Applied Machinery helps RPM Pipe develop cleaner recycled products

RPM Pipe explains how Applied Machinery helped improved its processing capacity, allowing it to develop a cleaner commercial-grade plastic made entirely of recyclables. 

It’s been a 20-year journey for manufacturer-recycler RPM Pipe.

In 1991, Chris Kay began manufacturing flood irrigation products in Lancaster, located in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria. Chris’ son Terry helped him at 16 and completed his boiler maker apprenticeship while working in the business. One year later, Chris proposed an innovative way of making large diameter agricultural drainage pipe from recycled plastic scrap.

More than two decades later, Terry has taken over the business, focusing his efforts as Director of RPM Pipe on developing a product made of recycled components akin to virgin materials. RPM recycles HDPE (high density polyethylene) plastics into commercial-grade pipes. The organisation takes wheelie bins from councils and milk bottles from kerbside recycling collectors, milk factories and a variety of other products from other sources and re-manufactures them into plastic pipes suitable for culverts, drainage and flood irrigation pipelines.

RPM Pipe also processes car bumper bars and a number of other plastic materials that cannot be used to produce pipes, and onsells them in granulated form ready for use and storage.

Over the past few months, the company’s recycling process has become cleaner, quicker and more durable thanks to a new Genox processing plant purchased from equipment supplier Applied Machinery. RPM’s capability to handle challenging agricultural waste streams from regional areas has also expanded, as it now has the capacity to process 200-litre plastic dairy containers used in heat spray and acid wash and other dirt-ridden waste. With the new plant in operation, Terry estimates the company can handle between two to three times more material per hour. After 20 years of development, RPM Pipe is now able to boast a commercial-grade pipe made of 100 per cent recyclable materials. It also provides a full processing service of many other types of bulky plastics.

The company has worked with Applied Machinery for a number of years. Four months ago, Terry invested in a shredding, granulating, washing and drying line by Genox. The system complements RPM’s own float sink tanks, which allow the materials to be cleaned before they are manufactured into new products.

“Our old system couldn’t handle contaminated products, whereas now, with the friction washer, two float sink tanks and the dryer, we can process a variety of plastics and more material that has been contaminated with soil,” Terry says.

“It’s taken two years of talking with Applied Machinery and others to get the right system to suit what we wanted to do – we wanted equipment that could work with an array of products.”

With more than 100 resellers of its pipe in Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, RPM is now consistently developing a product which Terry says meets council, government and environmental protection authority regulations.

“Being in a regional area far away from extensive markets means we have to be able to recycle as much as possible and reduce our transportation costs. What we can’t use in our pipe we aim to recycle and process for others to use,” Terry says.

He explains that the materials arrive on pallets from various recycling contractors and are shredded before being placed in a float sink tank which separates plastic waste from contaminate materials such as steel, glass and rock. The plastic is then granulated and reduced to corn flake-sized particles.

It is then placed into a friction washer to remove any dirt, before being placed into a second float sink tank where it sits for another two minutes to remove any residues or polyvinyl chloride plastic labels stuck to the materials. Finally, the materials are placed into a Genox centrifugal dryer which dries the flake-sized materials.

“It blows up into a cyclone, which drops it out into some bag stands and we bag it off into bulker bags from there. Some of the material will be sold off to others to use in their process. The majority of the material will be used in the manufacturing of our pipes,” Terry says.

As a steelmaker, RPM has developed its own processes and equipment to transform the recyclables into its own six-metre pipes of up to 315, 400, 450 and 630 milimetres in diameter.

Terry notes a strong relationship with Applied Machinery is crucial to getting the job done, and says he is able turn to the company should any products break down.

“Some time ago, we put a couple of chunks of steel into the first shredder that we bought from Applied and had no dramas at all getting it fixed.We received our parts immediately on request and they assisted us despite the three-hour journey from the Goulburn Valley to Melbourne.”

Terry’s fabrication business has also seen him turn to Applied Machinery for other machinery, such as saws and steel benders and rollers.

“We’ve been through the development of getting the process of manufacturing the pipe correct and we’re now in the process of expanding and developing our sales and markets. We’d have no hesitation turning to Applied Machinery should we require more equipment in the future.”