USER REPORT: Thai pioneer in large diameter monolayer and multilayer pipes

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Thai-Asia P.E. Pipe Co., Ltd. was established in 1984 as a producer of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) pipes under the TAP brand. The 22,400 sqm factory had a capacity of 14,000 t/a and was located in Samutprakarn, in the suburbs of Bangkok. Congested conditions and expansion in capacity prompted the company to relocate to a 248,000 sqm greenfield ground in the beautiful environment of Pak-Chong in Nakhon Ratchasima. The installed capacity increased to 30,000t/a and is ready for possible future expansions. Today, this company employs about 400 people altogether and exports to countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand.

The pioneer in PE pipes

The company was the first company to introduce PE pipes to the public sector on a large scale in Thailand. Until then PVC pipes dominated in the field of water transportation, drainage, and electrical conduits. According to the president Mr Suchat Suesujjakul, his company has actively promoted the advantages of PE pipes compared to PVC: harmless to health and environment, higher fl exibility, and lower tendency to crack. The health and environmental aspects were particularly emphasised.

HDPE pipes up to 1,600 mm

From the beginning the main focus was on special applications and high quality rather than simply output. Today, TAP produces basically any kind of HDPE pipes, such as single layer and multilayer pipes, corrugated pipes, and LDPE drip pipes. The produced diameter range is from 16 to 1,600 mm for HDPE, and starting from 12 mm for LDPE. Already in 1997 the company installed a 1,600 mm HDPE line and was thus one of the fi rst companies in Asia who was able to supply such large pipes. Today TAP is one of the few companies in Thailand that can supply 1,600 mm pipes. Multilayer (2-layer) pipes can be produced up to 1,200 mm.

Pipes for heating water applications made from PP-R become more popular, even in Thailand’s hot climate. The demand arises mainly from modern high-rising condominiums in Bangkok and from the chemical industry. PE-RT is another material option for such heating pipes. However, for some reason this material is hardly available in Thailand according to the company. In addition a wide range of special fittings are produced mainly by welding and machining rather than injection moulding.

Multilayer pipes for function and good looks

One of the company’s strengths is the production of multilayer (2-layer) pipes. The thickness of the outer and inner layer can be adjusted depending on the application of the pipe. The outer layer must be resistant to sunlight and scratches and the thickness can be adjusted in order to be more opaque or resistant to scratch. Mr Suchat Suesujjakul claims to be the manufacturer who first developed to come up with that technology. That is how they managed to differentiate their product in the market. The company even produces special multilayer pipes which are not only harmless to health, but also gives the customer a good feeling, i.e. the inner layer is made of bright natural PE with an appealing blue outer layer.

The company was also the first in Thailand to introduce the colour strip coding (blue for water and orange for electrical conduits) about 20 years ago. Subsequently competitors have adopted this coding. The material (PE80 and PE100) comes mainly from Thai conglomerate SCG (Siam Cement Group) while most of the extrusion lines are from KraussMaffei.

The danger: pipe manufacturers use sub-standard materials

There are about eight to nine local competitors for PE pipes and about 40 manufacturers of PVC pipe, of which only five are approved by the Water Authorities of Thailand. Mr Suchat Suesujjakul is worried about the image of PE pipes as there are local companies who use post-consumer HDPE scrap to produce lower quality pipes, or for instance they claim that pipes made of PE80 are PE100 pipes. He further explains that a lot of pipe manufacturers use sub-standard materials and sell their product at cheaper prices. Because the product is not up to the standard, it only causes trouble and creates a bad impression for overall PE pipe products, he continues. Despite the dangers regarding the image of PE pipes, Mr Suchat Suesujjakul forecasts a steady growth for PE pipes in Thailand for the future.



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