Luke Kennedy, Iplex’s Product Manager – Polyethylene (PE) Systems, spoke to The Australian Pipeliner about how the company is able to offer complete large-diameter PE pipe systems.
Historically, a challenge with larger diameter pipes has been that the fittings have been much harder to source and fabricate. Iplex is able to complete the large bore water system with its capacity to manufacture fittings for large diameter pipes from its Brisbane based fabrication facility.
Iplex has been fabricating products with different material types since the early 80s. Expansion into large, more complex sizes has developed because of customer need and with a focus on being the chosen partner for customers in the water industry, the fabrication capability and expertise enables Iplex to provide a holistic service across water systems.
The are many advantages of PE pipe because the material itself is very robust. With the drivers for material selection changing to more sustainable solutions, PE pipe systems are an excellent option due to the material’s longevity and inert properties.
“As the pipes are single use applications with 100 per cent recyclable options at the end of life, it’s no wonder they are replacing conventional pipe systems in Australia,” Kennedy said.
“They’re very low maintenance systems. They tend to not suffer many of the corrosion issues experienced by other pipe materials. Some substances in the soil can cause corrosion to non-PE pipes. For trenchless applications such as horizontal directional drilling (HDD), especially in large-diameter applications, PE pipe is often preferred.”
Beyond this environmental safeguarding, Kennedy says that PE pipes are also durable when it comes to unstable ground conditions such as New Zealand’s Christchurch.
“We’ve found that, in situations where there has been geological movement, PE pipes have stayed intact where other products tend to fail – this durability is replicated in our larger sizes,” Kennedy said.
Beyond the pipe
Key to Iplex’s ability to meet all customer needs is its ability to source fittings for PE pipes with far greater diameter than previously thought possible.
One example of this is the 1000 mm OD manifold that the company supplied for Port Augusta in South Australia.
Made in Iplex’s Brisbane fabrication facility, the manifold was an exceptional piece of fabrication expertise. Aside from the 1000 mm main, the manifold had a series of 500- and 315-mm OD offtakes. The product was fully pressure rated to 1250 kPa at 20 degrees Celsius, meaning it was unrivalled with respect to capability.
“We used a process called electrofusion to weld the tapping saddles on,” Kennedy said. “Which really goes to show the versatility of some available products.”
He said that the electrofusion saddles can be sourced up to 2000 mm OD main with a 500 mm offtake.
“The range of options has expanded monumentally in recent years,” he said.
Iplex also managed to manufacture multiple 1600 inspection pits for a Victorian client. The 1600 mm main pipe came from Iplex’s range, and the product was manufactured in the Brisbane facility with an impressive four-week turnaround from time of enquiry.
As well as having capabilities across a range of fittings, Iplex is able to manufacture multiple angled 1800 mm OD mitred bends for a client at the Werribee Treatment Plant. These bends were also considered fully pressure rated in accordance with industry guidelines.
The company’s extrusion equipment is capable of manufacturing significantly bigger sizes than other local manufacturers.
“We have successfully extruded up to 1800 mm OD. Most manufacturers are limited to diameters of about 1200 mm,” Kennedy said. “When you can walk through the pipes, you get a real appreciation for the size we’re capable of making.”
He says that Iplex is even able to fabricate T sections up to 1000 mm for customers when needed. And fully rated Ts are now available up to 1600 mm OD.
Iplex has a CNC router than enables the company to manufacture its own feedstock pieces, support bracketing, bases and more. Plus, the company ensures the compliance of its entire supply chain.
With fittings that can match the large diameter PE pipes that Iplex is known for, the company is able to deliver the entire water system for projects with high volume needs.
This article featured in the March edition of The Australian Pipeliner.