle fusion, electrofusion, induction fusion and mechanical jointing.

Traccoding, a database which supports ISO 12176 Part 4, has been established at www.traccoding.com

It is up to the user to create the link between the various elements in order to provide a complete traceability system. Care is necessary when determining which data are to be downloaded into the traceability system database and the minimum information to be stored in the database for later retrieval. The choice and the amount of data will strongly influence the performance of the database when it is used later.

Note that in a full traceability system fittings will have two barcodes; one for traceability and one for the fusion parameters. These are based on different barcode protocols so cannot be confused by the barcode reading equipment.

Gas utilities in North America use a similar system that follows ASTM F2897-21.


ISO 12176-4:2008 Plastics pipes and fittings - Equipment for fusion jointing polyethylene systems - Part 4: Traceability coding

ASTM F2897-21  Standard Specification for Tracking and Traceability Encoding System of Natural Gas Distribution Components (Pipe, Tubing, Fittings, Valves, and Appurtenances)

Gueugnaut, D. Mise en place de la traçabilité; l'exemple des conduites de gas en polyéthylène à Gaz de France. Gas, Wasser, Abwasser (GWA); SVGW Zürich, October 2003.

Last update Monday 20 May 2024

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