INC Engineered materials of Melbourne - maker of prize-winning lightweight sound-deadening materials for automotive, whitegoods and industrial uses - has adopted CalAir polymer reticulation systems to achieve high pressure and heat tolerances while gaining energy efficiency, flexibility and safety.
The easily reconfigured and recyclable CalAir polymer piping system has been installed into a ring system with pipeline drop feeds to double outlets to cope with the expanding workload as preliminary preparations for the work are undertaken this year and full production is scheduled to commence later in the year.
The new factory in Dandenong South produces materials such as DECI-TEX acoustic textiles, which incorporates recycled materials and is itself recyclable. It saves weight (and therefore fuel consumption) in vehicles ranging from cars to heavy trucks and buses. DECI-TEX (which has won the Gold Award of the Society of Automotive Engineers Australia) is also widely used for industrial applications for sound deadening in static and mobile plant including diesel generators, tractors and earthmoving equipment.
In keeping with the environmental ethos of INC Managing Director Michael Coates, INC's new plant uses process piping that is light, easy to erect, reliable, recyclable and safe. The permanently safety colour-coded piping, installed by CalAir Pipe Systems (SEM), is eight times lighter than typical galvanized alternatives and has smooth, energy efficient internal bores that cannot corrode and clog up to impede flow.
"Another bonus of the system for carrying process water is that its insulation efficiency means it doesn't require lagging. In addition to being far quicker and easier to install than metal - there was no metal welding involved at all - the light weight meant that we didn't have to install a major superstructure to support it. This represented a significant saving in both time and cost," said INC Senior Product Engineer Mr Phil Gibbons, who worked with CalAir Pipe Systems (SEM) Manager Steve Pursell in commissioning the INC system.
Nearly 300m of CalAir Pro-Pipe II for water (colour coded green for safety, in accordance with AS 1345) was installed. This transports chilled water at 11-12 degrees Celsius to process machinery, and then takes away warmed water at typically 30 degrees Celsius. Occasionally, higher temperatures are encountered, so the piping has to be able to safely withstand variations. Being more than a third stiffer than standard polymer piping, Pro-Pipe II can carry air, other gases and water at temperatures from -20 deg C up to 100 degrees C - levels typically 40 degrees higher than earlier types of piping.
Mr Gibbons said the performance of the product had been excellent since the plant commenced production mid-year - "We haven't had any leaks and we haven't had any of the temperature-related problems we had in earlier facilities. On top of all that, its insulation performance saves money." he said.
INC's pneumatic system uses more than 350 m of aqua-coloured Pro-Pipe with 38mm inside diameter, incorporated into an energy efficient ring main carrying total flows of up to 100 l/sec for process machinery. The ring system is designed to avoid energy sapping dead ends in the pipeline system, instead enabling air to circulate smoothly at optimum pressure to where it is required to perform process tasks. Individual machines are fed by pipeline drops of 20mm inside diameter Pro-Pipe II.
The entire system was installed using standard CalAir pressure fittings to provide jointing without threading or the need for specialist labour.
Because ongoing costs are reduced by Pro-Pipe II's permanently smooth low-friction internal bore, the compressor uses less power to push its load.
And because polymer insulates better than metal piping, it isn't as prone to condensation as hot air meets cold pipes. This further increases the quality of the air supply and reduces the need for filtration of liquid from the airstream.
CalAir's Pro-Pipe II is manufactured from an especially formulated CXPP40 high performance block co-polymer polypropylene which exhibits outstanding pressure capability characteristics at elevated temperatures. This means it will carry compressed air, other gases and liquids efficiently across a wide range of temperatures, making it more suitable for use in areas with big ambient temperature fluctuations.
"The system was very quick to install and it also has been very reliable in service," said Mr Gibbons. "If we need to change the system around to meet changing production needs, it's very easy to do. And if we needed to pick up the whole system and move it to another plant, we could do that because the whole system is recyclable. We don't need to relocate at the moment, of course, but it is good to know that recyclability is designed into the plant.
"We had worked with Steve before and knew the savings we could achieve at installation and ongoing. Overall, it really is just a much better system to install and to operate. On top of everything else, it looks good too - and presentation is important in a high technology business such as ours."
Mr Pursell says the attractive and permanent colour-coding of pipelines is of increasing importance to sophisticated manufacturing plants, which want operational and maintenance staff to be able to immediately identify what is being carried by the pipelines they are working around. This is highly important both for time-saving efficiency and for safety, both of which were important to meeting INC's preference to use world leading technology and achieve best international practice for operational, environmental and safety aspects.