Trelleborg’s pipe seals operation is part of the wider Trelleborg Industrial Solutions Business Area of the Swedish Trelleborg Group, founded over 100 years ago. The company is a world leader in engineered polymer solutions that seal, damp and protect critical applications in demanding environments. Its innovative solutions accelerate performance for customers in a sustainable way.
With a track record spanning over 60 years, Trelleborg’s pipe seal operation is a leading supplier of new and rehabilitation sealing solutions for concrete, plastic pipes and manhole pipes used for water, sewerage and drainage.
The operation manufactures elastomeric seals for both non pressure and pressure pipe including potable water and associated structures comprising concrete, plastic, GRP, and ductile iron materials. “Basically, we are producing connectors and sealing gaskets for the construction of new water networks, whether they maybe drainage, sewerage, or potable water,” explains Commercial Manager Simon Burke. “We also manufacture equipment and materials for trenchless pipeline rehabilitation which enable existing pipes to be repaired without the need for excavation,” he says.
“If, for instance, the sewer in a town is failing – it’s leaking and it’s polluting the ground water – we can supply contractors with technology where they can go in and repair the pipe without digging the roads up,” explains Burke. “Everything can be done remotely from the sewer manhole access point with minimal disruption.”
What sets Trelleborg apart is its long history and in-depth knowledge of polymers in diverse and often extreme applications. “We have a really good understanding and know-how of rubber and associated polymers,” says Burke. “We have a global footprint so we can work anywhere.”
The greatest challenge the company faces, however, is in educating the end user such as municipalities and water/utility companies, along with engineers. “We want to educate the engineering community and the end user,” says Burke. “If they’re constructing a new pipeline or trying to repair an existing pipeline, they need to be educated on the technology currently available within the market and the importance of using the correct seals and the correct technology.”
When cities build new pipelines, seals may play a very small part in terms of the cost, but they play a substantial role nonetheless. “For example, building a new development will potentially comprise many miles of sewer, drainage, and water supply pipe, which is an expensive project,” explains Burke. “But the cost of a seal in a section of pipe can be only approximately two percent, so its cost is small in comparison to everything else.” The seals, however, are an incredibly important part of the system.
Operating in over 40 countries worldwide, Trelleborg’s pipe seals operation has a global capability. And the company has its ears open. “We are listening to our customers and end users. At the end of the day, we’re producing or manufacturing products to seal pipes, and this is two-fold,” says Burke. “Water is a very precious resource and yet there are water shortages and pollution, so we’re basically providing the better quality seals on the market to ultimately preserve this natural resource.”
When it comes to new construction, the company tries to educate end users on the importance of details and of using the correct seals in infrastructure. “We have some really good innovations at the moment in terms of seals for both plastic and concrete pipes,” explains Burke. “These seals are actually integrated, which means that they are installed during the actual production of the pipe and/or manhole at the factory and they ensure the highest quality available in the marketplace.”
One such example is the new Forsheda F160 integrated concrete manhole and pipe seal. The seal is composed of EPDM with dual durometer, ensuring the highest quality integrated product whilst allowing low jointing force in the field.
“In rehabilitation, particularly in the US market, there is a great big focus on exfiltration/infiltration reduction,” says Burke. “This is basically driven by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).” The EPA monitors municipalities across the country for pollution. Many cities have aging infrastructure with many networks approaching or having exceeded their design life; as such, many of the pipes are leaking.
This can be in the form of infiltration, where ground water enters a sewer system. During wet weather events this can lead to the sewers being overloaded with water. This results in the increased operational cost of treating the additional water. Often treatment plants do not have sufficient capacity to cope with the increased flow during large storm events; as such they will have to bypass the water and discharge it directly to a river, harbor, stream or lake. Basically, this is raw sewage that gets discharged.
Conversely, exfiltration occurs when sewage water leaks out of the pipe and enters the ground, thus polluting the ground water.
Trelleborg has developed several innovative solutions that facilitate the repair of these leaking sewer systems without disruption. There is technology available to repair pipes without the need for unearthing the pipes. “In any major city, you don’t want to start digging the roads up,” explains Burke. “You have traffic congestion and pollution, and digging up roads disrupts residents and commercial businesses,” he explains.
“We have a large range of technology,” he says. “And we use a lot of ‘cured in place’ technology. We have equipment that we can install inside the pipe that allows us to basically install an internal lining in the pipe itself. It becomes a new pipe within a pipe. It’s structural and designed to last a minimum of another 50 years if application has been conducted properly.”
Trelleborg’s pipe seals operation is proud of its many innovative products, one of which is its epros® Main To House (MTH) lateral lining technology.
“Our MTH technology is designed such that in a sewer system we can seal the junction between the mainline sewer and house service connection and also reline the whole lateral pipe up to the property. The innovative technology allows all the work to be carried out remotely from the main sewer without the need to access private property, and can be installed without the need of a clean out. The whole process can be completed in as little at 90 minutes. The installation provides a long term leak-free solution,” says Burke.
Trelleborg Pipe Seals really tries to push the boundary, to raise the bar in everything that it does. “We’re always looking to improve our products,” explains Burke, “to improve the processes and give the best results to the end customer.”
In an effort to increase its online presence in order to provide greater education and awareness of products and technology available, Trelleborg Pipe Seals has recently revamped its website. “We now do more through social media; we have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts,” says Burke. “We also do specific campaigns that focus on the professional associations in the industry, and of course, we attend the usual tradeshows,” he says.
“We are experiencing growth within the industry,” explains Burke. “As such, we have increased both our sales and technical staff, who work very closely with customers, allowing the provision of first-class training and technical support.”
The company has even increased production in the United States and Europe. “We’re in the process of constructing additional buildings for production and warehousing needs,” adds Burke.
As the company continues to grow, the mission of the operation is to maintain its high standards within the marketplace, thus helping to reduce the amount of water wasted due to pipe leakage, and educating engineers on the usage of the correct seals while offering efficient pipe sealing solutions and technology.