Mueller Water Products, Inc. announced that U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company LLC (U.S. Pipe) will close its ductile iron pipe manufacturing plant in North Birmingham, Alabama by March 31, 2010, eliminating approximately 260 positions.
Production from the North Birmingham plant will be managed using existing capacity at U.S. Pipe's Bessemer, Alabama and Union City, California facilities.
The company had invested in a new automated ductile iron pipe manufacturing process and built a facility for this new manufacturing technology in its Bessemer, Alabama facility. However given the downturn in the overall economy and especially in its end markets, the company said that further action is needed to address excess capacity in its plants.
"The performance of our automated manufacturing process has exceeded our expectations for quality, efficiency and overall productivity. We believe it is the most efficient ductile iron pipe manufacturing process in the United States, and it produces exceptional quality pipe," said Gregory E. Hyland, CEO, Mueller Water Products. "As a result, we are able to consolidate production, eliminate fixed costs and improve productivity by leveraging the investment we made in upgrading our manufacturing technology which commenced operations 16 months ago. With the growing awareness of the need to repair or replace the country's aging water infrastructure and a residential construction recovery, we believe that we will see increased demand for ductile iron pipe over the longer term. We have sufficient capacity to meet any foreseeable increases in demand and can readily accommodate future increased capacity by expanding use of our manufacturing technology."