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Piping Supports

Plant layout

Plant layout

Purpose of Pipe Supports

Requirements of supports in piping system are:

To carry the weight of the pipe, fittings, valves with /
without insulation, with operating / test fluid.
To provide adequate stiffness to the piping against external
loads such as wind load, snow, seismic load etc.
To avoid overstressing of the piping material.
To avoid of sagging of pipe which creates draining
To control the thermal expansion / contraction in desired
To withstand and dampen vibration produced by connected
equipment such as pump, compressor etc.

Pipe Span

Typically piping is supported at regular intervals on steel supports embedded in

concrete foundation or directly on steel structure. The distance between supports
is the span. we calculate the support span considering pipe with one end simply
supported and other end is fixed.

Calculation of Max. span:

There are three main factors which affects the support span.
Natural Frequency

By relating natural frequency and deflection limitation, the allowable span

can be determined as the minimum of the calculated support spacing based
on stress and deflection.

Pipe Span based on Stress

The stresses are acting through the pipe wall at supports due to sustained load.

1. Pressure stress
2. Bending stress due to weight
3. Local stresses at the point of support attachment
PD M D - Pipe OD t - Corroded wall thickness P - Max Pressure
Sh M - Bending Moment Z - Section Modulus Sh - Hot Allowable
4t Z stress

wl 2 l - Pipe Span w - Unit weight of the pipe
For simply supported end w
connection M l M
wl 2
M For fixed end connection w
5wl 2
M l M
M For connection having one end simply supported &
48 other end fixed, average of above two equations
PD 5wl 2
The Maximum span (based on Stress) is calculated using the equation Sh
4t 48Z

Pipe Span based on Deflection

This is one of the key criteria for fixing the span.

By considering the simply supported beam with uniform load,

5wl 4

384 EI
By considering the fixed end beam with uniform
wl 4

384 EI
In pipe analysis, we assume that the pipe is neither simply supported nor fixed but it is in
between these cases. So, the average of the above deflection is:

wl 4

128 EI
Normally, it is a practice to allow deflection at the mid span. Hence using this as , we can
calculate the piping span.

Pipe Span based on Natural Frequency

This is one of the key criteria for fixing the span for Two-Phase lines

We know the Natural Frequency of a system,

1 g
Considering Natural frequency as 4 Hz (Refer Project Specification for the exact value),


By substituting the above in the following equation, we can calculate the span.

wl 4

128 EI

Pipe Span Chart

Type of Supports


Hanger / Support Restraint Vibration Absorbers

To sustain the dead To restrict the movement To restrict the movement due
weight of the piping due to thermal / dynamic to vibration caused by wind,
system. loading earthquake, fluid flow.

Types Types Types

Anchor Snubbers
Rigid Hanger Guide
Spring Hanger Hold down
Directional Anchor
Variable U Clamps
Constant Struts

Familiarization with Stress symbols:

Rest Axial stop/Directional Stop Anchor

Spring Hanger Y

Resting and Guide

Global Co-ordinate System

Hangers / Supports

Hangers / Supports are used to carry the dead weight of the piping system
along with its contents. The primary difference between a hanger and a
support is that the hanger sustains the dead weight in tension, while the
support sustains it in compression. Consequently, hanger supports the
piping system from top, while supports are placed below the piping. The
type of support / hanger assemblies from which the piping engineer selects
the appropriate kind of support are generally classified as follows:

1. Rigid Hangers
2. Shoes
3. Trunnion
4. Flexible Hangers (Variable, Constant)

Hangers / Supports - Rigid Hanger
Rigid Hangers:

Rigid hangers are normally used at locations where no vertical

movement of the pipe occurs. The design considerations for a
rigid hanger are pipe temperature for selection of pipe clamp
material and the load for the selection of components suitable
for the pipe weight involved.
Although these hangers prevent vertical movement of the
piping system in many cases, they allow little horizontal
movement at the point of their attachment such that the
inclination from the vertical direction is limited to 4. The
compressive force imposed on the hanger due to thermal
expansion of piping needs to be controlled to avoid buckling
of the hanger rod.
The main advantage of rigid hangers over Shoe/Trunion is
that it does not provide any frictional resistance for thermal
growth. However, it is expensive and it does not dampen the

Hangers / Supports - Rigid Hanger

Pipe Clamps

Hangers / Supports - Shoes

Shoes are commonly used for carrying weight of the piping &
contents where the system is insulated to prevent heat loss.

Shoes have the advantage of occupying less space than the

rigid hangers. However, they provide friction against the
horizontal movement which may be reduced by the use of
rollers or Slide Plate Assemblies.

While using shoes, care has to be taken that pipe is not lifting
off from rest position due to thermal expansion in which case,
supporting function is not achieved at all.

It is recommended to check the local stress at support location

for piping system having higher corrosion allowance (>1/8) or
wall thickness lesser than STD wt while using single web

Hangers / Supports - Shoes

Hangers / Supports - Trunnions


Trunnion / Dummy supports are generally used in vertical run

as well as when the clearance between the BOP and Grade is
higher. Dummy supports are suitable for supporting a piping
system from an Elbow

While using dummy supports, care has to be taken that pipe is

not lifting off from rest position due to thermal expansion in
which case, supporting function is not achieved at all.

It is recommended to check the local stress at support location

as well as strength of the dummy pipe.

Hangers / Supports - Trunnions

Hangers / Supports - Flexible Hangers

Flexible Hanger:

When the piping system moves up or down due to thermal expansion, conventional rigid support
is not feasible, as it may not take load at all or it may act as a pivot. Under such condition, it is
recommended to use flexible support such as spring hangers. These spring hangers sustain the
primary load by their resistance against compression while allowing for free thermal expansion.

Flexible hangers are of two types:

1. Variable Spring Hangers

2. Constant Spring Hangers

Variable Spring Hangers:

This is used to support the piping subjected to vertical movement where constant supports are not
required. The inherent characteristic of a variable spring hanger is that its supporting force varies
with the spring deflection as explained here.

Hangers / Supports - Flexible Hanger - Variability

The pipe weight is balanced by the spring resistance which is equal to the spring rate multiplied
by the amount of compression the spring undergoes due to the pipe weight. During thermal
expansion, the vertical movement of the pipe tends to reduce the compression on spring, thereby
reducing its supporting force on the pipe also. Since the pipe weight is same during any
condition, cold or operating, the variation in supporting force results in pipe weight transfer to the
adjacent supports and / or equipment nozzles and consequently additional stresses in the system.
When variable spring hangers are used, the effect of this variation must be considered. To
quantify this variation, a factor called Variability Factor is introduced which is defined as,

Variability = (Hot load - Cold load)/Hot load * 100

Accepted practice is to limit the variability upto 25% for critical system applications. Variable
spring hangers are recommended for general use on non-critical piping systems and where
vertical movement is of small magnitude on critical systems.

The main advantage due to pre-compression of the spring hangers is that the head room required
at installed condition for the spring hanger will be less.

Hangers / Supports - Variable Spring Hanger - Types

Type A

This arrangement is useful when the head room

clearance available is more.

Hangers / Supports - Variable Spring Hanger - Types

Type B

This arrangement is normally used when the head

room clearance available is not higher.

Type C

Identical to Type B except that Lug (steel

attachment) will take lesser load than that of Type
Hangers / Supports - Variable Spring Hanger - Types

Type D

Normally used whether Head room clearance available

is too less to accommodate can. Load adjustment is done
from the top with the help of adjusting nut

Type E

Identical to type D except that adjustment is

done from below using turn buckle but also can
be done from above the piping
Hangers / Supports - Variable Spring Hanger - Types

Type F

Designed to support piping from a base below or from

the bottom. The base flange being fastened to the
floor or to the supporting beams. This is not to be
used for excessive horizontal movement.

Type G
Made up of two standard spring units
welded to the end of a single or pair of
channels. Suitable for excess loads or low
head room clearance. Each spring is carrying
one half of the total load.

Hangers / Supports - Variable Spring Hanger - Selection

1 Calculate the Piping load to be carried by the spring (Hot load).

2 Calculate the thermal movement & its direction at that location
3 In the load table, locate the hot load. Identify the spring suitable for the thermal movement.
4 Calculate the installed load = Hot load (Thermal movement * Spring rate)
5 If Cold load is also in the same column in which Hot load is located, then calculate the
6 If variability is within the project specification, then selected spring is OK
7 Else move to adjacent column in which Cold load as well as Hot load can be located within the
working range.
8 Repeat step 3 to 7
9 From Dimension table, find out the length of the spring assemblies.
10 Compare the same with the available clearance
11 If found OK, design is OK otherwise repeat step 3 to 10

Hangers / Supports - Variable Spring Hanger - Selection

Variable Spring Hanger

Hanger / Support - Constant Effort Springs

Constant effort hangers provide constant supporting force in both cold and operating conditions.
When piping stresses and reactions are known to be close to allowable, most economical type of
flexible support is constant support hanger. For critical, high temperature piping, at hanger
location where the vertical movement of piping is high or the variation in support force is to be
controlled within 6%, constant effort hangers are recommended. .

Hangers / Supports - Constant Effort Spring


Anchor: An anchor is a mechanical connection (welded and/or bolted)

between a pipe (or exchanger, etc.) and a structure. The structure must be
strong enough so that it cannot bend excessively under large forces.
Anchors do not allow the movement or rotation of support points and
completely fix the line in its place. Equipment nozzles are also Anchors.

Directional Anchor: DA stops movement parallel to the center-line of the

pipe, but permits sideways pipe motion.

Guides: A guide stops sideways movement of a pipe, but permits

movement parallel to the pipe's centerline.

U - Clamps: It is acting as guide / anchor as per the installation. Normally

used in small bore piping.

Restraints - Struts

Sway Struts are used to restrain movement of piping in one direction while providing
for movement due to thermal expansion or contraction in another direction.

- Preferred where conventional Guide/DA are not feasible due to non availability of
steel structure.
- Preferred when effect of friction is to be minimized in the system.
- Effective under either tensile or compressive force.
- Provides 2 - 4 field adjustment on either side at the time of installation
- Allows angular motion or misalignment of 5.

Restraints - Struts

Other type of Restraints

Vibration Absorbers

Besides thermal expansion, pipelines in a plant may suffer from vibrations caused by
various sources such as:

1. Mechanical vibrations transmitted through pumps, compressors, turbines and

rotating and reciprocating machinery.
2. Impact and vibrations due to the sudden opening / closing of valves.
3. Surging of compressed gas or two phase fluid.
4. Periodic wind forces against the outdoor pipe lines.
5. Earthquakes.

The best and fundamental way to resolve the problems associated with vibrations is
to find out the sources of vibration in the particular pipe line and then to remove them
away or reduce them acceptable levels. There are various kinds of supports in use in
the industry for mitigating the effects of vibrations like Sway Braces, Vibration
Dampers, Snubbers.

Vibration Absorbers - Snubbers

The requirement of a snubber is to provide little resistance to the movement associated with the
thermal expansion of the piping, while providing stiff supporting reaction against the vibratory
motion associated with dynamic loading such as earthquake load. Snubber goes to restraint
mode based on a particular velocity or acceleration of motion depending on its design concept
and is known as activation level.

Typically Snubbers are located where:

1. Large concentrated loads such as valves, large components, flanges and other components
that are not anchored.
2. Changes in piping direction
3. Within long vertical risers
4. On long straight pipe runs

Snubbers are basically of two types:

1. Hydraulic Snubber
2. Mechanical Snubber

Vibration Absorbers - Hydraulic Snubbers

Reference: Lisega Catalog Shock Absorber - Type 31 36

Vibration Absorbers - Mechanical Snubbers

Reference: NHK Pipe Supports Catalog PH-82A 37

Vibration Absorbers - Mechanical Snubbers

1. When dynamic (vibration) or gradual (Thermal) displacements are developed in the piping
system or component, they are instantaneously transferred to the snubber unit, and give
telescoping motions to be ball nut.

2. The nut, when pushed or pulled, causes rotary motions of the ball screw shaft.

3. The rotary motions of ball screw shaft give integral motions to the inertia mass as it is solidly
assembled with the shaft. So far as the input displacement is relatively slow, the inertia mass
rotates without assuming any significant inertial force, thus allows the displacement as if the
snubber does not exist.

4. When a quick displacement takes place, the mass functions to prevent the screw shaft from
rotation because of its inherent inertial force, thus suppressing the dynamic displacement of the


Mechanical snubbers are preferable over Hydraulic snubbers wherein make up for leakage of oil,
periodical change of oil are required.

Best Industrial Practice
Close To Possible Points Of Support
Grouping Of Pipes
Envelope Of Supports/ Interference
Provide Restraints to Extremely Flexible Pipe Runs To
Isolate Vibrations
Above hand welding preferred
Keep it simple Follow corporate typical

Envelop of supports

Grouping of pipes