SAN DIEGO, Calif.—Tubigomma Deregibus S.r.l. is marketing a silicone hose to the wind energy market in North America, claiming its product is superior to the EPDM hose lines now used in the applications.
The Padua, Italy-based firm, which does business as Tudertechnica, also put in place an expansion early this year and enjoyed good success in the first year its hose lines were sold in North America, according to Andrea Deregibus, the firm's chief operating officer who co-owns the company with his mother. He discussed the manufacturer's business during NAHAD's annual convention, held recently in San Diego.
Tudertechnica has introduced the SILRAD/L hose in North America to be used in the cooling systems of wind turbines after having success with the product in Europe and China, Deregibus said. It primarily is used for antifreeze liquid under challenging temperature and ozone conditions.
The hose has an operating range from -60° to 200°C and is manufactured with a smooth green silicone cover that is heat, weather, ozone and paraffin oil abrasion-resistant. The company said operators will benefit because SILRAD/L will last longer than EPDM hoses, so they won't have to change the coolant hoses as often.
CRP Industries Inc.'s new Industrial Division will market and sell the hose for Tudertechnica in North America, as it has done with the Italian firm's other hose lines for the past year.
“We're really concentrating on niche markets and specialty products, and the product that is really booming the last few years is silicone hose for wind energy,” Deregibus said.
To its knowledge, he said Tudertechnica is the only supplier of a silicone hose for this wind turbine application, and, as the product becomes known, some potential customers are beginning to ask for it.
It decided to focus its efforts now on the North American and U.S. market not because the area is the fastest-growing region for wind power, but because it still has the largest numbers of wind turbines, about 8,000 to 10,000 of the large turbines. And as those units need maintenance, Deregibus believes the SILRAD/L hose will get a good reception.
“If we were successful in Europe and in China, we should also be successful—with the help of CRP—in the U.S.,” he said.
The wind energy market in the U.S. is still strong, but just won't show the growth that China will, said Guy Renshaw, vice president of CRP's Industrial Division. “There are still wind farms being planned in the U.S.,” he said. “It's just that growth slowed a little bit when the government removed a tax credit. But I expect that will come back at some point.”
And Renshaw predicts Tudertechnica's silicone hose will be successful because of the technology it offers. “We are going to focus primarily this year on wind energy because they really have a solution to these maintenance issues with the hose. A lot of times, you see a third of (the turbines) are not spinning. So maintenance has become a very important issue as warranties go out on the whole turbine.”
Business has been so strong for Tudertechnica that the company invested $2 million in its factory in Padua to add production machinery and a 6,000-sq.-ft. warehouse, Deregibus said.
Sales were about $10 million in 2009, climbed to $12 million last year, are projected to grow another 20-25 percent this year, and should reach $18 million in 2013, the company official said. “The market for specialty hose is so strong that we have to invest,” he said.
Tudertechnica added four rigid mandrel production lines, where the rubber is applied spirally on the mandrel, then cured in an autoclave. The machines were put into operation in January, and if things continue to go well, the hose maker may consider another expansion in the near future.
About 80 percent of company sales now are outside of Italy, and Deregibus was pleased with the results of the first year that CRP has been marketing its hose in North America. Besides the SILRAD/L line, Tudertechnica makes specialty hose for a wide range of applications in the food, beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and other industries—many of them under the Glide- tech brand.
“I'm not trying to compete with the big guys,” he said. “I'm just trying to sell a solution to the customers. This is our main target. Things are going so well in the U.S. beyond my expectations that CRP decided to form an industrial division.”
Renshaw, who has 30 years of experience in the hydraulic hose and power transmission belt business, joined CRP in January to head up the new industrial unit. Historically, about 80 percent of the master distributor's business came from the automotive aftermarket, but company officials want the industrial percentage to grow.
Besides the Tudertechnica line, CRP also markets industrial timing belts for ContiTech A.G., a high-pressure thermoplastic hose line and a high-speed electric motor.
Renshaw said that the vision of CRP and Tudertechnica are quite similar. “We're both family-owned companies,” he said. “It's really about bringing high-quality niche products to the market. The Tudertechnica product quality and innovation is second to none.”