Stricter environmental and safety regulations are presenting new market opportunities for an Australian firm that manufactures plastic pipe products for civil and industrial applications.
CalAir Systems Pty. Ltd., based in Sydney, uses extrusion and injection molding to manufacture and market a range of polypropylene pipes under the Pro-Pipe II brand name.
Managing Director John McNab said increasing environmental awareness and stricter standards led CalAir to develop a new PP conduit suitable for electrical systems. "It can replace PVC conduits in areas of high risk or where there is a requirement to provide extra safety," he said.
In a fire, the conduit does not give off as much smoke or fumes as PVC conduit. McNab said CalAir supplied 11/2 miles of the conduit and 16 miles of compressed-air piping for a new eight-mile underground railway line in Sydney.
The conduit connects services across the rail tunnel roof and can be bent to shape without the installation difficulties of metal piping, McNab said, adding that Pro-Pipe is less prone to corrosion in such "aggressive environments."
CalAir's pipes and conduit are color-coded by application - aqua for pneumatic pipes, green for water, beige for gas, red for fire services, violet for acids and alkalines, brown for oil and black for waste.
McNab said the company, established 20 years ago, employs about 20 at its Sydney factory.
He would not disclose sales or production figures, but said CalAir supplies a variety of customers throughout Australia and in overseas markets through distribution agencies in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Ireland.
"There is no such thing as a typical-size job for us. We can provide anything from 30 feet of pipe to several miles in total," McNab said. "The nature of our business means we are not in one particular market segment. It depends what the customer wants."
McNab said PP pipes, with bores ranging from one-half inch to 4 inches, weigh eight times less than traditional steel pipes. Their noncorrosive nature is important in applications such as compressed-air systems for industrial tools.
"They are easy and safe for maintenance and production workers because their permanent colors immediately identify the contents of the pipes they are working with," McNab said.
"This is important because, in coming years, many existing traditional pipe systems may need to be replaced in the face of evolving health, safety and environmental regulations in Australia. This is mirrored in many international markets as an increasing trend."