At egeplast, innovation is at the core of everything we do. With a long-standing commitment to investment in R&D and the development of industry firsts such as Europe’s first barrier pipe, we are focussed on the provision of innovative future-proofed pipe systems which help meet the challenges being faced by our customers and wider society. Here Steven Jones, Managing Director of egeplast UK, gives an overview of the issues egeplast is working to address as a leading pipe systems manufacturer.
1. Leakage and repair response times: Pipe leakage continues to be the major issue for water companies and society as a whole. OFWAT targets require water companies to cut leakage by 16% by 2025i and pipe manufacturers have a key role to play in achieving this goal. To put this into context, meeting this target will save enough water to meet the needs of everyone living in Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield and Liverpool.
At egeplast, we manufacture pipe products which have protective outer skins to maximise durability and protect against damage. We also provide pipe systems which include continuous monitoring systems so if a leak does occur, the water company is notified immediately and the leak can be located quickly and easily. Continuous monitoring systems such as egeplast’s 3L Leak Control system provide information to water companies instantly, enabling them to minimise damage and resolve any issues to prevent significant outages for customers. Monitored products also stop the need to wait until there is a significant burst or an obvious major leak. This helps protect the environment from any unexpected ‘spillages’ from sewage or other contaminated fluids which are being transported.
2. Urban development and contamination: The government has identified capacity for 1.3 million homes alone on local authority brownfield registers, an increase of 19% on 2019 figuresii. The use of brownfield land will ensure valuable greenfield sites remain undeveloped and can be used as green areas for people to enjoy. However, building on brownfield sites presents its own challenges, specifically the requirement for pipe products which can stop the contamination from any hydrocarbons and chemical ‘nasties’ which may be present in the soil. As a business, we are focussed on the ongoing development of our existing barrier pipe products such as SLA which provide the utilities industry with a cost-effective, high quality way of protecting clean drinking water from contaminants in brownfield land.
3. Hydrogen and hydrogen delivery systems: As the use of hydrogen continues to grow across the world, we require new solutions which enable its transfer. More advanced technical solutions such as egeplast’s ‘HexelOne’ system are now required to provide additional pressure stability and to ensure systems are robust and highly durable.
4. Digitisation and connectivity: The UK government is investing £5 billion to ensure that hard-to-reach areas have the same access to gigabit-capable broadbandiii and between now and 2025, fibre optics infrastructure investment will be significant. To meet growing demand for premium microproducts, egeplast International GmbH is doubling its manufacturing capacities in this production area. As a premier European manufacturer, egeplast is committed to making continued investment in manufacturing capacity to ensure we can meet increasing demand from our customers for these products and keep pace with customer investments. We are also investing heavily in the development of new fibre-optic sector solutions, many of which can be used in trenchless applications.
5. Vehicle charging infrastructure: As the adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles accelerates, new electric vehicle charging infrastructure needs to be rolled out across all urban areas to accommodate growing demand. This will be particularly prevalent in areas of new housing. As a result, demand will increase significantly for electrical ducting which needs to be safe, secure and suitable for higher voltage cabling. Egeplast protective pipe systems with continuous monitoring systems are already being used in the construction of new charging stations.
6. Carbon reduction: Reducing carbon emissions and the environmental impact of activities is a primary objective for egeplast. Better and easier installation methodologies allow pipe systems to be installed with a reduced carbon footprint by either negating the need to dig trenches or avoiding the use of aggregate as bedding with the related issues around delivery and the removal of spoil. We are continuing to invest in the development of robust trenchless solutions which can enable trenchless installation without damage whilst reducing CO2 emissions.
7. Continuous improvement: In a world of increasing energy costs, higher raw material prices and fast paced change, our drive to deliver the innovative solutions required for future generations requires egeplast to invest in its people and processes. Egeplast recently launched its ‘ImPROVe’ programme for egeplast employees. ImPROVe will deliver additional training, focus on continuous improvements and deliver a greater focus on ‘Lean’ manufacturing principles. A critical investment for our business, ImPROVe will ultimately ensure we can fulfil future customer requirements and increase production capacity to meet growing market demand for our products.
i OFWAT website
ii CPRE ‘Recycling our land: the state of brownfield 2020’ report
iii UK Government website