Chch pipe maker spends $3m to grow
A Bromley manufacturer of large plastic pipes has more than doubled its capacity by buying a $3 million production line which will allow it to build pipes up to four metres in diameter.
Frank PKS makes high-density plastic pipes that can be used for sewerage and stormwater systems and have twice the lifespan of traditional concrete and cast- iron pipes.
They are also more quake-resistant and in the few places they were used in Canterbury they were unaffected by the shakes, Frank PKS general manager Bryan Wilson said.
Small-scale plastic pipes are ubiquitous in New Zealand, but infrastructure-sized plastic pipes were relatively unknown, he said.
However, they were widely used in the United States, Europe and Asia, and were increasingly being used for Christchurch's multibillion-dollar infrastructure rebuild, he said.
Frank PKS's new machine started work yesterday after a month of trials and will be officially commissioned on October 24.
Wilson said the company now had two production lines and he expected to increase output and bolster the 20 staff in the coming year.
The company had reinvested in the business, which was established in 2005, despite it still negotiating a business interruption insurance claim.
The company had to move to a new site after the earthquakes damaged the two sites it was using previously.
Its insurer continually asked for more information before it would pay out the business interruption claim and the systems did not seem to allow for quick settlement, Wilson said.
However, Frank PKS was philosophical about it despite some frustrations.
"We've said progress will be made by our efforts on any given day," he said.
"We're going to survive because we're doing the work and we're positive about what we're doing and we'll marshal every resource to do that."
The company's pipes had been used for several large Christchurch projects.
Before the quake its products were mostly being used in other parts of New Zealand.
The smallest pipe the company makes is half a metre in diameter.
The projects are the trunk lines for the city, such as under Woodham Rd, Linwood, and the repair of the Waste Water Treatment Plant and the pipes connecting to the oxidation ponds.
The new machine would more than double the amount the company could produce, Wilson said.
Frank PKS is majority-owned by several Christchurch shareholders.
The remainder is held by its German partner, Frank, which developed the technology.