Banking on the growing acceptance of large-diameter polyethylene pressure pipe in water, sewer and industrial applications, PolyPipe Inc. is adding massive extrusion lines to two of its plants.
The Gainesville, Texas-based company is adding 63-inch-diameter capacity in Erwin, Tenn., and a 54-inch line to its Gainesville plant, said Chief Executive Officer David Fordyce in an Aug. 22 telephone interview.
It was not clear until the firm announced it, but PolyPipe was also the mystery buyer of the third 63-inch line from McPherson, Kan.-based machinery maker American Maplan Corp. earlier this year. Maplan announced it sold three lines, marking the launch of that size of high density PE pipe being extruded commercially in the United States. Livingston, N.J.-based J-M Manufacturing Co. Inc. bought the other two. Maplan is the only U.S. manufacturer to announce 63-inch extrusion line sales in 2006.
Previously, only KWH Pipe Canada Ltd. had capacity for 63-inch pipe in North America.
PolyPipe apparently is unwilling to sit idly and watch J-M gobble up the large-diameter market share.
Installation of the new PolyPipe lines is expected to be complete by spring. The company is coming off a large-diameter expansion at its Fernley, Nev., plant, where Fordyce said PolyPipe can extrude 65-inch pipe.
The move is not so much about now, as it is about the future, Fordyce said.
``I think it's a very natural evolution for the growing acceptance of the product,'' he said. ``We're not just doing this for this year. We're doing it for next year, and the year after that.''
Fordyce said improved installation methods, including trenchless technology, has fueled demand for PE pipe.
The large diameters have their perks, too.
American Maplan President Kurt Waldhauer said in a previous Plastics News story that the exponential volume increase created by larger diameters offers increased value for pipe customers.
``One 63-inch pipe is like two 48-inch pipes side by side,'' he said. ``The hydraulic carrying capacity for [extra] inches of diameter is just tremendous.''
PolyPipe has six pipe extrusion plants, with a seventh under construction in Evansville, Wyo.