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ACPPA: The Place Where Pressure Thrives

The American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association (ACPPA) is an association of manufacturers and other interested parties related specifically to the concrete pressure pipe industry. Involved in all aspects of concrete pressure pipe including design, manufacture, application and installation of concrete pressure pipe (CPP); the ACPPA aims to educate owners, specifiers and installers and research all things CPP.

As the authority on CPP in North America, covering both US and Canada, ACPPA has a specific niche due to its direct focus on CPP. As an engineered composite product, the pipe’s limit states design process is tailored to be specific to a project’s requirements and is more detailed than steel, iron or PVC pipe. Its uniqueness requires special education. As an engineered product, concrete pressure’s design attributes are not looked up in a catalog and is not typically something that’s covered in engineering curricula. That is why the ACPPA is invested in training and promoting the use of CPP.

President of ACPPA, Kevin Baas, has nearly 40 years of experience in concrete, steel, and fiberglass pipe design, manufacturing, quality assurance, construction, and pipeline design. Baas was selected President of the ACPPA on May 1, 2023, after most recently serving as ACPPA’s Technical Committee Chair. He is more than familiar with the intricacy of CPP and understands that a distinct, three-pronged approach must be taken by the ACPPA.

ACPPA workers next to large concrete pipe construction site

“The ACPPA has a three-pronged approach: Research, Education and the Audit Program,” Baas explains. “We perform research, we fund research, and we participate in research to improve understanding of the design, manufacturing, installation, and use of CPP. We also provide education services to owners, engineers and other interested parties through our website and through a number of other applications such as webinars, seminars, technical papers, and individual training. “The third of the three prong is an audit program that ACPPA provides for the industry. Everybody’s familiar with ISO and ISO audits to ensure that the products that are manufactured meet current specifications. ACPPA goes a step further. They have developed an audit program for concrete pressure pipe manufacturers that covers over 200 aspects of engineering, material properties, quality and manufacturing processes used in the manufacture of CPP.”

ACPPA developed the audit program based on the American Water Works Association (AWWA) standards, which is then implemented by a third party. The third party ACPPA hired to audit each of the manufacturing facilities and make sure that everything from material procurement to pipe design to pipe manufacturer, is Lloyd’s Register.

The research aspect of its approach is something that is extremely important to those at ACPPA. The association participates in research projects not only on its own behalf, but partners with a number of different Institutes and associations, such as: The American Concrete Institute, The American Society of Civil Engineers, ASTM International, AWWA, The Clean Water Council, AMPP and more.

“The ACPPA has a three-pronged approach: Research, Education and the Audit Program.”

The last — and by no means least — part of this approach is education. ACPPA values the education of its members and the wider industry as being a core facet of the work it does, and there are many ways in which the association achieves this. ACPPA provides webinars and in-person seminars where its members have the opportunity to present technical papers at various conferences.

Being a member of ACPPA brings with it countless benefits, particularly when it comes to available materials and accessing the latest technology. There are two software offerings developed by, and for, ACPPA. One is the Thrust Restraint Design Program (TRDP). Whether it’s ductile, iron, steel, concrete or fiberglass, all materials are subjected to thrust in their application and every industry has its own method of calculating thrust. ACPPA has the most technically accurate thrust design method for any pipe and it’s applicable to CPP. ACPPA has simplified this information for its users and compiled this into a software program that is provided free of charge to anybody that requests it from their newly re-designed website, Ultimately, this means that TRDP can calculate and design a thrust system for concrete pressure pipe.

The other software is for the actual design of the pipe. In the late 1980s, ACPPA and its member companies hired an internationally renowned consultant in the concrete pressure pipe world to revise and improve the design method for concrete pressure pipe. The consultant came up with a design process that then went through the AWWA approval process. That approval process included review by manufacturers, consultants, owners and other interested parties for technical accuracy and correctness and took over a year to approve. On its completion, AWWA issued a new standard.

“The American Water Works Association issued AWWA C304as a new design standard for prestressed concrete pressure pipe. The design method is very accurate, going through multiple load application scenarios. To simplify its use, ACPPA commissioned the creation of a software program called unified design program (UDP), which we make available to owners, manufacturers and engineers. While Baas explains that this particular software does come with a charge, he believes that its benefits far outweigh any price. “There is a charge for this software, but it will simplify the design of prestress concrete pressure pipe from the complex design method that is now AWWA C304. You can now do it simply with this UDP software and it follows C304 to the letter.”

Within the ACPPA, there are several different levels of membership. The highest is something that the ACPPA refers to as a “Member”. This refers to a company that manufactures concrete pressure pipe. As part of this membership, the company will have access to the audit program, an extensive technical library, marketing functions, and more. Associate members are those that provide services such as tapping or repairing pipes. ACPPA stresses the importance of service providers becoming associate members of ACPPA. If an owner or contractor hires an associate ACPPA member, it can be assured that the procedures, processes and materials the company uses all follow the ACPPA guidelines.

With the importance of safety and a need to understand CPP to the highest level, ACPPA plans to step up its education in the future. Its plan is to increase the number of webinars, seminars and training sessions it offers, and it has put a detailed roadmap in place. “We just completed one the end of September, which was a four-day technical presentation to a major organization in Ontario. It’s one of the larger water organizations there. ACPPA held an eight-session technical presentation spread out over four days on concrete pressure pipe from design to manufacture, installation, inspection, repair, and modification. We are going to make a similar offer to other municipalities and other water entities as well.” For Baas, these sessions go beyond reaching out to industry professionals. As he explains, the ACPPA puts great effort into connecting and educating the next generation of workers also. “Now that we’re out of the COVID bubble, we’re redoubling our efforts to reach out to people, including universities. We have a several potential opportunities to teach a class; by either performing as a guest speaker at a university, or by hosting a seminar at some of the top engineering schools around the US and Canada. By doing this, we can provide the best information to students and other people that are interested in CPP.”

In an industry where excellence can come down to minute details, it is vital that the professionals working within the industry are trained to the highest standard. It goes without saying that, in order to achieve this, you need to learn from the best. Becoming a member of the ACPPA is not just an opportunity to learn about CPP from highly knowledgeable educators. It also provides the opportunity to engage, connect with, and learn from, the most experienced people within the industry. When it comes to Concrete Pressure Pipe, the American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association is the encyclopedia of CPP, with the knowledge and research to prove it.

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