Burgeoning demand for plastic pipelines, tanks and high performance process and materials handling equipment is causing Australia’s leading supplier of plastic welding equipment, FHS , to double the size of its Melbourne headquarters.
The company, which has expanded sales tenfold over its first decade, is moving this year to new 1000 sq m premises at Seaford in Melbourne’s south-east to cater for the rising national and international demand for its cost-efficient high-strength thermoplastic technology.
“The move will provide enhanced service and turnaround for clients throughout Australasia and South Asia producing light, strong and corrosion-free products, including materials handling and product processing systems,” says FHS’ Director Darren Poynton.
The move is being driven by rising demand across the industrial spectrum for high-integrity products such as polyethylene tanks, pipelines, manifolds and materials handling and process equipment to be used by industries extending from automotive, construction, chemical, food and beverage processing to wide-scale irrigation, geosynthetics, mining, quarrying and petroleum resources development.
“At the same time as global plastics welding technology has advanced to the level where weld strengths are virtually inseparable from original pipe strengths – more than 99.9 per cent original strength, for example - our plastics welding and fabrication customers have experienced an ongoing surge in demand from companies taking on plastics as alternatives to metals.
“And as industries appreciate the OHS and low-maintenance benefits of easily-installed plastic systems, the surge in our fabrication customer business has also been complemented by a surge in demand for in-house plastics welding and maintenance skills,” said Mr Poynton, whose company distributes nationally and throughout the Asia-Pacific such leading brands as Munsch extrusion welders, Forsthoff hot air welders, Omisa butt welders, FHS plastic bending bars, accessories and its own Superfusion brand weld rod.”
FHS is already Australia’s leading producer of plastic weld rod, with Superfusion production to expand further at the new Martha St, Seaford, plant. It will also expand its butt welding and extrusion welding capabilities. FHS is a leading Victorian supplier of poly pipe engineering services, including fabrication work and in-house and on-site welding of pipelines from 20mm-630mm diameter.
In addition to permitting greater stocking and production of spare parts and consumables, the move from its current premises in Clayton South will permit greater space for display and training facilities to complement a new educational website further developing the trend to plastics-based technologies and systems.
“This is not a cyclical boom – it’s more an evolutionary change in materials handling practices towards plastics rather than just a surge in one or two industries.
“We have experienced a big surge in business as a result of the resources boom, which has widely expanded demand for pipe welding equipment in the field as well as for plastic welding equipment in resources workshops to cater for new, plastics-intensive processing plants.
“But the growth in demand leading to our new training and production facilities at Seaford has been across a broad front. The plastics specialists we supply are getting strong demand for metals replacement parts in the automotive industry, for example, at the same time as demand is rising for irrigation, drainage and building products both out in the bush and in the city.
“Our own poly pipe engineering business here in Victoria is getting strong business from water and sewage authorities, power and gas authorities, and food and beverage groups looking for strong, hygienic and cost-efficient alternatives to traditional materials. We know that the complementary poly pipe engineering business we supply in other states are experiencing exactly the same demand, because they are the ones to whom we supply the plastics welding equipment.”
FHS expects to be fully operational in its new plant by the end of this year, with production and service at Clayton South being phased down as capacity builds up in the new facility to double present production and service capabilities. FHS also plans to initiate plastics training schools focused on major centres where demand is particularly strong, such as in Melbourne and in resource-intensive centres such as Brisbane and Perth.