The new Hanson pipe plant in Houston is a lifetime achievement for Ken Morrison. “We had a great opportunity to search for the best technology for this outstanding production facility,” he says.
His team's effort has resulted in an operation that incorporates quality in every step of the process. “We have the ability to produce, on average, one pipe per minute,” says Morrison. The innovations included in the plant design have allowed Mike Cline and his crew to cast up to 500 tons of product per eight-hour shift.
Pipe is produced on a three-station rotary turntable. The unit features modules for creating a wide range of diameters. The machine maximizes production by standardizing filling capacity. On each production iteration, the unit manufactures varying pipe sizes, as the total diameters of the pipes being made are 96 inches. The machine can cast six 24-inch pipes, two 48-inch pipes, or 96-inch pipe.
Morrison and his team have adopted technology that enables high-level production efficiency while maintaining an environmentally friendly plant and safe workplace. “We have provided the highest quality concrete pipe and workplace in our marketplace,” he says.
The new plant features a dust suppression system that practically eliminates any employee exposure to dust and welding fumes. Employee access to the plant's moving parts is guarded by perimeter fencing devices that effectively lock out any unauthorized entry. Cameras and sensors enable the plant operator to remain in an office-like environment, yet be in complete control of the operation.
Another important benefit of the layout has been the reduction of forklifts. All fresh pipe and pallets are transported on the conveyor system until the final checkpoint. It takes only two forklifts to operate the plant.
Morrison is also extremely proud of his new curing system. The unit features integrated chamber control that automatically controls heat and humidity.
A great challenge thus far has been enabling the operation team to fully take advantage of the new technology. He credits a team effort for making this happen.