For the next story of INNOVILT Alliance Journal, POSCO Newsroom visited Jecheol Industrial Co., Ltd., which makes rainwater storage tanks with PosMAC, an INNOVILT product.
Jecheol Industrial Co., Ltd. is located in Gyeongsangnam-do Province. On arriving at the plant, there were rainwater storage tanks, well over the height of an adult, laid out in the yard. Since they were made with PosMAC, which is corrosion-resistant steel, it looked magnificent even in the rain. POSCO Newsroom sat down with Kwon-Duk Seo, CEO of Jecheol Industrial Co., Ltd., Director Sung-Yeal Bae, and POSCO’s Yu-Rae Jo and listened to the story of PosMAC rainwater storage tank produced by Jecheol Industrial Co., Ltd.
l The World’s Only Manufacturer of PosMAC Rainwater Storage Tank — Jecheol Industrial Co., Ltd.
Founded in 1999, Jecheol Industrial Co., Ltd. is a manufacturer specialized in corrugated steel pipes. Since its establishment, it has been producing more advanced corrugated steel pipes through continuous R&D resulting in several related patents. Among them, “PosMAC Rainwater Storage Tank” would be the most focalized product of the manufacturer. PosMAC stands for POSCO Magnesium Aluminum Alloy Coating. It is a ternary alloy coated steel composed of zinc, magnesium, and aluminum, and it is 5 to 10 times more corrosion-resistant material than conventional galvanized steel. All products produced by Jecheol Industrial, including PosMAC rainwater storage tanks, use PosMAC steel as a raw material.
“Jecheol Industrial has never used any other material but POSCO steel products ever since its establishment. This shows how much we trust its quality. Before PosMAC, we used galvanized steel sheets produced by POSCO, and as PosMAC — an upgraded material — was developed, we changed all our raw material to PosMAC,” said Kwon-Duk Seo, CEO of Jecheol Industrial Co., Ltd.
PosMAC rainwater storage tank is an eco-friendly rainwater harvesting system jointly developed by POSCO, Jecheol Industrial, and RIST (Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology). Since PosMAC is a highly corrosion-resistant material, it has proved to be the perfect material for building a rainwater storage facility. PosMAC rainwater storage tanks are used for two purposes, one is rainwater utilization, and the other is stormwater management.
If the purpose is to collect, purify, and reuse rainwater, a rainwater utilization facility could be installed. Whereas if it is to retain water to prevent stormwater runoffs, a stormwater management facility is what does the trick. The reservoirs that we can see easily around factories and apartments are an example of stormwater management facilities. However, these reservoirs are hard to manage. Garbage piles up around them and they act as a breeding spot for larvae of pests, such as mosquitoes. By installing a stormwater management facility underground in the form of tanks, the surrounding environment becomes cleaner, and the surface can be used for various purposes, such as parking lots or green areas.
Jecheol Industrial is the only company in the world that produces PosMAC rainwater storage tanks. CEO Kwon-Duk Seo said, “We have seen some cases of rainwater storage tanks that use corrugated steel pipes overseas. However, they were made with galvanized steel and none of them used PosMAC.”
The company’s deep ties with POSCO and its passion for technology development played a key role in making Jecheol Industrial the world’s only PosMAC rainwater storage tank manufacturer. POSCO enabled the company to pioneer a new path with this rainwater storage tank. It was in 2001 when POSCO first knocked on the door of Jecheol Industrial in an effort to co-create a rainwater storage tank that meets the relevant requirements of Korea. Jecheol Industrial, POSCO, and Korea Institute of Construction Technology (KICT) put their heads together to develop the technology. The material for the new product was changed from galvanized steel to PosMAC, and it went through numerous trials and errors and several tests as well.
It took ten years for the prototype of PosMAC rainwater storage tank to be materialized. Director Sung-Yeal Bae said, “I remember the day we buried the 500-ton PosMAC rainwater storage tank prototype in Seoul in 2011. It marked the beginning of PosMAC rainwater storage tank. After inspecting the system in collaboration with RIST, we were able to handle trouble-shootings one by one, creating the product that it is today.”
CEO Kwon-Duk Seo added, “The technology that we possess is something that has been accumulated over such a long period of time. It cannot be copied by any other company. Moreover, our company also holds more than ten patents related to rainwater storage tanks.”
l PosMAC Rainwater Storage Tank: Easily Constructible, Economical, and Eco-friendly
While the capacity of rainwater utilization facilities is usually 500 tons or less, stormwater management facilities boast its large-scale capacity, with total capacity reaching at least 1,000 tons. Jecheol Industrial mainly produces rainwater storage tanks for rainwater utilization facilities and stormwater management facilities of up to 3,000 tons.
The most common rainwater storage tanks in Korea are made of plastic and concrete. CEO Kwon-Duk Seo emphasized, “PosMAC rainwater storage tanks are more easily constructible, economical, and eco-friendly compared to the others.” He also brought some data to prove it. Based on the data, there are three main advantages of PosMAC rainwater storage tanks. The first advantage is its constructability. Let’s say that we are constructing a rainwater storage tank with a capacity of 1,000 tons. In this case, a plastic tank requires 15 days and a concrete tank may consume 40 days for installation. However, for PosMAC rainwater storage tanks, it takes just six days.
The second advantage is that it is economical. Since PosMAC rainwater storage tanks have a short construction period, the overall construction cost is also about 30% lower than others. In addition, the PosMAC rainwater storage tank is easy to maintain and doesn’t require additional waterproofing work. Plastic tanks have a complicated internal structure, which makes maintenance difficult, and partial repair is also hard in case of damages. Concrete tanks require regular waterproofing work since water leaks frequently through the gaps in the connection.
The third advantage is that it is eco-friendly. Steel, the material used to make PosMAC rainwater storage tanks, can be recycled over 99%. It is in contrast to plastic and concrete tanks that are disposed of as wastes. CEO Kwon-Duk Seo remarked, “Does it make sense to use concrete or plastic materials that pollute the environment in making rainwater storage tanks eventually built to protect the environment?” On acknowledging its distinctiveness and economic feasibility, Korea Land and Housing Corporation selected the PosMAC rainwater storage tank as the “LH Excellent New Technology of 2019.”
l From PosMAC Steel Plates to INNOVILT Rainwater Storage Tanks
Then, how is this award-winning rainwater storage tank made? PosMAC rainwater storage tank goes through eight stages of production. First, POSCO’s PosMAC steel sheets are cut and processed at the Coil Center into skelps — steel cut into strips. When these coil-shaped skelps arrive at Jecheol Industrial, they go under an Uncoiler, making them flat. Next, they are formed into wave shapes, and these wave-shaped PosMAC plates are gradually rotated to create a cylindrical rainwater storage tank. The cylindrical tank is cut according to the size required by the customer. After this, a cover or a partition wall is welded to the end and other subparts are produced as well. The completed rainwater storage tank and its parts are shipped after final inspection, and they are assembled and installed on-site. See the video showing the entire manufacturing process of the PosMAC rainwater storage tank.
PosMAC rainwater storage tanks help prevent drought and flooding that have become frequent recently due to climate change. In the event of a drought, the collected rainwater is utilized for bathroom, landscaping, and emergency use. In the case of heavy rain, the rainwater is stored temporarily and discharged later to prevent flood damage.
l PosMAC Rainwater Storage Tank, Is It Stable?
PosMAC rainwater storage tanks are assembled and installed on-site, then isn’t there any risk of water leakage? Welding seems like a safer option than the method of bolting when connecting the tanks. CEO Kwon-Duk Seo replied, “There is no risk of water leaking because the rubber used to seal the bolt and nut joints does not react to water. Related research and verification have shown that the bolt and nut joints using this material would last about 100 years.”
As the conversation continued, the topic moved on to water quality. Jecheol Industrial, together with POSCO and RIST, conducted a hydroponics test using PosMAC rainwater storage tanks at the Protected Horticulture Research Institute of the National Institute of Horticultural and Herbal Science (NIHHS) in 2018. The test result revealed that the rainwater quality collected in the PosMAC tank was similar or even better than groundwater and tap water. There was no trace of any E. coli or heavy metals as well. CEO Seo explained, “Rainwater is usually contaminated by sunlight and changes in temperature. PosMAC rainwater storage tanks are buried underground. Sunlight can’t reach there, and the temperature change is negligible, so the chances of contamination are fairly low.”
l PosMAC Rainwater Storage Tank: Beware of Fake Products!
As mentioned earlier, Jecheol Industrial is the only company in the world that produces PosMAC rainwater storage tanks. These days, however, there are some fake products that mimic PosMAC rainwater storage tanks. These products use aluminum or zinc galvanized steel that are not as corrosion resistant as PosMAC is. They also adopt welding methods to connect each steel sheet instead of inserting rubber materials, thus damaging the inner layer. In short, the material degrades the durability of the product, and the processing method also downgrades stability.
Why is the company so sensitive to fake products? Is it just because they are competitors? The answer is no. CEO Seo replied that this was because it could cause customers to misunderstand Jecheol Industrial’s genuine products. When rainwater storage tanks are made in the form of corrugated steel pipes with aluminum or zinc galvanized steel, they are bound to be oxidized over time. The misunderstanding begins here. The moment people start to think that corrugated steel tanks rust easily, the negative image will spread in the market, and this will affect PosMAC rainwater storage tanks as well. In response to these worries, Jecheol Industrial put the phrase, “Beware of fake products” on the main page of its website, emphasizing the distinctiveness of PosMAC rainwater storage tanks.
CEO Seo said, “The PosMAC rainwater storage tank looks similar to other corrugated steel tanks, but it is a completely different product — from raw material to structure, function, and installation method.” POSCO’s Yu-Rae Jo added, “In addition, PosMAC rainwater storage tank is an INNOVILT product, guaranteed by POSCO. You can see it on the inspection certificate of the PosMAC rainwater storage tank.”
l The Synergy Between POSCO & Jecheol Industrial Continues
POSCO and Jecheol Industrial are tied as INNOVILT Alliances. Ever since the PosMAC rainwater storage tank was selected as an INNOVILT product, inquiries from customers have been rising. CEO Seo said, “As POSCO guarantees product quality with the INNOVILT Alliance, customers trust our products more, and employees are able to sell them with more confidence.”
POSCO’s Yu-Rae Jo also expressed his gratitude. He said, “Last year, the cumulative sales of PosMAC exceeded 1 million tons. The reason how PosMAC could shine brightly in such a short time is that many companies like Jecheol Industrial credited and utilized PosMAC. In the conservative construction market, it isn’t easy to choose new material over conventional ones. But Jecheol Industries believed in us and used PosMAC from the very beginning. I think that such cases have come together and enabled us to cumulative sales of one million tons.”
Director Sung-Yeal Bae also added another story. It was about how Jecheol Industrial was able to resolve a client complaint with help from POSCO. He explained, “PosMAC tends to lose its gloss when exposed to excessive heat. In the early stages of development, a customer saw this and filed a complaint suspecting that the product was from stock and not newly made. At the time, the problem could be solved by showing the material related data that POSCO had provided. Since the data is from POSCO, a reliable company, we are receiving great help in terms of reliability.”
Jecheol Industrial and POSCO are currently envisioning a new project. They are working on a strategy to create a demonstration case of a “river type corrugated steel tank” that is installed along a stream to prevent the stream from drying out or flooding. They are also working on the research and development of an “underground joint zone,” an upgraded version of the PosMAC rainwater storage tank. It seemed apparent that when the two join forces, the PosMAC market and the rainwater storage tank market will continue to expand. Using POSCO’s eco-friendly steel to make tanks will benefit society as well — since it will help resolve water shortages and also protect the environment.