Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

FITTOM Report Summary

Project ID: 756698

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FITTOM (PVC-O Fittings based on MOLECOR’s Molecular Orientation TOM® technology)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2018-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Plastics are rapidly penetrating into the piping market (water systems, large diameter sewerage or under-floor heating) replacing metallic materials, owing to their superior performance and costs savings. Over time, iron pipes become brittle and are weakened by corrosion, which is a major issue that can alter the purity of the water, which also can affect the structural integrity of water nets bringing leaks, breaks, and pipe failures and finally may lead to tremendous water losses. Along with the depletion of natural resources, local municipalities and utilities are also exhausting funds to repair the problems (i.e. according to NACE International, corrosion costs $2.5 trillion annually to the global economy, roughly 3,4 percent of the world’s GDP).
The use of mixed materials in pipe systems, PVC and iron causes discontinuities, which are often subjected to rupture, causing important breakdowns, and being one of the main concerns for water management companies. Although fittings merely make up 20% of the pipeline system, they account for 90% of all repair work.
The solution to these problems is the use of an integrated plastic solution using PVC-O fittings, replacing common fittings in ductile iron, as it has already been done with pipes.
The main objective of FITTOM is the development of a new high technological industrial process for the manufacturing of PVC-O fittings, offering a cost effectiveness plastic solution for pipes unions where nowadays the only alternatives are ductile and cast iron fittings.
FITTOM will suppose an outstanding business opportunity for MOLECOR leading the company to achieve a significant turnover rise and a large staff increase. The resulting product will revolutionize the pipeline business threefold: in terms of savings on raw materials, energy and the reduced impact on the environment (100% recyclable); better technical performance; and a major decrease in European dependence on imported goods in this industry.
Before the FITTOM project, MOLECOR had already overcome technological boundaries and succeeded in producing PVC-O fittings. However, the transferring of the development technology to fittings was still in a prototyping stage. Important technical improvements are being done within the FITTOM project to reach an industrialized cost-efficient production.
To undertake this upgrading, we are going through a technical maturation, and improving the previous Business Plan. Concretely the current Phase 2 Project is focusing on:
- Maturation of the technology. To do this, we are developing, building and starting up a new automated-manufacturing facility, machinery and tools with industrial capacity to succeed in the market.
- Enhancing the Business Plan. We are validating our Business Model while promoting the project.
The expected final result is a validated manufacturing system, sufficiently adaptable and versatile to produce a wide range of commercial PVC-O fittings, aimed at placing MOLECOR in a global leading position also in fittings.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In order to achieve FITTOM’s objectives, several tasks have been carried out during the first twelve months of the project.
For the maturation of the technology, the project work plan includes two specific work packages: one for the design and development of the production system, and the other for the performance of tests for the final validation of the facility, machinery and tools.
- In the design & development of the production system, we already have completed the definition of the final product range and the setting of the technical specifications of the product and machinery. During the first year of the project, the design and development of the manufacturing system has been carried out as planned, and only a low workload remains for the second year of the project. As planned, the integration of the entire manufacturing system began at our Loeches facility (Madrid, Spain).
- Ahead of schedule, controlled trials were undertaken on the machine and the product. Test and validations on the product range (different types and diameters of fittings) have been carried out. On the fittings, dimensional (diameter, thickness, orientation), appearance (tools finish, orientation temperature, extrusion, UV rays) and geometry (elbows, reductions) tests were conducted.
MOLECOR has also worked on the access to the market of the new technology, carrying out different tasks of market research and stakeholders engagement, operations and marketing planning, and business model validation, without losing sight of the legal framework on the different national and regional markets intended to be reached.
Likewise, during the first year of the project an intense activity of communication and dissemination of the project has been developed, with the attendance to conferences and congresses, as well as the publication of articles, press releases and contents on the Internet.
In parallel to these technical, market-related and dissemination tasks, management tasks, such as the innovation management plan, quality management and risk management plan have been further developed, with the aim of ensuring optimum evolution of the project in all its phases.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The FITTOM project presents the first solution able to manufacture PVC-O fittings in a viable manner for this range of products and applications. Existing technology for producing plastic-fittings is based on injection, which requires very expensive moulds, and also large amounts of raw material growing exponentially as the diameter increases. Therefore, there are not plastic solutions for big-diameters and high-pressure fittings.
Based on the MOLECOR’s patented technology, we are working on being capable to make cost-effective fittings by shaping PVC-O pipes. FITTOM’s competitive advantage is that our moulds are cheaper than injection ones, and require less raw material usage than any other process. Moreover, this new systems have brought a vast variety of technical, economic and environmental benefits as they proved to be of a higher resistance and efficiency, being FITTOM the cutting-edge solution.
The final result of this project is a validated manufacturing system, which is adaptable and versatile enough to produce a wide range of commercial PVC-O fittings. The resulting end-product will exceed the common competing fittings in malleable cast and ductile iron that are currently available in the market by far regarding performance, cost and environmental advantages. FITTOM’s commercial outcome will suppose exceptional long-term performance fittings providing cost-effective and Eco-friendly solution for water management systems.
FITTOM will offer this new high technological product offering to Europe the opportunity to compete against the Asian market alternatives. MOLECOR´s strengths are its pipes business with presence worldwide through his distributors and licensees that will ensure the market penetration not only in Europe but worldwide.
The PVC-O solution proposed in this project will actively and impactful contribute to recovery of European market share in the international fittings trade. According to our calculations, the global market of fittings is approximately 92.000 tons per year, 40.000 considering only the ISO European market. Our forecast is that MOLECOR will reach an initial market share of 0,22%, reaching a share of 0,78% once we enter American markets (ASTM dimensions).

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