Smart Solutions

Warner Mechanical Uses Aquatherm Pipe to Help Manufacturer Rebound Quickly from Roof Collapse

Following a roof collapse at its headquarters, IVP Plastics needed a new facility—fast. Warner Mechanical said using Aquatherm enabled them to cut the time it took to complete the system, compared with a welded pipe solution, allowing IVP Plastics to restart production quickly.

A roof collapse could have knocked IVP Plastics of Washington, IL, out of commission for a long time, but Warner Mechanical LLC, of Edwards, IL, used Aquatherm polypropylene pipe in the rebuild, helping the manufacturer get back to business quickly. The heat fusion process made Aquatherm piping easier and faster to install than traditional welded pipe, saving Warner Mechanical time.

From Disaster, New Opportunities

IVP Plastics was founded in 1953; today, it is a leading provider of customized plastic parts for the agricultural, heavy equipment, and automotive industries. On March 24, 2018, a late-season storm caused a portion of the roof to collapse at the IVP Plastics headquarters, a 20,000-square-foot, clear-span building. Fortunately, no one was injured. Although damage to the building itself was significant, a crane rail running the length of the ceiling spared much of the company’s manufacturing equipment from serious damage.

About two weeks after the collapse, Jeff Frieden, president of Warner Mechanical, visited the damaged manufacturing facility. “We sat down with the IVP Plastics team, the general contractor, and the insurance company, and the bottom line was that time was of the essence,” Frieden said.

The decision was made to replace the damaged building with a new one, and IVP Plastics requested that Warner Mechanical design the process piping system for the 16 machines that would be moved into the new building. The old process cooling system had used 6″ PVC pipe running overhead at the ceiling. The company said it preferred a system that would place the pipe in mechanical
trenches behind each run of machines.

Frieden knew immediately that Aquatherm would be a good choice for such a piping application, and IVP Plastics’ management agreed. Warner Mechanical used Aquatherm SDR-11 MF Blue Pipe® for the process chiller piping: 1,575′ of 4″ pipe, 247′ of 3″ pipe, and 156′ of 1 1/2″ pipe. They also used 507′ of 1″ Aquatherm Green Pipe® for clean-up water.

Plastic Pipe Eases Maintenance Concerns

The system designed by Warner Mechanical called for most of the pipe to be located in trenches under the equipment in the concrete floor of IVP Plastics’ new manufacturing facility. Fittings emerging from the trench covers allow the manufacturing machines to be hooked up easily whenever the process line is reconfigured. The company’s process chiller provides 40° F cooling water to the machines, with return water flowing through the Aquatherm pipe at up to 100° F.

“We decided to do things differently at the new facility,” explained Joe Camp, engineering manager at IVP Plastics. “We wanted to put the process plumbing in the floor, and it was Jeff’s recommendation to use the Aquatherm pipe for that. It will be nice to not have pipes sweating and dripping, which was a problem when we had the PVC overhead.

“Another nice feature of the Aquatherm pipe was that we could get longer continuous lengths of pipe, so we had fewer joints to deal with,” Camp added.

The clincher for IVP Plastics, according to Camp, was Aquatherm’s virtually leak-free performance, backed by an extensive and comprehensive 10-year warranty because it was installed by Warner Mechanical’s Aquatherm-trained technicians.

“There is definitely peace of mind that comes from investing in a product with a warranty like that,” Camp said.

Warner Mechanical found that Aquatherm polypropylene pipe was ideal for the new IVP Plastics facility, and it is easier and faster to install than traditional welded pipe, saving the contractor time and money.

Perfect Pipe for Plastics Pros

For Warner Mechanical, an undeniably interesting aspect of this project was installing Aquatherm in a plastics manufacturing facility. “As we discussed this project with IVP Plastics, the owners were very pleased to see the range of temperatures and pressure ratings that were available to them,” Frieden said. “After our initial conversations, the owners researched it themselves and were very impressed by what they saw. When you’re working with a plastics company and they’re researching plastics, you’re playing with experts.”

Once the project began, the installation of the Aquatherm pipe attracted a great deal of attention from IVP Plastics’ personnel. “The engineers were watching us put this in, and it really intrigued them—being a plastics company—that we were putting this thermoplastic piping in their building,” Frieden said.

“Once they saw the benefits of the heat-fusion welding process, they had total confidence in the durability of the product,” Frieden continued. “They could understand when it’s properly heat-fused there would be no leakage problems.”

Frieden added it was much faster and easier to heat-fuse the Aquatherm pipe and place it in the trenches than it would have been to weld metal pipe. “I think any time you’re in a process where you would typically turn to welded piping, you should look at the time savings and durability of Aquatherm pipe,” he said. “For this customer, using Aquatherm enabled us to reduce the time it took to complete the system and allow the owner to start production.”

“I also really think it’s a great choice any time you’re in a buried or constrained space,” Frieden concluded. “It’s easier to work with than metal pipe, and it offers a big advantage in peace of mind. You know you can walk away from it and when the job’s complete and not worry about leaks.”

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