Every year, infrastructural contractors lay and maintain thousands of kilometres of polyethylene pipes to supply homes and businesses with gas and water throughout New Zealand.
In the 1980’s an Upper Hutt business (originally Central Utility Supply) met the brief to supply fittings for the polyethylene piping system for distributing natural gas throughout the North Island. Polyethylene’s flexibility (compared to steel) is a major advantage in earthquake-prone countries.
Today, as part of a global piping systems company, Georg Fischer New Zealand supplies polyethylene pipe fittings (manufactured in Switzerland and USA) to sub-contractors of New Zealand gas companies, city councils and farmers with irrigation systems: anyone responsible for distributing gas or water from its source.
Just as contractors rely on pipes being available in a multitude of lengths, diameters and sizes, they need a vast range of fittings (e.g. electrofusion couplers, elbows and tees) to match, and in some cases specialised equipment, to ensure the pipes are joined safely.
Georg Fischer’s General Manager, Timothy Sassella, explains that high quality fittings and first-class installation are crucial to avoid disastrous accidents.
“A gas leak resulting from a badly joined pipe can lead to a major explosion, fire and loss of life.”
A re-fit of Georg Fischer’s Upper Hutt premises in 2013, saw the business create a purpose-built demonstration and training track on its door step.
“We excavated an area outside and lay a maze of polyethylene pipes, electrical and telecommunication cables, ferrous metal pieces and access points underground. This challenges our customers to decipher what’s there, at what depth,” Operations Manager Brian Smith explains.
In addition to supplying polyethylene fittings that connect two pipes together, the Upper Hutt business supplies innovative equipment which welds two pipes together, onsite.
“Different situations require different solutions,” Brian says.
“Two pipes can be joined with a polyethylene electrofusion coupler, or welded using our specialised equipment.”
Georg Fischer also distributes Radiodetection instruments for contractors involved in building or repairing infrastructure such as roads.
“Using electromagnetic fields, our radio detectors establish where not to dig. They have become an essential tool for contractors who are ultimately liable for the damage if they accidentally strike a pipe or cable underground,” Timothy says.
New Zealand’s regulations for the installation of infrastructural pipes and cables require that contractors are trained and certified. Timothy insists that, ‘sourcing the right pipes and fittings is a great start but knowing how to install them properly is something else’.
“Our training facility and service significantly increases the chance of our products being installed as they should be.”
“Upper Hutt is an ideal place to be based. Its central location means we can do everything we need to from here. Sending our products from Upper Hutt overnight directly to customers all over the New Zealand is something we achieve consistently, every day. And we really appreciate living nearby in a beautiful rural environment without spending time sitting in traffic!” says Tim.