The Hanson Pressure Pipe manufacturing plant in Hattiesburg, MS, has proved that NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) can work in both directions. With all the talk about U.S. jobs going to Mexico, Hanson had the opportunity to sell their product to a Mexican construction project.
The Federal Commission of Electricity's (CFE) project to construct Mexico's first supercritical-pressure coal-fired power plant is being built in Lazaro Cardenas. With the capability to generate 700 megawatts of electricity, the plant will be one of the country's largest power plants upon its completion in 2010.
Techint of Italy and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), under contract to CFE, selected Hanson Pressure Pipe for a significant role in the design and manufacturing of the plant's cooling water pipe system, which required more than 200 individual pipe and fitting sections for the estimated $1-billion project. The cooling water pipe system demanded several different sizes of pipe up to 144 inches in diameter — a size matched by only a few of the largest plant projects in the world.
The plant is located in a highly active seismic area, which means the circulating water pipe had to be designed to withstand significant vertical loads and lateral movements, which are imposed on the pipe during a seismic event. Hanson managed an extensive seismic design analysis performed on the piping system, a procedure not routine to this industry, and a difficult task considering the notably large pipe diameters up to 144 inches.
Hanson Pressure Pipe, a division of Hanson Building Products North America, is one of the largest manufacturers of pressure pipe in North America, with nine pressure pipe facilities in the U.S. and Canada and more than 1,000 employees. Although Hanson manufactures pipe at several locations in Texas, closer to Mexico than the Mississippi plant, those facilities either do not make pressure pipe or could not make pipe as large as was needed.
"The 144-inch pipe was within the range of our equipment," said Kevin Baas, plant manager of the Hanson Pressure Pipe manufacturing plant in Hattiesburg. To customize the pipe for this seismic design, "we built a stronger pipe by adding more pre-stressing wire than would normally be required for this size of pipe."
"We came into this project ready for the challenge, knowing that it required the most sophisticated design and engineering in a short time frame," said Richard Manning, president of Hanson Building Products North America.
This job came at a busy time during the plant's production of pipe for a significant number of long-range power projects, according to Baas.
"The fairly aggressive schedule required us to have pipe in about 60 days from the release of the project," Baas explained. "We had to make arrangements to meet the aggressive installation schedule they were trying to maintain. We put on additional employees and worked overtime to meet the schedule."
In addition to the design and manufacturing elements, Hanson Pressure Pipe also planned and executed the transportation plan for the shipment of the large-diameter pipe from Hattiesburg, MS, to Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico — approximately 1,200 miles. Hanson formulated a plan that accounted for time sensitive needs, ensuring that material reached the destination in sequence according to the site's installation schedule with the use of more than 200 truckloads, most of which were loaded with the oversized pipe weighing up to 65,000 pounds.
"This project allowed us to reach longer distances into a new market and participate in a region where we would not normally participate," said Baas.
"Ventures such as this one are inspiring because not only is it the first of its kind in Mexico, but it is the optimum time to set a mark for supercritical-pressure coal-fired power generation," said Clifford Hahne, president of Hanson Pressure Pipe.
The creation of Mexico's first supercritical-pressure coal-fired power plant will benefit the economy in Mexico at a time when oil and natural gas prices are at their peak. The environmentally friendly plant uses higher steam temperatures, is more fuel-efficient, and reduces consumption of coal and carbon dioxide.