Chinese plastic pipe makers under pressure to boost quality

By Steve Toloken
Staff Reporter / Asia Bureau Chief

Published: June 13, 2013 12:19 pm ET
Updated: June 13, 2013 10:32 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Construction, Pipe/Profile/Tubing, Extrusion, China

CHENGDU, CHINA — Improving the quality of plastic pipe in China has become a focus for several major customer groups of the industry, including municipal water systems and natural gas utilities who buy pipe.

The China Urban Water and Wastewater Association, for example, hopes this year to roll out a qualification system with a recommended list of suppliers, driven by concerns about pipe failures and leaks hurting city water systems.

Wang Lan, vice secretary general of the Beijing-based association, told an audience of several hundred plastic pipe makers at an industry conference in early June that the group wants to form long-term relationships with those selected suppliers.

Poor manufacturing and poor installation practices sometimes means that pipe that should last 30 years will only last 15 years, she said.

As well, speakers from other infrastructure groups that are heavy users of plastic pipe raised similar concerns at the conference, organized by the China Plastics Piping Association, June 6-7 in Chengdu.

A speaker from the China Urban Natural Gas Association said, for example, that they're concerned about quality problems and would like to work with CPPA companies and third-party testing labs to improve monitoring.

A representative of the China Water Conservation and Water Supply Institute urged the industry to pay attention to quality in raw materials and pipe production.

And an official from the Tianjin City Construction Materials Association said in prepared remarks that the group wants stronger monitoring of quality. Tianjin, one of China's largest cities, has set up a testing institute to monitor the quality of many construction materials, including plastic pipe, TCCMA said.

But the details on how exactly those groups would accomplish that, and how they would move the debate into concrete action, were not always clear.

In an interview with Plastics News after her speech, Wang said her group hopes to rely on the Beijing-based China Plastics Piping Association to develop a list of suppliers and then do some testing of their products.

She said she believes that CPPA members meet quality standards but the industry has many smaller companies that may not. She said it's a particular concern as China puts more focus on developing its Western regions.

"We will be focusing our work nowadays on the West region of China," she said. "In the West, a lot of local manufacturers have problems with technology and poor quality."

She identified three reasons for pipes failing: poor quality raw material, improper pipe manufacturing and poor installation in the field. She said the group also plans to focus on quality issues with reinforced concrete pipe.

The plastic pipe industry has been working with customer groups to address quality concerns, said Wang Zhan Jie, secretary general of the Beijing-based CPPA.

He said that generally speaking, bigger companies have good quality and smaller pipe makers have more problems. He said raw material quality is a significant problem, and that some companies substitute cheaper materials in the manufacturing process.

Wang said CPPA is working on new regulations for pipes, and regularly holds meeting with customer groups to try to address concerns and invites them to speak at its events, like the Chengdu conference.

One challenge, he said, is that groups that purchase pipes, like utilities, are not always knowledgeable about how to determine if a pipe is good quality. He said CPPA is working to educate those groups so that quality becomes a bigger part of their purchasing decisions.

It's a point echoed by others involved in China's pipe market.

"Most of the government knows the quality is not good but they don't know how to do the quality control," said Zhao Qihui, Beijing-based technical services manager with French chemical company Total, which sells higher grade polyethylene to the Chinese natural gas pipe market.

An executive from pipe maker Foshan Rifeng Enterprises Co. Ltd. agreed that the pipe industry is under more pressure from customer groups to improve quality, and needs to work more closely with them.

Li Baiqian, vice general manager of the Foshan, Guangdong-based company, said part of the purpose of the CPPA conference was to gather big and small companies together and emphasize that the market trend is toward higher quality.

To some extent, the problems should be expected given that it's only been a little more than 30 years since China began opening its economy, he said.

"It's not really enough time to make good regulations and rules to control the market," he said.


Comments

Chinese plastic pipe makers under pressure to boost quality

By Steve Toloken
Staff Reporter / Asia Bureau Chief

Published: June 13, 2013 12:19 pm ET
Updated: June 13, 2013 10:32 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Vinyl siding's lead slips, but industry pushing back

July 29, 2014 2:04 pm ET

Vinyl siding continues to be the top cladding choice for home builders and remodelers but fiber cement is gaining ground — at an alarming rate...    More

Image

Universal Polymer beefing up capabilities through acquisition

July 29, 2014 12:04 pm ET

Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. is growing again and adding to its capabilities, this time via another acquisition and a plant expansion.    More

A third generation is adding to the growth at American Vinyl Co.

July 28, 2014 4:32 pm ET

American Vinyl Co., a compounding and extrusion company that increased its workforce 20 percent this year, is looking to double its space for storing ...    More

Image

Who are the fastest growing pipe, profile and tubing extruders?

July 28, 2014 3:09 pm ET

Question: What's the word on this week's Plastics News annual ranking of the top Pipe, Profile and Tubing extruders in North America? Answer: Up....    More

Image

Australian trade group battles non-compliant PVC pipe fittings

July 28, 2014 2:19 pm ET

An Australian plastics industry association is battling against imported, non-conforming PVC pipe fittings, but is stymied by a convoluted web of regu...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recyclers Data Report & Directory

This exclusive MS Excel database contains all the companies from Plastics News' ranking of top North American Recyclers and Brokers by reprocessed volume and also includes a directory with materials processes, services offered and company contact information. Data is based on primary research by PN editorial staff.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events