It's no pipe dream

Kingman company guarantees its products won't fail

JAMES CHILTON/Miner -- JM Eagle plant engineer Matt Hoyng (seated) shows off a bag of polyethylene pellets to city and county officials on their tour of the plant Wednesday morning. The pellets are the raw material that goes into creating the high-density polyethylene pipes the plant manufactures. Around Hoyng sit dozens of sections of pipe that have been notched in order to test their tensile strength.

JAMES CHILTON/Miner -- JM Eagle plant engineer Matt Hoyng (seated) shows off a bag of polyethylene pellets to city and county officials on their tour of the plant Wednesday morning. The pellets are the raw material that goes into creating the high-density polyethylene pipes the plant manufactures. Around Hoyng sit dozens of sections of pipe that have been notched in order to test their tensile strength.

KINGMAN - City, county and state officials alike were treated to a tour of the JM Eagle pipe manufacturing facility at the Kingman Airport Industrial Park Wednesday morning. Mayor John Salem, Vice Mayor Robin Gordon, Mohave County District I Supervisor Gary Watson and State Representative Doris Goodale were just a few of the several dozen guests who went around the facility with Plant Engineer Matt Hoyng and several of the plant's quality assurance staff.

Opened in September 2003, Kingman's JM Eagle plant became the first plant in North America to produce high-density polyethylene pipe up to 63 inches wide, and it remains one of only a handful in the country to do so today, providing about 50 competitively-paid jobs to local workers. The plant produces approximately 42 million pounds of pipe each year, which has been used in cities ranging from St. George, Utah, to Honolulu, Hawaii.

The tour included a slideshow courtesy of Hank Jones from Western Flow Marketing, who illustrated the versatility of HDPE pipes in transporting gas, water, sewage, fiberoptic cables and other materials over long distances.

HDPE's strengths include their resistance to corrosion or abrasives, their flexibility in installation and fusion to existing lines, as well as their ability to bend or flatten to reroute or cut off flow, then bounce back to their original shape.

While HDPE pipe has only been applied to municipal uses for a few years, Kingman City Manager Jack Kramer noted that Kingman already has used such piping to replace some of its aging iron and steel water infrastructure.

Because of their flexibility, he said, the pipes could be installed without need for cutting into the street, since they can actually be strung through a separate tunnel drilled using a technology called horizontal directional drilling.

"They're very easy to work with," Kramer said. "We use it in our service lines and we've never had a failure."

In fact, JM Eagle is so convinced of its products' reliability, the company recently announced a new 50-year warranty on its pipe products retroactive to 1983. The plant's visitors got to see a taste of that reliability on Wednesday, when Quality Assurance Specialist Mary Doherty subjected several lengths of pipe to various extreme conditions to test their pressure, temperature and tensile limits. One pipe pressure-rated at 267 pounds per square inch burst only after being subjected to 1,200 psi, nearly four and a half times the recommended amount.

Doherty noted that each batch of pipe ordered from Kingman's JM Eagle plant is subjected to intensive testing to ensure quality control.

For this reason, Hoyng said, none of the pipe the plant has produced has ever failed, and the plant has received no customer complaints in more than three and a half years. Upon completion of the tour, Salem remarked at the leanness and efficiency of the plant's operation.

"I can't believe all the automation," he said. "You drive by, and you'd never guess that there's an operation like this out here."

The JM Eagle plant is located in the industrial park at 4620 Olympic Drive. For more information about the plant's products, visit www.jmeagle.com or call (928) 681-7473.