Establishing a partnership with a North American pipe and fittings supplier, Philmac developed a range of unique plastic gas compression fittings for North American polyethylene pipe to supply gas from the main supply line to the home, to any outside appliances that require gas. The fittings are suitable for appliances such as BBQ’s / Heaters / Fire Pits / Pools etc. This is the first application of this kind in the North American market which has allowed us to increase our recognition and create a product that has a unique point of difference.
North American pipe and fittings supplier approached Philmac to develop a compression fitting to complement their polyethylene pipe. A major challenge for us has been complying with the American performance standards as well as American material standards as we had material that had never been approved before. Meeting packaging requirements of retail stores has also been a challenge. However, working in partnership with our North American partner we were able to identify the performance attributes the product would need to deliver including which approvals standard it needed to meet. We had a clear understanding of target costs, who our target users were and what products they were currently using, from this we created a design brief to address these issues.
Philmac developed a range of compression fittings designed to suit the unique requirements of this application. The material selected passed stringent North American gas standards. We adjusted the dimensional modifications to meet North American polyethylene gas pipe sizing. We also modified the nut design to improve ergonomics for hand tightening. The internal compression chamber was modified to reduce torque required to fully tighten the nut. Also, we specially designed the internal stiffener for the pipe to ensure joint strength exceeds pipe strength. This has resulted in a range of compression fittings which have now been launched into the American market. They are the first plastic compression fittings of this type to be used for gas plumbing applications in North America making them truly ground-breaking.
The final product has resulted in a solution for the customer which is faster to install, is less expensive, recyclable, does not require any special installation tools and meets all relevant North American gas standards. A distribution agreement has been reached with a major retailer in North America and will result in the product reaching over 500 retail outlets during 2018 increasing to almost 900 during 2019. There are a number of other distribution outlets interested in the product as it presents a simple and cost effective way of plumbing up your gas products. Sales in 2018 will be close to $1million rising to over $5million per annum within 5 years.
Other Key Features
In the development of the product, design played an essential part not only in the mechanics of the fitting, but also its look and feel. As mentioned we worked closely with our North American partner and identified key features that the fitting would need to deliver which formed part of the design brief. Metal fittings tend to corrode, therefore Philmac created the plastic fitting which is our point of difference. The fitting also had to incorporate design features in its appearance including an ergonomic nut design but also a yellow colour to strongly identify it with its application. Philmac have now trademarked the use of yellow colour with gas fittings in North America which has allow us to gain higher recognition of our company. In addition, as the fitting is being sold in a retail environment the a whole suite of packaging including retail bags and cartons were designed to present the product in the most effective manner on the shelf. Philmac have been active in export markets for some time now and success has come through working closely with a customer to deliver a product that meets their needs. In the export environment Philmac are about delivering tailor made products that meet specific design requirements developed in conjunction with our customers. The North American gas fitting is a prime example of this and given the positive feedback and sales already achieved there are a number of further gas projects being assessed for development at Philmac.