In October 2011, Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok was hit by severe flooding, resulting in 815 deaths and affecting an estimated 13.6 million people. The manufacturing industry was severely impacted, with economic losses and damage estimated at over £27 billion.
The Thai government reacted by dredging to deepen natural waterways and building flood barriers, intended to protect riverside communities and industrial estates – however, several large businesses with international hubs in Bangkok also decided to take matters into their own hands to put their own flood defences in place.
CeTeau, a $50m turnover Dutch company with offices in Malaysia and Thailand, was contracted to find a flood prevention solution by several businesses affected by the 2011 floods. One of their challenges was to find a type of piling to be driven up to 5m deep into the ground, whilst being flexible enough to handle on site and light enough to transport in large quantities.
Upon carrying out a web search, CeTeau came across HL Plastics’ Liniar range of plastic sheet piling and requested samples, which were duly air-freighted across to Thailand.
In the past when plastic piling was driven into the ground, it had limitations as to how deep it could go before hitting an obstruction.
However, the engineers at CeTeau came up with an innovative solution; by using a sheet of steel pile clamped to a plastic sheet, then releasing the clamp and pulling the steel out, they discovered they could install the plastic piling to depths of 5m. Once installed, concrete walls could be built on top of the pile, ensuring flood water was unable to get either under, or over, the wall.
Plastic piling offers much more flexibility than the steel version.
The initial order placed with HL Plastics was bound for the Nestle factory in Bangkok. The order amounted to over 7,000m of sheet pile, which filled 7 shipping containers. The big benefit to CeTeau was that the lighter weight of uPVC, as opposed to steel, meant that a container with a 22 tonne weight limit could be filled to the brim; in addition, the design of the pile meant that the sheets ‘nested’ against each other with no wasted space
in between; both of these factors making the plastic piling extremely cost-effective to transport across to Thailand.
The team at HL soon discovered that dealing with a company so far away brought its own challenges. The time difference (Bangkok is 7 hours ahead of the UK) meant that communication did not always happen quickly; and the amount of paperwork involved in the export process was a huge learning curve.
However, these issues were quickly overcome and the initial project went ahead as planned, with huge success – leading to subsequent orders being placed for the next phase.
By the end of 2013, more than 75,000m of plastic sheet pile has been transported across to Thailand, and the CeTeau team continues to win work across South East Asia. The volume shipped so far is the equivalent of 47 miles long – if laid end to end, it would cover the width of Bangkok city itself – twice!
The CeTeau project team have hailed the HL Plastics’ sheet pile a success, mainly due to these factors:
- The lightweight nature of the pile makes it extremely cost-effective to transport
- It also makes it easy to handle manually on site
- It is made of recycled uPVC material, therefore very environmentally friendly
- It won’t corrode or rot, and should therefore last forever
CeTau Managing Director, Tijl Pieter de Zwart, commented,
“We are delighted to have pioneered this innovative way to install plastic piling to such a great depth, as it offers much more flexibility than the steel version. The team at HL Plastics have been very responsive to our needs and it is a pleasure to deal with them. We hope our relationship continues long into the future.”