After more than 100 years of business, Dresser Piping Specialties remains a leading supplier of piping products to natural gas, industrial and municipal water distribution and wastewater treatment systems. Throughout the period, its products have been carrying the natural gas and water that flow through thousands of miles of pipeline networks in the country. Many years of experience have enabled Dresser engineers to produce a complete line of pipe couplings, repair products and tapping devices designed to meet the needs of these systems owners.
Dresser, based in the former oil-drilling town of Bradford, Pa., has annual sales of between $35 million and $45 million, and markets its products mainly to the natural gas and water utilities and industrial plants in both the public and private sectors.
The firm is a unit of Dallas, Texas-based Dresser, Inc. whose more than 8,000 employees work to supply highly engineered products and services to customers in the energy and related industries.
Dresser Piping Specialties aims to be a one-stop shop, offering an integrated product line that can be used throughout every stage of the typical natural gas or water and waste-water distribution system. For instance, water is removed from surface and ground water resources and purified at a treatment plant. It is then pumped through transmission lines and stored in holding tanks before distribution to industrial plants, businesses and residences. Dresser’s products are integral components along each step of this route and are designed for easy installation, durability and efficiency.
More recently, to expand upon its integrated piping offerings, Dresser started its Flo Systems unit, a single operation dedicated to providing the best-engineered solution in design, development and manufacture of multi-discipline projects. Through this unit, Dresser is getting more into components, incorporating products from several other Dresser units under the Dresser, Inc. umbrella. For instance, says Roy Sutterfield, the company’s marketing and sales director, Dresser just built a regulator station which takes natural gas as it is coming off a transmission line at 1000 pounds-per-square-inch pressure and reduces it down to 100 psi. Dresser makes these stations at its Bradford plant, using the piping and valves it produces here, as well as Dresser meters, gauges and regulators from other Dresser operations.
A history that began in the oil boom
In the mid 1880s, new natural gas fields were being routinely discovered, yet people in the industry had no way to get the product to market. Plenty of pipe was available, but there was no way to link it. About the same time, Solomon R. Dresser established the S.R. Dresser Manufacturing Company in Bradford, then an oil-boom town, to produce an oil well packer he had improved upon and patented. He subsequently adapted the rubber used in these packers to create a leak-proof gasket. The result, 12 years later, was the Dresser coupling, a breakthrough method for joining the plain-end pipe in the emerging natural gas industry. By 1918, more than two million Dresser couplings linked a network of thousands of miles of natural-gas pipelines throughout the country. The original company is still producing couplings in its Bradford plant, although today it comprises 500,000 square feet for designing, manufacturing and testing of a variety of pipe-related products. Its product line now numbers more than 5,000 types and sizes, including pipe couplings and pipe-repair clamps, expansion joints, flange adapters, large-diameter penstock couplings, compression fittings, as well as service connectors and saddles.
To help better position itself in the marketplace, Dresser has pumped about $7 million into the Bradford plant over the past 10 years, says Sutterfield, adding that the structure is just about complete. “We are a world class facility as far as making piping products,” he adds.
Processes and procedures have also been improved. To help find optimal solutions to critical piping application problems, Dresser engineers use three-dimensional modeling software for both new products and product upgrades. The company has incorporated robotics, as well as high-speed automated machining, welding and material handling equipment. These advances are intended to improve the overall efficiency and response time to customer demand.
The reliability of Dresser products is founded on more than 100 years of engineering, design and manufacturing experience. Its products have been field proven to provide exceptional safety and economy that both gas and water systems managers demand in meeting their system requirements.
The company adds modern precision manufacturing and continuous exacting quality control to assure that its customers receive the best possible piping products today. Sales agents work with customers on a one-on-one basis to find out what they need and then help them design, develop and test products to meet current and future needs.
Dresser products are sold to U.S. companies, foreign firms and third parties. Most of those contacts are in the U.S., but Dresser is looking into more foreign work and is currently engaged, for example, in a major project to supply piping materials in Pakistan. “Obviously being in business for 100 and some odd years, we have built couplings that are used all over the world, and we have been re-emphasizing that in recent years,” says Sutterfield.
Each Dresser product provides the user with features assuring easy installation, long life and operating efficiency. Dresser couplings have come a long way since their invention in the late 1800s. Today, the company’s bolted couplings, which offer a fast and economical method of joining steel, cast and ductile iron and asbestos-cement pipe, are used in gas distribution lines, at water treatment facilities, distribution mains and beyond. They will tolerate expansion, contraction, vibration and line deflection and, in some instances, feature a seal and restraint design. They are available in regular, insulating, long body, reducing and transition types and come in cast-iron construction, steel stainless or carbon steel or other alloys for special applications.
The company’s product line has grown to include expansion joints and flanged adapters, which are also used whenever expansion, contraction or vibration problems occur to reduce harmful stress on valves, pumps and fittings. Its compression fittings create permanently tight, flexible joints on steel and polyethylene pipe and copper tubing in two-inch diameters and less. Other products round out what has proved to be an integrated product offering. Pipe repair clamps and sleeves are available to repair holes, splits and cracks in most commonly used pipe. Service saddles and connectors make quick and easy service connections on steel, cast and ductile iron, asbestos-cement or PVC pipe and tapping sleeves and line-stop fittings are designed to provide optimum sealing for long-term performance on distribution pipelines.
Today, Dresser is a lot more than a pipe coupling business. In listening to customers and identifying needs, the company continues its work to improve integrated piping solutions that add value for its customers by reducing costs and lowering maintenance and ultimately having impact on their bottom line.