The evolution of technology leads to faster, safer and more efficient ways of working, and companies that actively advance industry technology have the potential to enormously impact the world.
Awarded with a patent for the first mechanical coupling on April 4, 1919, Lieutenant Ernest Tribe of the British Royal Engineers and Dr. Henry Selby Hele-Shaw laid the foundation for The Victory Pipe Joint Co., which today is known as Victaulic.
The visionaries who created this method of joining pipe with bolted mechanical grooved couplings immediately saw how this technology could be applied in a range of industries and set about making iterations of the original design to develop new industry-specific products.
Over the next two decades, some enormous infrastructure construction programs incorporated the new mechanized coupling. Victaulic technology was used in the construction of the Hoover Dam and the Panama Canal as well as other landmark projects funded by the US Government Public Works Administration and Works Progress Administration.
During World War II, Victaulic couplings were used in the construction of Victory Ships in the United States, which enabled emergency workers in London to quickly assemble temporary water lines to put out fires while the city was under siege and allowed Allied troops in advance positions to be fueled via portable pipelines.
Manufacturing innovations at Victaulic in the 1950s led to a new way of grooving pipe using cold forming, which opened a previously untapped market for thin-wall aluminum pipe, extending use of the company’s patented designs to farm irrigation, flowlines on oil fields, and a range of mining applications.
Recognizing the value of focused research and development (R&D), Victaulic formally established its R&D group in 1957, laying the foundation for more rapid technology advancement and over time introducing more than 100,000 products and more than 2,000 patented designs.
Some of these designs were used over the ensuing decades in landmark civil structures, including Seattle’s Space Needle, more than 20 Olympic sites, professional sports stadiums, the Bourj al Arab Hotel in Dubai, and the Hudson Yards project, one of the largest and most innovative real estate developments in New York City since Rockefeller Center.
Furthermore, Victaulic solutions have been employed extensively belowground. Mining companies began utilizing mechanical pipe joining products because they are easy to assemble, disassemble, move and reuse and can be installed in tight spaces with less labor and equipment than conventional joints. In time, Victaulic couplings became the standard method of joining lines and today are installed in five of the world’s 10 deepest mines.
Innovation and Fire Safety
In addition to enabling productivity in aboveground and underground construction projects, Victaulic products have been instrumental in improving safety and impactful on fire safety history.
Nearly 70 years ago, the New York City Fire Department and civil defense planners demonstrated the value of Victaulic couplings in emergency urban firefighting capacity using a New York fireboat to pump water from the Hudson River through 1,000 feet of 8-inch lightweight pipe assembled by rookie fire crews in a little more than 20 minutes. The following year, Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) approved Victaulic’s couplings and fittings for use in fire protection systems. By 1955, Vic-Easy roll grooving tools were providing fire protection companies with portable, light wall steel pipe grooving capabilities for solutions that were more economical and easier to install than traditional alternatives.
In the 1970s, Victaulic led the way in gaining UL and FM approval of a thinner-than-standard 0.19-inch wall thickness steel pipe for fire protection services, which reduced costs in the industry. The company also introduced the Fast Installation Tee, making it possible to use plain end, light wall and standard-weight steel pipe on fire protection branch lines that could directly accept sprinkler heads and threaded drops. In the 1980s, Victaulic rolled out its FireLock™ portfolio, a line of lighter and more compact valves and fittings for use in fire protection systems that delivers the same flow performance as standard Victaulic parts. Next, Victaulic pioneered Installation-Ready™ technology in the 2000s with the introduction of the FireLock EZ™ Rigid Coupling, eliminating the need to disassemble couplings before installation.
In the last decade, Victaulic led the industry with innovations introduced in special hazards fire protection, flexible connections and small diameter solutions. The Hybrid Fire Extinguishing System, Victaulic Vortex™, combines water and nitrogen to both absorb heat and reduce oxygen to extinguish fires in areas with sensitive computer equipment or other assets that could be damaged by traditional sprinkler systems. The VicFlex™ product line, featuring an industry-leading bend radius, allows for unprecedented installation ease, and continues to solve for new installation challenges. The most notable installation challenges are low-profile spaces, unconditioned areas like balconies and parking garages and temporary protection. Victaulic also revolutionized small diameter connections with the introduction of the FireLock™ Innovative Groove System | IGS™, the Style V9 Sprinkler Coupling and the Style 109 Installation-Ready™ One-Bolt Coupling, enabling both efficient and consistent grooved installation.
Software Innovation and Fire Market Applications
In 2015, to address the industry’s growing need for software content that streamlines the pipe routing and fabrication for various construction markets, Victaulic built and launched its own Revit add-in software, known as Victaulic Tools for Revit® (VTFR). Features were specifically designed to improve the functionality of native Revit using enhanced routing tools and an innovative platform bringing fabrication into Revit for the first time.
In tandem with Autodesk Revit’s annual software updates, Victaulic has also committed to yearly upgrades of its own. They are downloadable, enhance user experience and provide engineers, contractors and fabricators the smartest tools presently available.
The newest updates were just released and were inspired by the construction industry’s growing need for software content that streamlines the transition from design to fabrication to meet tighter project timelines.
While widely adopted in other markets, Revit it is still relatively new to fire protection. However, using Victaulic’s toolbar, first-mover engineers and contractors in the fire market are beginning to embrace the platform. Those early adopters who are faced with using and learning Revit for the first time can quickly overcome the steep learning curve by embracing Victaulic’s add-ins.
Innovation through Acquisition
Victaulic recently acquired Globe Fire Sprinkler Corp, joining two leading, century-old companies as of July 2019. This 105-year-old manufacturer of sprinklers and valves is known for developing the earliest lever-fulcrum dry pipe valve, Globe Save All center strut sprinklers, and for being the first US company to use 5-mm and 3-mm glass bulbs in commercial and residential sprinklers. Globe’s heritage as a leading sprinkler manufacturer is reflected in the introduction of its unique attic sprinkler schemes and model UM and UMC valves developed to meet the demands of a dynamic market. Now combined, these two respected companies will have the resources and capabilities to continue their legacies of bringing exciting new solutions to the fire protection industry.
Setting Standards of Excellence
Driven by a commitment to push the limits of today’s technology, the company is investing in bold innovation, introducing both products and services that simplify job site variables and improve operational safety in the most demanding operating conditions. John Malloy, Chairman, President and CEO, emphasizes “Our centennial “Innoversary” is not only an opportunity to look back on our achievements, it’s also great motivation to make our next century even more valuable for our customers and rewarding for our employees.”
For more information, go to www.victaulic.com/fire-protection-products/