Corrugated Piping can Help Solve Water ChallengesWed, 02/19/2014 - 11:23
The switch from concrete pipes to polyethylene pipes required a wholesale shift in the mindset of Juan Raigosa Valadez. When working for Bufete Industrial, he was accustomed to and set on the idea of concrete pipes, until the merits of corrugated plastic piping became obvious to him. “The larger the tube diameter, the thicker the pipe is. This thickness, involving double layer technology, provides mechanical resistance through the corrugated exterior layer, while the inner layer serves for hydraulic conduction. Having this corrugated exterior is fundamental if a tube is to last a number of years underground. Also, concrete pipes deteriorate due to the methane gas produced by wastewater, but polyethylene pipes do not,” explains Raigosa Valadez. It seems the revelation of Raigosa Valadez made commercial sense, as he is now the Director General of ADS Mexicana, a Nuevo Leon-based firm that specializes in plastic tubing for water drainage and wastewater systems. Plastic tubing has also proved its financial superiority over concrete solutions, as its light weight means it can be installed without the use of a crane, saving on construction times and costs.
ADS Mexicana was formed as a joint venture between Mexico’s Ecological Drainage Systems and ADS International, which had over 40 years of experience in the sector and was seeking the best way to bring its products to Mexico. The immediate motivation behind the formation of ADS Mexicana was to mitigate environmental degradation by providing solutions to river, lake and ocean pollution. At the time, Raigosa Valadez says the Mexican wastewater system contained both pluvial and sanitary drainage, raising some obvious environmental and health concerns. He explains that the situation has now evolved and project developers have to send sanitary drainage to a dedicated water treatment plant so it can be reused for other purposes. “For sustainability purposes, an increase in water treatment in Mexico would allow underground drinkable water to be destined exclusively to human consumption, instead of being used pointlessly for industrial purposes.” In order for this plan to become a reality, Raigosa Valadez reveals that ADS Mexicana has been working on developing its engineering department and installing as many water collectors as possible nationwide. “This additional treatment infrastructure would go a long way to solving Mexico’s water shortages,” he adds.
During the process of working on water treatment and drainage ADS Mexicana became a supplier of CONAGUA, the national Mexican water utility. To do so meant undergoing a rigorous certification process to show that ADS Mexicana had the right background and quality. Raigosa Valadez said that the company threw open its doors to anyone who wanted to visit its plant or test their products, which was part of its commitment to showing CONAGUA that it did business in the right way. “Some companies import tubes from the US and just concentrate on selling them, instead of following up on delivery, installation and general services,” he explains. “We begin talking to constructors at the pre-construction stage. While we recognize their expertise, we ask them to let us show them how to install our tubes and pipes in order to avoid future potential issues.” But ADS Mexicana’s growth potential does not stop at the water’s edge. The growth in the Mexican energy sector has also thrown up opportunities that the company is trying to seize. For example, the firm adapted one of its pipelines to run electric and fiber optic cables through it. “The main reason behind this was to attack visual contamination. In this way, cables can be installed underground. New residential developments are already seeing lighting and electrical cables being installed under the sidewalk,” explains Raigosa Valadez. This method of shielding cables inside plastic tubing has proven effective for various other problems besides stopping cables from being eyesores. For energy efficiency, ADS Mexicana’s solutions have also helped in places where transmission lines are affected by external factors such as wind. In severe cases, wind can cause energy shutdowns, which means significant economic losses. CFE has also used these solutions for street lighting and to prevent cable theft.
Across all the sectors it works with, from sewage to agriculture, ADS Mexicana’s research and development priorities run in the same direction. “Our tubes are not made for drinking water but for pluvial and sanitary sewage. Our tubes have more hydraulic capacity since the inner part of the tube is smoother, whereas a concrete tube has many pores. This increased hydraulic capacity actually diminishes the need for construction work,” says Raigosa Valdez. This one-size-fits-all focus has helped the firm’s sales explode from US$2 million in 2000 to US$85 million in 2010, showing how one good product can make or break a company. Now, with plants in Nuevo Leon, the State of Mexico, Sinaloa and Yucatan serving the Mexican market, ADS Mexicana is looking abroad. Land has been bought in Costa Rica to build a plant to supply the Central American market. The company is quietly confident that, even when working in different countries, the model that found success in Mexico will prove to be a winner once again.