A life’s work raising rubber standards comes to end

John Patchett Retirement

Materials Manager John Patchett has retired from VIP Polymers Ltd, ending a career in the rubber industry that spanned five decades and his entire working life.

John had worked at pipe gaskets, seals, and couplings manufacturer VIP for 16 years, with responsibility for developing and updating the company’s extensive rubber formulations.

John played a pivotal role in guiding VIP through a period of dramatic change and product innovation, with the introduction and then continuous tightening of standards for materials used in clean water distribution systems.

VIP Technical Services Manager Peter O’Connor, who runs the company’s in-house laboratory and was John’s manager, said: “Our pipe joining and sealing products meet the most stringent material standards in clean water supply markets around the world.

“That is in no small part due to the diligent work done by John. When he started at VIP many of these standards were not in place or were in their infancy. Since then, he has had to constantly adjust and improve our formulations to ensure our products can be used and trusted in the many and growing number of markets we operate in around the world.”

A key role, and perhaps his biggest achievement, has been work done to ensure VIP has always been at the forefront of developing products that meet both BS 6920, which specifies the suitability of non-metal products that have contact with clean water, and EN 681, which defines physical requirements of elastomeric seals in clean water systems.

“For much of John’s career, material chemistry in the rubber industry was seen as a dark art, and not just because of the colour of the product,” said O’Connor. “Knowledge about what worked within each formulation was gained from those that came before, and its development relied on significant amounts of materials testing and perseverance.

“John demonstrated many times his mastery of this need to apply his very broad and deep knowledge in the development of rubber compounds. He also took a very hands-on approach to the manufacturing process, helping solve problems, and enhance production on the factory floor on numerus occasions.

“As such his expertise has been extremely valuable to VIP. We wish him a very happy retirement, but his contribution will be missed by the whole team.”

The importance of John’s work to VIP has meant the company has had a succession plan in place spanning two years. A key part of that has been the recruitment, 18 months ago, of Laboratory Chemist Marcus Harrison, who had previously worked for Goodyear Tyres.

Since then, he has worked closely with John, benefiting from the insight and expertise he has willingly passed on. “Just as John has helped VIP during the growth of exacting standards within our industry, Marcus represents another stage in the development of our service,” said O’Connor.

“Regulators use ever-more advanced techniques to analyse and test our products, such as mass spectrometry and gas chromatography. We are matching these approaches by developing techniques that allow us to understand and manipulate our rubber formulations at a molecular level.

“It represents another step on the journey from that ‘dark art’ to a clean science, that John has greatly helped VIP make, before handing over the baton to Marcus, and the colleagues to come.”

Caption: Peter O'Connor (right) congratulates John Patchett (left) for his service to VIP 

VIP Seal Farnworth Tunnel Project

VIP Seal Farnworth Tunnel Project

Global leader in tunnel sealing technology, VIP-Polymers have recently completed the supply of sealing gaskets for the Farmworth Tunnel, a Network Rail Infrastructure Project. Further details of the project can be found here: networkrail.co.uk/farnworth

Farnworth Tunnel is located on one of the busiest lines in the North West of the United Kingdom. To improve capacity and efficiency the diesel train line between Manchester and Preston was converted to an electrified line. In addition to new rolling stock and station overhauls the line upgrade required the tunnels at Farnworth to be enlarged to provide sufficient clearance for overhead powerlines to be installed.

The larger of the 2 tunnels was built in the 1830s with the smaller tunnel added in the 1880s and the structure has a listed building status. The large ‘Up’ tunnel was filled with expanding concrete and a 9.0 metre TBM shield (largest in use in the UK)  was deployed to install the 8.0m ID precast segment ring-sets. In total nearly 2,000 segments were installed to form the tunnel and VIP-Polymers Ltd.’s Tunnel Segment Gaskets were used as the primary seal against water ingression.

Beth Dale (Scheme Project Manager for network Rail) said “The gaskets have worked very well for the scheme and we have achieved fantastic waterproofing throughout the tunnel”.

New track had to be laid and in the following clip you can see our studded rail pads on the sleeper.

28.10.15 Up Tunnel (5) 23.7.15 Up Tunnel (12) 14.12.15 Farnworth Trains (3)

DN2000 VIPSeal coupling arrives in super quick time!

When one of the major German pipeline contractors needed a DN2000 external pipe repair coupling within 24 hours, they turned to the leading European manufacturer, VIP Polymers, for a solution. 

Dietmar Deuring, VIP’s representative for the German region, explained the client’s requirements; “The contractor called me at 11 am local time and explained that they needed a very large external repair seal to be delivered on site the following day. I explained that as an actual manufacturer rather than a fabricator who simply assemble bought in components, we are able to offer exceptionally fast response times throughout Europe”.

The VIPSeal flexible coupling was installed the following afternoon in super quick time!



For more information, contact: sales@vip-polymers.com

Middle East project secured!

Cambridgeshire based rubber sealing gasket manufacturer VIP-Polymers has in recent months started supplying large diameter sealing gasket contracts secured in Qatar. The contracts won are in excess of £1m and still continue into 2016.


The predominantly DN1600 large “Tyton” sealing gaskets enable ductile iron pressure pipe to be joined enabling the transportation of both dirty and clean potable drinking water. VIP-Polymers are one of the only gasket manufacturers to hold potable water certification for temperatures up to 70 degrees – another factor which resulted in the contracts being successfully secured. 


The investment forms part of the major infrastructure project within Qatar as part of the 2022 World Cup programme which includes building 174 hotels, 12 stadiums, the spending of $4bn on the Qatar-Bahrain causeway and a further $20bn on the building and expansion of the road network. 


As a result of winning the contracts, VIP has invested a significant six-figure sum in manufacturing equipment including a new large bespoke compression moulding press. VIP is now capable of producing single piece moulded gaskets of up to DN2200.


VIP-Polymers managing director John Millar said “The machine comes with many benefits allowing us not only to increase our manufacturing capacity but to upgrade our capability. By investing in the latest technology we can ensure that we are able to continue to offer our customers the high level of quality and service they expect from us.”