Since it’s inauguration into the North American market in 2012, Trelleborg’s pipe seals operation has seen great success and as a result, has expanded significantly. Initially leading the charge on his own, Simon Burke has risen through the ranks to become commercial manager. He now heads-up the company’s sealing solutions for new concrete manhole, pipe construction and pipeline rehabilitation in the region.
Here’s an interview with Simon, in which he discusses the trends impacting the industry as a whole, as well as company developments.
Q: What trends are occurring in the American water and wastewater industry now?
A: The issue which is affecting networks across the globe is aging infrastructure. In North America alone there are over 500 million people and a mass of underground utilities to serve them – most of which are reaching the end of their service life. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), $271 billion is needed to maintain and improve the nation’s wastewater infrastructure, including the pipes that carry wastewater to treatment plants, the technology that treats the water, and methods for managing storm water run-off. This issue will continue to grow, so it is vital that the new construction, upgrade and rehabilitation of networks remain a priority.
Within the U.S. the EPA regularly conducts environmental studies in relation to pollution caused by leaking sewers, overflows and so on. If an issue arises, the agency will put a consent decree on the city to ensure that it is rectified. This is driving the whole industry, so our knowledge of pipes and importantly, pipe seals, is adding significant value.
The aim is to ensure existing and new networks become leak free, preventing sewer water leaking from the pipe and contaminating the ground water.
Conversely, another issue is inflow and infiltration, where essentially ‘clean water’ is entering a sewer system. This often results in sewer treatment plants being overloaded, which, during storm events can result in overflows, not to mention the additional cost of treating ‘clean water’.
Q: How has Trelleborg’s pipe seals offering changed in the last four years?
A: I started my career in the U.S. rehabilitation market as a sales manager and began building a network in what was a fairly new market for Trelleborg. In just four years though, business has increased significantly and so too has our sales team – now seven people strong. In addition, we also opened a manufacturing facility here in the U.S., with distribution expanding across America and Canada.
Now with a local team on the ground, technical support, manufacturing and distribution capabilities available across the country, our customers are experiencing the benefits. For them it means a more conducive working relationship, quicker delivery, quality and reliable products, as well as technical support when they need it most.
Q: How does Trelleborg differentiate itself in the North American market?
A: We don’t react purely on a supply and demand basis. Instead, we work with our customers to drive the market forward and provide them with valuable guidance and support. As well as working with contractors, we also communicate with government bodies, municipalities and engineers to make them aware of our innovative capabilities and best practice approach.
We are involved with several bodies, such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and strive to keep on top of current and upcoming trends and issues. We use this knowledge to drive our R&D processes and also apply it to technical presentations and educational guidance that we deliver to customers on a regular basis.
Our solutions provide long term leak-free solutions to both new and rehabilitated sewer and storm water networks. Plus our range of trenchless technology methods enable rehabilitation of a pipe without the need to excavate, avoiding disruption and additional time and cost to a project. With a long history in the market and worldwide exposure, this enables us to use our existing knowledge and experience to ours and our customers’ advantage. Another aspect of our offering, that few other companies can provide, is a specialization in pipes of small diameters.