Interview with CEO of TOPFIBRA on Al-Narges GRP Pipe Plant

In an exclusive interview, Mauricio Facchinetti, CEO and Co-Founder of TOPFIBRA, speaks on the collaboration with Al-Narges to produce Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) pipe plant.

Al-Narges company has opened Iraq’s first factory to manufacture glass fibre reinforced plastic (GRP) pipes. Could you tell me more about this collaboration?

I would say that with AL-Narges we share a bond of trust. Actually, I would say a commitment to professional ethics and also a determination to become leader in the production of GRP pipes, not only in Iraq, but also as a model in the production for other countries. At TOPFIBRA we have more than 20 years’ experience in this technology. We have installed more than 45 complete plants around the world. And also, we are pioneers in what is called Effective Filament Winding technology. That is the technology to produce these pipes, but based actually on numbers and I would say scientific analysis of the production of the pipe. Our common goal here with Al-Narges is not only to make this plant in Iraq, but to transfer all the knowledge that we have acquired. We continue developing during this year the Iraqi staff because our main goal is to contribute to the infrastructure development of Iraq with the GRP pipes. We firmly believe that the glass reforms plastic pipes are actually the most effective and also the most efficient solution for the safe transportation of water.

This means for potable water, irrigation, wastewater, hydropower, because it’s proved of 120 years of service life. Actually, years ago they were saying that despite there were 60, now 80, then 100 and 120, they continue increasing the service life because when we check the pipes that were installed maybe 40 years ago, we see that the pipes are still okay. So, we can advance the service life of the pipe. I would say the plant that we installed is actually the most advanced plant that exists in this moment in the world. The GRP manufacturer with continuous filament winding is a niche market. We know all the machines; we all know each other. We invested a lot in the last years regarding the new technologies, the new sensors, the new way of producing these pipes. After all this development and technology, we started to find the ideal partner that is very committed to have the top production of the GRP. So, we put it all our technology in this plant.

Does the collaboration have a time limit, or will the two companies continue to pursue the collaboration?

Yes, the collaboration doesn’t have a time limit. It’s a very long collaboration in this moment we are having our staff in the plant still doing continuous training to transfer more than 20 years’ experience. It’s not possible to do it in months. It needs years, actually. And so, the agreement that we have is that we have in the key function our staff for the plant to start to produce in the top-quality pipe from day one. But at the same time, we have time to transfer the procedures, the quality control all the way to the different type of pipes. Because this plant, is prepared to produce pipes ranging from 300 millimetres up to 3000 millimetres means diameter 3 meters. So, it’s a very big range. And the challenges to produce optimal pipe, small pipes, big pipes, are different. So, the staff needs time to see a lot of cases of production, 300, 500, 600 special pipes, strong pipes, thick pipes, or very thin pipes. With Al-Narges we decided to have this long cooperation and the commitment from both sides that we will not stop until we know the knowledge is completely transferred to the Iraqi people.

What is the factory production capacity?

The production capacity is around 7 tons per hour. The yearly capacity, it depends on the type of the pipe that the plant is doing because it’s not the same. If the project is one diameter, very big and very long then the machine is continuously producing. Or the jobs, as we call it, are different diameters. The machine have to produce that diameter and then the other. So it changes, but it could go between 15,000 to 20,000 tons of GRP pipe produced per year. And in my opinion, seeing the projects that Al-Narges have, we will go actually on the top values because they are extremely accompanying, highly organized with the planning of what they want to do. They know quite much in advance and their organization is in high level. We have it quite easy to work with them because they know exactly what they need in which timeframe. It’s very easy to keep the performance very high.

Do the factory productions meet the international standards?

Of course. Actually, we meet not only the international standard, but all the international standards because during these years we put these factories in different countries, from the United States up to the other part of the Middle East. So, we had to, during the year be sure that we were able to fulfil all the international standards in different countries, for example, ISO standards, AWWA standard, that is the American standard. This plant is capable to fulfil not only the standards that they used normally in European standard, but also in American standard. And all this has been installed in the Al-Narges factory.

What is the most recent country you’ve worked with, other than Iraq?

We finished a plant in the United States in Houston. Then we worked six months ago with Uzbekistan. There we did a pipe that is called Basalt pipes as they use another type of fibre that is called Basalt fibre. And we were the first one to do this type of plant. It was a quite special project that we did for them. And we installed the machine last year.

Was working with Al-Narges in Iraq an achievement for TOPFIBRA?

For us, it’s something that drives our commitment, we are very proud that we can be a part of the development infrastructure in Iraq. Something we believe at TOPFIBRA is where there is water there is development, and having the possibility we thank Al-Narges for doing this in Iraq. It was something very special for us and I would say we are very happy for that.

We also were happy to find the right person because sometimes you want to come in a country but you don’t find the right partner and it’s difficult. But for that reason, I wanted to say that for us Al-Narges has this professional ethics and also determination to do it and we need that because it is a very important project. It will have a very big impact in the country.

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