Uponor Aldyl Co. Inc. has announced a multimillion dollar expansion of its plastic pipe and fittings business for gas distribution. The bulk of the investment will be used to install polyethylene pipe capacity at a plant going up at Buckhannon, W.Va., said spokesman Terrence Yazel. The facility will sit beside another that houses 13-year-old PVC pipe operations, part of Denver-based Uponor ETI Inc., which makes products for municipal water and sewer systems.
Yazel would not disclose how much money the company will spend. But, by midyear, two PE pipe extrusion lines at the Buckhannon site will be supplying Uponor Aldyl's existing East Coast, and developing Midwest, customer bases, he said. A third PE line will be added later.
Also related to the investment, Uponor Aldyl will become the major North American distributor for an electrofusion system that it hopes will make its pipe fittings more competitive.
The fusion processor, made by Creative Micro Design Inc. of Newark, Del., uses bar-coded electronics to simplify the fittings recognition process. CMD licenses the technology from J. Sauron SA of France, which holds the international patent on the bar-code reading software, said Greg Russell, product specialist for Uponor Aldyl. The processor will be available by late February or early March.
Uponor Aldyl headquarters, currently in New Castle, Del., will move to Shawnee, Okla., where the company injection molds medium and high density PE plastic fittings for gas and other applications, including oil fields and landfills. Its technical labs, including ISO 9002 support, are in Tulsa, Okla.
In Tulsa, the firm makes its trademarked tan Aldyl pipe, as well as yellow commodity PE pipe, in diameters of one-half to 12 inches, Yazel said.
Last May parent Uponor US Inc. opened a plant in Phoenix, where it first piggybacked PE and PVC pipe production, two lines each, Yazel said. Eventually Uponor will merge all PE and PVC pipe operations, to cut costs and consolidate management, he said. From Phoenix, Uponor Aldyl serves West Coast gas utilities, such as Southern California Gas.
By the third quarter the firm plans to launch a new line of 40-volt fittings, the worldwide standard, Yazel said. The new fittings, as well as its existing 24-volt line, can be used with CMD's fusion processor, which operates at various voltages and identifies fittings from several manufacturers.
Typically, fittings makers sell fusion processors that recognize only their own fittings, making single sourcing common among gas utilities customers, Russell said. CMD's processor is geared to give utilities greater freedom in choosing fittings suppliers, and will make Uponor's products more competitive in the marketplace.
Another Uponor outfit, Wirsbo Inc. of Apple Valley, Minn., makes cross-linked PE pipe used in heating and residential hot water distribution.
Uponor US, based in New Castle, reported North American extruded pipe and tubing sales of $108.5 million in 1994. The company is a unit of Oy Uponor AB of Espoo, Finland, which last year recorded worldwide sales of $500 million.