Fliteway’s remediation systems keep dirt clean

Fliteway Technologies Inc. builds environmental remediation systems used to clean up contamination caused by oil, manufacturing processes, dry cleaning and other chemicals.

Fliteway Technologies Inc.

2129 E. Birchwood Ave., Cudahy

Industry: Remediation

Employees: 15


The Cudahy company, founded in 1992, has evolved over the years from making just components for soil and groundwater remediation, to supplying the whole turnkey system and enclosure for a remediation project, said president Bill Diehl.

“The systems have grown substantially more and more sophisticated,” Diehl said. “We take brownfields and turn them into greenfields.”

The average remediation system costs about $70,000, he said. The company ships two to four systems per month, and each order takes eight to 12 weeks to manufacture.

Fliteway’s 18,000-square-foot facility is divided into fabrication, where stainless steel tanks and metal parts are manufactured, and automation, where system control panels, electrical components and software systems are engineered and assembled.

The company’s systems clean soil and groundwater differently, depending on the substance and how deep and widespread the pollution has traveled. Each system is custom designed by environmental engineers in the field, who send the order to Fliteway.

A soil vapor extraction system creates a vacuum that evaporates contaminated vapors. Another option, an air sparging system, injects clean air into the soil and vents out the polluted air. Sometimes, the technologies are used together.

Oxygen, ozone or microbes might also be injected into the ground, depending on the substance that needs to be cleaned up. A catalytic oxidizer burns off contaminants in the extracted air or vapor and the final discharge into the air must meet strict federal and state regulations, Diehl said.

Fliteway also makes air compressors, air strippers, oil-water separators, dual phase extraction systems, liquid ring pumps, carbon filtration systems and pump and treat systems.

“There’s not much you can put in the ground that our equipment can’t clean up,” Diehl said. “What’s truly unique is how the systems are wired.”

The design assures that the remediation system is explosion-proof, with automatic safety shut-off switches.

Soil remediation system manufacturing is a growing industry, since in the past the only way to eliminate soil contamination was by burning it in furnaces, he said.

At the moment, less than five percent of Fliteway’s products are exported, but Diehl expects that figure to increase.

“We’re seeing more and more inquiries for exporting of our equipment,” he said.

Business is driven by environmental engineering companies. As fewer and larger engineering companies help with national remediation projects, Fliteway has been seeing an uptick in orders, Diehl said.

Diversification has helped Fliteway overcome a slowdown indirectly related to the recession. Three states looking to balance their budgets took funding away from soil remediation work, he said.

As a result, the company has started making control panels for outside customers, which now makes up 20 percent of the automation division work.

The company’s annual revenue is between $2 million and $3.5 million, Diehl said. Fliteway grew 10 percent per year from the time it was founded until 2008.

Now, Fliteway’s production has picked up enough that Diehl plans to add two or three new employees to his 15-person team in the first half of 2012, he said.

“We made it through the Great Recession and our business has picked up substantially,” Diehl said.

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