UK & Ireland Featured Project: Weld Inspection & Consultancy United Utilities Thirlmere (1737)

QEM Solutions were asked by United Utilities to assist with the review of the welding process and associated with the provision of the innovative steel E-joint.

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Overseas Featured Project: Capita Symonds - Valve Inspections

QEM Solutions were contracted to carry 3rd party inspection and witnessing activities on a series of valves fabricated in Germany for a series of SGN contracts throughout Scotland.

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11 Feb 2014

Water water everywhere but no steel pipes to transport it…..

Steel pipes are not often the first choice for the Water industry but they should not be discounted. It is a common belief that Steel pipes are more costly, complicated and slower to install, but this is not always the case. Gas Transmission companies put in 100s of kilometers of large diameter steel welded pipelines every year, very simply and very efficiently.

  • Some of the Advantages of Steel pipes
  • Potential for Higher working pressures
  • Pipes up to 4000mm in diameter
  • Different jointing options available
  • No need for Thrust blocks
  • Plastic coatings provide excellent resistance to contaminated or aggressive ground conditions
  • Less susceptible to damage from accidental strike
  • Bends can be manufactured to any angle
  • Welded joints are less likely to leak during hydrotest
  • Steel pipe is more suitable for long Horizontal Directional Drills
  • Complicated sections of pipework, valves and connections can be welded and tested above ground before being lowered and welded in place
  • Pipes can be cut to length on site
  • Traceable documentation for each pipe and weld.
  • Ability to increase productivity when required.

But how can we help?

The Gas network has been laying Steel pipelines since the 1960s with over 6600km of steel pipe laid. Being part of the Gas pipeline industry, QEM Solutions has the expertise, experience and resource to aid the water industry in steel pipeline design and installation.

We have been involved in the design and build of some of the most complicated pipelines in some of the worst conditions and yet always succeeded. We have been instrumental in aiding the design teams in selecting the correct solutions and helping the construction team in achieve cost & programme. The Gas pipeline industry covers the whole of the UK and so experience has been gained desiging and building pipelines through all types of terrain, from the Scottish Highlands to the Westcountry.

QEM Solutions has had a long running partnership with FT Pipelines who are the main supplier of steel pipe to the water industry and are the experts in the correct steel pipe and coating selection. By using their knowledge of the materials and our engineering expertise a suitable, efficient solution can be obtained.


From our experience the main route to success with a steel pipe is a full and sufficient design. This will include:

  • Detailed planning of the route
  • Topographical surveys
  • Geotechnical Surveys and sampling
  • Appropriate selection of steel pipe diameter, wall thickness, pressure rating and internal/external coatings.
  • Detail design of connection requirements including a Material Take Off order for long lead items.
  • Conformation of the location of underground utilities (trial holes)
  • Conformation of constraints from third parties, i.e. Network Rail, Local Councils, Highways Agency, Environmental Agency etc.
  • Specific design of third party crossings, i.e. railways, rivers, highways etc
  • Production of reports and schedules providing the main works contractor with the correct information they require.
  • Involvement of sub-contractors at an early stage when designing Horizontal Directional Drills, Dewatering, tunnels etc.

The main issue when undertaking a pipeline design is knowing when you are complete. QEM Solutions can provide assistance in providing a full and fit for purpose design. We can also provide an expert review of a design using our experience to highlight any shortfalls or issues that will lead to complications during construction.

So how can we help in construction?

The common misconception of Steel pipeline installation is that it is beyond most contractor’s abilities. QEM Solutions can provide engineers and site management to the main works contractor to give them the confidence to undertake steel pipeline projects.

QEM Solutions can provide the following expertise in Steel pipeline installation:

Inspection and Auditing

  • Design review
  • Engineering
  • Method Statement & Risk Assessments
  • Management of pipeline crossings including
    • Railways
    • Rivers
    • Highways
    • Oil & Gas pipelines
    • Canals
    • Micro-tunnels
    • TBMs
    • Horizontal Directional Drilling
    • Augerboring
  • Dewatering Operations
  • Deep excavations
  • Lower & Lay pipe string lifting documentation
  • Welding documentation
  • GPS surveying
  • Production of documentation for as-built records
  • Project closeout

We have the knowledge and experience to bring best practice from the pipeline industry to the water industry to aid in productivity and to reduce errors. We can bring industry standard documentation and terminology and adapt it to the water industry to help improve productivity and efficiency.

QEM Solutions in conjunction with FT pipelines can help you select the right steel pipe, complete a full design and install a pipeline that will last.

Who we are:

QEM Solutions have worked in the Oil & Gas industries with over a combined 50 years experience in design and installation.

Frazer & Tabberer have provided steel pipe to the water industry for over 25 years and are the experts in steel pipe product selection.