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ISSUE 65(FREE READ)

Driptech pipe factory leads the way… …supplying top quality product and customer service

Driptech  Irrigation has grown to become the leading supplier and manufacturer of everything you need related to moving, storing and pumping water and other fluids. They cater to the agricultural, mining, civil and domestic sectors, supplying booster pumps, solar pumping solutions, centre pivot, drip, micro-jet and overhead irrigation equipment, borehole casings, tanks, civil water and sewer reticulation systems and more. They supply copper and galvanised pipes and HDPE and LDPE pipes in a wide variety of sizes from 20mm up to 500mm. DripTech are also agents for the well-known brand of DAB pumps, as well as other brands like Tesla and Adelino, all of which are supplied under warrantee.

DripTech’s workshop is able to diagnose and resolve any problems with the pumps they supply and they stock a full range of spare parts for whenever maintenance or repairs are needed. Structure and Design featured DripTech’s new Jumbo tank manufacturing factory in issue 28 and their new retail outlet along Harare Drive in issue 22. Recently, in 2018, DripTech established their new pipe manufacturing plant situated at 58 Douglas Road in Workington. Previously they had been manufacturing their piping products at their factory at 7 Douglas Road, but such was the demand for their quality products that they needed to expand their operations.

The old Adam Beede furniture-making factory became available and was suitable for their needs – with some adaptations and renovations. The roof was in a bad state and needed to be replaced and the floor slab needed to be reinforced to accommodate the new, heavy machinery. The new factory is about three times the size of the old premises and helped to volumes. The factory operates 24/7 and has the capacity to manufacture around 1,200 tonnes per month. Manufacturing was briefly halted for two weeks at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown but was soon deemed to be an essential service supporting industry and property development.

(They had a large and rather urgent contract to supply specialised piping to the Bulawayo City Council so they were allowed to resume production.) Lockdown presented some challenges for their staff – especially as they were working in 24 hour shifts – so DripTech has laid on transport to help their staff to get to work and home again safely. They have a staff complement of over 70 people so it’s a fairly large and complex operation to make sure everyone can travel safe and sound. The factory relies on consistent supplies of electricity and water to keep the manufacturing process going. Disruptions to electricity or water supply means lots of down time as well as production cost increases and some related wastage. Most of the failed product can be crushed and recycled minimising waste and keeping production costs down. It also means that little of the raw material is wasted – an important consideration in our times of reducing environmental degradation and climate change. To ensure uninterrupted production DripTech has installed 1,1 megawatts worth of diesel generators as well as water storage facilities and
a borehole. The manufacturing process uses around 30,000 litres of water per hour but most of the water is cooled, cleaned and recycled in-house. They estimate that 0.1% of the water they use is lost, mostly due to evaporation, so with minimal wastage.

The manufacturing process is fairly complex and they also conduct
extensive product testing to ensure that all their piping meets SAZ
and SABS standards. Their testing laboratory is state of the art and
includes pressure testing, an electro thermostatic blast oven, a m
induction, Dumbbell tensile strength sampling and Dichloromethane
testing. All these testing processes are designed to ensure the
highest quality and most long-lasting and resilient product.
To carry out these quality control tests DripTech employs two     
attachment including Process and Chemical Engineering students.

When the pipe manufacturing division moved to 58 Douglas Road DripTech already had machines especially imported to meet their needs. Initially the machine manufacturers sent out staff to train the local operators but soon that became unnecessary as local staff became more familiar with the whole process. And it’s quite a complex process!

Raw materials – plastic powder and pellets – are imported from around the
world, including South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea and China, depending on availability, cost and quality.

The raw materials, together with additional chemical compounds, are added to a mixerto determine colour, strength and other HDPE and LDPE pipes are more flexibl for above ground irrigation while the blue reticulation and the beige pipes are for sewer reticulation.

The raw material mix then goes through a complex hot and cold process. Initially an auger lifts the raw materials into the extruder. The extruder combines heat and pressure to melt and form the material to the desired dimensions. The stainless steel die head is a highly sophisticated unit of
machinery that weighs around 4 tonnes on their biggest extruder.

At this point the material is still soft and flexible so it passes into the vacuum chamber to help keep the desired hollow shape, and it’s then cooled with large quantities of cold water. Once the pipe is rigid it goes through the printing machine which applies the brand name as well as the technical specs. At this point the pipes are in 100m lengths so the tubes proceed to the saw machine which reduces the length to a standard 6m size.

One end of the pipe is chamfered and the other end is given a bell shape. This allows the pipes to be joined together easily. To ensure that there are absolutely no leaks a rubber seal is inserted, by hand, into the 
use and can be loaded and transported either directly to the client.


     


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