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  • Innovations in Stainless Steel - Business in Focus - December 2016

    ACO's initial success came from its unique and innovative trench drainage solution that saves both time and money. The company's modular trench drains are factory manufactured and then shipped to site and installed. Manufacturing the product in a controlled environment ensures quality and lowers the production cost. In fact, pre-cast modular trench drains typically cost about 10 percent less to install than catch basin systems and 20 percent less than cast –in-place trench drain systems. Long term cost of ownership is also reduced by simpler maintenance and operational costs.


    The various standard lengths of each interconnecting channel makes transportation easy, while the male/female interconnected ends allow for versatile configuration and continuous sloped run. With up to 40 interconnecting channel sizes available in one system, modular sloped trenches can be as long as 125 feet. In addition, neutral channels with no slop can be inserted within that run to create an even longer system.


    ACO has a dedicated research and development department that continues to develop innovative market leading drainage solutions. The company’s latest innovation is in the stainless steel drainage sector. ACO Strategic Manager, Mark Haydon sat down with Business in Focus to share the lasts advancements in this area to follow up on last year’s feature.


    The company’s stainless steel drainage solutions deliver an affordable and hygienic drainage option for the pharmaceutical and food industries or any industrial facility subject to chemicals or aggressive cleaning regimes. The product is ideal for sensitive areas that require a more hygienic solution such as restaurants, wineries, food processing facilities, beverage plants, commercial kitchens and hospitals.


    “At ACO, hygiene always comes first,” Mr. Haydon explains. “Our HygieneFirst philosophy represents our commitment to delivering products that provide the ultimate in hygienic performance.” This commitment-and R&D capability-has allowed ACO to bring the first product of its kind to market. “We are the first company to incorporate and independently certify hygienic design principles into commercial drainage,” he says.


    “When we are talking about ‘hygienic’, we literally mean ‘easy to clean’,” Mr. Haydon elaborates. “Drains that are designed to strict hygienic standards allow the cleaning process to be more efficient, which reduces the risk of contamination while still controlling costs”. ACO’s easy to clean drains experience less soil buildup than traditional drains – and whatever soil does accumulate is easier to remove, right down to the microbiological level. Furthermore, ACO’s grates and removable parts have rounded corners so the product is safer to handle the cleaning process than other options available in today’s market.


    These attributes make the product stand out from the competition. “What we see in the market is a lot of floor drains and drainage solutions that are non-hygienic and have crevices and surfaces that actually trap and hold soil and are very hard to clean. You are generating problems for yourself in these environments because you can’t clean it, and if you can’t clean it, that means that the pathogens and the microbes are going to remain and there is obviously a risk associated with that.” Research shows that 70 percent of positive screenings for listeria in the food processing environment are found in drains.


    A sanitary processing environment is imperative in the food industry and maintaining a hygienic, easy to clean drainage system that helps achieve this. “Drainage can often be out of sight and out of mind – but unfortunately poor drainage solutions are so often a source of continuous operational and maintenance problems,” Mr. Haydon points out. “In the food processing environment, poor hygienic drainage is a potential source of contamination. We’ve all seen the headlines about outbreaks of listeria, salmonella and other pathogens in our food. In order to protect the quality and integrity of our food, steps must be taken to reduce the risk of contamination. An important component of this is keeping the processing environment sanitary.” Research shows that drains can contribute up to 30 percent of the total bacteria contamination risk within the food processing area.


    The challenge of maintaining food safety has increased as consumer preference trends move toward cost savings, wellness, and convenience. “Food consumption preferences are changing. Today’s consumers require products that are fresh, easy to prepare with little or no heat treatment and fewer preservatives. The food industry needs to accommodate these preferences but also reduce the risk of food contamination.”


    When the food industry fails to maintain food safety standards and contamination occurs, the results can be disastrous for public health and for the affected business. “Brand names can be damaged in minutes through our hyper-connected society,” Mr. Haydon points out.


    The government continues to increase regulation to boost food safety. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventative Controls for Human Food aims to make food producers proactively prevent food contamination rather than react to problems or foodborne illness outbreaks when they occur. ACO’s stainless steel drains can help the food industry achieve these preventive measures.


    The company’s stainless steel drains have earned NSF/3A certification, demonstrating their effectiveness at preventing contamination. Specifically, the company’s hygienic floor drains, hygienic floor troughs and hygienic cast and ladder grates for the hygienic floor drains will now display the NSF/ANSI 3A 14159-1-2014 certification mark to show that their hygienic performance complies with the strict standards and procedures of the NSF/3A.


    The achievement is an industry first. “As a responsible manufacturer and business partner, ACO has become the first and only drainage company to obtain NSF international is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization recognized as a world leader in standards development, product certification, education and risk-management for public health and safety.


    ACO’s innovative solutions are affordable and adaptable to a broad range of circumstances. “ACO’s stainless products are competitive against existing products in the market.” says Mr. Haydon. The competitive against existing products in the market,” says Mr. Haydon. The company recommends one-piece units as the most hygienic solution for high-risk zones. “If the optimum drainage solution ends up being long runs-10 to 20 foot-then it can have an impact on transport options and costs, but it’s a tiny percentage overall. What is important to look at is the lifetime cost of ownership with stainless drainage solutions. The benefit is reduced downtime for cleaning and maintenance due to the advanced hygienic design and manufacturing technologies. Additionally, the risk of employee and customer accidents is lowered due to rounded internal corners and anti-slip features on the grates. These tangible benefits combined translate to much lower lifetime ownership costs.”


    ACO’s products have become so popular that the company recently opened a new manufacturing facility to meet the demands of the United States’ northeastern market. The company’s original factory, located in Chardon, Ohio, was unable to accommodate the growing production needs, so a site 16 miles away in Mentor, Ohio was selected that could handle the company’s expanding needs, increasing product capacity by 35 percent. The stainless steel manufacturing facility in Casa Grande, AZ location has also been expanded to accommodate the growth of the company’s stainless steel division.


    As the company continues to expand, the team plans to keep leading the market across a wide range of drainage solutions. “ACO has an ongoing commitment to very high standards of manufacturing and to research-led product development, which ensures its products deliver optimum hygienic performance,” Mr. Haydon summarizes.


    The company will continue to work closely with flooring companies on the drain-to-drain interface research to ensure a durable and safe connection, and with a product portfolio that includes products to collect, clean, hold and release water, ACO is the leader surface water management solutions in both internal and external applications.


    As the first drainage manufacturer to become a member of EHEDG (European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group), ACO will continue to work in close cooperation with the rest of the industry to develop new guidelines for hygienic drainage in the food processing industry around the globe. After nearly 40 years of growth and success in the American market, ACO is well placed to lead the industry while forging ahead into new, innovative territory.

  • ACO Becomes First and Only Drainage company to obtain NSF Certification for Hygienic Drainage Products


    August 22, 2016 – Leading commercial drainage company, ACO, has become the first and only drainage company to obtain NSF/ANSI 3A 14159-1-2014 certification for its products from NSF International – a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization which is a world leader in standards development, product certification, education and risk-management for public health and safety.


    The NSF/ANSI 3A 14159-1-2014 standard refers to the hygienic requirements  in food processing. This certification shows that the hygienic performance of ACO’s drainage systems and products comply with the strict standards and procedures of the NSF. It also underlines ACO’s ongoing commitment to the very high standards of manufacturing and to research-led product development, which ensures its products deliver optimum hygienic performance. All of ACO’s hygienic floor drains, hygienic floor troughs and hygienic cast and ladder grates for the hygienic floor drains will now display the NSF certification mark.


    Commenting on the certification, Vaclav Tikalsky, President of ACO Polymer Products, Inc. in the USA, said, “We are delighted to receive NSF certification for our products. ACO is committed to raising standards across every part of the hygienic drainage process to help food and drink manufacturers, foodservice outlets, healthcare facilities and operators of other hygiene-sensitive environments put hygiene first. We are committed to the very highest operational standards at all of our manufacturing facilities worldwide. NSF certification reflects this commitment to high standards throughout every part of our operations and also our commitment to championing improvements throughout our industry.”


    As a leading advocate of hygienic design, ACO also has EN 1253 and EN 1672 certification for its Hygienic Floor Drain and Hygienic Trench Drain product ranges as well and all products are CE marked. ACO’s stainless steel drainage products apply hygienic design principles that are normally reserved for food contact surfaces – as listed in EN 1672 and EN ISO 14159. With a strong collaborative relationship with the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG), ACO also follows the best practice design principles of EHEDG documents numbers 8, 13 and 44 and was the first drainage manufacturer to become a member of EHEDG.


    For more information about ACO, the HygieneFirst philosophy and ACO’s hygienic drainage systems, visit


    Established in 1946, the ACO group has manufactured products for almost 70 years in the construction industry. It operates on a global basis through its subsidiaries and manufacturing facilities in over 45 countries in North America, Europe and Asia. ACO employs over 4,000 people worldwide. ACO stands for professional drainage, efficient cleaning and the controlled discharge or reuse of water and is committed to raising industry standards with regard to hygienic drainage.


     ACO Polymer Products, Inc. in the USA introduced the concept of modular trench drains to North America over 30 years ago. Today, ACO in North America is a multi-site manufacturing and sales operation using a variety of materials for its extensive range of drainage products for all aspects of building and construction. ACO USA has locations in Arizona, South Carolina and Ohio.


  • Putting Hygiene - and drainage - First


    Stainless-steel drainage systems are an increasingly popular choice with today’s public-health engineers and designers in the food and beverage, professional kitchen environment, and the pharmaceutical and chemical industries.



    Stainless steel offers a host of benefits compared to more traditional materials, including long-term durability and aesthetics. For engineers, the superior hygienic performance, ease of installation, on-site health and safety benefits, and system compatibility with other drainage system components are some of the key advantages.


    Due to the lighter weight of stainless steel than other traditional materials, less onsite handling equipment needs to be used, which reduces the risk of a manual handling-related injury. With reduced manual handling required, installation is easier and quicker, reducing installation costs and time.


    When looking at the performance of the drainage system once in place, stainless steel also is the material of choice for engineers looking to deliver optimal hygienic performance and lifetime cost efficiency. Stainless steel is easy to clean and its smooth surface helps reduce the likelihood of a drainage system becoming contaminated with harmful micro-organisms and bacteria leading to permanent residence of pathogens within the system.


    Ease of cleaning reduces downtime and costs. The high corrosion resistance of stainless steel also means there is no need to apply internal coatings that are expensive and often fail, negatively impacting hygienic performance.


    When manufactured to high standards and fully pickle passivated, stainless-steel drain products deliver the advantages of long-term durability, the need for virtually zero maintenance and high life expectancy.


    So what are some of the key things a specifier should look for when specifying stainless-steel drainage products?


    Clean Products


    With industry trends for fresher food choices, less preservatives and less heat treatment, recent research and improvements in best practices tell us the food industry increasingly recognizes poor facility hygiene can be a direct result of bacteria present in a processing facility’s drainage. It’s widely accepted that hygienic drainage is critical to any food manufacturing or processing facility, whether you’re an international brewer or your business manufactures ready meals for a major supermarket.


    As a result, the industry needs to incorporate the hygienic design principles usually reserved for food-contact equipment into drainage design and improve specification standards in order to mitigate potential problems.


    So why is your drainage specification so important? Apart from the obvious issues regarding public health and brand reputation, there also are regulatory and best-practice standards to consider.


    It is clear drainage specification should be a high priority along with the design of the flooring and other infrastructure items.


    When specifying hygienic drainage, there are some basic, practical aspects to consider to ensure you have a drainage system that mitigates hygiene risks and the likelihood of cross contamination.


    Choosing the right materials: Stainless steel long has been established as the primary material of choice in the food sector and where hygiene is concerned. An engineer or hygienic technologist also needs to consider operating conditions such as acidity and temperature, and more importantly to fully understand the cleaning methodology and chemicals that will be used during the cleaning process before deciding which grade of steel to use.


    Welding process: The manufacturing process with regard to welds and welding should include welds that are continuous, smooth, ground and/or polished to eliminate uneven surfaces or pitting. Overlapping joints must not be used, which would create a void that will harbor bacteria. Welds should not be made in corners. Smooth contours eliminate crevices that can harbor bacteria.


    Pickle passivation: If it’s not fully pickle passivated, the stainless steel will suffer from corrosion and pitting which, in turn, will lead to the risk that it can’t be properly cleaned. It’s essential that the drainage system is fully pickle passivated. Processors which use localized pickling or pickle paste run the risk of failing to meet longer-term durability requirements.


    Product design considerations: This affects both the functionality of the drainage and its “cleanability,” a potentially overlooked consideration in the product selection process.


    Designing with cleanability in mind


    After taking into account the considerations above, there are four questions you should ask yourself to ensure your drainage system design meets hygienic requirements.


    Is your design fully drainable? Drainage channels need to have completely drainable bodies with engineered positive drainage features to prevent the build-up of stagnant water, smells, microbial growth and potential chemical hazards. If the drainage isn’t fully drainable, its hygienic performance will be compromised.


    Does your drainage have rounded corners? Sharp corners are harder to clean, particularly if they are situated at a right angle or bend, which means there’s a very real risk that the corner won’t get cleaned effectively. To ensure every part of the drainage surface is easily accessible, drainage should have rounded component features and corners with a minimum radius of 3 mm.


    Can your drainage be cleaned without power-washing? In spite of what some companies will say, one of the worst things you can do is power-wash your drainage. Power-washing creates ballistic droplets or a high-velocity spray. Your drainage should be designed in a way that power-washing is not required.


    Operational considerations


    Health, safety and cost management are keys to running a successful business. Ensure drainage design optimizes the safety of the people working in and cleaning a facility. Some basic requirements include the specification of slip-resistant products and grates that are easy to handle to avoid injuries and cuts.


    In terms of cost, ask how cost efficient the drainage system will be in the long term? Is it easy to clean, reducing labor costs and downtime? This reduces the risk of drains being a source of contamination, thereby mitigating risk. Is it durable so it requires the minimum amount of maintenance? How easy is it to work with on a daily basis? Asking these questions during the design stage saves valuable time and money down the road.



    After these considerations, rest assured you will have chosen to put drainage first and, as a result, hygiene first.


  • Discreet drainage for Boston Marathon Officer Collier Memorial at MIT - 2015

    The memorial sculpture for Officer Sean Collier, was unveiled Wednesday, April 29 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, to honor the MIT police officer killed in the line of duty by the Boston Marathon bombers in 2013. ACO Polymer Products, a world leader in trench drains, provided 130 feet of the KS100 drainage system to the project, complete with a stainless steel Brickslot grate and access units.


    Due to the extreme winter weather and amount of surface water at the site, contractor James W. Flett Company needed a durable, yet discreet, drainage solution for the memorial. ACO’s KS100 system was selected for its durable polymer concrete channel body and four-inch internal width drain as well as the stainless steel Brickslot grate that blends in with the paving joints of the brick pavers at the site.

    Surface drainage is a critical factor to consider when planning parks, city spaces and plazas. Standing water can cause severe structural damage, including cracked foundations, settling, degradation of adjoining building materials and freeze-thaw issues, not to mention the safety hazard of water collection on pedestrian areas.

    Construction of the memorial, which was designed by J. Meejin Yoon, the head of MIT’s architecture department, was an engineering feat, given the 32 massive pieces of polished New Hampshire granite that weighed a total of 190 tons and the unique arched shape. The memorial is now open as a place of remembrance and as a gathering point for the MIT community.

    Boston Marathon Officer Collier Memorial at MIT
  • ACO Celebrates Grand Opening of New Facility in Mentor, OH

    ACO Polymer Products, Inc. is pleased to announce it has recently moved its Ohio operations facility from Chardon to Mentor. A grand opening celebration was held Wednesday, September 2 at the new facility in Mentor. Mrs. Johanna Ahlmann and Mr. Hans-Julius Ahlmann, President of ACO Severin Ahlmann GmbH & Co. KG, along with Iver Ahlmann, President of ACO Germany, commemorated the opening with a ribbon cutting. The celebration had over 100 guests in attendance, including ACO employees, contractors, vendors, City of Mentor officials, members of the local Chamber of Commerce and guests from the state legislature.


    “The main reason for the move was to help grow the ACO business in the United States,” said Vaclav Tikalsky, President of ACO USA, as he welcomed the guests at the event last week. “This move has given our northeast employees a new workplace with the conveniences and technology similar to other ACO locations.

    ACO celebrates grand opening in Mentor, OH

    The ACO team has worked hard to make this place look nice and functional. It has allowed us to install the latest production technology which will increase our capacity by 35% and help ACO to strengthen its market leader position as well as provide customers with better service and quality.”


    ACO Polymer Products, Inc. was founded in 1978 and the facility in Chardon, Ohio was ACO’s first manufacturing factory in the USA. Due to ACO’s growth and demand in recent years, the Chardon site was no longer able to accommodate the increasing demand necessary to support ACO’s business in the northeast. ACO found an ideal location in Mentor, Ohio, 16 miles north of the Chardon site that met the needs of expanding the operations.


    “This move was a success because of the efforts of both plants here in the United States as well as people from Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany. This day would not have happened if it weren’t for all the employees here in Mentor,” said Brian Parent, Director of Operations for ACO USA.


    ACO celebrates grand opening in Mentor, OH
  • New Patented trench drain installation device

    New Patented trench drain installation device.


    Installation devices for modular trench drains have been around for many years. Like other trench drain manufacturers, ACO has had a variety of installation devices over the years.


    Many of these installation devices don’t  work very well – whether they be bits of plastic molded on the side of channels or steel devices that the trench sits on, many of these devices are add-on after thoughts after the channel has been designed.


    With the new generation of ACO Drain design, ACO has taken the opportunity to design the installation device in conjunction with the body of the channel.  Apart from giving perfect alignment of joints and height the patented clamp locks two channels tight together as well as making sure the channels can’t float as the concrete is poured around the channel.


    The steel clamp mechanism works by using proven technology of a wedge to lock the device around the two channels.  The installation device is bolted to two pieces of rebar or other rod support the channels leaving a gap under the channel for the concrete haunch.  The installation device is ‘lost’ within the concrete haunch.


    The new ACO Drain installation device is available that fits both K100 and S100K 4” internal width channels.  A slightly larger devise fits both the K200and S200K and the largest device fits K300 &S300K.


    For more information please contact your local ACO sales office.



    ACO's new patented trench drain installation device
    ACO's new patented trench drain installation device
  • ACO WIldlife Copperwood Schoolyard Habitat for Environmental Education

    ACO Donates Custom Wildlife Enclosure and Burrow for Copperwood Schoolyard Habitat for Environmental Education Project


    October 6, 2016 – Leading manufacturer of amphibian tunnel and drift fencing systems, ACO Polymer Products, Inc., recently donated custom polymer concrete wildlife fencing and a custom fiberglass tortoise burrow to the Copperwood Schoolyard Habitat for Environmental Education Project.


    In 2013, Copperwood PTSA/Peoria Unified School District in Glendale, Arizona received a $10,000 Heritage Fund grant from Arizona Game and Fish Department to develop an outdoor environmental education classroom and desert tortoise habitat at Copperwood Elementary School. This project increases awareness of the environment, wildlife and promotes outdoor experiences for students to learn about nature via hands-on exploration. Phase two project development began in fall 2013 with the assistance of various community partners and volunteers, and currently is in the final stages of development. Customized innovative curriculum was developed by Arizona State University professors and rolled out to the teachers and students during the 2014-2015 school year. A grand opening for the site will take place in early December 2016. This project will serve as a model to other schools seeking to integrate outdoor education.


    The site includes an existing schoolyard habitat with several native plants and a small pond. The new adjacent site includes several outdoor classroom/teaching amenities and a new tortoise habitat. The tortoise habitat is surrounded by a 20’ x 25’ enclosure/wall and will be visited by hundreds of students throughout the school year, as well as various community groups.


    ACO’s wildlife wall system is perfect for the tortoise enclosure as it provides a barrier under the ground as well as above. The sturdy polymer concrete material and rounded top edges of the wall are safe for students to sit or lean on.


    "We truly appreciate ACO for donating the polymer concrete custom walls for Copperwood Elementary School's tortoise habitat enclosure, as well as the custom-designed igloo-shaped tortoise burrow for this important schoolyard habitat for environmental education project,” says Janet Sharkey, Habitat Committee Chair for Copperwood Elementary School. “ACO's generous, in-kind donation offers students the opportunity to safely and closely observe our tortoise when visiting the outdoor classroom and performing inquiries in the garden with Copperwood teachers."


    Goodman’s Landscape & Maintenance also contributed to the project with over $15,000 in services and materials provided for phase one and two of the project.


    ACO introduced the concept of modular trench drains to North America over 30 years ago. Today, ACO in North America is a multi-site manufacturing and sales operation using a variety of materials for its extensive range of drainage products for all aspects of building and construction. ACO utilized its knowledge of surface drainage to develop a proven amphibian tunnel and drift fencing system. The first tunnel systems were installed in Europe and North America in 1987. Since this date, numerous sites have utilized the ACO tunnel and fencing system. Wildlife guidance systems allow animals to be led safely to their habitats: amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals can safely cross under roads with a tunnel system and are prevented from reaching the road surface by surrounding fencing - a measure to protect both animals and humans.



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