United Poly Systems is a premium provider of high density polyethylene or HDPE pipe. Today we visit with Chris Reiter, our Chief Executive Officer to discuss some of the latest product innovations, the UPS manufacturing and quality control process and factors that affect the customer decision process.
There has been lots of news coverage about UPS’s new Crystal Line product. Tell us about that.
CR: We’re excited about this new line. We recently upgraded our two manufacturing centers in Springfield, Missouri and Albuquerque, New Mexico, to be able to produce the tighter tolerances and smaller sizes required for Copper Tube size or CTS pipe. Compared to standard copper pipe, there are many benefits to using Crystal Line. There is no corrosion, no solder joints, a longer life span, more flexibility when installing, and, as we saw with the damaging winter storms, greater low temperature performance. Plus, it costs less. It specifically targets the potable water, reclaimed water and sewer markets.
You mention UPS’s manufacturing lines. What are some of the important parts of the manufacturing process?
CR: One of the most important parts is the material itself. At UPS we make sure the raw material is certified by our supplier. Our purchasing and quality groups make sure that the certification meets our requirements and industry requirements before we accept the material order.
Material traceability is another point. We store production codes and data for each batch of material so we can reference any production item after the fact with a simple printline code from the field. The certification is included in the shipping paperwork, and a copy of all documentation is sent to the customer. If there is ever a question about material origin or quality, or if there is a material failure in the field, we have a complete record of the incoming material, and can check how much pipe was made with the specific batch of material.
And our supply chain and manufacturing processes are compliant with the Buy American Act requiring U.S. Federal Agencies to purchase materials and products that are sourced domestically.
What about the manufacturing timeframe? When the customer needs the final product ‘yesterday.’
CR: That is correct. Many times, when the order comes in, there is an immediate need. In many cases, UPS can start the production line upon a completed contract since we carry stock of the raw material. As I mentioned, the product can be manufactured at either of two UPS manufacturing centers that provide a large delivery footprint across much of the U.S. We can deliver to multiple project locations to expedite project work.
Tell us about your quality control process.
CR: I already mentioned the steps we take for material certification. This follows through the manufacturing process and on to shipping. Quality control samples are taken after every stick, reel or coil is produced, or every hour, whichever is more frequent. Then, our CQ personnel check the entire order making sure there are no imperfections before it is loaded, as well as checking that the type of pipe, color and quantity of the final shipment matches the customer order. So, we check quality at every step, from when the raw material is received to when the completed order is shipped out the door.
How important is shipping in the overall process?
CR: I would say particularly important, especially when the order is critical to the project. UPS ships the completed HDPE product on either coils, reels or straight line sticks depending on the customer requirements. We can ship with three types of truck delivery: flatbed delivery, less than truckload deliveries, and hotshot deliveries with a single carrier for fast delivery. We have great relationships with our two or three top carriers. While we will occasionally give new carriers a try, we typically rely on our top, trusted carriers. Our logistics team takes customer service seriously. If we have a bad review from a customer, we request that that driver no longer be allowed to haul material for us. If we have a second bad report from a customer on that carrier, we typically place business on hold with that carrier.
What happens when there is problem with delivery? Do you let the shipper and the customer sort it out?
CR: No, we follow through the order to make sure the order is delivered and the customer is satisfied. Our logistics managers are encouraged to overshare shipping information, so there are open lines of communications between shipping and the customer. The customer knows they can reach out directly to the logistics managers at either location to find out the status of an order. Customers appreciate being able to check on the status of the shipment as opposed to hiding or controlling the shipping information from the customer on a delayed shipment.
Tell us about your distributor network.
CR: We have a trusted network of distributors across the U.S. Many of them are long-term distributors who know UPS products and can advise on how they best benefit their customer. Many of our distributors have excellent relationships with telecoms, utilities and municipalities in their area, so they know their exact need. This is a big plus to help get the order started.
Aside from common factors such as price and availability, what are some of the other factors that your customers have told you make UPS a trusted supplier?
CR: There are lots of HDPE providers in the market today and many factors our customers use to make a decision. One of the things we have heard, from more than one customer, is the responsiveness our team provides throughout the whole order process. We provide the same level of service whether for a standard order or an order with an extremely tight deadline. This includes all contingencies for customer satisfaction including fast response, a competitive price, fast lead time for delivery, and flexibility in the proposal process. Our goal is a satisfied customer.
About United Poly Systems
United Poly Systems produces quality HDPE pipe in diameters from ¾-in. to 26-in. IPS, 4-in. to 24-in. DIPS and ¾-in. to 2-in. CTS for use in many industries including telecommunications, power utility, water, electrical and oil and gas. The market for HDPE pipe continues to expand as initiatives to improve, repair and expand the country’s infrastructure are implemented.
Our off-the-shelf HDPE conduit/pipe is available in a variety of sizes, colors, dimensions and lengths, with or without stripes. We also offer fully customizable HDPE conduit options. In addition, piping can be customized with a ribbed interior (to maximize the distance cable may be pulled or jetted), pull tape, or a lubricated interior (for easier installation).
Success at UPS can be attributed to our vast experience, extensive client relationships, state-of-the-art manufacturing and quality processes. Our agile business model that allows UPS to quickly meet customers’ needs without the overhead expenses that are incurred by many of the larger producers in the industry.
Conveniently located in Springfield, Missouri and Albuquerque, New Mexico, United Poly Systems can provide quick delivery to a majority of the U.S. market.