Lean and Mean. Portable factory spins out steel pipe within hours. (Photo courtesy of Contech Construction Products Inc.)

Why wait weeks and spend thousands of dollars transporting construction materials across the continent when you can make them right on the jobsite? That’s the idea behind a new trailer-mounted factory called the Mobile Production Vehicle, or MPV.

In addition to situations where large stormwater pipe would require costly road permits to move, the vehicle’s "ideal location is a remote site that is far away from one of our plants," says Andy Sabados, a vice president at Contech Construction Products Inc. The Middletown, Ohio-based supplier plans to roll out its mobile factory this summer.

The firm hopes to cut shipping costs while speeding up jobsite delivery. MPV marks the end of a six-month research and development program with several patents pending. Mark Kornhauser, vice president of operations, says the "key driver was service and flexibility" for contractors. The new design includes two, 50,000-lb trailers–one for production and another for support. Together, the MPVs can churn out 1,000 linear ft of 120-in.-dia, round corrugated pipe in less than three hours, according to Bill Zepp, project manager. That much would normally take dozens of trucks to ship. The MPV trailers can fabricate sections up to 35 ft long and 16 ft wide.

The machines are not available for sale, but the supplier does not plan to charge extra for the service. It expects the speedy delivery to reduce overall installation costs. After setting up the MPV, "in four hours, we are making product," says Kornhauser. The machines have "everything on board" they need to spin out pipe in the field, he adds. Steel must be trucked in separately, and the unit will run up to 24 hours on its internal fuel tank.

Rolled steel feeds through the mill at a rate of 110 fpm, through a decoiler, corrugator and cutter and then shoots out a side rail where it waits for a crane or forklift. Two Class 8 tractors haul the machines from site to site.

On the support trailer, a diesel generator powers the production trailer. A closed-loop water recovery system catches metal debris and cools the cutoff saw blade. Water runoff is captured in tanks and emptied when the machine returns to the factory.