Since 1975, Valley Regional Medical Center has offered critical health services across more than 25 specialties to the community in Brownsville, Texas. After decades of use, the hospital’s existing cooling towers and piping displayed signs of deterioration. While maintenance teams performed work to control leaking, a replacement was necessary to prevent system failure.

Chris Rathmann of Victaulic and Garrett Lamb of Stanger Industries
FIGURE 1. Chris Rathmann of Victaulic and Garrett Lamb of Stanger Industries discuss the Valley Regional Medical Center project. Image courtesy of Victaulic

Hospitals depend on their HVAC systems to ensure patient and staff comfort and to provide temperature control for life-saving medicines and medical devices. They also must account for the operating costs of these systems and balance the energy inefficiencies of aging systems versus the cost of upgrading.

A Need for Schedule Certainty

Valley Regional Medical Center tasked Stanger Industries, a mechanical contractor based in Kansas City, Missouri, with replacing part of the cooling system — including two cooling towers and piping up to 20 inches — in under four months. Stanger Industries bid on the project using itstraditional method but management understood the need to compress the installation schedule as much as possible.

Victaulic AGS couplings
FIGURE 2. A look at Victaulic AGS couplings, and fittings used on the cooling tower at Valley Regional Medical Center.

Recognizing the laborious nature of welding and flanging large-diameter piping, Stanger Industries explored alternative pipe-joining solutions to condense the schedule. The firm partnered with Victaulic, a provider of grooved pipe-joining solutions and services, to meet the hospital's quickly approaching deadline.

Victaulic AGS couplings, fittings, and valves
FIGURE 3. Victaulic AGS couplings, fittings, and valves.

"Given the scope and size of this project, we quickly realized welding could jeopardize the timeline and sought alternative solutions to meet the demands of the job," said Clay Stanger, vice president of mechanical operations at Stanger Industries. "We decided Victaulic was the way to go for the cooling system after meeting with their Virtual design and construction (VDC) department and understanding the level of support we'd have through the end of the project."

Leveraging Virtual Modeling Technology

The design of two new cooling towers was heavily assisted by a 3D laser scan that captured the existing on-site piping layout. Using Victaulic Tools for Revit, the Victaulic VDC team then virtually modeled the space, efficiently creating an accurate design for the cooling system upgrade.

The tool enabled Stanger Industries to identify and address potential errors before they could become costly and time-consuming problems during installation.

"The level of insight and detail we gained helped us provide a better solution for our client," Clay Stanger said. "It improved the pipe routing design but also gave us a clear picture of what obstacles we'd encounter later on."

Victaulic AGS couplings
FIGURE 4. Victaulic AGS couplings, and fittings used on the cooling tower at Valley Regional Medical Center.

Victaulic's VDC department established the bill of material, thus facilitating supply acquisition. Once drawings were approved, Stanger was able to order materials early, allowing for optimized project delivery and a controlled schedule.

When the collaboration between Victaulic and Stanger had been finalized, The firm was ready to begin the pipe spool assembly and installation in early January 2022.

Increasing Installation Efficiency

To streamline installation, pipe spools arrived on-site tagged and labeled to reflect pipe schematics. Garrett Lamb, Stanger Industries' field superintendent for the project, compared the process to building a Lego model.

"Victaulic put a lot of care into making the installation virtually problem-free for us. Even the large headers were easy to assemble and fit together," Lamb said.

Victaulic Advanced Groove System (AGS) couplings and fittings were used to install 14- to 20-inch piping. The AGS rigid couplings are quick to install with two housings secured with two nuts and bolts and are a fraction of the weight of a flanged joint that uses 12 nuts and bolts. To meet the tight timeline before the spring heat began and to reduce the costly use of temporary cooling towers, Victaulic QuickVic Installation-Ready couplings and fittings were selected for pipes 12 inches and below.

From left, Rathmann, Lamb and Clay Stanger review the progress of the project.
FIGURE 5. From left, Rathmann, Lamb, and Clay Stanger review the progress of the project.

"Welding is more time-consuming compared to grabbing couplings and tightening them up. The time savings were at least half, if not more," Lamb said.

Lamb added that even when changes occurred mid-project, Victaulic was prepared to offer real-world solutions that ensured delays were minimized. By partnering with Victaulic, Stanger Industries reduced total field joints and completed the entire scope on an expedited timeline.

Valley Regional Medical Center commissioned its brand new cooling towers and piping in March 2022, positioning the hospital to efficiently meet the community's healthcare needs for years to come.