Andy Cullum, Managing Director of Polypipe Building Services, explains how supply chain innovation holds the key to vertically rising cityscapes

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In 1989, with One Canada Square beginning to take shape at London’s Canary Wharf, architects and developers found themselves on the cusp of a tall building revolution that has redefined what construction in the UK represents. Three decades later the skyline of most UK cities have been transformed by the introduction of mixed-use, tall building schemes, which have encouraged a generation of young people to live and work in city centres.

The tall building revolution has been the catalyst for an extended period of innovation and ingenuity within the supply chain. This has transformed the way buildings take shape, making construction processes more efficient and less labour intensive. Polypipe, through its Terrain brand, was in the midst of using plastic- based systems to challenge legacy materials, such as cast iron.


Installed on Manchester’s Deansgate Tower, Polypipe’s P.A.P.A.® (positive air pressure attenuator) and Pleura Vent system regulate air pressure within pipework and eliminate the need for secondary vents in tall buildings

At Polypipe we know how much architects and developers have had to grapple with maximising space in and around building infrastructure. This has involved making room for water and managing it on every level by removing traditional secondary ventilation stacks, and using solutions such as positive air pressure attenuators like Terrain P.A.P.A.®

With the availability of space on site shrinking as every inch of value is squeezed out of densely urbanised neighbourhoods, manufacturers have developed systems that can be delivered to site, ready to install using advances in digital design.

The adoption of BIM has been used to great effect in supplying complex building infrastructure, from drainage and water supply through to heating and energy systems, while also providing greater need for fabrication services to deliver the digitised designs.

Terrain drainage stacks through Polypipe Advantage Service installed on a tall building development in London

The next great challenge for the supply chain will be to improve the whole life value and environmental performance of the prevalent products and systems used on major developments. With sustainability becoming a central tenet of many design briefs – encouraged by government policy, such as the Construction Sector Deal – manufacturers need to take the long view on sustainability for every aspect of new product development.

This evolution of thought is not new to Polypipe Building Services, which has been synonymous with the development of plastic drainage systems for more than 50 years. The business has been a driving force behind the rising use of plastic-based drainage systems in some of the country’s most complex building projects through our renowned Terrain brand.

MecFlow, Polypipe’s innovative new plastic-based water supply system is ideal for tall buildings

Polypipe has undertaken sustained investment in sophisticated technology to ensure its products are of the highest quality and are 100 per cent recyclable at end of life. Polypipe’s processes have also evolved with MMC principles, to ensure that the precise amount of product and material required is delivered to site from our factories. This reduces the need for spare parts and removes waste from the installation process.

Having led the way in commercial drainage over the past three decades, Polypipe Building Services has evolved in 2019 and expanded its offer yet again, with the introduction of MecFlow, a ground-breaking plastic-based water supply system for the commercial market.

MecFlow is a simple, reliable alternative to traditional water supply systems. What sets MecFlow apart from similar plastic-based systems is the use of innovative CLICKWELD technology that combines all the benefits of an electrofusion weld with clip connections.


This technology will provide a new way to design, build and install complex water supply systems, presenting M&E contractors and project managers with the ability to reduce on-site installation time by up to 75 per cent compared to traditional methods. Kits will be designed through Polypipe Advantage and then delivered ready to install on site, with minimised material waste, and just in time delivery.

The introduction of MecFlow represents a further expansion of the services and solutions from Polypipe Building Services as the business continues to invest in manufacturing and operational processes that can anticipate and meet the challenges of modern construction projects.

The rise of tall buildings in our major cities is a trend that is set to continue. With greater attention focused on the quality and performance of the products and systems used to ensure tall buildings operate efficiently and effectively, architects and specification teams need to rely on forward- thinking manufacturers that have a vision for the next 30 years.

Contact Details
For more information please visit the Polypipe Building Services website, email or call 01622 795200.

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