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British Plastics

and Rubber

bp&r jan/feb 2021

Be better, buy BOLE. STANDING STRONG BOLE UK CONTINUES RAPID SUCCESS - SEE PAGE 4. BREAKING THE MOULD TM Robotics on why UK plastics manufacturers should invest in flexible automation solutions

ROYAL SEAL OF APPROVAL Addmaster CEO awarded MBE after starting business from £5000

MATERIALS REVIEW AND OUTLOOK The transformational moments of 2020 and future trends expected for 2021


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editor’s letter

www.britishplastics.co.uk Editor: GRACE NOLAN

T: +44 (0) 1244 952 375 E: grace.nolan@rapidnews.com

new

beginnings

head of media SALES-Plastics portfolio: Lisa Montgomery

As the plastics industry globally faces changes and new challenges, BP&R embraces change as it enters a new year under new editorship. As your new editor I am proud to pick up where Leanne left off, continuing to show the UK plastics industry as a thriving manufacturing sector."

T: +44 (0) 1244 952 372 E: lisa.montgomery@rapidnews.com Advertising Manager: MANDY O’BRIEN

T: +44 (0) 01244 952 519 E: mandy.obrien@rapidnews.com Advertising Manager: Gareth Jones

T: +44 (0) 1244 952 370 E: gareth.jones@rapidnews.com Head of studio: SAM HAMLYN

T: +44 (0) 1244 680222 E: sam.hamlyn@rapidnews.com SUBSCRIPTIONS:

T: +44 (0) 1244 680222 E: subscriptions@rapidnews.com PUBLISHER: duncan wood

T: +44 (0) 1244 680222 E: duncan.wood@rapidnews.com PRINT SUBSCRIPTION Qualifying Criteria UK – Free Europe – £249 ROW – £249 FREE digital issues available to view and download online British Plastics & Rubber is published monthly (8 times/year) by Rapid Plastics Media Ltd, Carlton House, Sandpiper Way, Chester Business Park, CH4 9QE T: +44 (0) 1244 680222 F: +44 (0) 1244 671074 © 2020 Rapid Plastics Media Ltd While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information contained within this publication is accurate the publisher accepts no liability for information published in error, or for views expressed. All rights for British Plastics & Rubber are reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without prior written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. ISSN 0307-6164 Incorporating Polymer Age and Rubber and Plastics Age. PEFC Certified This product is from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources PEFC/16-33-254

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s we enter a new year, it is clear 2020 reinforced what many working in this sector already knew, plastic and rubber is here to stay. The industry is a vital supplier to a wide range of sectors and end markets and is a key UK economic strength. As the plastics industry globally faces changes and new challenges, BP&R embraces change as it enters a new year under new editorship. As your new editor I am proud to pick up where Leanne left off, continuing to show the UK plastics industry as a thriving manufacturing sector.

It is hoped 2021 will bring with it the return of live events, and I for one am looking forward to in-person interactions. But for now, whatever this year brings, I am confident the industry will meet it head-on with innovation at the forefront.

This year is going to be an important one for plastics, as the industry recovers and realigns from the challenges of 2020; not least Covid19, but also Brexit, deglobalisation, upcoming legislation and new taxation.

grace nolan, EDITOR

As the UK plastics industry looks to stay in touch with digitalisation and competitiveness, this issue dives into automation and robotics. Nigel Smith, Managing Director of Shibaura machine distributor, TM Robotics, explains how, and why, UK plastics manufacturers should invest in flexible automation solutions. This issue also carries our annual polymer materials review and outlook, where resident expert Mike Boswell gives his comprehensive overview of what 2020’s events will have on 2021’s prospects.

I look forward to connecting with more wonderful people from the world of plastics and rubber, albeit over social media or email. Please reach out and say hello, I would love to hear from you.


the big story

STANDING STRONG

B OLE MACHINERY HAS SEEN RAPID EXPANSION DURING THE LAST 12-MONTHS, FUELLED BY A GROWING NUMBER OF NEW AND REPEAT INJECTION MOULDING MACHINE ORDERS. AS 2021 STARTS TO TAKE SHAPE, BP&R FINDS OUT MORE ABOUT THE COMPANY’S YEAR, RECENT INSTALMENTS AND HOW BOLE UK INTENDS TO MAINTAIN MOMENTUM.

B

ole Machinery has been revolutionising the injection moulding industry for over 23 years. Although Bole Machinery as a UK company is relatively new, the UK team is standing its ground. Hardeep Khera, General Manager, said: “We are fortunate that even during these trying times the UK market took so well to our machinery and we are proud to be able to assist the fight against Covid-19 by supplying numerous companies in the medical sector. This faith in Bole from an industry where machine tolerance is key shows the level of where Bole are in terms of quality and design.” A FAMILY AFFAIR The West Midlands- based company finished 2020 with its Christmas promotion. “We wanted to return the favour to all our new and existing customers and help with financial support packages. We had a record month in December order wise with many new members joining our Bole family,” he explained. THE PERFECT COMBINATION In March 2020, Bole UK announced its new partnership with Sepro. As a result of the partnership, the company saw a rise in orders, with eleven units sold and delivered across 2020 with plenty more on order in 2021. “We started our partnership with Sepro because we wanted to offer complete turnkey solutions and we felt that by partnering up we were able to do just that. Sepro is known for its premium product and service,” explained Khera. “Although it is a young partnership, it has also been a successful partnership and one that we are developing further.” LATEST INSTALMENT Bole has seen rapid expansion during the last 12-months, fuelled by a growing number of new and repeat Injection Moulding Machine orders. The latest, Omega Plastics Group purchased a 140EKS and 520DK in December and January, to allow them to react to urgent increased demand for an existing customer and to increase capacity following new business won across a number of sectors.

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Julian Jamieson, Omega Plastics Group Operations Director, said: “Bole had the right balance of cost, quality and availability. As they were a new supplier to OPG we took the opportunity to speak to some of their existing clients who all gave a good reference. Since running the machines the production team have reported an excellent level of repeatability and are really happy with how easy the interface is to learn and use.” CONTINUING MOMENTUM Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, Khera said: “We want to start how we finished 2020, strong. We’ve invested heavily across all departments with new personnel joining our sales and service teams. The team we have is the right blend of youthfulness and experience meaning that we are able to adapt and get creative with solutions, allowing us to offer a bespoke package to each individual customer. We are not just machinery suppliers, we are solution suppliers.” “We have also broken into key industries such as Automotive, Electrical, Houseware and Trade which shows the versality of the machine with machines being installed from our EKS series (Servo Toggle) and our DK series (Servo Twin Platen) between 100t to 1850t.” He concludes: “The market has shifted, and we are looking to expand our market share. We believe that our European designed machines coupled with a competitive price, 3-year warranty and fantastic after sales support puts us in a strong position to build on our success. We also have a few surprises planned, with our first surprise just around the corner!”

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On the Cover Standing Strong

Bole Machinery has seen rapid expansion during the last 12-months, fuelled by a growing number of new and repeat Injection Moulding Machine orders. As 2021 starts to take shape, BP&R finds out more about the company’s year, recent instalments and how Bole UK intends to maintain momentum. See page 4

3 EDITOR’S LETTER 17 Feature

Could automation transform the plastics sector? Nigel Smith, Managing Director of Shibaura Machine distributor, TM Robotics, writes for BP&R on how, and why, UK plastics manufacturers should invest in flexible automation solutions.

20 exclusive

Regulars and Features

In our exclusive annual materials review, our regular commentator, Mike Boswell, looks back at 2020 and reviews a year with major transformations, monumental moments and price volatility in the polymer markets and looks to the year ahead to assess whether UK processors can expect the same over the course of 2021.

08 INDUSTRY NEWS

Polymer raw material prices report: 2020 review and 2021 outlook

24 interview

Women in Plastics Spotlight

In the latest instalment of our series collaborating with the Women in Plastics initiative, we share a conversation with Lakisha Miller-Barclay, Executive Director & CEO at Rubber Division, American Chemical Society.

31 Feature

Injection vs Compression

Thomas Catinat, Operations Manager at Broanmain Plastics, explains why these longstanding moulding techniques each offer unique advantages and highlights how functionality, materials used, and production quantities could sway a customers’ choice.

12 RECLAMATION AND RECYCLING 14 AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS 20 MATERIALS REVIEW AND OUTLOOK 27 INJECTION MOULDING 34 PACKAGING 40 MASTERBATCH AND ADDITIVES 43 SOFTWARE GUIDE 43 BUYERS’ GUIDE 46 NEWS FROM THE FRONTLINE

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INDUSTRY | NEWS Women in Plastics announces new media partner

Yorkshire firm invests £2 million and creates 100 jobs in PPE production

Women in Plastics has announced a media partnership with the Global Research and Innovation in Plastics Sustainability (GRIPS conference. GRIPS 2021 is a virtual exhibition that will be held online from 16th – 18th March 2021. Hosted by the UK Circular Plastics Network, organised by KTN and supported by Innovate UK, EPSRC and UKRI, it’s the first global conference for innovation in plastics sustainability. Its aim is to bring together companies and individuals to highlight the best of the UK and selected international activities which will lead to plastics and persistent polymers being less likely to reach landfills, end up incinerated, or become fugitive in the environment. Women in Plastics will

PFF Group has created 100 jobs and invested more than £2 million in custom-built machines to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS staff and social care workers. The investment follows PFF’s appointment by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to manufacture 360 million disposable polythene aprons to meet increased demand for PPE. PFF began manufacturing aprons using existing machinery purchased from international suppliers but has now invested in faster machines manufactured in the UK. Keighley based PFF collaborated with British machine manufacturer Hanbury-Autogil to design and commission two bespoke specialist

be hosting a panel discussion: Women leading in Sustainability in the plastics industry. This will take place on the second day of the virtual conference at 15:30 GMT. Research and innovation from both the academic and industrial community will be showcased. The event will provide a platform to help develop commercial success of these developments and build links within the polymer/plastics supply chain to strengthen the offer to UK and wider international actors in application sectors such as plastic packaging/ FMCG, construction, agriculture, textiles, healthcare. There will also be an exhibition and networking platform for attendees. The event open for registration.

equipment. The ground-breaking, smart engineering machines are being installed at PFF’s manufacturing facility at Washington, Tyne and Wear, where the firm has employed 100 new staff, for the duration of the contract, as it ramps up 24-hour production at the site. The firm is also investing in four folding machines from Europe to fold the polythene

Made Smarter Technology Accelerator programme announces industry partners Digital Catapult has announced the seven industry partners – including BAE Systems, Babcock International Group and Sainsbury’s – which have partnered with the matchfunded Made Smarter Technology Accelerator programme. Fourteen challenges have been set for the technology companies to respond to, ranging from increasing shelf life and sell through of products while reducing waste to scalable artificial intelligence for visual inspection. The seven partners 8

joining the programme are Babcock International Group, BAE Systems, GAF, Northumbrian Water Group (NWG), O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Limited, Safran Landing Systems and Sainsbury’s. The successful startup and scale-up applicants selected to respond will be provided with up to £20,000 funding each and a platform to grow as they develop prototypes to address these challenges. Juergen Maier, Chair of Digital Catapult and CoChair of Made Smarter, said: “By creating bonds

between technology startups and scale-ups and the manufacturing industry we have the opportunity for the UK to lead the way in the fourth industrial revolution – as advanced technology radically alters, and improves, the way we approach manufacturing.” Andy Schofield, Technology Delivery Director at BAE Systems said, Our customers’ demands for ever more complex and flexible products along with ever shortening timelines and challenging cost targets makes alignment with the Made Smarter Accelerator and Digital Catapult a clear match to achieving our long-term goals, thereby sustaining us as a driving force in both UK and global manufacturing markets.”

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before it is fed into the apron manufacturing machine. Kenton Robbins, group managing director of PFF Group said: “We worked closely with DHSC on due diligence ahead of our appointment as part of the Government’s ‘UK-Make’ initiative to source PPE from Britain. Demand for PPE has soared globally, with 210 million plastic aprons needed every week in the NHS alone.”

By creating bonds between technology startups and scaleups and the manufacturing industry We have the opportunity for the uk to lead the way in the fourth industrial revolution – as advanced technology radically alters, and improves, the way we approach manufacturing.


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Next-gen plastic start-up receives investment from Zoom backer Xampla, a UK next-gen plastic start-up, has received investment from a backer of Zoom. Led by Horizons Ventures, the University of Cambridge spin-out revealed it has closed a £6.2 million seed finance round. The money will be used to accelerate the roll-out of its next generation plastic replacement. The company has ambitious plans to replace microplastics and single-use plastics with its entirely natural plantprotein alternatives. Xampla is the first UK university spinout to secure B Corp accreditation and is chaired by Jeff Seabright, the former chief sustainability officer of Unilever.

British thermoplastic sheet manufacturer invests £1.5 million Plysolene has invested £1.5 million in the installation of a brand new Kuhne machine at their site in West Sussex to begin producing Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) in the UK. The company believes the addition of the new extrusion line is an

example of Plysolene’s program of continuous improvement and investment. Shawn Lainchbury, Managing Director, said: “We’re very excited by this investment and direction for us in the production of ABS on site. It’s a new era, expanding our product range into a more diverse and growing market whilst using the expertise and skillsets we already have in our teams.” Plysolene’s range of ABS sheet includes smooth and embossed finishes, in virgin, recycled and capped grades. “With our customer base being primarily in the UK, and

manufacturing here in the UK, we can be more flexible and responsive to needs of the market. This gives us massive advantages over our continental Europe based competitors and real tangible benefits of buying from us for our customers,” explained Lainchbury. He concludes: “It’s a great addition to our styrenics range. ABS is made up of three component materials polystyrene that offers thermoformability, acrylonitrile that offers fantastic rigidity, and polybutadiene that offers impact strength. It introduces, and opens up, new and exciting opportunities for Plysolene and compliments our established HIPS range perfectly.”

It’s a new era, expanding our product range into a more diverse and growing market whilst using the expertise and skillsets we already have in our teams."

Asynt and Polymer Mimetics speed up development of high-performance polymers Asynt has supplied Polymer Mimetics (Liverpool, UK) with a range of synthetic chemistry equipment to exploit novel chemistries to produce a new generation of highperformance polymers. Polymer Mimetics is a joint venture between the University of Liverpool, and Scott Bader Company, building upon a new polymerisation process developed by Professor

Steve Rannard from the University’s Department of Chemistry. The technology takes widely available chemical building blocks and, in a highly scalable process, transforms them into superior performance polymeric products with the potential to engineer in degradability. Dr Paul Findlay, Chief Technology Offer at Polymer Mimetics, said: “Since the 1950’s less than 10 per cent of the

billions of tons of plastic produced worldwide has been recycled – the rest has been sent to landfill or left in the natural environment. Using our new polymerisation technology, we can produce novel polymers to address some of the issues associated with non-degradable materials currently utilised in the personal care, coatings, composites and specialty adhesives markets.”

Cardiff-based business eyes significant growth following sixfigure deal with U.S. Navy Thermal Compaction Group (TCG) has sold a prototype of its patented Massmelt thermal compaction system to the U.S. Navy, in a six-figure deal. Its Massmelt system

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uses compaction and heat to reduce the volume of compactable waste by around 75 per cent, and moisture content by up to 25 per cent. The system uses plastics within the

www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk

waste to form a thermally binding crust or skin on the outside, allowing the output to maintain a cylindrical shape at the end of the thermal compaction process. These output ‘logs’ can be cut to any length and re-used in a variety of applications, including fence posts or flood defences.


INTERPLAS 2021 | NEWS Interplas announces new dates to “deliver the event the industry deserves” Rapid News Group has announced its decision to reschedule Interplas, the UK’s flagship event for the plastics industry, to 28 – 30 September 2021. The venue for the event, the NEC, Birmingham, UK remains unchanged. The organisers have moved quickly to secure these new dates to enable the community to plan for the next period with confidence. The rescheduling of the show reflects the highest regard Rapid News Group places on the health, safety and wellbeing of all attendees. In order to ensure the event is demonstrably safe and secure the UK and worldwide vaccine programmes must be given enough time to have their maximum effect. A September dateline offers more time for this programme to take effect and offers a better route to achieving and exceeding the aims of delivering a substantial

community gathering to facilitate learning, networking and deliver value for confirmed exhibitors. Duncan Wood, CEO of Rapid News Group, said: “We have a significant amount of support for the new dates for which we are hugely grateful. The majority of our exhibitors want to see Interplas open as soon as it can safely do so. We also know that our audience have missed the faceto-face interaction that exhibitions offer.” “We will continue to monitor the impacts of the pandemic and we are prepared with a back-up plan in the unlikely event that this confidence turns out to be misplaced so, whatever happens, our exhibitor’s investments will be safe.” “We are creating a working group with our key supporting associations, the BPF and PMMDA to ensure swift, clear and consistent two-way communication with the industry. Additionally,

we will be carrying out audience sentiment polls in the coming months to help us develop the best messaging to build industry confidence in attending for when registration opens.” He adds: “Our aim, since last March, has been simple. To deliver Interplas when it is safe and sensible to do so. This still guides our thinking today and we look forward to opening the doors and generating much needed business for the sector. We are optimistic that this will be in September.” The UK’s leading plastics trade associations have praised Rapid News

Group’s decision to reschedule Interplas. Richard Hird, Chairman of the Polymer Machinery Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMMDA), commented: “In the ever-changing world that we find ourselves in, we have all learned to be flexible in how we conduct ourselves and our businesses. In this regard the PMMDA applauds Rapid News for working closely with their partners and stake holders to arrive at the decision to defer the date of the Interplas exhibition to its traditional September dates and move forward to September 2021. “With so many global exhibitions cancelled over the last 12 months, PMMDA and its members will look forward to meeting up with their customers and partners, within a safe environment, at the UK plastics industry’s showcase event in September 2021. We’ll also welcome our members to PMMDA’s 55th Annual General Meeting which will be held on the second day of the show.” Philip Law, Director General of the British Plastics Federation (BPF) said: “Given the uncertainty with the ongoing pandemic, postponing Interplas

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makes sense, so that it takes place when more of the country are hopefully vaccinated and travel restrictions are far less likely.” “The British Plastics Federation is looking forward to contributing towards an excellent presentation of the UK plastics industry at Interplas in 2021, demonstrating to the market our many strengths as a sector.” Visitors to the show in 2021 can look forward to a comprehensive conference programme delivered across multiple stages, with live stream feeds for a worldwide audience. There will also be a host of interactive features, pavilions, content and networking events including a meetings programme and a new community platform that enables a credible digital complement for the physical event. This will offer even more ways to connect with the community both before and during the show. Interplas 2021 will continue to be colocated with TCT 3Sixty, the event for 3D printing and additive intelligence, as well as Med-Tech Innovation Expo, the UK’s leading medical design and manufacturing technology event. 11


RECLAMATION & RECYCLING | NEWS TerraCycle helps launch UK’s first medicine packet recycling programme In partnership with TerraCycle, the UK’s first medicine packet recycling programme, from Buscopan and Dulcolax, is being rolled out across pharmacies nationwide.  The ‘Little Packs, Big Impact’ initiative allows customers to recycle any empty prescription and over-the-counter medicine blister packets, simply and freely, by dropping them in dedicated bins the next time they visit their local participating pharmacy. The empty blister packaging will then be converted into reusable raw materials using a unique recycling process. Brand manufacturer Sanofi UK Consumer Healthcare is proud to be leading the way by being the first to market this sustainability initiative, which aims to get 400 pharmacy dropoff recycling locations across the UK in the first year.  Silvina Vilas, UK Marketing Director at Sanofi Consumer Healthcare, makers of Buscopan and Dulcolax, says: “The Little Packs, Big Impact recycling initiative with TerraCycle is a significant move forward for the healthcare industry.”

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Bath scientists team up with industry to improve plastic recycling Researchers from the Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies (CSCT) at the University of Bath have joined forces with industrial collaborators in a project that will enable mixtures of plastics to be recycled together. A team, led by Swindon-based specialist plastic recycling technology provider, Recycling Technologies and including the University of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies is developing a way to chemically break down mixtures of plastics into their constituent molecules which can then be used to manufacture new plastics or other high value products. The company has announced it has completed the first phase of a project funded by the Small Business Research

Initiative (SBRI) from UK Research and Innovation to enhance the efficiency of its chemical recycling process by hydrogenating Plaxx, a recycled feedstock which can be used to manufacture new plastic. The project also investigated automation of the recycling process. The SBRI project funding allowed Recycling Technologies to collaborate with NiTech, the CSCT at the University of Bath and Optimal Industrial Automation. The project examined the feasibility of incorporating NiTech’s Oscillating Baffle Reactor (OBR) into the existing elements within Recycling Technologies pyrolysis machine to enhance the quality of Plaxx to steam-cracker ready feedstock, thus avoiding the need for pre-treatment in advance to the manufacture of new plastic.  

The inclusion of Optimal Industrial Automation in the project has tested the feasibility of incorporating analytical technologies that enhance process efficiency and enable chemical recycling to move towards digital control of distributed units that can be deployed and utilised flexibly across the world. Marvine Besong, Technical Director at Recycling Technologies, said: “Recycling Technologies is delighted to have received this grant from the Small Business Research Initiative to work with CSCT, NiTech and Optimal Industrial Automation. This project is a critical element of our desire to accelerate the evolution of plastic into a more sustainable material through innovation and technical excellence.”

www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk

This project is a critical element of our desire to accelerate the evolution of plastic into a more sustainable material through innovation and technical excellence."


UK plastics recycler launches high performance range of recycled polythene pellets

BPF And UKRI Launch Courses to Help Increase Plastic Recycling

Chase Plastics, a UK plastics recycler, has recently launched RECOTHENE, a highperformance range of recycled polythene pellets. Engineered to ensure consistently high levels of processability and quality, RECOTHENE is available in both post-consumer and preconsumer grades of lowdensity polythene. Chase Plastics says it is seeing a growing demand for RECOTHENE from the packaging film sector as companies reformulate their product ranges ahead of the implementation of the UK Packaging Tax in April 2022. RECOTHENE is engineered to overcome the inherent inconsistency in recycled materials and achieves excellent results with all extrusion machinery from simple mono lines to advanced multi-layer coextrusion machinery. The standard range of RECOTHENE recycled polythene pellets includes Natural Pre Consumer LDPE and Post-Consumer Natural (Increased LLDPE content) LDPE.

The British Plastics Federation (BPF) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) are collaborating to support the UK’s plastics supply chain in creating more sustainable and easy-to-recycle packaging. As part of the initiative, two training courses have been developed for people throughout the plastics packaging supply chain, including brands, designers, manufacturers, retailers and even students, about how to use plastics more sustainably. Funded by the UKRI, the BPF’s latest training courses include a range of environmental topics including the life cycle approach, causes and solutions to marine litter, the principles of eco-design, bioplastics, legislation and the waste hierarchy. The latest course, ‘Plastic Packaging Understanding the Environmental Issues’, aims to educate staff at retailers, brands and manufacturers about the core issues and complexities in the drive to reduce plastic packaging waste. Philip Law, Director-General of the British Plastics Federation, said: “In launching PolymerCourses.com, the BPF has developed a platform to assist companies in educating their staff about key issues affecting their business. In recognition of this, we have developed our first two courses to provide technical insights and valuable knowledge to those interested in or involved with the sustainability of plastics packaging in an interesting and accessible way.”

Manufactured in Chase Plastics’ EUCertPlast accredited UK recycling facility, RECOTHENE is a proven solution for customers who are achieving excellent results introducing it into their packaging applications at addition rates in excess of 30 per cent. Jessica Baker, Managing Director, said: “This is a challenging Tax, especially for the UK packaging film sector, but the good news is that Chase Plastics is here to help. Our strength has always been in providing a highly consistent recycled polymer batch after batch.  RECOTHENE

builds on this and has been developed to provide the quality required for use in high performance films.”

Our strength has always been in providing a highly consistent recycled polymer batch after batch."

Ecosurety appoints new CEO UK recycling compliance scheme Ecosurety has appointed Will Ghali as its next Chief Executive Officer. Ghali joined Ecosurety in January, taking over from previous CEO, James Piper. The pair will work side by side until July 2021 to ensure a smooth transition. Piper, who last year became a shareholder of Ecosurety, will become the company’s new Chief Innovation Officer. In July 2021 he will leave to take a year-long sabbatical before returning to the company to take on a new role in Summer 2022.

www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk

I am delighted to be joining a great business and a wonderful team of highly talented people."

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AUTOMATION & ROBOTICS | NEWS Universal Robots powers the world’s first robotic kitchen

Sepro completes redesign of its Success range

Universal Robots has announced its partnership with Moley Robotics, the creator of the world’s first robotic kitchen. Moley has chosen Universal Robots’ world-leading collaborative robot (cobots) arms to provide the dexterity and accuracy needed for the world’s first consumer robotic kitchen.   Each kitchen integrates two Universal Robots’ cobot arms, to allow the system to mimic human movements, and carry out the complete array of programmable cooking processes.    “I’m sure Moley’s robotic kitchen will mark the beginning of a more autonomous home life. But for us at Universal Robots, it’s been great to see our collaborative

Having demonstrated a prototype of a new, general-purpose 5-axis robot (the Success 22X) at the K 2019 trade fair, Sepro Group has now finished the redesign of the entire range. The range can serve injection-moulding machines from 20 to 700 tonnes. Three of the units can be optionally equipped with a 2-axis servo wrist co-developed with Yaskawa Motoman, to create a 5-axis Cartesian design that brings both flexibility and economy to the market. In addition to aesthetic changes, the latest Success robots have an extended standard demoulding stroke and, for the first time, a long-demoulding configuration is available that adds 200mm to the stroke. This can allow, in certain applications, a robot of a given size to serve a higher-tonnage moulding machine than previously possible.

robots being deployed in such an innovative way,” commented Mark Gray, UK Sales Manager at Universal Robots. “The ground-breaking work Moley is undertaking really illustrates the varied capabilities of our cobots. With the right programming they can be set to any task.”

The groundbreaking work Moley is undertaking really illustrates the varied capabilities of our cobots."

In some models, the maximum horizontal stroke has been lengthened, and a telescoping vertical arm is also available to extend that movement by as much as 200mm. The three largest robots in the Success Range (covering IMMs from 80 to 700 tons) are available in a 5-axisservo ‘X’ configuration that adds speed, flexibility and userfriendliness compared to 3-axis robots with pneumatic wrists. Sepro engineers also have returned to the use of cam follower bearings for linear motions of the new Success robots. The full-servo wrist on Success Line X robots is a feature previously found only on more technological robots, including the Sepro 5X Line of small and midsize robots, and 7X Line of large robots, both of which feature a 2-axis servo wrist developed in partnership with Stäubli Robotics.

ess 22X This new Succ three of robot is one ned robots sig de re ely let comp ing ell -s st be in Sepro’s e. ng ra t uc od pr

RNA develops robotic spray booth for panoramic frame RNA has announced the development of a semi-automated spray booth to apply an adhesive coverage to the panoramic steel frame and adjoining parts. The spray booth has been designed based on a six-axis robot with an automatic air spray gun. The automation combines picking and placing tasks with outfeed conveyor systems for the panoramic steel frame to be air-dried. Inside the enclosure, the spray booth includes insulated panels, high frequency LED PCB lighting, integrating the robot within the floor for full downdraught air movement.

14

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Polypropylene Film Recycling Specialists Material Recycled in the UK Rec ycli ng fo r a sust ainable future

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I am high-grade. Stainless Steel Cooling Range The new HASCO cooling range in stainless steel is employed in cleanrooms or medical technology applications for the temperature control of injection moulds in reliable processes, using hot / cold water or oil. – Ideal for medical and clean-room technology – Seals in special FKM – Thread tightness even with large temperature differences – Choice between open flow, or shut-off valves on one or both sides – Quality material 1.4305 – Damage to functional surfaces is avoided – Compatible with the HASCO brass cooling range

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WWW.QUICK-MOULD-CHANGE.COM | QUICK MOULD CHANGE SOLUTIONS

FEATURE

IN THIS ARTICLE NIGEL SMITH, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF SHIBAURA MACHINE DISTRIBUTOR, TM ROBOTICS, EXPLAINS HOW, AND WHY, UK PLASTICS MANUFACTURERS SHOULD INVEST IN FLEXIBLE AUTOMATION SOLUTIONS.

Whatever challenges the plastics industry faces, the need to increase production and efficiency will continue to drive investment in smart manufacturing, including industrial automation."

Could automation transform the plastics sector?

A

2020 survey by Deloitte found that 62 per cent of manufacturers are forging ahead with smart manufacturing investments — despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But what does this look like for the plastics and injection moulding industry? Industrial robots have been used to great effect in the plastics industry for some time, primarily for unloading parts from moulding machines. Today, developments in automated technology mean plastics manufacturers can deploy robotics along their entire production line. Just like many industries, businesses in the rubber and plastics sector are looking for ways to reduce costs and increase productivity. Automating production processes is the obvious choice to achieve the output gains to take a business to the next level. Offering improved efficiency, accuracy and consistency, industrial robots can work effectively in the tough and varied conditions of the plastics sector and — increasingly important following the pandemic — take on tasks that are difficult or dangerous for human workers. Despite the advantages, upfront costs for robots can be intimidating, especially for the small-tomedium sized manufacturers who stand to gain the most growth. Therefore, any robot purchase should be carefully considered to make sure you get the best return on your investment. FLEXIBILITY IS KEY Flexible automation is essential for plastics manufacturers to embrace the technology. A robot that can automate several production stages at once means they can really maximise the benefits of automation — it’s important to balance improvements across the production line, otherwise any output gained by automating one process will be limited by less efficient ones further down the line. Combining this with easy reprogramming means, should products, processes, or needs change, the investment will continue to prove its worth whatever the next few years bring. The TVM series by Shibaura Machine, formerly

Toshiba Machine, is a range of 6-axis robots ideal for use in the plastics industry. This reliable robot demonstrates high productivity in transfer and assembly tasks. Importantly, its improved reach and payload mean it can work with large mould machines, up to 650 tonnes. Historically, Cartesian X-Y gantry-style robots have been used to unload moulding machines. However, 6-axis robots have improved greatly in speed over the last few years. Now, 6-axis machines can match, or even improve on, the pace of Cartesian robots. Another benefit of installing a 6-axis robot in the production line is because these flexible robots are capable of multiple tasks. For example, as well as taking parts out of a machine, a 6-axis robot can handle or assemble products, or even carry out inspection tasks, if integrated with machine vision. A JOINED-UP APPROACH Whether a manufacturer is looking to invest in a single robot or upgrade a whole system, it’s important to consider how different assets will integrate with each other. Shibaura Machine is a leader in manufacturing electric injection moulding machines, and by choosing a Shibaura Machine robot to unload parts from the moulding machines, manufacturers can take advantage of a total solution that integrates perfectly. While purchasing robots that are simple to integrate is helpful, so too is future-proofing your investment with a longer-term plan for development, so that it’s easy to grow your production capacity with your business. TM Robotics offers free online consultations to help businesses in the plastic sector plan their automation journey. Whatever challenges the plastics industry faces, the need to increase production and efficiency will continue to drive investment in smart manufacturing, including industrial automation. Plastics manufacturers can achieve greater speed, accuracy, and quality control through automating their production processes, benefits which are all key to growing profits and business.

www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk

17


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Probably the most flexible loader system on the market

METRO G

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EXPERTS IN THERMOPLASTICS | WWW.PLASTRIBUTION.CO.UK

EXCLUSIVE

IN OUR EXCLUSIVE ANNUAL MATERIALS REVIEW, OUR REGULAR COMMENTATOR, MIKE BOSWELL, LOOKS BACK AT THE 2020 MARKET AND REVIEWS HOW THE YEAR’S SIGNIFICANT EVENTS, SUCH AS THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND BREXIT-RELATED TRADE DEAL TURBULENCE, AFFECTED OVERALL PRODUCTION, SUPPLY AND PRICING, AS WELL AS OUTLINING WHAT THE INDUSTRY CAN EXPECT IN 2021.

Who is ‘Polymerman’?

Mike Boswell is Managing Director of UK materials distributor, Plastribution, as well as the Chairman of the British Plastic Federation’s Polymer Compounders and Distributors Group and its ‘BREXIT Committee’. He has a broad knowledge of both materials and the issues affecting the wider industry, with over 20 years’ experience in the field.

20

Polymer raw material prices report: 2020 review and 2021 outlook

2020 REVIEW It is appropriate to start with two quotations from the prior year’s edition of this article; at the end of the 2020 outlook the following statements were made: ‘In addition to the expectations outlined above, there will of course be the ‘unexpected’ events to contend with.’ Along with: ‘PP prices are very likely to depend upon the supply/demand balance and here sectors such as automotive and white goods are likely to be of significance.’ Of course, the unexpected event was the Coronavirus pandemic, and whilst this was not a ‘known known’, it probably fell into the category of being a ‘known unknown’. For UK polymer converters the pressing issue at the beginning of 2020 was the likely end to the Brexit fiasco. By the end of January, the UK Government had taken its perceived mandate to ‘Get Brexit Done’. As negotiations became increasingly affected by Covid-19, it almost became inevitable that the deadlines would pass, and the last resort was an agreement made immediately before Christmas, which ensured goods could move between both regions without the imposition of import duties. The main impact of the trials and tribulations of the Brexit process was on exchange rates, with particular volatility against the Euro. FEEDSTOCKS PLUMMET As the first quarter of 2020 got underway, Northern Italy became a hotspot for Coronavirus - an issue that was subsequently realised could create mayhem within the global society. A graphic visualisation of the situation can be seen in the ‘Feedstock GBP’ graph in which the price of all contract feedstocks plummeted between March and April. This unprecedented and sudden shock acted as a safety valve, passing the economic pain to those who were better able to absorb the financial impact and provided downstream converters with an opportunity to improve margins on what volumes were available. That assistance was not evenly distributed, and it was the packaging and healthcare sectors that benefited most due to high demand. More or less, it became a buyers’ market as polymer producers tried to balance supply with demand. In many cases long supply chains took time to adjust to perceived demand;

a situation that has been illustrated by the challenges that the global shipping industry has also faced. During this time, it is notable that European prices fell to levels below other regions in the World, and long before demand picked up in Europe the prices and demand in other markets moved forward. Given the uncertainties resulting from Covid-19, this somewhat unusual situation on pricing, was sustainable whilst there was sufficient material. In late November the tightness of the European market started to become apparent and any requests for additional volumes typically could not be fulfilled and with this the realisation that the sellers would soon have control of the market. And so, the year ended with the price increases in December, another reason why 2020 was unprecedented.

HEAVILY EXPOSED For Engineering Polymers, the soft market conditions that were prevalent at the end of 2019 persisted and the expectation was that prices would continue to gradually reduce in this range of materials. This was a trend supported by the high margins of these polymers above feedstock costs, as a result of which prices are more affected by global economic conditions and most importantly the confidence of consumers to invest in big ticket items such as automobiles and white goods. As the realities of the pandemic started to become apparent in Western Europe and the USA during the first quarter, this group of materials was both heavily exposed to demand for these consumer durables and also affected by long supply chains with limited flexibility. As it came towards the end of the year it became apparent that the adjustments made to correct the supply/demand balance coupled with restrictions in the global shipping industry had resulted in undersupply and even in spite of

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WWW.PLASTRIBUTION.CO.UK | EXPERTS IN THERMOPLASTICS

relatively poor demand from OEMs, the market went tight, and prices have started to move up.

The market situation for Styrenic Polymers was similar to Engineering Polymers. For types other than PS there was a tendency to softening through Q1, followed by more extreme deflation at the beginning of Q2. The recent uptrend in prices started approximately a month earlier than in Engineering Polymers. The PS markets continued to be much more volatile, largely due to HIPS and GPPS being a more local market and dependent upon relatively few suppliers, where outages have a significant impact on regional pricing.

THE IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS For Polyolefins, 2020 proved to be an interesting year in terms of pricing. Additionally, the initiatives at the beginning of 2020, driven by feedstock cost increases, were moderately successful, a situation that was entirely reversed at the start of Q2 due to the impact of Coronavirus. It was then that the combined factors of increased PE demand for film and bottles and the reduction of supply from the US, due to the impact of hurricane damage, resulted in upward price movements. Feedstock became scarce as crude oil refiners dropped operating rates to match output with reduced demand for transport fuels. PP was a somewhat different story and a reliance on end use applications in automotive and white goods sectors left this market well supplied. The end of the year saw significant calls for price increases on both PE and PP as markets continued to tighten. In terms of price volatility for UK buyers this was similar to 2019, although as the Euro Volatility suggests, it was less related to Euro:GBP exchange rates. It is also notable that the average price was the lowest in the last decade and second lowest to the notorious year of 2015.

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

Min

Max

Average

Range

GBP Volatility

£1,083.86

£1,254.28

£1,254.28

£170.42

14%

Euro Volatility 17%

£996.99

£1,296.36

£1,190.35

£299.38

25%

24% 10%

£1,178.07

£1,312.98

£1,252.85

£134.91

11%

£1,075.70

£1,251.19

£1,182.12

£175.50

14%

11%

£879.41

£1,247.39

£1,088.53

£367.98

34%

38%

£1,071.30

£1,239,74

£1,157.95

£168.44

15%

10%

£1,174.96

£1,289.37

£1,247.21

£114.41

9%

9%

£1,1231.36

£1,303.88

£1,266.78

£72.51

6%

8%

£1,083.50

£1,266.89

£1,174.44

£189.39

16%

9%

£978.78

£1,144.82

£1,072.74

£166.04

15%

13%

The relative pricing of PP and PE is of note and the weak pricing of PE in the period from the end of 2018 through until September 2020 is largely related to the influx of PE from the USA over that period. This material supply largely dried up in the second half of 2020, both as a result of limited US export volumes and the relatively low pricing in Western Europe. In fact, following the impact of two major hurricanes and strong demand for PE film and bottles from Covid-19, the USA market was extremely tight, and prices increased significantly.

CRUDE OIL PLUNGES Crude Oil showed signs of nervousness at the beginning of 2020 and come February prices started to plunge. In a similar situation to the polymers market, buyers took control and remarkably at one point, managed to drive future prices negative in the USA. Gradually actions have been implemented to restore more balanced market dynamics and towards the end the year prices were tentatively moving upward.

The UK plastics processing sector is well positioned to adapt itself to the form that the post-Brexit UK economy adopts."

21


EXPERTS IN THERMOPLASTICS | WWW.PLASTRIBUTION.CO.UK

The feedstock graph not only displays the drama of the price crash for petrochemical feedstocks at the end of March, but it also displays that the spot markets were already reacting to the price of crude oil and the concerns surrounding the pandemic. It also shows that December prices are still below the pre-virus levels.

UK ECONOMY On the back of the UK Government’s decision to impose the first lockdown, sectors such as Construction and Automotive shut for up to three months and the UK economy faired relatively worse than the other economies in the G7. Whilst employment levels remain fairly stable, consumer confidence is lacking in both the automotive and non-food retail sales sectors. CPI Inflation fell back from 1.3 per cent at the end of 2019 to around 0.3 per cent at the end of 2020 and, on this basis, the Bank of England took the unprecedented decision to reduce interest rates to just 0.1 per cent in an attempt to stimulate the economy. There was some anecdotal evidence that the end of the BREXIT transition period led to less competition from Europe, as many players awaited the outcome of the trade negotiations, before deciding upon their future sales strategy.

2021 OUTLOOK The New Year is already off to an interesting start. The increases implemented in December are now being supplemented with a fresh round of significant price hikes, whereby polymer producers are very much adopting a ‘take it, or leave it approach’ confident in their view that prices will once again advance in February. For the UK the issue of preBrexit stockpiling coupled with the order demographic in January, will make this a tense month as buyers and sellers await the outcome on demand. Whilst the UK, and many other European countries, find themselves in the midst of another lockdown, the impact of these new restrictions are less likely to have an impact on demand as sectors such as construction and automotive will not be shuttered.

(Source Bank of England https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/ monetary-policy/the-interest-rate-bank-rate)

MONEY TALK The currency action was dominated by Brexit in the case of the GBP and the Euro, in which the anticipated parliamentary vote to leave resulted in a small uplift, followed by a decline due to trade deal negotiations. The USD weakness came from the impact of Coronavirus on the USA economy and the impending US presidential election. The legacy of the UK Brexit referendum appears to have a lasting effect, with the relative value against the Euro at a pretty much historical low.

22

Of great significance will be the widespread vaccination of the UK, and global, population and how that might enable a ‘new normal’ in which demand should become more stable. Whilst this will not eliminate sources of volatility, it is likely to remove a major cause. On this basis 2021 is likely to become a more stable situation in which the price volatility witnessed in 2020 is less likely to be repeated. On a more practical level it looks like there is still some headroom for C2 and C3 feedstock losses to be regained, particularly given that petrochemical economics at the beginning of 2020 were not too spectacular. Looking further afield, whilst polymer prices in the USA continue to increase, the markets in Asia prices are facing some downward pressure as the lunar new year approaches and demand diminishes in anticipation of seasonal holidays.

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WWW.PLASTRIBUTION.CO.UK | EXPERTS IN THERMOPLASTICS

An interesting consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic is that society has started to see the importance of plastics in key applications such as healthcare and food packaging. This has obliviated some of the negative pressure that particularly plastics in single use applications was being placed under.

The relatively long supply chains for materials such as PC, POM and PBT need to be carefully managed to ensure that supply and demand are well matched." CHINA, USA AND BREXIT Geo-politics are likely to have some influence. In particular, a new Democratic regime in the White House, is likely to impact US domestic politics and bring a fresh approach to global relations, almost certainly for the better of all. Here in the United Kingdom the economy will enter its post-EU27 phase, with much still to do and come as the country finds its new position in the world. So far, the economist view is that the UK will fare less well outside of Europe. If 2020 taught us one thing, it was to expect the unexpected, and the UK plastics processing sector is well positioned to adapt itself to the form that the post-Brexit UK economy adopts. ENGINEERING POLYMERS: A POSITIVE OUTLOOK TO IMPROVE MARGINS The outlook for Engineering Polymers looks quite positive and a tendency towards improving margins will be of relief to producers. The relatively long supply chains for materials such as PC, POM and PBT need to be carefully managed to ensure that supply and demand are well matched. Supply of PMMA and PC for use in protective screens might be an area to watch carefully, although demand is likely to be robust throughout 2021. STYRENICS: VOLATILITY REMAINS The Styrenics Polymers group including polystyrene and ABS is likely to remain volatile with benzene and consequently styrene monomer prices being a driving force. ABS pricing in Asia appears to be softening in Q1, but again Europe’s dependency on imports from Asia will require supply chains to be carefully managed. The most significant factor that will continue to impact the Polyolefins Sector will be the ability of the markets to absorb increases in global output, with further plants scheduled to on-stream and back on stream in 2021. PP is likely to be less exposed to volatility due to the relatively specialised nature of the European Market. The effect of US supply is likely to depend upon the price of crude oil and the relative price of producing the shale gas alternative.

The graph below clearly depicts the strong historic correlation between oil, feedstock and standard polymers pricing. The 2015 period continues to look exceptional with a ‘normal’ relationship restored since about October 2016.

This report is produced based upon the following fundamentals: • EURO based pricing for feedstock and polymer pricing • Conversion of Euro and USD based prices at prevailing exchange rates • Product baskets weighted according to UK consumption Acknowledgements Thanks to the following organisations: - PIE (Plastics Information Europe) www.pieweb.com HM Treasury www.hmtreasury.gov.uk

FINAL WORD In addition to the expectations outlined above, there will of course be the ‘unexpected’ events to contend with. However, we hope to repeat the fairly reliable forecasts that have been provided in prior years and so enable you and your business to be better equipped to deal with the challenges of sourcing your polymer raw material requirements in the year ahead.

www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk

Disclaimers The information provided in this report are based upon data available from both external and internal sources, and whilst care is exercised in producing this report we give no guarantee of accuracy. Furthermore Plastribution and British Plastics and Rubber accepts no liability for purchasing decisions based upon the information provided, as the petrochemical market is complex and volatile.

23


FEATURE

SPOTLIGHT

IN THE LATEST INSTALMENT OF OUR SERIES COLLABORATING WITH THE WOMEN IN PLASTICS INITIATIVE, IN WHICH BP&R SHINES A SPOTLIGHT ON ONE OF THE PLATFORM’S INSPIRATIONAL INTERVIEWEES, WE SHARE A CONVERSATION WITH LAKISHA MILLERBARCLAY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & CEO AT RUBBER DIVISION, AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY (ACS). BEING A YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER AT THE AGE OF 19, LAKISHA OFTEN HAD TO PUT HER EDUCATION AND CAREER ADVANCEMENT SECOND TO HER FAMILY. FIND OUT HOW SHE FIGURED IT OUT AND KEPT PRESSING FORWARD AND HOW SHE COPED WITH 2020, A YEAR FULL OF FIRSTS, PIVOTS, HEADACHES AND HEARTACHES.

24

LAKISHA MILLER-BARCLAY: “I am honoured to be in this seat and do not take the importance of this Division lightly.” Interview | Grace Nolan Q: HOW DID YOUR CAREER PATH LEAD TO RUBBER DIVISION, ACS? After completing one year at The University of Akron, I joined the Air Force where I worked on A10 Jet computer parts. I returned to UA and pursued my first degree in Cisco computers and networking and computer programming. After many years, I returned and completed my bachelor’s degree in accounting. During my earlier years as a young wife and mother, I worked for many different types of businesses, including government, large and small companies, and nonprofits. Those varied experiences helped me learn to adapt quickly. I began with the Division in 2007 as the accounting manager and quickly began to acquire more responsibility because of my background in computers and programming. Over my tenure, I was able to step in for the previous CEO on several occasions. This was a great opportunity for me as I was able to prove not only to myself but others that I was able to be successful in this position.

blatantly obvious to anyone who was looking. I know that things continue to evolve each year and that is evident in the election of now two female Division Chairs, as well as two Directors’ Representatives.

Q: WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY CONSIST OF AS AN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CEO AT RUBBER DIVISION, ACS? A typical day consists of meeting with my team members about our programs and services, including education, contracting for meetings and events, working with my Executive Committee on strategic planning and building relationships with those in the industry. Like so many of you, I am in constant virtual meetings as my calendar has remained very full throughout this first year. My primary focus this first year has been to meet as many industry leaders and members as possible and learn from them – what they need and how Rubber Division, ACS can help deliver that.

Q: WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR? Being selected to head the Division as Executive Director & CEO is a huge accomplishment for me. The trust of my board and team to be an effective leader is very important to me. The Division was founded in 1909 at a time when women and minorities could only dream of heading associations and effecting change. I am honoured to be in this seat and do not take the importance of this Division lightly.

Q: HAVE YOU NOTICED A GENDER DIVIDE IN THE PLASTICS AND RUBBER INDUSTRY? My first visual clue to the gender divide was at the 2007 International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland. I had only been with the Division for less than three months and had been very much behind the scenes as the accounting manager at that time. I remember that I could almost count on only two hands the number of women that I met during that first year. The gender divide was

Q: WHAT SORT OF YEAR HAS 2020 BEEN - FOR YOU AND RUBBER DIVISION, ACS? 2020 will be remembered in several ways by myself and the Division. It was a year full of firsts, pivots, headaches and heartaches. There were times when it felt several years long! However, I am so proud of my team and our Executive Committee for being proactive in making a lot of tough decisions to keep our industry safe. Not hosting the International Elastomer Conference was a very difficult decision; however, we knew it was best for all involved. My team was able to come up with great ideas to quickly pivot and execute successful technical and educational symposiums despite having fewer than 90 days to do so. 2020 was the year that we proved our resilience.

Q: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE FACED IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR? Being a young wife and mother at the age of

I remind myself often that an effective leader must listen before making decisions or providing input

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19, I often had to put my education and career advancement second to my family. I do not regret those decisions at all. However, at that time it was very daunting to balance college, soccer practice, helping kids with homework and dinner! Like so many others, I figured it out and kept pressing forward. I was very fortunate to find the Division where there is a great work-life balance. Q: WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN? Listen before you speak. We humans tend to want to get our point across and talk over each other. I am a first-born daughter, and it is in my nature to do things first. I remind myself often that an effective leader must listen before making decisions or providing input. I just finished a great article about when to provide feedback to others. The main point of the article was to not say a word until you have heard the situation in entirety. Secondly, do not provide advice or feedback until you clarified the perceived issue. Often, we jump right in with advice or critiques without even knowing the entire situation. Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN AND MEN WANTING TO GET INTO THE INDUSTRY? Get a mentor who can help guide you through all the possibilities in this industry. Once you have explored the different facets and get into a company that you think you would like to grow in, find yourself an advocate. There is often confusion about the difference between these two people. They can be the same person but do not have to be. Your advocate will speak up for you and help you advance in your career. Your advocate will help create opportunities for you when possible. Your mentor will help you think through your next move or change.

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR 2021? DO YOU HAVE ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS? My hope for 2021 is that we transition to a new safe and healthy normal that allows us to meet in person again. Virtual meetings can accomplish a lot and save money; however, they will never replace the relationship building and connections that come from in-person meetings and events. My team and I are already working on our Spring Technical Meeting and the International Elastomer Conference. Q: HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU FEEL FEMALE ROLE MODELS ARE TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION AND DID YOU HAVE ONE? They are extremely important and cannot be underestimated. For a young woman to see a female leader could be the very thing that confirms in her mind and heart that she is capable and able to aspire to that same position. Young girls and women need to know that there are endless possibilities in our industry and they can achieve any and all of them. Q: DO YOU FEEL THERE IS ENOUGH INFORMATION/OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE NEXT GENERATION TO BE ENCOURAGED TO HAVE A CAREER IN YOUR LINE OF WORK? I believe that there is a lot of information and opportunities available, but we need more. There has been a huge push for STEM related focus across education; however, we need to do a better job at communicating the possibilities about the rubber industry specifically. Many people still see rubber as dirty work and only think of making tires and getting covered in carbon black. Our goal and mission is to ensure that they are aware of the plethora of career choices that vary from hands-on training to PhD professors. That is why the Experience Elastomers program during IEC has been so important. We bring in local high school students and conduct experiments onsite with them.

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25


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INJECTION MOULDING | NEWS Q: What is important when choosing and installing pipelines?

IN Wittmann Battenfeld UK helps TML produce covid-fighting PPE equipment Wittmann Battenfeld (WIBA) UK has joined forces with Thornbury Manufacturing Limited (TML) to produce Covidfighting PPE equipment in record time. Investment in new WIBA UK injection moulding machinery and other equipment has helped the Plymouthbased TML to raise its production volumes in recent months. Dick Walsh, TML Founder and Managing Director, said: “The timeline for tools for this emergency was set at just 21 days. The material used to make the tools was P20 steel, on the soft side but good enough for our purposes as we were moulding a medical grade of polypropylene.” Walsh says having carried over fifty of these medical validations the company found that the repeatability of the new Wittmann Battenfeld machines were so good

that any variation on part dimension could be attributed to operator measuring error rather than machine variation. Walsh concluded: “We value our partnership with Wittmann Battenfeld UK. Our customers and clients expect continuous and fault free engineering and production from TML – and these are the qualities that we also find in our growing fleet of Battenfeld injection moulding machines.”

We value our partnership with Wittmann Battenfeld UK. Our customers and clients expect continuous and fault free engineering and production from TML – and these are the qualities that we also find in our growing fleet of Battenfeld injection moulding machines."

THE LATEST INSTALMENT OF OUR ONGOING SERIES ANSWERING THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED MATERIALS HANDLING QUESTIONS, THE EXPERTS AT MOTAN COLORTRONIC EXPLAIN THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES OF MATERIAL FEED LINES

T

hrough pipelines and hoses from the material source to the processing machine – the distance that material has to cover during material processing can be vast for individual cases. Depending on the local conditions, conveying distances of hundreds of metres need to be bridged. In a complex setup, kilometres of material and vacuum feed lines may be necessary to supply the machines. Connecting the rigid pipelines with the material loaders usually occurs with flexible, vacuum-proof hose lines with integrated steel coils. Standard diameters for material feed lines in plastics processing are roughly 40 – 70 mm. Material feed lines are often aluminium due to cost and weight, but their limited stability can be problematic. Stainless steel pipelines

are more effective, particularly if abrasive material needs to be processed. In special cases, e.g. clean room production, pipes made from borosilicate glass can also be considered. The pipe bends, which are subject to extreme abrasion, are often made from stainless steel or special glass. In order to minimise the impact area of granulate during a direction change, the bends are gently curved with large radii. Wear and abrasion of conveying material and pipelines is important in general. Particularly for dilute phase conveying, which is common for granulate, product abrasion can occur mainly due to the high speeds. The surface properties of the pipe’s inner surface play an important role here. Smooth surfaces can contribute to the generation of films and angel hair (thread-like impurities from partly plasticised wear debris), which can lead to the risk of blockages. Rough surfaces, on the other hand, can lead to fine wear debris (dust). The loss of material in this context should not be underestimated, as well as potential problems during processing. Pipelines with a defined surface structure can be a solution. Finding the optimal compromise between suitable inner surface of the pipe and conveying speed depends on the individual situation and requires a lot of experience. In order to prevent material plugs, it is sensible to purge vertical material

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ABOVE: Curve diversity – gently curved glass bends combine stainless steel pipes to abstract looking technical structures with the goal of conveying granulate from the material source to the dryers and from there to the processing machines.

feed lines after every conveying cycle. Material feed lines should also be earthed in order to protect them from static electricity, even though this is not always specifically required. Many processors wrap their pipelines in commercially available foam pipe insulation to reduce the noise during material transport. The foam also provides thermal insulation, which is beneficial for pre-dried and heated material. The downside is that damaged caused by abrasion is spotted too late. A more elegant solution would be double-walled pipe systems which reduce the noise levels considerably and stop heat loss. Combined with integrated flow indicators, they can help identify and pin-point leaks. 27


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WINTEC announces distribution in Europe WINTEC, a member of the ENGEL group of companies headquartered in Austria, is expanding sales of t-win injection moulding machines to Europe. This step makes the dual-platen large-scale machines available worldwide. Dr. Stefan Engleder, CEO of the ENGEL Group, said: “We are seeing an increasing demand in Europe for standardised injection moulding machines that are both powerful and quickly available.” t-win injection moulding machines are particularly popular for single-component injection moulding that does not require any custom technologies but places high demands on quality and process consistency. The hydraulic dual platen machines from the t-win

series are available with clamping forces from 4500 to 18000 kN and feature energysaving servowin servohydraulics as standard. The powerful C3 control unit enables intuitive operator guidance, an ergonomic work approach and flexible integration of robots of a wide range of types and brands, especially the viper linear robot series by ENGEL. WINTEC machines are

developed in Europe and produced in China. The production plant in Changzhou is integrated with the ENGEL Group’s global quality management system. Following expansion of the location, which was completed in the early summer of 2020 and doubled the production floorspace, WINTEC is well equipped to meet the rising global demand. Dr. Christoph Steger, CSO of the ENGEL

We are seeing an increasing demand in Europe for standardised injection moulding machines that are both powerful and quickly available."

Nordell invests in new Haitian machinery Nordell, a privately owned plastics injection moulding business manufacturing specialist parts for a wide range of sectors, has taken delivery of five new Haitian Zeres Electric Moulding Machines to continue to support its growth in demand cleanroom production. Daniel Grover, Head of Commercial at Nordell, said: “The fight against COVID-19 has seen a significant increase in demand for medical products. Our class-7 cleanroom is operating 24-7 and we have increased our capacity with the arrival of the Haitian Zeres machines.” Working with Premier Moulding Machinery, Nordell specified Haitian for the expansion of their cleanroom facilities for their reputation for reliability and efficiency. Grover added: “Haitian Injection Moulding Machinery is

Group, added: “The ENGEL Group is the only supplier in the world that can offer single-source solutions for the entire spectrum of requirements – from standard single-component injection moulding to technologically sophisticated applications – with reliable products and systems that have been tried and tested over many years.” The target industries include domestic appliances, technical moulding and automotive.

What More UK invests in new injection moulding machines

recognised for its reliability and energy efficiency in the processing of high precision plastic parts. The Zeres series is ideal for a wide-range of applications due to its high-precision, repeatability, efficiency and high-speed filling capability, a specific requirement for ultra-thin wall technical requirements. Equipped with a powerful Sigmatek control that allows us to optimise our process to maximise efficiency for the wide range of work we undertake for all our customers - keeping us at the forefront of production in the plastics industry.”

What More UK is investing in 13 new injection moulding machines, five of which have already arrived at What More’s existing factory with a further eight scheduled for delivering in the coming months. The company has plans to build a brand new 200,000 sq. ft. factory adjacent to its existing site in Altham as part of a £20 million investment plan. The proposed building, which is currently awaiting planning permission, will increase What More’s overall floor space by around 40 per cent. Three quarters of the new development will be given over to manufacturing capacity. This will also require a similar increase in staffing levels. Tony Grimshaw OBE, What More UK Company Director, explained: “At What More we

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never stay still. We’re always trying to keep one step ahead of the competition, and the way to do that is through continual investment in machines, estate, and people.” Antony Higginbotham, MP for Burnley, added: “I welcome the news that What More UK is investing in a new factory in Pennine Lancashire, the traditional heartland of British Manufacturing. Companies like What More UK prove that manufacturing is alive and well in the UK, and continuing to offer quality employment in Burnley, Padiham and surrounding areas.”

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FEATURE

T HOMAS CATINAT, OPERATIONS MANAGER AT BROANMAIN PLASTICS, EXPLAINS WHY THESE LONGSTANDING MOULDING TECHNIQUES EACH OFFER UNIQUE ADVANTAGES AND HIGHLIGHTS HOW FUNCTIONALITY, MATERIALS USED, AND PRODUCTION QUANTITIES COULD SWAY A CUSTOMERS’ CHOICE.

F

or close to a century now, two plastic moulding techniques have been the mainstay of the manufacturing world. Today, injection and compression moulding remain the most common methods to rapidly manufacture quality plastic parts using minimal resources. While injection moulding offers versatility and easier tooling, for stronger and more wear-resistant parts produced in lower volumes, compression moulding and direct screw transfer (DST) are valid options too. Despite demand for injection moulding surging, for basic plastic parts made with thermoset materials, compression moulding is a widely used technique, especially for gaskets, seals, and grommets. The lesser-known DST process - whereby compression materials are moulded vertically in an injection machine – offers additional flexibility. One of the key challenges to compression moulding and DST is simply accessibility; it’s not always easy to find suppliers who know how to process quality moulded parts that are built to last using these techniques, notes Catinat. He expands: “In recent years Broanmain has witnessed an unprecedented rise in demand for compression moulding. This could be attributed to the reduction in UK moulders offering both injection and compression moulding. Many suppliers are simply not training new staff in this older technology, so there are fewer moulders with the capacity or resources to meet customers’ delivery demands.” OPTIONS EXPLAINED Injection moulding is the most utilised, automated polymer manufacturing process, especially when producing components with close tolerances in large quantities. Being able to mass-mould a variety of materials, most commonly thermoplastic polymers, is a distinct benefit. Plastic granules are fed into the heated barrel, mixed using a helical shaped screw and

injected into the mould, where it cools and solidifies to the required shape before being ejected from the machine. Conversely, compression moulding is a traditional forming method relying on heat and pressure to mould plastic materials. Broanmain uses a Dough Moulding Compound. Applying pressure, the compound is forced into the cavities when the tool is shut. The mould is heated and the heat and pressure is maintained until the material sets. DST allows for the processing of thermoset materials such as epoxy, phenolic, DAP, alkyd and DMC in an injection moulding machine. Although more time is needed to change the equipment components and barrel, automation accelerates the process. Versatility is the key benefit of injection moulding. Compared to the other processes, plastic is pressed harder against the mould. This allows for more complex geometrics to be integrated into the design which might otherwise be too expensive or complicated to manufacture. Because compression moulding machines must bring material up to curing temperatures, the process is slower, particularly for larger parts. It also requires more manual supervision to remove and finish parts and remove excess flash. Compression method is especially beneficial for shaping highly durable and stable parts, such as

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celebrating 180 years

aerospace and railway components, thermal electrical fittings, switches and valves that resist chemical corrosion, fire- and impact-resistant safety equipment and medical devices. The compression moulding tool makes even stiff and high durometer plastic materials perfectly vulcanised and dimensionally stable. “A majority of the time, compression moulding is used to create legacy components used in trains, planes and electrical parts. Here, production volumes can be as low as 10 per year. In this case, it’s not financially viable to invest in the development, tooling and testing required for injection moulding,” states Catinat.

Despite demand for injection moulding surging, for basic plastic parts made with thermoset materials, compression moulding is a widely used technique, especially for gaskets, seals, and grommets."

The benefit of DST is the ability to use durable and low-cost materials traditionally compressed horizontally, such as thermoset polymers, switching to a vertical injection moulding technique to achieve a more complex detailed component. ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT AND PRODUCTION COSTS Injection, compression moulding and DST are used by numerous industries to reduce their overall carbon footprint, including the lightweighting of vehicles and aircrafts and building parts for insulation and double glazing windows. With such a focus on sustainability and reducing plastic consumption, customers often ask about the environmental impact of each technique. An advantage of injection moulding is that it ensures the mould is more precisely filled and material essentially drives out any air as the cavity is filled, resulting in less plastic waste. Furthermore, excess thermoplastic polymers can be melted down and reused. Automation saves manufacturing costs, and with the majority of the process performed by machines and a single operator, production overheads can be lower. There’s also very little post-mould work.

Manufacturers tend to focus on the waste associated with compression moulding because the cavity has to be overfilled to a certain degree in order to achieve the pressure required to cure the part. Excess thermoset rubber or plastic generally cannot be melted down or reused so these costs should be accounted for when developing a production plan. Although compression moulding is more straightforward, it does require more resourcing and the skillset needed to carry out the process is higher, emphasises Catinat: “That’s not to say savings and efficiency requirements aren’t met elsewhere. Features used in other production processes such as gates, sprues or runners are not needed in compression moulding. The opening of compression moulds is larger, meaning material is sent through to the cavity without hindrance and so less material is wasted during the transfer.” Without a transfer cycle or injection function, there is less groundwork involved. What’s more, compression moulding can use old or existing tooling. To further cut costs tools can be made of aluminium or lower-cost grades of steel.

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packaging | News Kingsmoor Packaging launches lightweighting initiative Kingsmoor Packaging has launched a new lightweighting initiative, KPL Cirrus. A year in development, the move is part of the company’s continued drive to make their plastic products as sustainable and recyclable as possible. Pioneered by Kingsmoor’s R&D team, KPL Cirrus works by creating a unique

pattern in the sidewalls of a thermoformed container. As the container is formed, a series of small pockets are created where material continually gets slightly ‘affixed’ during the thermoforming process - this in turn creates stronger sidewalls with less material, thereby creating a much lighter yet stronger

Innovia Films expands Propafilm Strata range Innovia Films is launching the next film in its new Propafilm Strata range of transparent high barrier, mono structure, packaging films. SLF is a chlorine free film that delivers good 34

barrier levels to oxygen, moisture, aroma and mineral oils. It has been designed with a wide sealing range making it ideal for high speed horizontal-form-fill-seal packaging of biscuits,

pack. James Hill, Kingsmoor Packaging’s Managing Director, said “Amongst the positives in this scenario - the use of less energy, less material and the increase in transport efficiency - lightweighting is ultimately about utilising the great benefits that plastics bring to food packaging, but using only what is totally necessary to make the product fit for purpose.”

bakery and confectionery type products. Alasdair McEwen, Global Product Manager Packaging, Innovia Films explains: “With SLF, we have been able to develop a totally new barrier film that not only has outstanding oxygen and aroma barrier, but also has enhanced moisture barrier over standard polypropylene films. McEwen continued: “We have incorporated a wide sealing range polymer into the formulation of SLF, so it has been designed specifically for use on high speed horizontal packaging lines.”

ProAmpac Acquires Rapid Action Packaging ProAmpac has acquired UK- based Rapid Action Packaging (RAP). With this acquisition, Cincinnati-based ProAmpac will expand its manufacturing capabilities to produce primary packaging for ready-to-eat and fresh prepared foods, broadening its sustainable product offering for retail food markets. RAP will join the ProAmpac brand and will maintain operations at its manufacturing facilities in Ireland and London. ProAmpac is owned by Pritzker Private Capital along with management and other co-investors. With the addition of RAP, ProAmpac has 37 sites globally, with nearly 4,800 employees supplying more than 5,000 customers in 90 countries. ProAmpac manufactures flexible packaging for various

consumer, healthcare, e-commerce, retail and industrial goods markets. Greg Tucker, CEO of ProAmpac, said: “RAP is an excellent addition to the ProAmpac family. We are excited to add RAP’s focus on research and development for fresh prepared food packaging to our portfolio. Together with RAP, we are extending our product reach in food service to now include a readyto-eat portfolio, and we will continue to bring innovative ideas and products to a growing customer base.” Chris Trick, Investment Partner at Pritzker Private Capital, added: “We welcome the RAP team to ProAmpac, and we are pleased to continue our partnership with Greg and the entire ProAmpac team.” The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Bell Packaging announces new environmental packaging solution Bell Packaging has announced the launch of a new environmental packaging solution for 2021, Biojet. Biojet is a biodegradable solution for the production of clear tubes, boxes and clampacks. The new solution offers a recyclable and biodegradable packaging and has been designed to break down if discarded in the ocean, in rivers or in landfill without affecting its performance when being used as display packaging. The company says the initial reaction has been incredible and a number of clients have trialled the material and some bulk production is underway.

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FEATURE

“INNOVATIVE DESIGN

UNDERPINS EVERY TEQ PROJECT”

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TEQ ESTABLISHES ITSELF AS AN INDUSTRY LEADER IN INNOVATION, DESIGN AND SUSTAINABILITY OF PLASTIC PACKAGING, BP&R FINDS OUT HOW THE COMPANY IS NAVIGATING THE FAST-CHANGING PACKAGING LANDSCAPE AND THE LATEST TEQ PRODUCT, DESIGNED TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF WASTE IN HEALTHCARE.

t is important not to overlook the crucial role plastic packaging plays in our economy, and in our daily lives. From keeping food fresh and fragile products safe, to offering a sterile barrier system in healthcare, plastic packaging is ubiquitous for good reason and life without plastic would be unthinkable in our modern world. One company at the forefront of innovation, design and sustainability of plastic packaging is TEQ, a leading manufacturer of thermoformed packaging for some of the world’s biggest companies. The company creates packaging products for a range of different markets, including consumer goods, component handling and healthcare, all developed at its state-of-the-art production facilities based in the UK and Poland. Both sites have certified cleanroom facilities used to produce products for the medical sector. It is the company’s focus on innovation that allows it to navigate a fast-changing packaging landscape. “Innovative design underpins every TEQ project,” says Anne-Sophie Belamine, the company’s European Sales Director. “We’re focused on finding ways to improve or reduce packaging so that customers get the best designed, and most practical solution.” The vast majority of TEQ’s thermoformed products contain between 60-80 per cent recycled content from post-consumer material. This is well above the threshold demanded by emerging legislation. Using advanced 3D computer-aided design (CAD) systems, the company can develop precise visuals for quick and accurate sign-off from clients – reducing waste and creating efficiencies throughout production. “The business has built up a reputation for developing custom packaging solutions to overcome difficulties that arise from complex manufacturing processes,” adds Belamine. TAKING CARE OF MEDICAL PACKAGING WASTE This focus on problem-solving led to the creation of a new TEQ product, designed to solve the problem of waste in healthcare. Sterile barrier systems (SBS), the plastic packaging that offers a microbial barrier, usually consist of more than one material. Busy hospital staff don’t have the time to separate lids and trays, so very little of the packaging is recycled. TEQ set to work in creating TEQethylene, viable solution for SBS. It worked with its suppliers to develop a better High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) blend/tray that would be more widely recycled.

Using Tyvek, a commonly used breathable HDPE thermoplastic lidding, the firm created a monopolymer SBS, with no need to dissemble the lid from the tray for recycling. WORKING WITH CUSTOMERS Beyond its product line, “TEQ is committed to incorporating sustainability into our overall business strategy and helping customers achieve their environmental goals,” says Belamine. “Sustainability underpins our thinking in everything that we do – both the products that we design and manufacture, and the way we run our operations.” Since the business was established more than 40 years ago, it has continued to develop products with an environmental conscience. Belamine adds: “We collaborate with our customers on reduce, reuse and recycle initiatives. We remove unnecessary layers of packaging, as well as the amount of material used.” Customers can choose products that are up to 100 per cent recycled, and all of the materials used are produced from a recycled grade plastic, or are fully reusable or recyclable, with the vast majority of products manufactured containing recycled plastics. For those wanting a plastic alternative, TEQ also offers Fibrepak, a natural and sustainable packaging solution using thermoformed wet pulp. The material is made from locally sourced FSC Chain of Custody certified materials, meaning the pulp used has come from sustainably managed forests. Fibrepak is high quality, thin-walled and smooth sided, meaning that packaged products do not get scratched. It can also be recycled in traditional waste streams along with paper, compostable and biodegradable materials. “We continue to invest in the latest technology for both our plastic products and Fibrepak with significant investment in new Kiefel thermoforming machines made in the last twelve months.” “Regardless of material selection we remain fully committed to delivering innovative packaging solutions, designed and manufactured with sustainability at the forefront of our thinking,” says Belamine. While legislation and policy designed to tackle the plastics issue finds its feet, TEQ say it will continue to bring about quality, sustainable packaging options for the emerging circular economy, working with customers to create innovative new products that are fit for purpose in the 21st century.

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Q&A

MINCE YOUR WORDS

W ITH PROCESSORS, RETAILERS AND SUPERMARKETS UNDER MORE PRESSURE THAN EVER TO REDUCE PLASTIC FOOD AND DRINK PACKAGING, ULMA PACKAGING UK IS ADVOCATING THE USE OF TRAYLESS SOLUTIONS IN MINCED MEAT APPLICATIONS DAVE BERRIMAN, TECHNICAL SALES SUPPORT MANAGER AT ULMA, DISCUSSES THE ISSUE FURTHER IN THIS Q&A WITH BP&R, AND EXPLAINS ULMA’S OWN MINCED MEAT PACKAGING INNOVATION.

Q: Why are you encouraging meat processors to look at trayless packaging solutions? First and foremost, sustainability is increasingly moving from a consideration to a priority in the minds of consumers when it comes to packaging. A September 2020 Ubamarket survey of British shoppers found that 82 per cent of respondents felt plastic use can and should be reduced in food and drink packaging. Looking further afield, a recent ING International Survey stated that 34 per cent of Europeans felt plastic waste was the biggest environmental concern the world is facing, ahead of even climate change. These findings should be seen as a catalyst for change by meat processors currently supplying to retailers and supermarkets. Additionally, legislation is increasingly encouraging companies to adopt more sustainable packaging operations. The Government’s 2020 Budget, for instance, stated that companies using plastic packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled content will be taxed £200 per tonne from April 2022, and it is highly likely the law will only become more stringent and far-reaching than this. Taking this into account, it is clear meat processors need to look at innovative solutions if they are to keep pace with public sentiment and the legislative landscape. By implementing modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) on horizontal flow wrap packaging lines, companies can eliminate the need for a tray, allowing for substantial plastic savings while ensuring product integrity and shelf life, without discolouration or leakage. Q: How does a trayless packaging solution improve overall sustainability? Traditionally, minced meat has been packaged via thermoforming. While this method effectively seals products and ensures contamination is avoided, it does use a lot of material, including a tray, a cover, and additional labels. By contrast, a flow wrapper using MAP with pillow packaging and generic film can quickly package minced meat and print directly to the film in question. This allows for material reductions of up to 60 percent, depending on the size of the mince packaged, while also reducing waste going to landfill. Q: Is this a practical packaging solution? Though there is a lot of pressure for food manufacturers to adopt environmentally friendly solutions, business owners and operators should not implement sustainable packaging solutions if they are not practical and effective. In fact, a 2020 report published by the Green Alliance sustainability thinktank demonstrated how certain alternative, ostensibly ‘greener’ materials may actually be more

Though there is a lot of pressure for food manufacturers to adopt environmentally friendly solutions, business owners and operators should not implement sustainable packaging solutions if they are not practical and effective." harmful for the environment, triggering warnings from cross-parliamentary groups. As such, not replacing plastic immediately is therefore absolutely understandable, and the onus needs to be on packaging machinery providers to provide sustainable solutions that can offer the same or better packaging protection, efficiency benefits and cost savings. Q: What other environmental benefits can trayless packaging offer, aside from plastic reductions? By using thinner, recycled films suited to shrink packaging, companies can achieve smaller pack volumes. This, in turn, is beneficial to the environment in a number of ways. For example, films used with minced meat in flow wrapper applications require 80 per cent less space to transport compared to the films and trays used in traditional traysealer and thermoformer processes. Atop of this, shrink packaging allows for a greater crate fill, meaning 30 per cent less space is needed to move packaged products to retailers and supermarkets. Because vehicles can fit more products per crate and pallet than previously possible, logistical cost savings can be made, and overall carbon emissions reduced. Q: What role do MAP flow pack solutions stand to play in improving packaging sustainability in the meat industry? Minced meat is a proven area with green benefits that can be realised with the right packing technology, including pillow and shrink packs. By replacing rigid plastic trays with a flow pack using MAP, we can ensure all of the usual benefits of packaging are achieved, while limiting the use of unnecessary plastics in line with consumer expectations. The technology’s ability to provide trayless minced meat packaging, without compromising product integrity or limiting shelf life, means it could provide a sustainability breakthrough for the meat industry. With this in mind, ULMA advocates for and is supportive of food manufacturers working with minced meat reviewing their existing packaging machinery and look into MAP solutions.

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FEATURE

Investing in the

M ANCHESTERHEADQUARTERED PACKAGING SPECIALIST DUO DOUBLED UK-BASED PRODUCTION IN 2020 FOLLOWING A £1.85 MILLION INVESTMENT, WHICH PRODUCED ITS LARGEST SALES MONTH ON RECORD. GRACE NOLAN CAUGHT UP WITH COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, ANTHONY BRIMELOW, TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE INVESTMENT AND HOW THE COMPANY IS HANDLING THE INCREASED DEMONISATION OF PLASTICS, NOT TO MENTION THE UPCOMING PLASTICS PACKAGING TAX.

A RECORD YEAR Last year, Duo invested £1.85 million in the expansion of its Manchester headquarters and new equipment. The overall aim was to increase production capacity and technical capabilities, whilst also providing enhanced amenities for the Duo team. With the recent investment, Duo purchased new manufacturing equipment including a conversion machine and a five-layer co-extruder, which increased polythene film output by 25 per cent. This enabled the company to manufacture more films using recycled polythene content. From this, the company saw a 10 per cent increase in the volume of recycled content used during manufacturing in 2020. Anthony Brimelow, Commercial director of Duo, said: “The obvious challenge facing last year’s investment was the global and UK-wide impact of COVID-19. Our international trading partners were affected by closures and supply chain delays. We pressed on with the investment despite the uncertainty and disruption and ended up producing around 58million more mailing bags last year. This wouldn’t have been possible without the new equipment.” NEW PRODUCT INNOVATIONS Whether DuoOptipac mailing bags or GreenPE polythene, all products by Duo share a common goal of addressing problems that its customers now face, or they will face in the future. Brimelow explained: “DuoOptipac, for example, is designed to better optimise space-usage during the packing process and in transit, without compromising mailing bag specification and performance. The mailing bag features a unique integrated tac-down handle that remains in place during packing and transit and is then easily released when it’s required for carrying. The innovative design helps customers cut transport costs and increases parcel throughput and saw DuoOptipac honoured with a Queen’s Award for Excellence in Innovation in 2020. “We were the first to produce a GreenPE mailing bag in the UK made from a thermoplastic sugar cane resin that’s completely renewable and recyclable. It provides retailers with a sustainable and ethical packaging solution that delivers the same technical performance as a traditional polyethylene derived from fossil sources. It means that retailers can more effectively satisfy consumer demands for ‘greener’ packaging.”

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e future DEMONISATION OF PLASTIC With the increased media attention and focus on plastics, not to mention the upcoming plastics packaging tax taking effect from April 2022, Brimelow hopes the industry’s voice can be heard rather than drowned out going forward. He said: “One of the biggest challenges is the demonisation of plastic. It’s a material that’s misunderstood because of a lack of education and mis-messaging, especially when it comes to end-of-life options. This can mean that often the benefits of plastic packaging aren’t really given a chance and that focus is wrongly diverted to other so-called eco-friendly alternatives that don’t always deliver tangible sustainability benefits.”

One of the biggest challenges is the demonisation of plastic. It’s a material that’s misunderstood because of a lack of education and mismessaging, especially when it comes to end-of-life options.

“Another major plastics challenge is the new tax designed to promote a greater volume of recycled plastic content used in packaging. While the premise of using more recycled content is absolutely the way the industry should be heading, a tax risks punishing companies at a time when progression should be encouraged. It could inadvertently mean money is spent on taxes when it should be invested by businesses in sustainability.” He adds: “Associating a tax with plastic will also further demonise the material in the eyes of companies and consumers, which doesn’t necessarily help with efforts to encourage companies to work with the right materials for their product, its application and the products lifecycle. Making a change to a material in isolation will not make a brand sustainable, it is just one element.” COMMUNICATION IS KEY To develop new sustainable packaging technology at Duo, most innovations are driven by working closely with its customers to understand their packaging challenges and wider commercial objectives and ambitions. Brimelow said: “We have open, two-way communications with our suppliers and share with them our objectives, as well as those of our clients, and discuss how we’d like them to steer their innovations. For example, last year we carried out a project to understand the carbon footprint of a mailing bag produced at our site in Manchester and this has identified areas where we can make improvements.” FUTURE AMBITIONS As 2021 begins, the company has no intention of slowing down. Future plans include a further £1 million investment in more new equipment. “This will involve the installation of another conversion machine to increase output and also reduce energy consumption, as the new machinery is more energy efficient,” Brimelow explained. “We have designed a new and unique product aimed at boosting the recyclability of a glue strip bag and are launching our first automated packing machine the ‘Duo Autopac’. Also, with the upcoming plastic tax, we will be working with our clients to re-design their packaging products to include a minimum of 30 per cent recycled content,” Brimelow concluded.

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masterbatch & additives | News DMC expands polymer capabilities with DyeMansion The Digital Manufacturing Centre (DMC) is further enhancing its polymer manufacturing capability through a close collaboration with DyeMansion. The agreement will bring full blasting and colouring process capabilities to the DMC, improving part quality, improving efficiencies and offering a wider array of finishes and colours. In preparation for its official launch in Q1 2021, the DMC has purchased the Powershot C,

Powershot S and DM60 finishing systems from DyeMansion, providing the full print-to-product workflow. The Powershot C is an efficient gentle surface cleaner; the Powershot S is a surface treatment system that provides end-use parts while also enabling the best possible colouring results; and the DM60 is used for colour parts using the DeepDye Colouring technology to offer a virtually unlimited choice of colours.

Ampacet introduces special effects masterbatch

Kieron Salter, Chief Executive Officer at the DMC, said: “The post-processing of polymer parts is all too often overlooked by additive manufacturing companies. For the DMC, this is a crucial element of the process chain and essential to delivering the high-quality parts our customers demand. DyeMansion’s systems

bring in-process flexibility and exceptional finishing, but the collaboration is about more than just the company’s equipment, it’s about a shared vision.” “The DMC will embrace digital production, leveraging data and connectivity to realise the true potential of additive manufacturing.”

The post-processing of polymer parts is all too often overlooked by additive manufacturing companies."

Safic-Alcan further extends partnership with Arkema to cover UK and Ireland Safic-Alcan has announced the implementation of its partnership with Arkema for the distribution of its molecular sieves SILIPORITE range. Following extensive discussions, Arkema and Safic-Alcan have confirmed their intention to negotiate and finalise a distribution agreement covering UK and Ireland, Nordics, Russia, Greece and South East

40

Asia. Further countries may also be added to the scope in the second quarter of 2021. The agreement includes SILIPORITE trademark which provides engineering polyurethane excellence for a wide range of applications, acting by removing residual moisture often present in polyol, solvents or fillers to prevent water from reacting with isocyanate groups.

Yann Lissillour, Managing Director CASE and Industrial specialties, for SaficAlcan Group, said: “We are very pleased with the extension of our partnership with

Arkema molecular sieve for polyurethane applications and beyond, reinforcing a successful focus in our polyurethane capabilities.”

www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk

Ampacet has developed its new Whispers Collection, special effects masterbatch that provides a textural and frosted matte finish for PET applications within all market segments. An extension of the popular Modern Mattes line of special effects masterbatches, Whispers provides a tactile, textural feel in combination with a visual matte effect. Ampacet says the iced energy of the effect is provided without the added expense of a secondary process or mould change. Colours currently available include Blue Breeze, Calmed Coral, Golden Glimmer, Lucid Lilac, Muted Mauve and Soft Celadon. Linda Carroll, Ampacet director of Global Insight and Innovation, said: “The Whispers Collection imparts a look of frozen indulgence for an expressive and airy application of colour that supports natural brand messaging.”

the Whispers collection imparts a look of frozen indulgence for an expressive and airy application of colour."


FEATURE

P AUL MORRIS FOUNDED ADDMASTER WITH A £5000 LOAN OFF HIS GRANDMOTHER, TWENTY YEARS LATER HE HAS BEEN AWARDED AN MBE AND SIGNED A £33 MILLION DEAL TO BECOME PART OF THE POLYGIENE GROUP. HE REFLECTS ON HIS JOURNEY AND HOW HIS PASSION TO PROVIDE BESPOKE MASTERBATCHES TO HELP THE WORLD BECOME MORE HYGIENIC AND PROTECT AGAINST NEW VIRUSES STILL BURNS AS BRIGHT AS EVER.

ROYAL SEAL OF APPROVAL

W

hen Addmaster was first created, a lot of people in the industry thought I was mad. They didn’t say it to my face, instead they wished me good luck and said if I ever needed a job to let them know. For the first time I would sell bespoke masterbatches, but not have a machine to make them on.    There were times, I must admit, where I did wonder if my friends and colleagues were right and I was indeed crazy. Starting a busines of this nature with a baby due and limited resources was an added challenge.   I’m glad I persisted. Today, Addmaster is seen as one of the most creative, entrepreneurial developers of masterbatch additives in the world and we have won many plaudits along the way, including two plastics industry Awards and three Queen’s Awards. CUSTOMER FOCUSED Without the factory costs and associated issues bogging us down, we can sit in front of a customer, relaxed and energised with the single goal of delivering additive masterbatches that will pay for themselves many times over.   When we created the Biomaster range we were able to invest our time and efforts in producing, testing and validating the most sought-after additive in that sector. Not only could we supply a Biomaster masterbatch, made at one of our licenced toll compounders, but we could also spend time introducing them to other clients with antibacterial requirements, carry out industry trials, provide contacts for the NHS and give talks at key strategic events. ‘FREE SPIRIT’ APPROACH This ‘free spirit’ approach to masterbatch development and production resulted in calls from Dulux paints. The same happened with James Cropper paper, who supplied the majority of

hospitals with case note folders. So, in addition to our booming masterbatch portfolio, we now have innovative products for paints, inks, coatings, paper, textiles and even ceramics. One call we received was to see if we could grow bacteria in ground membranes to reduce pollution. Without manufacturing holding us back, we reversed all we knew, and developed new technology that feeds bacteria to digest oil. This has now been rolled out and licenced to the global market leader in Geotextiles.  LOOKING AHEAD The effect of Covid-19 has led to greater market penetration, the airline industry being a prime example. It had been a target of ours for at least 10 years.   Today, the market pull is much different. We are being specified into aircraft seating, wall coverings and Business and First-Class cabins.   Brexit has been a major worry and, as someone who has just been awarded an MBE for services to exports, I thought it could have been handled much better. However, the deal we have now at least gives us no tariffs and a platform to work on to build a new way of working. The UK is so entrepreneurial and, even as a keen ‘Remainer’, I am confident we will find ways to adapt and prosper.   Finally, our recent acquisition by Polygiene will see Addmaster join the Nordic Nasdaq. This is a big step change for us and part of our ambitious growth plans to build our footprint in the UK and the EU.

Without the factory costs and associated issues bogging us down, we can sit in front of a customer, relaxed and energised with the single goal of delivering additive masterbatches that will pay for themselves many times over."

www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk

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Dokument2

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Side 1

Cutting Edge Plastic Ancillary Equipment Solutions since 1943

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EXTRUDERS

ial

Be Soc

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0 Ovesr t3o0view o e id V

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Screws, Barrels and Precision Components for the Plastics and Rubber Industries • Screws: Single, Parallel and Conical Twin. Multi Start & Mixing. Specialist Abrasion & Corrosion Resistant screw coatings. Designs and specifications to suit your specific processing and production requirements. • Barrels: Bimetallic, Through Hardened & Nitride Specifications. Water Cooled, Plain and Pin Barrels for Rubber. • Feed Sections and Liners: Smooth and Grooved bores, Nitride and Bimetallic Specifications.

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Process Experience Manufacturing Expertise Engineering Excellence

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www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk


BP&R BUYER’S GUIDE MATERIALS MASTERBATCH

colour masterbatch C

M

eclipse COLOURS

Y

CM

MY

CY

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Telsonic UK Ltd

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RJG TECHNOLOGIES LTD Moulding Technology

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INTOUCH T: 01604 537100 E: enquiries@ intouchmonitoring.com www.intouchmonitoring.com Real-time production monitoring systems. Designed to be easy to use and providing affordable solutions to all sizes of businesses. Production monitoring, scheduling, reporting, data import/export, databases for parts, tools and operators, integration with other software packages.

T: 01256 741550 F: 01256 741551 E: sales.uk@kistler.com W: www.kistler.com Pressure transducers and associated monitoring/control equipment for new and existing injection moulding applications.

Zero Defect Moulding – What’s your target? • • • •

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PRO-OP™ software provides a step-bystep procedure for optimising the injection moulding process to deliver optimum quality products at the most favourable cycle time. PRO-OP™ is a server based application which, by setting an optimum moulding process, highlights weaknesses and problems in relation to part design, mould design, mould construction, moulding equipment efficiency, moulding equipment specification and material selection.The moulding process is documented with explanations for each key process parameter setting demonstrating the processing conditions and equipment contributions to the final result. PRO-OP™ is aimed at companies whose focus is quality and consistent part manufacture. PRO-OP™ supports companies by providing a documented and structured validation protocol which is recognised in the in the pharmaceutical and medical sectors.

158 Edinburgh Avenue, Slough, Berkshire SL1 4UE T: 01753 756675 F: 01753 551270 E: bucuk.sales@emerson.com W: www.bransoneurope.eu

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BP&R BUYER’S GUIDE MACHINERY & EQUIPMENT Super Bluish Tianium Dioxide

HOT RUNNER SYSTEMS

CONTROL SYSTEMS AND EQUIPMENT QUALITY MONITORING CONTROL Kistler Instruments Ltd

Cavity pressure measurement systems and sensors for control of the injection moulding process and automatic hot-runner balancing, provides zero-defect production with 100% quality control. T: F: E: W:

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As part of our ongoing strategy we are looking to aquire an additional business ideally with a current turnover of between £1-3m PA

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Goldcrest Engineering Technologies Ltd Unit 15 St Johns Way, St Johns Business Estate, Downham Market, Norfolk, PE38 0QQ

Unique group of engineering companies specialising in the development, design & manufacture of Granular Polymer Dehumidifying Dryers under the “Drymaster” Brand

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FILTRATION ALUMINIUM MATERIAL STORAGE BINS Off the shelf or made to order with very competitive pricing!

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Standard sizes available: 80l, 200l, 420l, 830l. Contact us today on 01827 265800 or visit www.summitsystems.co.uk Prices start from £428 10% reduction with offer code:

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Die-Sep mould separators & tippers improve tool room efficiency because they: • Eliminate the need for pry bars and

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TO ADVERTISE IN THis SPACE CONTACT MANDY O’BRIEN: 01244 952519 44

www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk

SECONDHAND AND RECONDITIONED Cooper Plastics Machinery

8 Lyall Court, Flitwick, Bedfordshire MK45 1UX T: 01525 719850 E: Cooperplastics@gmail.com W: www.cooperplastics.co.uk Extruders, water baths, haul-offs, fly knife cutters, conveyors/tip tables, in-line punches, coilers etc. New and used. Repairs, servicing or rebuilds. UK agent for Lyons Electronics.

DTL Machinery UK

- We buy / sell all makes / age / sizes of Plastic Injection Moulding Machinery & Ancillaries equipment. - We also buy redundant, nonrunners & faulty machinery. - Machinery repair and maintenance services available. T: 01925 596170 M: 07838138342 E: info@dtlmachinery.co.uk E: douglastrading@gmail.com

TransXL International Ltd

Plastics Processing Machinery Bought & Sold, Thornhill, South Marston, Wiltshire SN3 4TA T: 01793 827666 F: 01793 823826 E: sales@transxl.co.uk W: www.transxl.co.uk


BP&R BUYER’S GUIDE MACHINERY & EQUIPMENT second hand & re-conditioned

BUSINESS FOR SALE

Gammadot Rheology Testing & Consultancy Services

Selling the Business?

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Visit our workshop in Wellingborough, Northants. 01933 272747

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SERVICES TESTING/CONSULTANCY

TRAINING

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COMPONENT PRINTERS MOULDFLOW ANALYSIS

SOFTWARE

TAMPO.SCREEN.FOIL

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TO ADVERTISE IN THIS SPACE CONTACT MANDY O’BRIEN 01244 952519

TO ADVERTISE IN THis SPACE CONTACT MANDY O’BRIEN: 01244 952519 www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk

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comment

NEWS FROM THE FRONTLINE

IN THE LATEST INSTALMENT OF HIS EXCLUSIVE COLUMN FOR BP&R, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE BPF, PHILIP LAW LOOKS AT THE TRADE DEAL AGREED WITH THE EU AND HOW THE UK GOVERNMENT PLANS FOR THE COUNTRY TO BE ‘THE SINGAPORE OF EUROPE’.

B

PF has hit the ground running since the inception of the New Year. On the one hand there was intense relief that a trade deal was agreed with the EU. We were spared at the eleventh hour of the imposition of import duties on incoming raw materials which have seriously damaged our international competitiveness. On the other hand, companies are reporting difficulties with customs paperwork, associated hold- ups at ports and generally increased costs of getting products out of the country. It’s clear that more needs to be done to brief industry on rules of origin and how to demonstrate conformity with them cost effectively. Against this background we have to look to longer term opportunities. Quietly there is an accretion of trade deals with other countries, orchestrated by the Department for International Trade. Of the 70 trade deals that the EU has with other countries the UK now has ‘roll over deals’ with 60 of these. This includes Norway, Singapore and South Korea. Talks are also actively underway with the US, Australia and New Zealand. Whatever your position on Brexit and the initial fears that we didn’t have enough skilled trade negotiators in the UK, this is not a bad picture. Whilst new initiatives have been announced to assist recovery, we are still lacking a clear, coherent plan for manufacturing. The Prime Minister announced a 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution spearheaded by the UK. It was certainly a statement about what we need to do to be on the right side of history but somewhat lacking in the detail for implementation. It focused on hydrogen, electric vehicles, carbon capture, public transport, homes and public buildings, protecting nature and innovation and finance. In all these areas plastics can make a contribution and we can present ourselves as

an essential vehicle for the delivery of all these points. At the same time the government has ambition to be a low tax, low-regulation regime like Singapore, in fact to be ‘the Singapore of Europe’. This sounds very appealing but the extent to which this can be done without incurring EU penalties remains to be seen. Additionally, we need greater clarity, most likely to be provided in March 11th’s Budget, on how the current aid to the economy will be paid for. Covid-19 has placed us in hock to the tune of £394 billion according to the Office of Budget Responsibility. We are told there is an ambition to restore balance to the Budget as soon as possible. I personally doubt it will be through income tax and Corporation Tax is too valuable a tool in the quest to bring Foreign Direct Investment into the UK to increase it. This leaves tax allowances on pensions and some form of wealth tax as possible candidates. BPF as ever remains in ‘the eye of the storm’. We have had intense Ministerial interest in recent weeks. I had a meeting with Lord Gerry Grimstone, former Chairman of Barclays Bank and a BEIS Minister, on how the BPF could help him sell the UK as a location for Foreign Direct Investment. I also have a meeting with Kwasi Kwarteng, the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy coming up, where I will be telling him about the quintessential role played by plastics in the UK economy and how we have the potential to be a star performer in the broad portfolio of business sectors he is responsible for. BPF paints a positive picture of an industry which wants to be on the right side of history and is a problem solver on the path to getting there. www.bpf.co.uk

Whatever your position on Brexit and the initial fears that we didn’t have enough skilled trade negotiators in the UK, this is not a bad picture.

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www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk


People. Think. Plastics.

Times are Changing K.D. Feddersen UK is your reliable partner For more than 10 years we have been your partner for engineering plastics and machinery in the UK. We will continue to supply you from our UK warehouse with premium products from our global partners both in 2021 and in the future.

Our partners:

www.peoplethinkplastics.com

K.D. Feddersen UK LTD.

Your contact:

Member of the Feddersen Group

Roberta Leech roberta.leech@kdfeddersen.com

Staffordshire ¡ Phone 01889 580212

Andrew Pilling andrew.pilling@kdfeddersen.com


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Profile for BP&R Magazine

BP&R January/February 2021