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Charlotte Pipe Opens its New Foundry

Oct. 31, 2023
The 122-year-old cast-iron pipe maker started operating its $460-million ferrous foundry in North Carolina, and celebrated its role in “revitalizing manufacturing in the U.S.”

Charlotte Pipe and Foundry staged an opening event in late October for the new iron foundry in Oakboro, NC, that it started up in September following a three-year construction program. The $460-million project replaced Charlotte Pipe’s former location in downtown Charlotte, where it had operated since 1901.

It describes the new plant as “one of the most technologically advanced foundries in the world and … a precursor to the future of competitive manufacturing in the U.S.” About 530 workers are employed there.

The Oakboro plant is about 30 miles east of the original location, and has more than 11 acres under roof, on a 428-acre site. It is served by a rail spur that connects Charlotte Pipe to a shortline railroad, and gives the foundry access to a wide network of resource and distribution channels.

Charlotte Pipe produces cast iron service pipe, extra-heavy pipe, and hubless pipe and fittings for drain, waste, and vent (DWV) applications. It also produces a line of "double hub" pipes. And the group produces DWV pipes products in PVC, ABS, and CPVC thermoplastics at plants in Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah.

Among other changes to its manufacturing process, the new foundry includes an electric melting process for molten iron, powered from a 70,000-MW electric substation. Charlotte Pipe maintains the switch from gas-fueled melting will eliminate 40,000 tons/year of carbon emissions, with CO2 emissions of 4,300 tons/year.

Vibratory-equipment manufacturer and integrator General Kinematics Corp. developed the material-handling system for the new Charlotte Pipe operation, including a furnace-charging system as well as a transit system for castings moving from the molding line through to the cleaning room.

“At its core, Charlotte Pipe has always been focused on reinvestment in manufacturing,” stated CEO Hooper Hardison. “The company is a leader in investing in a local workforce and revitalizing manufacturing in the U.S., and we also take great pride in producing products that are 100% made in the USA. The Oakboro Foundry is one of the most technologically advanced foundries in the world and is a precursor to the future of competitive manufacturing in the U.S.”