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Pipe Labeling, Pipe Marking

If you are in charge of safety for a large facility, a pipe labeling project—perhaps to get your workplace in line with industry standards or improve your current labeling system—can be a big task. You need to know the requirements and labeling options, but you also need to have in-depth knowledge of your own space. What flows through each pipe? Is it a liquid or a gas? Which direction does it travel?

Jumping into a pipe labeling project without adequate planning can lead to many headaches, and the project can end up taking a lot longer than you intended. The last thing you want is to spend extra time and create more work disruptions than you need to, so plan ahead and try to avoid the following pipe labeling problems.

1. Not Having the Right Labels

Your labeling project will most likely involve pipes carrying many different substances. Water, flammable gasses, compressed air, corrosive fluids—these things all need to be labeled, and they need to be labeled in specific ways. There’s nothing more annoying that starting a labeling project and discovering you’re missing half the labels you need.

To prevent this situation, inventory your pipes’ contents and make a list of the labels you need ahead of time.

Pipe Marking, Pipe Labels

2. Wasting Time Identifying Pipe Contents

Tracing pipes through your facility to try to figure out what’s in them is a pain. It can take a lot of time and energy. The best way to avoid debating which pipe is which is to go right to the source and get out the diagrams of your building(s). Note the locations of pipes, the contents of pipes and the directions those contents flow. You’ll need all of this information to label pipes appropriately.

3. Wondering Where the Best Places for Labels Are

Pipe Marking, Pipe Labels

Learn the pipe marking standards ahead of time to prevent headaches later.

The simple answer to this problem? Don’t wonder where pipe labels belong. Instead, read up on the regulations ahead of time. The ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard is the industry consensus standard for pipe marking and it says pipe labels should be placed in the following four locations:

  • At 25 to 50 foot intervals on straight runs
  • Next to all valves and flanges
  • At all changes in direction
  • On both sides of entry points through walls and floors

You also need to look around the space like a worker would. Will people be able to easily read the labels from the places they stand? You may need to place labels above or below a pipe’s centerline to make them as visible as possible.

4. Running Out of Labels

If you have a lot of pipes, you’re going to need a lot of labels. While it’s a good idea to make a detailed list of all the labels you’ll need before you start applying any, sometimes you may still end up needing additional labels. You can make notes of which pipes still need labels and then order more, but that involves waiting and returning to the project at a later date.

Pipe Labels, Pipe Marking

Many facilities choose to purchase an industrial label printer to print pipe labels on demand, which means if you didn’t print the exact number of labels you needed for your project, you can easily go back and print more in a short amount of time. 

5. Not Having the Right Colors

Pipe labels should comply with ANSI/ASME A13.1 guidelines for colors, which assign six main color schemes with text designated as white or black. (See a list of recommended label colors in this free guide.) If you take inventory of your pipes and make a list of needed labels, making sure you have the right colors shouldn’t be too difficult. Just follow the guidelines, and if you decide to use some of the optional label colors that ANSI mentions (purple, black, white and gray), use them consistently.

Businesses that use industrial label printers should make sure to purchase adequate amounts of label supply and print ribbons so they don’t run out of the colors they need. 

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6. Disrupting Production

Finally, think about the actual installation of your pipe labels. You’ll likely need to label pipes throughout multiple work areas, so will putting up the labels interfere with regular work activities? If it will, try to schedule installation in an area when it will be least disruptive or assemble a small team for installation so the job can get done quickly.

Once you have your labels installed throughout the facility, make sure you schedule some time to train employees in your new system. Many of them may not be affected by pipe markings on a daily basis, but it’s beneficial for everyone to have a basic understanding of them.

To learn more about pipe marking procedures before you begin your project, take a look at the SlideShare below.

Pipe Marking 101 by Creative Safety Supply from Creative Safety Supply