Category Archive: In The News

Choosing the Right Type of Flume

Flumes facilitate the measurement of water or wastewater flow in free-flowing conditions. Most flumes are relatively simple devices, featuring only a single structure that restricts flow. Different flume designs achieve flow restriction in varying ways, so it’s important to select the right type of flume for your specific flow, channel type, and application environment to achieve optimal measurements.

Types of Flumes

Learning about the capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages of each flume type will help you to source the best flume for your flow measurement needs. Continue reading to learn more about the various flume types.

Palmer-Bowlus Flumes

A Palmer-Bowlus flume’s u-shaped cross-section and long throat make it easy to install in pipes or u-shaped channels with long, straight runs. The Palmer-Bowlus flume offers an ideal measurement solution for mid-to-high flow rates, but measurements become less accurate if the flow depth becomes too low in comparison to the length of the flume itself. In environments with lower flow rates and higher solid content, sediment from the flow may settle upstream from the flume and cause flow issues.

Some of the most frequent measurement applications for Palmer-Bowlus flumes include pipelines, manholes, sanitary sewers, and industrial runoff. 

Parshall Flumes

Parshall flumes offer an ideal solution for fixed-flow monitoring installations. As one of the most widely used flumes, Parshall flumes feature an open channel flow section that works well for measuring flow in installations such as canals and ditches. Even if flow spills off the end of the Parshall flume, users can still get accurate flow measurements as long as the discharge remains lower than the inlet.

The applications for this type of flume are nearly universal because of its highly standardized nature. The Parshall flume is available in a variety of throat widths that conform to standard dimensions put forth by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. Common applications for Parshall flumes include wastewater treatment and municipal sewers. 

Trapezoidal Flumes

Trapezoidal flumes offer an ideal measurement solution for flows with significant debris or solid content. Named for its trapezoidal cross-section, this flume also has a flat bottom that makes it easy to fit into most standard irrigation channels. As a result, measuring flow rates in irrigation ditches and channels is the most common application for trapezoidal flumes. Measurements remain accurate at high or low flow rates.

H Flumes

The H Flume features a V-shaped design that facilitates the measurement of a very broad range of flows, from extremely low to very high. Initially designed by the U.S. Forestry Service as a portable flume, the H flume is used broadly to measure runoff from farms. Some of the typical measurement applications for H flumes include:

  • Agricultural water runoff
  • Holding pond overflow
  • Industrial process discharge
  • Irrigation water
  • Storm/sanitary sewer discharge
  • Snowmelt
  • Watershed runoff

Fiberglass Flumes From Virtual Polymer Compounds

At Virtual Polymer Compounds (VPC), we know fiberglass better than anyone else. Our team has extensive experience designing and manufacturing flumes, and we can help you select the optimal fiberglass flume for your specific use case. To see how our standard flumes or custom capabilities can suit your needs, please contact our team today.


Fiberglass vs. Concrete


The cost savings advantage of fiberglass is seen over concrete in the durability and longevity of the product.

Fiberglass products outperform precast concrete in almost all aspects except one: product cost. Precast concrete products are typically less expensive than fiberglass. However, the savings are short-lived. You may save money on your initial purchase cost, but once the additional costs associated with difficult installations, complex on-site repairs, or even needing to replace the entire product due to deterioration, will lead to increased cost in the long term.

Fiberglass products will not rot, corrode, warp, contract, expand, rust, dent, bow, shrink, twist, fade, blister, split, crack, deteriorate, or distort. Once the longevity of the product is factored into the equation, fiberglass is clearly the superior choice — ensuring maintenance-free and long-lasting performance.

Ease of Installation

Fiberglass is an ideal material for installation in terms of both time and ease.

Fiberglass products typically weigh substantially less than precast concrete products, therefore installation is accomplished with less manpower and time. Additionally, in the rare occasion that a fiberglass product becomes damaged and needs repair, fiberglass can be field repaired much more easily than concrete, including on-site repairs.

Corrosion Resistance 

The intrinsically corrosion-resistant nature of fiberglass makes it an ideal choice.

It is hard to give an average life span for precast concrete products since there are many factors that may cause deterioration at different rates. Concrete is susceptible to Microbial Induced Concrete Corrosion (MICC). MICC is a process by which sulfuric acid, found in most wastewater systems when hydrogen sulfide gas and bacteria react, attacks and degrades the concrete.

Fiberglass products, on the other hand, can withstand drastic and unpredictable chemical and environmental challenges. Fiberglass products are resistant to hydrogen sulfide and many other forms of corrosion. Simply stated, fiberglass will not corrode like concrete and has a much longer life span.


The structure of fiberglass lends itself to structural soundness and durability.

Fiberglass products are as structurally strong as concrete; in fact, the strength-to-weight ratio for fiberglass is astonishing. Items made from fiberglass will not rot or rust, expand or contract, crack, or deteriorate the way alternative materials would.

Unlike concrete, a fiberglass product that is 30 years old is just as structurally sound as it was the day it was made. Concrete products can appear structurally sound at first, but over time corrosion and cracks caused by expansion and contraction severely affect the structural integrity of the concrete. Fiberglass products, however, experience no loss in strength over time.


When it comes to fabrication, there are several advantages to working with fiberglass.

Fiberglass products are fabricated from a lightweight, non-porous material in strong one-piece molds. Precast concrete is typically created and installed in sections due to its massive weight.

Since there are no joints in fiberglass products, unlike concrete, infiltration, and contamination at the site are highly unlikely. Concrete is also vulnerable to penetration and damage from underground roots. When fresh groundwater enters the system, it can cause an increase in wastewater levels, leading to an increase in treatment costs and even a possible need for oversized water treatment plants.





In the News: RBJ Article

VPC was featured in an article of the Rochester Business Journal; Popularity of fiberglass goods shapes growth at Medina firm. Read on for more details, or download the PDF for a printable copy.


Popularity of Fiberglass Goods Shapes Growth at Medina Firm

June 22, 2012

Popularity of fiberglass goods shapes growth at Medina firm

Virtual Polymer Compounds LLC, which has made products ranging from irrigation pump shelters for the Mojave Desert to parts in military vehicles, foresees new markets along with more work from current customers as the use of fiberglass products in various industries gains popularity.

The firm based in Medina, Orleans County, is one of a handful of fiberglass manufacturers in North America that supply customized products. The business has roughly 30 workers but is hiring several more as demand for its products grows, General Manager James Heuer said. “Our business is strong now, and we expect that to continue for some time,” Heuer said. The company does business with Fortune 500 companies, national historic attractions, the military and local governments. Customers include Alcoa Inc., General Dynamics Corp., Eastman Kodak Co., SC Johnson & Son Inc., Fort Bragg, Syracuse University, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard.

The company’s most recognizable products may be its HyTech fiberglass shelter booths, which are used as parking lot attendant shelters, ticket booths, guard shacks and kiosks at universities, airports, gas stations and theme parks across the country. VPC began in the early 1990s, mainly doing repair and field restoration, as well as making parts for original equipment manufacturers. Over the years, VPC
added custom products and expanded its customer base through a network of representatives and distributors. VPC’s principal owner for the past several years has been Corey Hogan, an attorney in Amherst, Erie County.

The business has done a majority of work in industries such as water and wastewater, industrial and chemical. It more recently has been seeing growth in areas such as architecture, where flexible fiberglass is being used to make complex parts like decorative cornices for older buildings. The company completed a project that involved using its fiberglass composite to construct a church steeple that concealed a cell tower in a historic area. Unlike wood or other materials, the fiberglass allowed the tower to transmit cellular signals. Other growth markets for the company include energy and transportation.

VPC is working on a railcar refurbishment project for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, focusing on the trim around the windows and doors. The firm’s products are used around the world. Companies in North America, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Turkey have used VPC products. The products include shelters along the Australian shoreline to protect sensitive weather equipment; troughs, weirs and baffles for municipal wastewater treatment plants; shelters designed to withstand 130-mph winds; stairs, ladders, platforms and railings; and complete manhole systems. The company is beginning a confidential project in Vietnam. ‘

Heuer declined to disclose revenues but said the firm has grown in each of the past five years. Sales for the first six months of 2012 nearly match revenues for all of 2011, he said. The company’s success is due in part to the increasing use of fiberglass products as a substitute for precast concrete, particularly in the construction industry, Heuer said.

A recent study by the firm Research and Markets projects that the demand for fiberglass products will grow nearly 5 percent annually for the next two years, with the major end user markets including the construction, automotive, consumer goods, infrastructure and transportation sectors. Fiberglass products are manufactured from a light, non-porous substance in sturdy one-piece molds. That is in contrast to concrete, which, because of its weight, is typically created and installed in sections.

Because of their physical attributes, fiberglass products can resist radical and volatile chemical and environmental challenges, Heuer said. They do not rot, corrode or warp. VPC has room to grow on 40 acres, and Heuer expects it will expand soon. A focus there is on green initiatives. Heuer also expects VPC to launch new products this year that have traditionally been made of steel and cast iron. “There are a number of possibilities,” he said.



YNN’s In-Depth Biz Profile: Virtual Polymer Compounds–vpc/

In the News: YNN Rochester

James Heuer, VPC General Manager, was interviewed by Geoff Redick of YNN (Your News Network) Rochester about Virtual Polymer Compounds past and present.


In-Depth Biz Profile: VPC

By Geoff Redick
June 18, 2012

A unique business in Orleans County is making a name for itself, by embracing what they call “the new era of ‘odd jobs.'” YNN’s Geoff Redick has our report.

James Heuer, VPC General Manager said, “There are other people making transportation parts; there are other people making parts for water and wastewater; there’s other people making contract manufacturing.We just bring it all together into one company.”

From the cars on our roads to the sewers below, more and more, we’re making things with plastic. Heuer said, “Corrosion-resistant, moisture resistant…much better than steel or wood in a lot of cases.” Virtual Polymer Compounds has latched onto that phenomenon, and made a business out of it. Heuer said, “Other companies in the area came to us, to ask us if we could make some parts for them, and we started making their parts for them to make into their products.”

That’s how it started for VPC in the early 1990’s, odd jobs. Heuer said, “Primarily a company that was formed to do repair and restoration work at some of the local companies in Rochester, Niagara Falls, Buffalo.” Now VPC employs about 25 workers at its Ridge Road factory in rural Orleans County. They make the things you wouldn’t think about, where you see the toll booth operator, they make the booth.

Heuer said, “These are all our molds, and this is the kind of thing that, we’ve got them all over the place.” And because clients always need new parts and repairs, the business has been virtually recession-proof.

Heuer said, “We’ve actually grown significantly every year for the last five years. Part of that has been because the economy’s been bad; some companies, they haven’t had the capital funds to replace some of their equipment We’ve had some companies, they do a tank repair, and that can get them through another five years rather than go out and buy a new tank for five, six times the cost.”

With that kind of growth already, more is planned and VPC is hiring. Heuer added, “It’s always a challenge trying to find good people. We’re hiring right now. We also added a second-shift in the afternoon because of the volume that we’ve been doing. So we’re trying to get some people working that shift as well.” For more on applying for a career with VPC, click here.