Interflow and Derby Rubber celebrate 20 years
Sharing a drive for innovation and locally sourced water infrastructure solutions, Interflow and Derby Rubber have been disrupting the pipeline infrastructure space with a clever solution. Celebrating a 20-year partnership, these two Australian-owned businesses have challenged the conventional limits of pipeline infrastructure, showing that home-grown innovations are still leading the way in the water sector.
Australian family-owned and operated
Throughout history, Australia’s success has been built around the ‘give it a go’ ethos. This mentality has not only contributed to 70% of Australian businesses being family-owned but has given birth to many world-class innovations through sheer determination and resilience.
One family-owned company leading the way in the innovation space is pipeline infrastructure company, Interflow. With over 84 years’ experience in the water and construction sectors, Interflow has gained an enviable track record as a pioneer in trenchless renewal solutions. Constructing and maintaining the community’s water, wastewater, stormwater and culvert infrastructure without the need for costly and disruptive excavation has been critical to the company’s success.
In the years since its establishment, Interflow has maintained its commitment to innovation, spearheading patented technologies and forging partnerships with other like-minded companies who are pushing frontiers in their industries.
Established in 1964, Derby Rubber is an Australian-owned manufacturing company, specialising in customised rubber products that survive the harshest environments worldwide.
By working with its customers through a highly-collaborative, iterative process, Derby Rubber works to understand the core of its customers’ problems, designing customised rubber solutions for the critical infrastructure field. Its capabilities include custom formulation and compound design, extrusions, mouldings and tooling design.
A partnership forms
Interflow approached Derby Rubber in 2001 with a unique problem: how to streamline the lateral connection repair of pipelines for customers and make this process less invasive for surrounding communities.
Interflow had previously developed a product called Interfit to facilitate the trenchless installation of its lateral connection seal. However, one vital component was missing – an inflatable ‘balloon’ that could enable the seal to adhere to the host pipe.
Interflow’s Operations Manager – Engineering, Kyle Twidale, shares how the two companies worked together to identify a solution.
“Derby Rubber was prepared to go down a development path with us, understand our needs and work through multiple design iterations to get to a solution,” he said.
“Given we were designing something that hadn’t existed before, we had to be willing to make mistakes and learn from them in a continuous improvement process.”
Derby Rubber’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Clayton, outlines why this partnership has been so successful.
“Both companies have innovation that runs through their DNA. We’re not afraid of a challenge and constantly looking to work with our customers to deliver better value,” he said.
“Through this highly collaborative process, we’ve improved the effective lifespan of the rubber from 2-3 installs, to an average of 50-60 installs per rubber.”
The ‘balloon’ – how it works.
Interfit is a world class system that has revolutionised the way that lateral repairs are made in residential areas to prevent infiltration, exfiltration and root ingress between the liner and the lateral pipe wall.
When the Interfit packer arrives at the desired junction, the ‘balloon’ component, designed by Derby Rubber, is inflated to the desired pressure. This causes the resin impregnated seal to be pressed hard against the host pipe.
Here, the packer is held in position for 30 minutes, to allow the seal to cure. After the seal has cured, the packer can be deflated and withdrawn, leaving the final seal intact and the integrity of the relined pipe restored. This process can then be repeated until all the house service lines in a street have been successfully sealed.
The durability of Derby Rubber’s ‘balloon’, paired with the robustness of Interflow’s Interfit packer, means that the process of relining lateral connections is more environmentally friendly, as the installation is non-disruptive, does not require excavation and the risk of sewerage surcharge is minimised.
Community reaps the benefits
A fine example of Interflow’s and Derby Rubber’s co-creative approach in action, the Interfit system minimises community disruption and increases efficiency on site.
Kyle highlights how this innovation has profoundly reduced potential construction disruptions to the community.
“We partnered to solve a problem to ultimately deliver our customers and the community with a more robust, non-invasive solution,” he said.
“Rather than digging up multiple residential properties to seal the connection between the house service lines and sewer main, we can now conduct multiple repairs from a single access point, allowing the community to go about their lives largely uninterrupted.”
Michael echoes this sentiment and shares the importance of supporting home-grown water infrastructure solutions.
“Because we live and work in the same community as our customers, we really understand their needs,” he said.
“Innovations like these are built to the highest quality standards by like-minded organisations with the community front of mind. Supporting local innovations like these is a win for everyone – our employees, our customers, and the communities we serve.”