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Aquatherm Proves Best Choice For Injection-Mold Process Cooling


Project
Berry Global Injection-Molding Facility, Process Cooling
Products Used
Aquatherm Blue Pipe®
Location / Date
Lawrence, KS
Spring 2017

Aquatherm Advantages

  • Unlike the existing carbonsteel piping, Aquatherm PP-R piping systems won’t corrode, rust, or scale, eliminating future downtime caused by pipe corrosion
  • Because Aquatherm PP-R is so lightweight, the piping systems are easy to fabricatein advance and lift and heat-fuse onsite, even the project’s 16-in.-dia. pipe
  • An inherent low thermal conductivity makes insulating Aquatherm unnecessary in some indoor applications, saving on installation costs and creating a cleaner, more uniform installation
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The Challenge

An injection molding facility had begun to incur losses because its existing carbon-steel piping was experiencing excessive corrosion, but replacing 300 ft of welded steel for a manufacturing process that virtually never stops was not going to be easy


The Solution

The plant’s facility maintenance supervisor chose to replace the steel piping with Aquatherm Blue Pipe, which is completely noncorroding and will not break down, weaken, or scale like metal piping systems


AQUATHERM PP-R PIPING ELIMINATES FUTURE DOWNTIME CAUSED BY CORRODED PIPE

A mere half-second loss in production time can cost an injection-molding facility tens of thousands of dollars. Jacob Francis knows the stakes are high. As facility maintenance supervisor at Berry Global in Lawrence, KS, he plays that game every day. So, it was a nail-biting proposition when, faced with the need to replace a large portion of pipe used to transport cooling water to more than 20 injection-mold and thermoforming machines, he opted to transition the plant from carbon-steel pipe to Aquatherm polypropylene-random (PP-R) Blue Pipe® in Spring 2017.

BerryGlobal3

The existing carbon-steel piping, along with an undersized chilled-water storage tank, had to be replaced because of excessive corrosion. Cooling the molds is a critical, time-sensitive part of the injection-molding process; the plant already had begun to incur losses because rust and pipe scale was interfering with the cool-water flushing of the molds.

“Our [cooling] cycle time on some of the equipment had increased due to hot cores. This resulted in significant losses in production,” Francis said.

Increasing production demands on an undersized storage tank and piping system exacerbated the complex problem.

The system itself is simple. Chilled water leaves the chiller at 55°F and flows directly to the injection-molding equipment. Water exits through orifices in the aluminum or steel molding equipment and circulates to what was originally a 4,000-gal holding tank before circulating back through the chiller. However, according to Francis, at the required 3,800 gpm, the water never had an opportunity to “settle,” causing air to be absorbed within the system. The completely aerated system not only was rusting badly, but the excessive air also prevented watertreatment chemicals from adhering to and protecting the carbon-steel pipe effectively. Corrosion already had eaten two holes in the chilled-water tank.

The situation would only get worse until the piping was replaced, but that created an even greater challenge: How do you replace 300 ft of 10- and 16-in. welded steel pipe for a manufacturing process that virtually never stops?

The plant in Lawrence, one of Berry Global’s 130 facilities around the world, produces foodgrade plastic cups and containers for various restaurants and food and beverage industries. The plant operates 24/7 every single day of the year, save a day or two at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Shutting down operations for just one hour comes at a high price to large injection-molding manufacturers like Berry, a price they most certainly would have to pay several times over if the piping was replaced with field-welded carbon steel, which can take a long time to install.

Todd Mihalchik, industrial mechanical estimator and project manager for P1 Group in Lawrence, KS – MCAA member and the mechanical contractor selected for the piping renovation – had another thought: Aquatherm PP-R piping systems.

Even though no one from P1 Group previously had installed Aquatherm pipe in such large diameters, Mihalchik’s conversations with local representatives from the Lawrence branch of Ferguson Enterprises, a wholesale distributor of plumbing and mechanical supplies with 1,400 locations serving customers throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, the caribbean, and Mexico, convinced him that the piping might be the answer for his longtime client, Berry Global. Wedged between a costly shutdown and a rapidly deteriorating system, Francis agreed to listen to presentations from Aquatherm, during which he learned why Aquatherm is the ideal choice for critical process applications like his.