• Freestyle Grates

    Freestyle Grates


    Flexible production tools make it possible to create unique grate designs for projects on a standard grate.


    Architectural features such as entrances, promenades, courtyards and landscaped areas, whether public or private, can all have their appearance enhanced through the use of Freestyle

    and Exotic grates. Freestyle Grates offer a semi-custom option with the opportunity to design the top surface look of an iron grate to complement any project design. When the grate design and/or material becomes a focal point, exotic grates can be fully customized with a variety of materials and/or finishes to suit specific requirements.


    Flexible production tools make it possible to create unique grate designs for projects with a custom surface design on a standard KlassikDrain DrainLok grate.The two-part tool consists of a standard lower part to provide the structural support of the grate and a customizable top part where unique designs can be created.


    Read more: http://www.acodrain.us/freestyle.html.




  • ACO Announces Kroy McLean as New President



    CASA GRANDE, June 13, 2017 – ACO, Inc. is pleased to announce Kroy McLean as their new President of the USA operations. Kroy assumed responsibilities on June 5, 2017 and succeeds Vaclav Tikalsky, who was appointed in January to another ACO company.


    Kroy comes to ACO from Allegion, where he served as the Vice President of Strategic Sales for the past three years. During that time, he led the sales operation of door hardware and electronic security solutions for strategic channels within the Americas business. Kroy is relocating to the Phoenix area with his family and will work out of the Casa Grande, Arizona ACO location.


    “I am excited to be a part of this great business as we seek to more closely align with the needs of our customers, employees, and stakeholders. ACO has a tremendous heritage and is well positioned to deliver increased value in the marketplace. I look forward to working with our employees and our customers as we continue to build on the success of the past several years.”


    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, Inc. 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 Casa Grande, AZ; Mentor, OH and Fort Mill, SC.


    For more information on ACO, Inc., please visit www.acousa.com.



  • Solutions for the Drainage Dilemma

    A quick perusal of once-popular English literature would show that the Victorians, and indeed a century of their predecessors, were eager to adopt any innovations to improve drainage. While most agrarian societies fought weather, taxes, and landlords to keep crops in the field, drainage for them and the estate managers was key to “turning profitless waste into land fit for tillage and pasture.” On the other hand, crowded urban dwellers were repulsed by the lack of conveyance to remove standing water, rain, and sewage; the term drainage (and the lack of it) for them connoted entirely different circumstances.


    Without the seemingly limitless expanse of land in the US, Britain and small European countries devised ingenious plans to drain land for profitable use. Looking back today on some of those Victorian novels whose droning prose on the dilemmas of drainage bored most of us into oblivion as we waded through years of requisite reading, we can now appreciate the immense challenges of earlier engineers and landowners.


    Then as now, drainage for the landowners presented a simple choice between profit and loss. While this still holds, today the stakes are higher and far more complicated. Regulations, human safety, public health, transportation access, environmental conservation, and more are the measures that guide drainage efforts.


    And we have something our ancestors didn’t: tough and durable piping systems made from the latest formulations of concrete, plastics, and engineered corrugated steel.


    Dutch Determination Demands the Best

    Holland, MI, located in Ottawa County on the east side of Lake Michigan about two hours north of Chicago, was originally founded by Dutch Calvinist separatists. Settling in the 1840s near the Black River that streamed to Lake Macatawa and led to Lake Michigan, they established a First Reformed Church and founded Hope College, which was chartered by the state in 1866.


    John Tenpas, civil group manager with Driesenga and Associates in Grand Rapids, MI, describes the latest project to create a new home to the school’s musical arts program, the building of the Jack Miller Center for Musical Arts. “The goal was to move the music facility to a vacant site that the college had purchased from the city with the help of significant private donors. Driesenga played a very important role in geotechnical services. “We led the site design effort with evaluation of site soils and recommendations for foundations, floors, retaining walls, and excavation stability.”


    He adds that the comprehensive evaluation was crucial because the site had been vacant and planning, literally from the ground up, was necessary to address the significant increase in runoff volume that would be created. Another aspect was the overarching concern for the appearance of the project.


    “It was very important that all the drainage and stormwater systems were virtually invisible. The aesthetic of this project was paramount, and we had to come up with unobtrusive but effective drainage features,” says Tenpas. He notes that the facility faces the street, and with “thousands of cars passing each day, high pedestrian traffic, and a wide range of performances, we didn’t want to mar the aesthetic presentation with drainage features such as round iron castings and typical drainage elements that would detract from the stunning brick and glass façade.”


    The new 43,000-square-foot center has an acoustically superior concert hall that seats 800, as well as offices, classrooms, practice rooms, and rehearsal halls. The civil engineers successfully accommodated both drainage and appearance demands. They developed a grading plan that accommodated the architect’s vision to include barrier-free ramps and short knee walls, with water managed through a 300-foot trench train.


    “We used Brickslot from ACO Drain, which is a very discreet drainage solution,” says Tenpas. “One of the concerns we had was keeping the area free of water and snow while at the same time using a product that was smooth. You don’t want people in dress shoes getting caught in typical drain surfaces, nor have them slip on snow or ice buildup.”


    Tenpas says that the Brickslot trench drain was installed in five sections, with the longest being 114 feet and the shortest about 32 feet. These were positioned under pavers where the land was graded to slope away from the building. The collected water is conveyed to an underground retaining system, which ties into the city of Holland’s stormwater system. The drain is virtually invisible.

    ACO spokesperson Jaclyn Revis describes the durability of what’s not seen underground. “The modular trench that the Brickslot fits over between the pavers comes in 2- to 12-inch internal widths, and these are available with up to 130 feet of built-in continuous slope. These trench drains underground are made from either corrosion-resistant polymer concrete, a durable material made of polyester resin reinforced with mineral aggregates and fillers, or fiberglass, depending on the application.”


    But in any case, they’re tough enough to handle the demands of anything from the light surface traffic of pedestrians to the weight of jumbo jets on airport surfaces.


    Looking very much like a long mail slot on the surface, the stainless steel product conveys water to the U-shaped pipes below, then to “a storm retention system that first has an isolator row where sediment settles out, and as that fills up, the water rises and is stored in a chamber, which then exits to the city stormwater system,” explains Tenpas. “Everyone loves this product and how it solved our drainage collection in a manner that is completely unobtrusive. The architect and the building owners are thrilled at the result.”


    Keeping the Public Safe

    One of northern Indiana’s largest architecture and engineering firms, MSKTD and Associates, was recently tasked with solving the drainage problem of a local community centerpiece, says engineer Kerry Schoeph. He relates the success of the project for the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, IN. While the term “war memorial” typically conjures an image of a bronze pedestal and saber-brandishing military figure on a dynamic horse, Allen County’s is a very different kind of war memorial.


    Voted into existence by taxpayers in 1946, the founding mission stipulated that the Memorial Coliseum be a “living memorial,” a venue to bring mixed-use events and entertainment to the public, thereby ensuring its existence in perpetuity as tribute to all war veterans. The current Coliseum, Schoeph says, is Fort Wayne’s major event center and can hold an audience of 8,000 to 10,000 visitors.


    “We have a number of public events, such as basketball games, hockey, and entertainment headliners, and the Memorial needed to update its main entrance to accommodate ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] issues and create better drainage for public safety.”


    Schoeph says his firm became involved to design a means whereby water, snow, and ice would not endanger visitors. “At the same time, the owners wanted the entrance to be like a plaza so that visitors would not have to step up on a curb, and to make it easier for events like farm shows where exhibitors bring tractors or combines that can be displayed on the plaza.”


    The designers chose to make the entrance ADA friendly by making the walkway flush with the adjacent drive. The plaza incorporates a snowmelt system to eliminate the need for salt and chemicals.


    “We used a polymer concrete trench drain between the drive and parking lot,” he explains. “When it rains, or when the ice and snow melts, the trench drain catches that runoff, which in turn is discharged into the underground storm system.”


    He adds that installing the underground snow melt system (a series of continuously flowing, heated glycol- and water-filled pipes below the surface) also helps water quality by reducing the introduction of pollutants to the storm sewer system.


    In total, Schoeph says, 286 feet of ACO S100K trench drain was used. The 6-inch-wide, U-shaped drain is made of polymer concrete and has a 4-inch, ADA-compliant slotted iron surface grate. The drain conveys runoff to a 24-inch main pipe.


    “It’s more than just a storm drain,” he notes. “It serves to collect the snow melt and get it away and keep the public safe.”


    This completed project, Schoeph says, “blends well with the large 62,000-square-foot conference center adjacent to the Memorial that we had recently completed.”


    No More “High Anxiety”

    Sitting in busy city traffic watching the latest high-rise building project while a nearby crane picks up a load of pipes and swings them over to the job site might be just a little unnerving. But Jason LaValley, CEO of Minnesota-based LaValley Industries and inventor of the Deckhand pipe-handling system, says his innovations can put everyone’s mind to rest. He explains that his in-the-trenches experience and witnessing an employee’s tragic injury in the directional drilling industry were more than enough incentive to find improvements.


    “During my onsite work I witnessed numerous accidents as workers handled the dangerous task of unloading and loading drill pipe, acting as human deckhands. Guys were getting injured, some pretty seriously, with broken hands, broken legs, pinched fingers, and more, and I kept thinking, with the technology of the 21st century, why don’t we have better tools to do these jobs?”


    He says the last straw occurred when one of his crewmembers got his leg caught between pipes and his ankle was crushed.


    “That night I sat down and sketched out the concept for the Deckhand, and as they say, the rest is still making history.”


    Today, the Deckhand, and its interchangeable and customizable arms, is used on job sites all over the world. LaValley says the Deckhand “mounts to any brand of excavator, and the operator in the cab of the excavator controls all functions.”


    He adds, “The Deckhand can grab anything from 4-inch- to 56-inch-diameter pipe and has special wear pads that protect the pipe coating. You can use this for any application where you need to pick up pipes—steel, concrete, you name it. The lift is absolutely secure, with no swinging or lateral movement.”


    And because of integrated safety features, such as load control valves, pipe is never dropped, regardless of the hydraulic pressure. “You pick up your load and put it where you want it, just like a hand—hence the name Deckhand,” he says.


    The danger of handling pipe is just one of the problems workers face onsite. “Take the dilemma of exit side operations during horizontal drilling,” he says. “When drilling under a river or roadway, for example, the drill rig rotates the pipe, but when you get to the other side, how do you get the pipes apart?”


    LaValley invented the Tonghand exit side wrench for just this purpose. Nicknamed “Rig on a Stick,” the Tonghand can be used as a vise and pipe handler to easily make and break pipe joints with up to 120,000 foot-pounds of torque. Like the Deckhand, it can be attached to any brand of 30- to 36-metric ton excavator.


    With its patented roller arms and shift function, operators can both thread and unthread all drill pipe connections directly from inside the unit. He says that the tool can do in 8 to 10 minutes in what could take 30 to 45 minutes of work for a crew to perform, while vastly reducing the risk of personnel injuries.


    Although other products are available for handling pipe, says LaValley, “There are not many people who are designing for the industry who actually are guys from that industry. I’ve seen the hardships, the safety hazards, and the efficiency problems, and I try to address them all when designing our products.”


    Honoring an American Legacy

    Henrico County, VA, has more than 400 years history to boast about in the settlement of the US. A new housing development there is named for one of the earliest founders. John Rolfe, who left England in 1609, is remembered, among other things, as the former husband of Pocahontas. Notably, he was also the founder of a significant American enterprise that was key to saving the colony from financial ruin—Virginia tobacco.


    According to Jonathan Jackson, director of engineering with Henrico County-based Bowman Consulting, a recent project successfully addressed the challenges of both a complex site and complex state and local stormwater regulations.


    “Our client, Markel|Eagle, had a 10-acre property they wanted to develop into 40 single-family units, and as civil engineering site development specialists, we were contracted for those engineering services,” he explains. “This site drains to the James River watershed and is subject to both the relatively new Virginia Runoff Reduction Method criteria and the county’s 50-year post-development/10-year predevelopment stormwater detention requirements.”


    Jackson explains that the undeveloped property had more than 30 feet of fall across the site, and engineers needed to address the public’s concerns that stormwater runoff could potentially affect the surrounding established neighborhoods.


    “While the underground detention system that is in use is a more complex solution at the outset, in fact we think this is a better long-term solution for the property’s stormwater management and the aesthetics for residents,” says Jackson.


    Typically, the county requires an aboveground conventional sediment basin that is maintained until at least 80% of the homes at a site are developed. But as Jackson notes, this can become a problem “because you have a large muddy pond that collects water and sediment and is generally unattractive while the property is being developed and visited by potential buyers.” The aboveground pond also eats up valuable land that might otherwise be used as a homesite or community space.


    Moreover, when the property reaches the 80% level of development, heavy equipment must come in to drain and fill in the sediment basin, which is another messy and intrusive undertaking.


    “So by putting in underground detention that can serve as both a temporary sediment basin and then a permanent storage area, we eliminate those headaches,” says Jackson.


    Using a combination of concrete, plastic, and corrugated steel pipe products from Lane Enterprises, the project designers came up with solutions that not only freed up land but “also eliminated a sediment basin from being exposed to public view,” notes Lane Enterprises regional engineer Ken Freeman.


    “Our underground pond can hold a lot of water in this 88- by 70-foot space,” he says. “In terms of erosion and sediment control, our pond compares to an aboveground pond in that it holds the same volume, provides for drainage, and the sediment can settle out. But it’s better than aboveground because its not exposed to wind and rain to stir up the water, or potentially overrun the banks.”


    Jackson describes the route of runoff through the system. First, rain and runoff are collected via standard drop inlets, he says, and then conveyed to a concrete pipe that feeds to a Lane Filtration Chamber. “This first flush of water passes through this multiple-chamber filtration of geotextile fabric and stone, which removes trash and other large particles. Then, as that water builds up, it infiltrates into the surrounding backfilled aggregate and then back in through the perforations into a series of connected 8-foot-diameter perforated corrugated steel pipes.”


    As the water stages up within the 8-foot-diameter pipes, it is released at appropriate rates through downstream flow control structures.


    Freeman adds that very porous, uniform-sized bluestone gravel was selected to use as backfill, and a stone-shooter conveyer was used to deliver and fill around the steel pipes, ensuring proper drainage and preventing damage to the corrugated pipes during the backfilling operations.


    Jackson says about 3,800 tons of this stone was used around the multiple corrugated steel pipes, which were placed in two underground pond structures engineers named Alpha and Beta.


    “We needed a large space to handle the anticipated runoff for the size of this site, and there wasn’t one place to establish a single underground pond, so we needed to utilize two basins,” he says. “Alpha uses solely 8-foot-diameter corrugated steel pipes, and Beta has 5-foot and 8-foot pipes. All are aluminized steel, which offers substantial corrosion protection and long service life.”


    Large-diameter steel pipes offer certain flexibility, Freeman explains, “as you can do any geometry you want, and corrugated steel fabrication allowed us to provide a tailor-made system that is very economical. Other products have certain limitations that can make installation, repairs, or modifications cumbersome or bulky.


    “Since we needed very large diameters, and plastic price increases dramatically once you get above 5-foot diameters, corrugated aluminized steel was perfect. We get our sheet product from AK Steel of West Chester, OH, who offers the different coatings, and then we manufacture the pipes at Lane Enterprises, adding the corrugations before forming the pipe on a spiral pipe mill. All of the fabrication was done at our Bealeton, VA, plant and sold through Colonial Construction Materials, a local dealer of our products.”


    Jim Evans, senior research engineer at AK Steel, offers a look into the backstory of corrugated steel pipe. “For our corrugated steel pipe customers, AK Steel primarily uses our electric furnace located just north of Pittsburgh in Butler, PA, which uses 100% scrap—that is, recycled—steel, to create the first step of slab steel,” he explains. Next, he says these slabs are transported to Middletown, OH, outside Cincinnati, “where they are hot-rolled, then pickled to remove scale, and then cold-reduced to the final customer thickness. Last, we then hot-dip-coat this at our Middletown works.”


    Evans explains that in 1899, the Middletown facility was the site where George Verity founded the flagship facility for the original steel company, then called American Rolling Mill Company, known later as ARMCO and now as AK Steel.


    After reaching customer-specified thickness, the product is known as Aluminized Type 2 Steel, which was originally developed by ARMCO. “The steel is coated in commercially pure molten aluminum with 1.5 mils coating on each side, after being continuously annealed in a reducing atmosphere. These coils of coated steel are then shipped to our customers that manufacture and corrugate pipe for culverts, storm drains, and detention systems. Corrugated coated pipe products are then used by their customers to solve the very important environmental puzzles to responsibly manage stormwater and groundwater,” says Evans.


    Jackson says that when the development is finished, the surface area of Alpha will be a community public space, while Beta will have an overlying rain garden that drains downward to the corrugated systems, “which is why we used the smaller-diameter corrugated pipe in that section.”


    When benchmark of 80% development is reached, which Freeman anticipates in about two years’ time, the underground detention basin will be flushed and cleaned via vacuum truck, then the temporary bulkhead panels of the filtration collectors, “which we installed to block off the perforations of the pipes for the short term,” will be removed. “Once the panels are removed, everything will flow to Alpha and Beta, allowing a permanent functioning of the drainage and stormwater management as planned.”


    It’s a good bet that Downton Abbey’s Lord Grantham would have eagerly traded his gold chain of office for some geotextile and corrugated pipe to manage drainage on that 5,000-acre estate!

  • 8 Ways ACO Drainage Systems Use Smart Design to Manage Water

    Even though they might not receive an overall design credit, a drainage systems company called ACO is playing an important role in the building of some of the world’s greatest venues—sites like Rio’s Olympic Park, New York City’s World Trade Center complex, Dubai International Airport, and L.A.’s Hollywood Boulevard. The list goes on to include hospitals, military bases, fire stations, wineries, food manufacturing plants, and others.


    If you’ve visited any of these sites, you’ve likely benefited from—and yet overlooked—ACO’s work. That’s because most of it is underground.


    The ACO team specializes in advanced drainage systems: the largely invisible channels built into parking lots and plazas that “save people from water and water from people,” says Jaclyn Revis, marketing services manager for the company’s U.S. division.


    “Without a way to evacuate water from the surface of a site, it’s going to sit there,” she says, adding that the water could also freeze and become dangerous. “It’s going to deteriorate the pavement, which leads to potholes that could be dangerous to pedestrians.” Beyond redirecting surface water, ACO’s systems also help treat and repurpose it, preventing pollutants from entering the water table and contributing to sustainable water practices.


    The company began as a small workshop in Büdelsdorf, Germany in 1946, founded by then-22-year-old Josef-Severin Ahlmann. The young inventor experimented with various designs (from hay feeders to excavation equipment and drainage) on the site of an iron foundry started by his ancestors in the 1820s and overseen by his mother, who was said to be one of the greatest female entrepreneurs of her time, beginning in 1931.


    Eventually, Ahlmann and his growing company, ACO (short for “Ahlmann Company”), found their specialty in drainage systems, emphasizing durable materials, smart design, and environmental care. The Ahlmann family continues to advance this vision today, operating in more than 40 countries under the direction of Josef-Severin’s nephew, Hans-Julius Ahlmann, and Iver Ahlmann, the son of Hans-Julius Ahlmann. The company is especially active in the U.S., where smart drainage systems are becoming more relevant alongside tightening water regulations.


    While concrete has been widely used to make drainage pipes throughout the past century, the material actually breaks down when used to channel water. That’s because concrete made with cement is highly porous: As it comes in contact with fluid, pollutants in the water such as road salts or pesticides seep into the material, causing it to crack. It’s also weakened as it freezes and thaws. This leads to hefty repair costs and material waste as concrete pipes degrade over time.


    ACO solves for these issues by designing with polymer concrete, an alternative to concrete that’s bound with resins rather than cement. Through the addition of these polymers, which boost the material’s thermal stability and resistance to chemicals, it becomes less porous and more durable (not to mention stronger and lighter), according to the International Journal of Polymer Science.


    One of the company’s most-used systems is a modular trench drain, which is essentially a long, narrow trough featuring a continuous grate that captures water along its span. These systems draw on the concept behind prefab homes, in which relatively lightweight components are designed to be easily shipped and assembled on-site. The segments come in meter and half-meter lengths, in a variety of channel sizes, and they fit together according to male/female ends. “You don’t need big excavators like you would for a 10-foot pipe,” Revis says. “You’re digging a couple feet down to be able to install these modular trenches, and it takes one to two people to move the pieces.”


    These trenches also come pre-sloped—meaning the gradient required to actually redirect water is built into the system, as opposed to needing to be calibrated and dug by installation crews.


    In many cases, the best thing drainage can do for the aesthetics of a site is blend in. This is what the company sought to achieve with its “Brickslot” system. The modular system features a very narrow grate (as slim and heel-friendly as .3 inches) that, when installed, sits flush with the hardscape. The design especially appeals to landscape architects, Revis says. “They’re working with plazas and parks where they need drainage in a big way, but they don’t want to make it a focal point. They can put it along the edge of a fountain, and the [line of the] grate becomes a design element.”


    For architects and engineers wanting to embellish the details of a site (and perhaps surprise pedestrians), the company offers grates with custom surfaces—think geometric patterns, dimensional leaves, or even a company’s brand mark.


    ACO also recently launched an online tool to help architects and engineers envision various grate and pavement pairings in the context of their project (acovisualizer.com). You select just a few details such as project type, desired drainage features, and surface finish, and the tool serves up product specs and an image of the elements in play.


    One of the company’s most “disruptive” designs, Revis says, is its applications for sports venues. In fact, the company has provided drainage for nearly every Olympic venue since 1972. These venues are highly specific, and drainage on-site is especially visible, so high-performing systems and accurate construction are key. With features like rubber grate edges to keep athletes safe, ACO Sport is a drainage system designed to integrate with playing fields and multi-purpose grounds (i.e., a track and field). “Putting drainage in between those two surfaces is a real need,” Revis says, adding that standing water on turf or courts is not only dangerous to athletes but deteriorates the facilities


    Similarly, smart drainage is crucial to commercial kitchens and food processing plants, spaces where poor water management could lead to food contamination. Here, drainage has to work doubly hard: These settings not only involve heavy water use (for both food production and cleaning) but they create grease and solids that can’t be released back into the public sewer system.


    For spaces like these, ACO has done the dirty work of engineering a range of “hygienic” drainage—systems made of parts that are specifically shaped and streamlined to avoid food and bacteria buildup. These systems, which go beyond U.S. standards to meet European regulations, feature components like slip-resistant grates, foul air traps (to stave off food odor), and self-cleaning grease separators.


    Since the late 1980s, the company has worked with environmental specialists to develop a series of “amphibian tunnels,” designed to allow small animals to safely move through developed areas. “These tunnels go under highways and roads, allowing animals to cross underneath,” Revis explains.


    In Santa Cruz, California, for example, the developers of a high-end housing development used this line to protect the area’s endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamander. Built using materials recommended by local conservationists, the system pairs fences to prevent animals from reaching the road with tunnels to guide them below. Near Calgary, in Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park, a similar system steers small creatures clear of park roadways.


    In open natural areas, rainfall organically filters back into the water table, but in developed or hardscaped areas, stormwater needs to be thoughtfully managed—that is, collected, treated, and reused when possible. This is the practice of sustainable drainage.


    To this end, ACO has designed a system called StormBrixx to help sites harvest—and repurpose—large amounts of rainwater. The system is a network of cell-like containers installed beneath the surface of a parking lot or airport, for example. These containers pair with water-treatment devices such as oil-water separators to enable water to be reused on-site (an increasing demand in dry states like California).


    “Designers and engineers are scrambling to meet new regulations and trying to make sure products they use help keep water on the property,” Revis says. Designs like this also help projects earn LEED credits for capturing and repurposing runoff, and for reducing a site’s water use. This is the future of drainage—a widespread use of systems that save and recycle water, just as nature intended it.

  • 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 http://www.acobuildingdrainage.com/.


    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.


  • 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.



  • Driving the Future of Drainage - Business in Focus Magazine - November 2015

    ACO introduced modular trench drainage solutions to America three decades ago. Since then, the company has grown to become a multi-site manufacturing and sales operation with an exhaustive line of drainage products for all aspects of building and construction. The team also provides related services, including continuing education, specification advice and installation support.


    The story began in 1946, when Josef-Severin Ahlmann launched ACO on the site of the Carlshütte Foundry in Budelsdorf, which is located near Rendsburg in Northern Germany. At first the company focused exclusively on concrete drainage channels, and then added polymer concrete drainage channels to the product line in the 1960s.

    In 1972, ACO set up a company in Switzerland, opened another one in France four years later, and then launched a company in the United States in 1978. By then, Mr. Ahlmann’s humble startup had become a global success story – and it continues to expand to this day. Currently, the ACO Group – of which ACO USA is a part – employs more than 4000 people in 40 countries and boasts production facilities in North America, Europe, China and Australia.

    Why is Drainage Important?

    Standing water can lead to serious structural damage, from cracked foundations and settling to degradation of building materials and freeze-thaw complications. Water that collects on roads, highways, and bridges is also a serious concern, since it can put motorists in danger. Therefore, controlling the flow of water is a critically important component to virtually every construction project.

    ACO Drainage Solutions

    ACO made a name for itself by bringing modular trench drains to the American marketplace, providing the reliable, reasonably priced pre-cast drainage solution that builders seek. These factory manufactured channels compose the ACO Drain product line and come in meter or half-meter lengths, making transporting to the job site and on-site handling a snap. Once onsite, channels are aligned into versatile configurations via male/female interconnecting ends to form a continuous sloped run. With up to 40 interconnecting channel sizes available in one system, modular sloped trenches can be as long as 125 feet. Neutral channels with no slope can be inserted within that run to create an even longer system.

    Modular trench drains are more affordable and save installation time and effort. “Cost comparisons have shown modular trench drains to have lower total installed costs when labor, excavation, pipework, grading etc., are taken into account,” explains Jaclyn Revis, Marketing Services Manager for ACO USA. “On average, pre-cast modular trench drains cost about 10 percent less to install and maintain than catch basin systems, and 20 percent less than cast-in-place trench drain systems.” At just four inches wide, the narrow width of modular channels helps keep costs down. “These narrower widths use smaller grates, significantly reducing overall project costs,” Mrs. Revis explains. “Wider systems are available if required by hydraulics or application.”

    Armed with a dedicated research and development department, ACO designs and produces a number of innovative, market leading drainage systems that meet the drainage needs of many industries and specific applications. ACO Sport – the company’s sport field and stadium drainage system – has been used at Olympic venues since 1972. This product line earned special recognition during the 2014 World Cup games in Brazil, when it kept the stadium in working condition during a brutal downpour. While the surrounding streets flooded, ACO’s trench drainage system kept the soccer field relatively dry, allowing the United States and Germany to play a match that would have otherwise been canceled.

    ACO Environment helps control pollution with liquid and solid separators and spill containment systems that are manufactured from corrosion-resistant materials. Specializing in custom drainage solutions, ACO Aquaduct provides products made from FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic), stainless steel and other materials. ACO Utility Duct supplies surface ducting systems that are designed to protect cables and pipes against external influences. ACO Wildlife supplies tunnels and fence systems that help wildlife cross dangerous roads safely.

    One of ACO’s newest product lines, ACO Stainless, includes stainless steel drainage solutions, primarily used for building drainage or commercial kitchen applications where the strength and cleanability of stainless steel is most important. ACO’s philosophy of HygieneFirst represents the team’s commitment to delivering products that provide ultimate hygienic performance. These products are designed to effectively and safely drain away and handle process water and reduce the risk of food contamination.

    ACO also offers solutions for residential applications in both exterior landscape applications as well as interior bathroom drainage solutions. ACO Self is a line of residential trench drain products designed for the landscaper, builder, or do-it-yourself enthusiast. The QuARTz ACO ShowerDrain products are designer bathroom products that include point and linear shower drains with a variety of grate designs, finishes, lengths and accessories. QuARTz products are often used in hospitals, hotels, resorts and residential homes.

    ACO StormBrixx is a unique and patented plastic geocellular stormwater management system. Designed for surface water infiltration and storage, its versatility allows it to be used in applications across all construction environments as a standalone solution or as part of an integrated sustainable urban drainage scheme. ACO Infrastructure includes a range of surface drainage products specifically engineered for highways, urban roads, bridges, docks and airports. This range includes Qmax, a high-capacity slot drainage system that allows an unbroken reinforced concrete slab to be cast around – and through – the inlets for a stronger surround.

    Developed to satisfy the demand for an economic, high-capacity drainage system for large catchment areas, Qmax is available in five different sizes. Ideal for racetracks, Qmax is used at some of North America’s top racing venues. For example, the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 Racing Track in Austin, Texas installed 7000 meters of the product. Mexico’s brand new Formula 1 track – slated to open with the Mexico Formula 1 Grand Prix race on November 1st – has also installed over four miles of drainage systems, including Qmax.

    The product has earned national recognition for its creative approach and effective results. In 2012, the Most Innovative Products (MIP) Award Program named Qmax the Most Innovative Product in the Expert’s Choice – General Tools & Equipment category.

    Preparing for the Future

    ACO’s products have become so popular that the company has 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 simply 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. Production capacity will increase by 35%.

    Stocked with the latest, most advanced technology, the new Ohio facility will bring the company’s northeast operations up to speed with other ACO locations. The move will also help grow ACO’s presence in the United States by solidifying the company’s position as the market leader and allowing the team to deliver better quality and service.

    Moving forward, ACO will continue to focus on growth, both in sales and in profit. “To achieve these goals, we must continuously improve our product offering through innovations and new product development,” says Vaclav Tikalsky, President of ACO USA. “The company will also need to keep a close eye on its internal processes,” he adds.

    ACO will also maintain a strong focus on its people, the backbone of the business. “The company’s success is based on its employees and strong international network of the ACO Group,” Mr. Tikalsky states. “ACO wants to be a good employer, further developing the family culture where people will like their work and enjoy the new facilities which we have built in recent years.”

    Mr. Tikalsky credits customers for “asking for the right solutions” and emphasizes how important it is to pay attention to their needs. “ACO will continue to closely listen to their needs,” he says.

    The company’s focus on innovative designs, employees, and customer satisfaction has paid off. “The strategies we have in place have proven effective,” Mr. Tikalsky points out. “The company is growing and expanding. Of course, we do have to face some ups and downs like other companies, but overall, we are pleased with our direction.”

    The groundwork is laid for ACO to continue to be the single solution for all of its customers’ drainage needs. “Our customers can expect much more with [our] upcoming new range of products,” Mr. Tikalsky shares. “We are bringing awareness to the complete ‘system chain’ for both surface water management as well as building drainage. Our customers will be able to get the right products for situations when they need to ‘collect, clean, hold and release’ the water, from one single source.”

  • ACO Celebrates Grand Opening of New Facility in Mentor, OH

    ACO, 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.

    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, 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.

  • Modern Pumping Today - April 2016

    ACO, Inc.

    Innovative technology improves residential water management

    Effective drainage plays a critical role in residential landscaping and property design, as it helps to protect homeowners' investment in their homes by diverting excess water from driveways, patios and the surrounding soil. Well-designed drainage systems can help homeowners to avoid costly consequences.

    Drainage is just one aspect of water management. Water management applies to the entire earth-bound natural water cycle, and in the context of residential applications, includes surface and subsurface collection (including drainage), cleaning, holding, and release of water.


    Residential water management technology tends to be lighter-duty than its commercial counterparts, with a greater ease of installation and lower costs. There exists a range of residential water management technology on the market that allow construction and contractors to easily improve water collection, storage, and release on residential properties, helping to protect customer' investment in their homes.





    The ACO Self line of water management solutions includes modular trench drains and point drains designed specifically for residential applications, with light-and-medium-duty materials, easy installation, and lower costs than commercial products.


    Other ACO Self products for residential landscape applications include:


    • DrainMat - ideal solution to protect entrances from water and debris.
    • PointDrain - help reduce flooding and ponding in areas where excess water may collect around the home, office or in landscaped areas.
    • GrassGrid - an eco-friendly interlocking permeable paving system that can be filled with grass or gravel.
    • Infiltration Line - collects water where there is no outlet pipe available or to infiltrate water on site.
  • 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.