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Spotlight | May 2011

Not pipe dreams

The company that has made inroads into piping for power plants and achieved a turnover of Rs 70 crore in 2011-12, now intends to achieve Rs 500 crore by 2015, Vijay Rajpurohit, MD, CPP, informs R Srinivasan.

Meeting us on the sidelines of a press conference, Vijay Rajpurohit spoke to us about how it all began. He joined CPE as a design engineer in 1989 where he was responsible for sales and marketing with a focus on exports. He was instrumental in securing major orders for large projects in Europe, South America, South-East Asia and Australia. In 2004 - 2005, he was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the newly-formed company, Chemical Process Piping (CPP). He began with a team of 40 persons, which has now grown to 350. 
He then went on to speak about the effect of massive power capacity additions on their plans, advantages of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) and types of pipes used in power plants among other issues. Excerpts of the interview:

To what extent will the massive power capacity addition prove to be a boon for the piping (for power plants) industry?
The incredible growth in the power sector in India will have a direct bearing on the growth of the glass-reinforced plastic piping industry. A lot of power plants in India are along the sea coast, which is why sea water is used in the cooling water system. Since GRP is best suited against sea water, we believe the GRP piping industry is set for exponential growth.

In view of the (Rs 1,000 crore) market potential, what strategy will the company employ to overcome competition and improve profits? 
The market potential is equally divided between the industrial and infrastructure space. Our company has a first-mover advantage in the industrial space since we are already market leaders in design, supply and installation of GRP and thermoplastic-lined GRP piping for the Indian industry for over 45 years (counting CPE's experience). Our company is an established vendor for all major EPC companies in India, which allows us to market the pipes manufactured with our continuous filament winding plant to the same set of EPC companies.

We intend to replicate our marketing strategy in the infrastructure space by focusing on quality and reliability, which has been the hallmark of our company in the industrial space. Further, our pipes are manufactured using GRP design know-how gathered over 45 years and successfully demonstrated while handling far more critical fluids than water. 

Steel pipes are prone to corrosion and also the installation cost is high. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of glass-reinforced plastic as opposed to steel pipes? 
The GRP pipes are best suited against sea water corrosion without any additional lining or protection. Steel/concrete pipes need an additional protective lining to sustain sea water corrosion. Over time, the lining can give way, exposing these pipes to corrosion. Further, steel pipes when installed underground need additional protection against soil corrosion. GRP piping, on the other hand, does not need any additional protection on the outer surface. As regards installation, GRP pipes score over steel/concrete pipes since they are much lighter and do not need heavy lifting equipment. 

What are the type of pipes that are commonly used in power plants? What are the challenges in producing these pipes?
GRP piping is mainly used in two areas in a power plant, namely flue gas desulphurisation or FGD (for gas ducting, spray systems and recycle piping) and cooling water lines. Besides corrosion resistance, FGD piping should be abrasion-resistant since the scrubbing solution is highly abrasive in nature. Cooling water lines can be very long in a single stretch so surge analysis is a very important part of the overall design.

In view of the company's work for the desalination work done for the Hitachi nuclear power plant in Japan, how does the piping vary for nuclear and conventional plants?
It is a desalination plant delivered by Hitachi for a nuclear power plant. These plants are similar to any desalination plant.

What lessons learnt abroad are you employing in plants here?
In view of our interaction with the best and the biggest companies in the power industry, we have developed many new technologies in material design and fabrication techniques. These new developments become part of our design and manufacturing processes and are provided to our clients in India.

The Manufacturing process

The manufacturing of a continuous pipe or a sleeve blank is carried out on a mandrel formed by winding a continuous steel band over horizontal beams provided with supporting discs sized according to the diameter of the pipe required. The steel band moves in the axial direction sliding over the ball bearings inserted in beam grooves. At the end of the mandrel, the steel band is guided by an exit head into the mandrel inner tube, which supports the exit head. On the opposite end of the mandrel near the cam, the steel band is wound on the mandrel again. In this way the steel band forms a smooth surface mandrel with simultaneous advancing in the axial direction.

On the mandrel, a layer of surface mat is wound with polyester resin followed by glass fibre rovings to form a corrosion-resistant layer. This is followed by the structural core of sand and polyester resin along with hoop rovings (as seen in the diagram below). The pipe is finished with a layer of surface mat that is impregnated with polyester resin.

Human Resources

Apart from a large pool of engineers, the company employs over 350 highly skilled and experienced GRP technicians. It has a continuous in-house training programme so that there is never a shortage of skilled manpower. The management believes that employees are its biggest strength and has consciously followed HR policies to enable their well-being. 
The company ensures that its employees constantly upgrade their skills and thereby go up the value chain within the organisation. In this way it rewards continuous learning. Also, all the technicians are insured. It has taken up a programme designated as 'responsible manufacturing'. Through this programme it is setting standards which will set benchmarks for employee safety, apart from caring for their health and the environment.

About CPP

In 1964, BS Rajpurohit realising the demand for quality Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) in industries, established Chemical Process Equipment (CPE). Foraying into a field that hadn't been explored before, he established CPE in the design, manufacture and installation of FRP equipment and piping for the chemical and metallurgical industry. The company soon emerged as one of the largest Indian exporters of such equipment in India and made its presence felt in the chemicals, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgical industries. To tap the potential of the growing piping business, it moved its piping business to another company and thus Chemical Process Piping (CPP) was formed in 2004-05. Within a short span of its establishment, the company's sales turnover crossed over Rs 700 million in 2011. To take the company to the next level of growth, it has invested in the continuous filament winding plant at Vadodara.
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