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A S l A ’ S L E A D l N G m aga z l ne f o r t h e p las t l c s and r u b b e r l nd u s t r y

c o nt e nt s 目 錄

Volume 26, No 182

publlshed slnce 1985

R E G U L A R S 概要

4 Industry News 8 Materials News 12 業 界 新 聞

A S l A’ S L E A D l N G m aga z l ne f o r the plastlcs and rubber lndustry

F E A T U R E S 焦點內容


18 Sabic PC resin has been added to the company’s product line

17 Review – the Chinese 18 Chinaplas show held from 17-20 May in Guangzhou is shaping up to be Asia’s leading with new developments and announcements made by global suppliers

Management – Bob Wrighton 24 reviews the concept of resilience,

IMA 1 Working with other partners, Netstal has developed a packaging solution

26 the compounding sector is growing

Circulation Dona Margaret e-mail:

Compounding – Not surprisingly,

set to play a role in bioplastics development and marketing in Thailand

Thermoforming – Suppliers 28 are aiming to reduce costs in thermoforming with new equipment

instruments – New 30 Testing equipment is expected to give processors an edge in the industry

Supplements in this issue ….. Increasing Asian demand, again, is boosting expansions with machinery makers and auxiliary suppliers announcing growth plans at Chinaplas 2011 ……. The glove industry surges up in Malaysia, which has held the top position as a major producer for eight years now

Cover photo:

A hemp chair with a water-based resin from BASF; puncture-resistant tyre with an inner seal liner introduced by Michelin and the continuing impasse in the glove industry with natural and vinyls are some of the topics in this issue



Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling Editorial/Production Coordinator Angelica Buan e-mail:

Corporate Profile – Thai 27 company PTT Polymer Marketing is

The Malaysian rubber glove industry is growing

Executive Editor Tej Fernandez Tel: +60 3 4260 4575 e-mail:

focusing on organisational resilience in this first part of the series

in Asia with stunted growth expected in Europe


Publisher Arthur Schavemaker Tel: +31 547 275005 e-mail:

Singapore Office Contact: Anthony Chan Tel: +65 63457368 e-mail:

Permits ISSN 1360-1245

MICA (P) 187/08/2010 KDN PPS 1700/12/2011 (028142) Printer KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd

PRA is published 8 times a year in Mandarin and English by Kenter & Co Publishers’ Representatives BV. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this publication is correct, the publisher makes no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the nature or accuracy of such material to the extent permitted by applicable law. © 2011 Kenter & Co Publishers’ Representatives BV No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or used in any form, or by any means, without specific prior permission from the publisher. PRA is circulated free to trade readers in the plastics and rubber industry. Airmail subscriptions are available at US$160 within Asia and US$250 to all other countries outside Asia.

PRA is a member of ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation)


Asia is the largest consumer of plasticisers


he market for plasticisers will grow by more than 4% per year in India, Russia and Brazil while the US and Western Europe will have below average growth, says a new report from Ceresana Research. It also says that the Asia-Pacific region is already the largest market for plasticisers, with China holding the top

position with a share of about two thirds. The most important application areas of plasticisers include the construction industry, especially floorings, profiles, cables, accounting for more than half of all demand because some PVC grades contain up to 40% of plasticisers. However, demand in the adhesive,

paint and rubber industries is increasing faster than in the plastics sector. Even though there is a concerted effort by the industry to move to eco-friendly plasticisers, last year, the market was still dominated by phthalate plasticisers. With a 54% share, DEHP was the most important plasticiser used. But it will

be increasingly replaced by other plasticisers over the next few years, such as those based on vegetable oils. In the US, for example, alternative plasticisers had a 30% share last year. Overall, the market will achieve revenues of US$4.8 billion or 7.6 million tonnes by 2018, says the market research company.

Suppliers in the race to expand PET output globally


ne of the largest vertically integrated polyester chain producers in the world, Thai company Indorama Ventures, is now increasing its capacity for purified terephthalic acid (PTA) in Europe and is looking at establishing PET and PTA plants in Asia and the Middle East. Meanwhile, another supplier that is neck and neck with Indorama in the race to be the world’s largest PET producer is Italian company M&G. It will build a 1 million-tonne single-line PET plant in the US. Indorama is already expanding its PET plant in the Netherlands by 190,000 tonnes to 390,000 tonnes, to come on stream next year, and now it will add on 250,000 tonnes of PTA capacity at the site. This expansion will be completed in 2014 and will take the total capacity to 600,000 tonnes/year. Together with its Rotterdam PTA plant and the 192,000 tonnes/year Indorama



produces in Italy, the company will produce 792,000 tonnes of PTA for Europe. Indorama is also planning to increase its PET output in Europe further with a 220,000 tonnes/year plant (at a yet to be identified location), taking its European PET capacity to 1.3 million tonnes/year. Plus, it is in the process of buying Trevira fibres and filaments, which operates in Germany and Poland, through a joint venture with Italy-based Sinterama. In Asia, the company is expanding capacity at Indorama Ventures Indonesia (formerly SK Keris) by adding a 300,000tonne continuous polymerisation resin plant in Purwakarta, to the 160,000 tonnes/ year PET and polyester filament yarn plant. To start up by 2013, the plant will cater to Indonesia and other Asian countries. In Africa, it is setting up its first 75,000 tonnes/ year PET plant in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Already operating 24 plants in 11 countries, Indorama has allocated US$2.3 billion of its capital expenditure budget on mergers and acquisitions and is on the look out for further buys. It is in talks for four mergers, two of which are expected to be concluded this year and plans to expand its operations to India and the Middle East. It has already completed its acquisition of a Chinese plant and is ramping up output of PTA there to 3.8 million tonnes. In the first quarter of 2011, its total capacity increased to 5.4 million tonnes/year with addition from acquisitions of around 1.75 million tonnes, of which 1.4 million tonnes is for PET and 0.35 million tonnes for polyester fibres and yarns. By 2013, its total capacity will increase to 6.7 million tonnes. Meanwhile, the family-owned M&G had initially planned its US plant in 2007 but delayed it due to the global financial crisis. It says

there is now “room” for its plant in the country since demand has recovered and several plants have closed or been sold over the past few years. The company says its PET technology allows it to build plants over four times larger than those achievable with commercially available technologies and can be combined with PTA plants with matching sizes and efficiency. Hence, included in M&G’s plan is the building of a 1.2 milliontonne PTA unit. The technology, including the EasyUp SSP process, is the same as that already used in M&G’s single-reactor Brazilian PET plant, which came on stream in 2007 and has since been debottlenecked to increase capacity to 650,000 tonnes/year. The new American plants will be located at a site still to be decided in Texas, Mississippi or Louisiana. The company’s total capacity in 2010 was 1.6 million tonnes/year.


New joint venture for acrylics in Middle East


o meet the growing market for acrylics, Sabic and Mitsubishi Rayon Company (MRC) have formed 50:50 joint venture company to build and operate two plants – one for methyl methacrylate (MMA), and the other for polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) – at one of Sabic’s manufacturing affiliates in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The MMA plant will be the largest ever built, with a 250,000tonne/year capacity. It will use Lucite International’s (LI) Alpha technology, which was first commercialised with its Alpha 1 plant that began operation in Singapore in 2008. LI is a subsidiary of MRC that acquired it in 2009. The PMMA plant will be based on MRC's technology and will have a capacity of 40,000 tonnes/year. Sabic and MRC have entered into this new partnership to further

their strategic goals. Sabic will broaden its speciality portfolio by drawing on the technological expertise of MRC while the latter will strengthen its leadership position in acrylics by utilising readily available raw materials in Saudi Arabia. The MMA/PMMA joint venture will introduce new products, manufactured for the first time in the Middle East. These will diversify materials used in industrial clusters, thus allowing expansion and further diversification in Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector; creating new opportunities in the downstream industries, such as construction, automotive, electronics, medical technologies and appliances. It can therefore be concluded that this project will have a positive impact on value creation in Saudi Arabia, enabling industry to move further downstream.

Ashland makes a purchase


aving sold its resin and chemicals distribution unit to a private equity firm last year, US company Ashland is now acquiring privately owned speciality chemicals firm International Specialty Products (ISP) for US$3.2 billion. The reason for the buy is for Ashland to expand its market positions in

higher margin, higher growth and less cyclical global markets. Ashland produces vinyl esters and polyesters that are used in composites. Amongst the products manufactured by ISP are watersoluble polymers, styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) and additives. ISP had a turnover of US$1.6 billion last year.


TDI output ramped up to meet Chinese demand


n anticipation of a double-digit growth of the TDI (toluene diisocyanate) market and to cater to the Chinese demand, German chemicals supplier BASF will build the world’s largest single-train plant in Europe. The plant will have a capacity of 300,000 tonnes/ year and will be fully

News In Brief China cracks down further on plastic bags The most populous country in the world will expand a ban on free shopping bags, with bookstores and pharmacies joining the ranks of supermarkets that have had to charge for plastic bags since June 2008, according to the official Xinhua news agency. In a bid to rid the country of “white pollution”, the country had also banned the use of ultra-thin plastic bags in 2008. Around 3 billion plastic bags were being used daily in China before the 2008 ban. Since then, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), 24 billion fewer plastic bags have been used every year. Technical centre in Japan for Victrex As part of PEEK producer Victrex’s continued drive to cater to customers’



integrated with precursor production. The company has not decided on the location and will build it either in Belgium or Germany where it has plant sites. It will start up in 2014. Engineering is underway and the final site selection will be announced shortly. The company says the investment supports

needs, it will build a second technical centre in Asia. The Japanese centre will have characterisation, analysis and processing capabilities similar to those in China and the UK. New name, same business German speciality chemicals company Lanxess has given its Basic Chemicals unit a new name. It is now known as Advanced Industrial Intermediates (AII) to establish a direct link to the product portfolio, which includes advanced intermediates for the agriculture, personal care, automotive, plastics and coatings sectors. The company says acquisitions in India and China have changed the face of its business unit, for example its adipic acid business shifted from the Semi-Crystalline Products unit to AII. It generated sales of EUR1.3 billion in

its growth strategy and reinforces its position as the largest TDI producer. Apart from China, the new capacity is also targeted at markets in the US, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa and other Asian countries. TDI is a key component for the PU industry and is largely

fiscal 2010. Dow starts up Thai plant US-based Dow Chemical will commercially start operating its Thai speciality elastomers plant in June. A project of the SCG-Dow joint venture, the new manufacturing operation in Rayong Province, will increase Dow’s global capacity for polyolefin elastomers to over 800,000 tonnes. The company says it will be able to expand its reach in Asian markets and maintain a costcompetitive position. It produces Engage polyolefin elastomers, Affinity adhesives, Infuse OBCs, and Versify plastomers and elastomers. RPM increases stake in Indian firm US-based RPM International, a company engaged in speciality coatings, sealants and building materials, has agreed to increase its minority interest in India’s Kemrock

used in the automotive industry (for example seating cushion and interior applications) as well as in the furniture segment (for example flexible foams for mattresses, cushions or wood coating). BASF operates TDI plants in the US, Germany, South Korea and China.

Industries and Exports from 14.9% to 15.1%. As a result of this, RPM is required under Indian law to commence a public offer for up to an additional 20% of the outstanding shares of Kemrock. Traded on the Bombay Stock Exchange, Kemrock is a fully integrated fibreglassreinforced composites manufacturer with more than US$200 million in annual sales. It manufactures pultruded profiles, gratings, windmill blades, thermosetting resins, rail coach interiors and exteriors, cable management, piping and access systems, lighting poles and carbon fibre. More additives in China Beijing Tiangang Auxiliary is constructing a new plant that will double its output of hindered amine light stabilisers to 14,000 tonnes by 2013. The new plant will be located in Hebei province, where the company is headquartered.



Full steam ahead for bioplastics Globally, the market for bioplastics is growing at an average of 20% a year, spurred by demand in all sectors like automotive, consumer electronics and packaging. Meanwhile, various companies are teaming up to further promote R&D activities and raw material production.

Europe leading but Asia catching up in bioplastics Global bioplastics production capacity will more than double from 700,000 tonnes in 2010 to 1.7 million-tonnes in 2015, with capacity predicted to pass the 1 million tonne mark in 2011, according to a study conducted by industry association European Bioplastics, in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover. A further change is evident in the composition of global production volume. In 2010, 400,000 tonnes of biodegradable materials (compared to 300,000 tonnes of bio-based commodity plastics) were produced. This ratio will be reversed in the coming years. According to the study, bio-based commodity plastics, with a total of around 1 million tonnes, will make up the majority of production in 2015. Biodegradable materials will, however, also grow substantially and will reach about 700,000 tonnes.

Essential to this rapid growth is the swift expansion of bioplastics into an increasing number of applications, from packaging and car parts to toys, carpets and electronic components. Europe is the world’s largest market for bioplastics and a leader in R&D. In contrast, the number of facilities is growing most markedly in Asia and South America. Teaming up for bioplastics Dutch company DSM has teamed up with US-based renewable chemicals company Elevance Renewable Sciences to research new bio-based thermoplastics. Elevance will provide its plant oil-based natural monomers along with its proprietary metathesis technology – in which atom groups in molecules change places with one another in the presence of a catalyst to form different molecules – to enable the production of polymers. DSM will provide experience in polymer research, application development and commercialisation. Elsewhere, Japanese chemicals producer Mitsubishi Chemical will set up a joint venture company with US-based Genomatica to construct the first bio-BDO (butanediol) plant in Asia. This plant will use Genomatica’s direct, one-step technology and leverage Mitsubishi’s leadership in BDO applications and marketing. Genomatica and Mitsubishi will also explore the development of basic and intermediate green chemicals. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi has invested in Genomatica as part of a US$45 million Series C-1 funding. Genomatica is constructing a pilot-scale plant for its bio-BDO, through a strategic partnership with Tate & Lyle. BDO, an intermediate chemical with a US$4 billion market worldwide, is used to make spandex, automotive plastics, running shoes and more. In other news, Dutch lactic acid derivatives producer Purac, a subsidiary of CSM, is investigating participating in a bioprocess pilot facility in a consortium that includes DSM and the Delft University of Technology. This pilot plant will be built in Delft, the Netherlands, and will research next generation bioprocesses. Another Dutch company Rodenburg has appointed IMCD Group to market its Solanyl biopolymers range. Rodenburg has been making biopolymers for the past ten years and has a 65,000 tonnes/year plant at Oosterhout. Solanyl is based on potato starch and is available in injection moulding, sheet extrusion, thermoforming and blow moulding grades, with a blown film grade soon to be launched. Since it is in its third generation production, Rodenburg was looking at volume marketing, hence its tie-up with IMCD, a EUR1 billion turnover group present in 34 countries in Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa. Competition to PET Another Dutch company Avantium has started up a pilot plant in Geleen, the Netherlands, to produce bio-based polyesters, such as PEF (polyethylene-furanoate). This is the first part of the pilot plant that Avantium is building at its new site to demonstrate its YXY technology. Avantium acquired the plant from Johnson Matthey in the UK, which used to produce PET.



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PEF is a next-generation bio-based polyester that will compete with oil-based PET. Avantium says that PEF has numerous superior properties over PET, including barrier properties (oxygen, carbon dioxide and water) and its ability to withstand heat. The YXY technology makes it possible to produce a 100% bio-based and 100% recyclable polyester. Avantium is actively working on the development of PEF bottles. Barking up the right tree In Canada, Huntsman Polyurethanes has been invited to join a project that will research the use of tree bark in the production of PUs. The project is being investigated by the Bark Biorefinery Consortium Project, a four-year joint venture between academia and industry to find ways of extracting value from timber industry waste. With a budget of EUR3.8 million, it is funded by the Province of Ontario, together with other institutions and industry partners. Huntsman’s CoreScience unit in the US will work with the University of Toronto, which is leading the project. The team will focus on one core element of the initiative – converting bark into value-added intermediates for PU to achieve improved properties and more renewable content. Previous research in this area has shown that incorporating bark products into other polymers can result in improved thermal stability and fire resistance as well as improved adhesive properties. More succinic platforms; Asia on the horizon Succinic acid is a chemical building block used in the manufacture of polymers and bio-based succinic acid will be an alternative to petroleum-derived chemical building blocks such as adipic acid and 1.4-butanediol. As a result of price competiveness and its renewable nature, biobased succinic acid is addressing a larger market than oil-based succinic acid. As such, DSM is teaming up with French starch and starch derivatives company Roquette to build a commercial scale plant for the production of bio-based succinic acid. With a capacity of 1,000 tonnes/year, the plant will be Europe’s largest. It is expected to come on stream in 2012 and will be built on Roquette’s site in Cassano Spinola, Italy. This is another step in DSM and Roquette’s relationship that started in 2008. Last year, both companies opened a pilot plant in Lestrem, France, which has been running at full capacity. The companies will also establish a joint venture company known as Reverdia. Mitsubishi Chemical is busy in the bio-based field and has also joined forces with US firm BioAmber to find a lower cost bio-based succinic acid that will in turn reduce the price of Mitsubishi’s patented polybutylene succinate (PBS) resin, a renewable biodegradable polymer. The aim of the tie-up is also to boost the bio-content of PBS to more than 50% and accelerate its growth potential. BioAmber has started to supply Mitsubishi with bio-based succinic acid produced in Europe and has also secured the right to source bio-based PBS from Mitsubishi for its modified PBS polymers, which are marketed through BioAmber’s Sinoven biopolymers subsidiary.




As well, BioAmber and its Asian distribution partner Mitsui will be the exclusive suppliers of biobased succinic acid to Mitsubishi. Meanwhile, the three companies are conducting a feasibility study for the building of a succinic acid facility next to Mitsubishi’s planned PBS plant in Thailand. BioAmber operates the world’s only dedicated biobased succinic acid plant and has partnerships with other market leaders including Cargill and DuPont Applied Biosciences. It is leveraging its experience to also develop bio-based adipic acid. In China, the country’s largest compounder Kingfa Science & Technology says its subsidiary, Zhuhai Wa n t o n g C h e m i c a l , h a s c o m m e r c i a l i s e d a l i n e o f biodegradable aliphatic co-polyesters or polybutylene succinate adipate (PBSA). The plant, located in Guangdong province, will produce 30,000 tonnes/year of PBSA, which is used in packaging/agriculture film, paper coating, medical products and foam. Adding resistance to PLA Two US companies, Dow Plastics Additives (a business unit of Dow Chemical) and polymer materials supplier PolyOne, have teamed up to introduce OnCap BIO L masterbatches for packaging and semi-durable applications such as cosmetic packaging and housings for laptops and mobile phones. PolyOne’s OnCap BIO L is based on Paraloid BPM520, an impact modifier manufactured by Dow to help improve the impact resistance of opaque, injectionmoulded PLA products with minimal effect on heat distortion temperature and stiffness. Since PLA is brittle it requires modifiers to improve its resistance and it is with this in mind that Paraloid BPM-520 has been designed. It also offers benefits in PLA blends such as PLA/PC. It can be used in compliance with the Commission Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 for food contact plastics materials and with US FDA requirements. Paraloid is produced by Dow at its plant in Jurong Island, Singapore. Compression moulded composites hemp chair German chemicals company BASF, with designer Werner Aisslinger, has produced what it says is the world’s

The compression moulded hemp chair is stackable


first monobloc chair made of natural fibres. The chair is designed in the tradition of monobloc (one piece) stackable chairs, which are often made of plastics. The composite material consists of more than 75% natural fibres, like hemp and kenaf, which are c o m p r e s s e d w i t h B A S F ’s w a t e r- b a s e d t h e r m o s e t b i n d e r, A c r o d u r. U n l i k e c l a s s i c r e a c t i v e r e s i n s , this method releases only water during the curing process and no organic substances such as phenol or formaldehyde. The hemp chair was produced by compression moulding, a process used to make natural fibre composite parts for the car industry like door linings, shelves and other interior trim parts. This process allows for low-cost mass production of threedimensional objects with high mechanical resistance and low specific weight.

produced certified kosher glycerin, which meets USP specifications since April 2009. Challenging the paradigm that PS is not recyclable, US company Ineos Styrenics has introduced a new line of PS products containing post consumer recycled PS. The new product launch includes two products, each with 25% regrind supplied by NextLife. The FDA-approved grades are designed for i n j e c t i o n m o u l d i n g a p p l i c a t i o n s s u c h a s c u t l e r y, housewares, office accessories and appliance components. ◆

Making headway with commercialisations US company Archer Daniels Midland ( A D M) h a s o p e n e d a bio-based propylene glycol facility in Decatur, Illinois. The facility started up operations in late March and is now producing industrialgrade, bio-based propylene glycol. ADM says it will ramp up the plant’s capacity and work towards adding production of propylene glycol that meets USP (US Pharmacopeia) specifications. A D M ’s E v o l u t i o n Chemicals line of bio-based industrial products, such as isosorbide, propylene glycol, glycerin, industrial ethanol and ethylene glycol, is derived from renewable resources l i k e c o r n a n d s o y. The facility has also





複 合 材 料

複合材料生產商 業績表現好壞參半 應用市場信息(AMI)的最新報告指出,全球 的複合材料行業正在發生變化,亞洲市場保持 成長勢頭,反之歐洲市場則放緩。 歐洲市場正走下坡 根據行業顧問 AMI 所發表的一項報告,儘管亞洲及拉 丁美洲的複合材料市場繼續走強,然而歐洲市場卻面 對需求萎縮局面,當地的複合材料生產商正重組他們 的業務。 對於歐洲的複合材料行業,AMI 指南所列的複合 材料生產商數目下降了 5%,說明去年全球性衰退對此 行業帶來一些影響。從 2006 年至 2009 年,市場萎縮 了 100 萬公噸,降減數額沒有進一步擴大可說是出乎 意料。 根據 AMI ,複合材料生產量在 2010 年復甦,總生 產量達到將近 760 萬公噸。 在2009年市場低迷的時候,複合材料生產商傾 向於減少信貸風險更甚於尋求保持產量或增加市場份

額。一般而言,這意味著複合材料生產商對經濟衰退 作出反應,設法維持或增加利潤,而不是追求數量。 這個行業沒有出現更多的破產或降價銷售,證明了複 合材料生產商成功的做到這點。

亞洲正處於成長勢頭 比較全球經濟衰退對複合材料行業的影響,亞洲卻呈 現另一番景象。上一期 AMI 指南列出的亞洲複合材 料生產點(在經濟衰退前出版),數目多達 841 個, 最新一期指南列出的複合材料生產點數目則增加將近 25 %(超過 1000 個)。2008 年金融風暴時,亞洲 市場雖出現停滯現象,但是次年卻繼續擴大,穩步前 進,並在 2010 年取得強勁成長。2010 年的複合材料 輸出量相信接近 1 千 100 萬公噸。 拉丁美洲的複合材料需求量也出現強勁成長,最 新報告所列的百多家公司取得將近 7% 的增長率。不 過,該行業的規模比歐洲及亞洲小得多,2010 年的生 產量僅僅超過 120 萬公噸。 AMI 的 分 析 報 告 亦 顯 示 , 複 合 材 料 的 生 產 架 构 因地區而異。在亞洲,色彩複合材料獲得廣泛使 用,而色母粒只佔生產量的一小份額。在所有的市 場,PVC 複合材料有著相似的趨勢,而 工 程 聚 合 物 的複合材料在亞洲及歐洲市場則佔了較顯著的份 額 。◆

其他 PVC 複合材料 色母粒 工程聚合物 技術聚烯烴 色彩複合材料 歐洲 2010 年區域性的熱塑性複合材料生產量







PTT 擴大其 產品組合 PTT Polymer Marketing (PTTPM) 已準備就 緒,在開發生物塑料及泰國的市場銷售扮演一 定的角色。Thailand PRA 從這家公司的總裁 Pramin Phantawesak 口中獲悉,該公司在 準備開發這些產品和其他的產品。

國有望成為亞洲的生物塑料樞紐,很多公司宣 佈有意在該國設立相關設備。配合泰國政府鼓 勵私人界在該國設立生物塑料工廠的政策,石油化 學兼下遊工業供應商 PTT Group 已涉足綠色化學品。 有 鑒 於 此 , PTT Group 屬 下 的 市 場 及 銷 售 / 服 務臂膀 PTT Polymer Marketing (PTTPM) 將會變得 特 別 忙 碌 。 這 是 因 為 除 了 母 公 司 生 產 的 HDPE 及 LLDPE 樹脂,PTTPM 將覆蓋更廣泛的產品組合。除 了銷售產品,PTTPM 也參與在該​​國開發生物塑料的 工作。公司總裁 Pramin Phantawesak 說,“我們向 公眾提供信息,並與泰國及一些東南亞國家的主要 品牌擁有者、轉換商和多家研究機构聯手開發產品 與市場。幾個配方已經獲得批准,並應用在我們的 目標用途上。” 最 近 , PTT Chemical 與 美 國 的 Myriant 簽 署 一 項協議,進一步推動綠色化學品製造技術。明年, Myriant 將啟用在美國的 1 萬 4 千公噸/年產量的丁 二酸廠,而 PTT 已投資 6 千萬美元在 Myriant ,合作 推動研發工作。 PTT 的 其 他 合 作 項 目 是 與 日 本 的 Mitsubishi Chemical 聯營一家 50:50 的合資公司。這家稱為 PTT MCC Bio-Chem 的公司計劃在首兩年設計 2 萬公噸/ 年產量的 PBS(聚丁二酸)設備和研發替代技術, 生產供作生物琥珀酸(BSA)的基質。第二階段將建 造一家 3 萬 6 千公噸/年產量的 PBS 及 BSA 工廠。 該公司預計在 2014 年年杪開始商業運作,產品將在 國內及國際市場銷售。

推出更多產品 Pramin 表 示 , 除 了 LDPE 及 HDPE, PTT 正 在 增

加其特殊產品組合,開發迎合特定要求的獨特產 品。“我們自 2000 年起即與全球的主要客戶進行研 發特殊產品的工作。目前有近五分之一的 HDPE 產能 是專為這些特殊要求而設。我們計劃在 5 年內把銷售 量提高一倍。” 去年,PTTPM 也與泰國的化學品供應商 IRPC 合 作。他解釋說,“該公司提供透明的同質聚丙烯、 UHMW HDPE、綠色 ABS 和聚合物催化劑,以及 衝擊改良劑等添加劑。 這些特殊產品是在去年 推出,我們現正幫助 IRPC 落 實 為 市 場 供 應 這 些產品的計劃。” 當問及母公司是否 有 意 提 高 HDPE 及 LDPE的產量時, Pramin 回 答 說 , “ PTT 正在展開 多項可行 性 的 研 究,但一切 仍處於研究階 段。未來二至三年 Pramin Phantawesak 預計到了 將不會有任何新的 2015 年,該公司將進行更多非 PTT 的工作 HDPE/LDPE 產 能 變化。不過,現有 的一些 HDPE/LDPE 產 能 將 轉 移 至 更 加 專 業 類 型 的 產品。” 隨 著 HDPE及 LDPE 的 原 料 價 格 攀 升 , 今 年 對 樹脂業來說是極為波動的一年。有鑒於此,PRA 對 Pramin 提出了關於價格穩定的問題。Pramin 坦率地 回答說,“這是一個常被問及的問題。知悉此問題 之答案的人將成為世界最富有的人!” 他繼續說道,“雖然需求/供應平衡被認為是 傾向於買家,但全球的需求成長速度卻超出人們所 能估計的。我們相信 PE/PP 的價格會及將會繼續上 升,而我們正走出循環週期的底部。” 至於未來的展望,Pramin 說該公司的愿景是成 為一家國際貿易公司,在 2015 年達到 30 億美元銷 售額。他補充說,“我們不僅是為 PTT Group 服務, 我們同時也進行貿易業務。屆時,我們的營收有大 約20%是來自非 PTT 製造商的聚合物貿易。” ◆ PRA




Chinese machinery and technology

More investments pour into China and Asia With China’s plastics consumption having increased by a whopping 270% or 46 kg/person in the last five years, it has become the largest plastics consuming country, according to the China Plastics Processing Industry Association. It is for this reason that companies are announcing further investments in the country and in the region. Chinaplas grows The recent Chinaplas 2011, which was held from 17-20 May in Guangzhou, has become an important event in the region as 94,000 visitors, of which 20% were from overseas, came to the four-day show. The organiser Adsale says that it is now the world’s second largest trade show, after the K fair in Germany.

Sabic’s film facility in Nansha

The organiser of Chinaplas says the show had 15.5% more visitors than last year

This was its 25th edition and it had 2,441 exhibitors from 34 countries and 11 pavilions from Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, UK and the US, with Turkey making its inaugural appearance, over the 180,000 sq m space. Sabic and BMS hone into Chinese PC market Asia currently accounts for more than 60% of the world’s polycarbonate (PC) production and by 2015 the region’s capacity is expected to rise to 65%. China accounts for the majority of this demand and is regarded as the main market due to the growth of its automotive, rail, consumer appliance and electronic industries. Against this backdrop, Sabic is collaborating with China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) to build a 260,000 tonnes/year PC plant, with an investment of around US$1 billion and start up by 2015. Sabic entered the PC business five years ago when it




set up Saudi Kayan with Al-Kayan Petrochemical in Saudi Arabia and later bought GE Plastics (now known as Sabic Innovative Plastics or Sabic IP) and its Lexan PC brand. It is now taking its PC output a step further by producing it in China through SSTPC (Sinopec Sabic Tianjin Petrochemical). Fully operational since 2010, Tianjin-based SSTPC produces petrochemicals like ethylene, PE, ethylene glycol, PP, butadiene, phenol and butene-1. The new PC plant will be located in SSTPC and will use Sabic’s phosgene and dichloromethane-free process. With six major PC facilities worldwide, including Tianjin, Sabic will have a total capacity of 1.6 million tonnes, making it the largest producer of PC globally, said Charlie Crew, President/CEO of Sabic IP at Chinaplas. The company will also expand its PC compounding capacity in Shanghai by 2012. This addition comes on the heels of a similar compounding expansion in Nansha last year. It also added a speciality extrusion line for optical grade PC and textured products in Nansha this year, and expects to add on further capacity of these lines in Asia from 20122014. These additions are part of the company’s strategy to support the consumer electronics, electrical, solar, security and automotive industries. Meanwhile, having recently started up its 260,000 tonne-capacity Kayan plant, it is marketing the resin as Sabic PC. Targeted at high-volume extrusion, custom

Chinese machinery and technology

compounding, general purpose and optical-quality applications in Asia, the Middle East and Europe, it already has a customer in the form of CMC Magnetics, said to be the world’s largest optical disc manufacturer, with factories in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. Crew also said the company will diversify into PP compounding with two new facilities in Northern and Western China to cater to the country’s automotive market. He also indicated that the company will produce “other chemicals with Sinopec” and set up an ABS compounding plant, both to be announced later. It recently made public its acrylic joint venture with Mitsubishi Rayon. In other news, since Sabic has had a growth of 20% in Asia since the start of its involvement in 1985, the company will add on two technology and innovation centres in China and India. The T&I centre in Shanghai will house the new Greater China Regional Headquarters, which will oversee regional operations, sales and marketing, and spearhead R&D of petrochemical products for Asia. The Indian centre in Bangalore will focus on various areas of research. Both centres are expected to be operational in 2013. Another company that is wooing the Chinese PC market is Bayer MaterialScience (BMS). It will move the headquarters of its PC operations from Leverkusen in Germany to Shanghai and expand its Makrolon capacity to 500,000 tonnes/year at its integrated site. It will build a 200,000 tonnes/year facility and also at the same location, increase its existing plant capacity to 300,000 tonnes/year, all part of its EUR1 billion investment plan until 2016, announced last year. Though the German company did not exhibit at Chinaplas, it reiterated its plans announced last year that include setting up the first Colour Competence and Design Centre in Chongqing, as well as a polyurethane (PU) system house. Rainer Rettig, Head of the Business Unit Polycarbonates in Asia Pacific, said this strategy is to meet the needs of the IT, electronics and OEMs that are moving their facilities away from coastal regions to the West. In terms of sales, China is the second largest market in the world for BMS and it is targeting to increase group sales to EUR5 billion by 2015.

of hybrid and electric vehicles and also in hand-held devices, electrical appliances and consumer products. DuPont says the increasing drive to reduce size and weight in consumer markets is present in all its markets, from sporting goods equipment to consumer tools. It markets four grades of the PPA-based material: HTN92 (long-term retention of mechanical properties), HTN51 (stiffness and strength retention under high temperatures and chemical exposure), HTN52 (moulds in water-heated tools), and HTN54 (increased toughness and improved retention of mechanical properties with moisture). Meanwhile, another US company, Kraton Performance Polymers, will soon decide where it will locate its Asian facility for HSBCs (hydrogenated styrenic block copolymers). Expected to start up by 2013, the facility will have a capacity of 30 kilotonnes. Though it planned for the facility four years ago, it put it on hold due to the global economic crisis. Last year, the Asian market accounted for 21% of the company’s total revenue and 43% of this was derived from the higher margin HSBC products, hence its urgency now to set up a plant in the region, said Lothar Freund, Vice-President of Technology. “We will focus on differentiation and explore new markets with our HSBC range of products,” he said, adding that HSBCs can be used as alternatives to PVC in automotive, electronic and medical applications. Having relocated its Shanghai office to a new facility, double the size of the previous one, Kraton also plans to increase its workforce in China over the next year.

Further expansions in Asia With demand for high-performance materials growing worldwide, especially in Asia, DuPont Performance Polymers is increasing capacity for its Zytel HTN PA by building its first polymerisation facility in Asia, at its facility in Sakra, Singapore. This is in addition to the recent commercialisation of two compounding facilities in Shenzhen, China. The Sakra facility will be able to produce 20,000 tonnes of the polymer by 2013 while the Shenzhen compounding site is already adding 30,000 tonnes of GRZ nylon resins and 10,000 tonnes of HTN PPA. T h e U S c o m p a n y a l s o r e c e n t l y o p e n e d a n automotive centre at its Shanghai-based R&D centre. Zytel is targeted at metal replacement in under-thehood applications in cars and in the electronic systems




Chinese machinery and technology


US companies stake out Asia for investments Speaking at a press conference, CEO of Styron Chris Pappas, said the company’s commitment to Asia is a top priority and new compounding capacity would most probably be set up in China, where it already has two facilities that produce its styrene-based plastics. It realises 17% of its business from Asia, especially China, where it is seeing its highest growth and supplies mainly high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) as an alternative to engineering resins like ABS, said Pappas. It introduced A-Tech HIPS grades of 1110 and 1180 that are designed to replace ABS in the toy market and air-conditioner housings respectively. Two other grades, both in the XQ family, are aimed at replacing ABS in small appliances. It was also promoting its Emerge 7800 and 7880 PC/ABS resins that contain 4050% post consumer recyclate and have been developed for consumer electronics. Styron, which was set up last year when it was bought by private equity firm Bain Capital from Dow Chemical, supplies PS, ABS, SAN and compounds based on PC, PS and PP. Apart from facilities in China, it also manufactures in the US, Brazil, Indonesia, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. It has a PC plant in Germany and compounding plants in Taiwan and the Netherlands. Another American supplier, Ascend Performance

Materials, is expanding its presence in Asia to meet t h e g r o w i n g d e m a n d . O n e o f t h e w o r l d ’s l a r g e s t producers of PA66, the company recently opened an office in Guangzhou and has hired key executives in Shanghai. It has five facilities in the US and will be putting in more capacity there to meet the demand in Asia, said Scott Rook, Vice-President of Plastics, at a press conference. He emphasised the region’s importance, stating that half the company’s business comes from Asia and accounts for 40% of its overall turnover. Its nylon is used in a variety of applications, including automotive and electronic/electrical parts. Ascend was established in 2009 by private equity firm SK Capital Partners when it purchased US company Solutia’s nylon business. Meanwhile, Dow Chemical’s focus at the show w a s o n s u s t a i n a b i l i t y, w h i c h i t s a y s i s n o t j u s t about minimising resource use but also about the performance attributes or value created by a product. The company is also targeting to achieve 10% of its sales from sustainable chemistry products by 2015. And it is for this reason it was promoting its Elite Advanced Technology PE resins at the show. The proprietary and patent-pending post-metallocene mLLDPEs, which have been developed using Dow’s Insite technology, promote downgauging in sealant, stretch wrap and stretch hood films.

Chinese machinery and technology

European companies take a share of the pie, too German chemical giant BASF, meanwhile, is doubling its capacity for engineering plastics at its Pudong plant to 110,000 tonnes/year by 2015. Also in Shanghai, a new plant for Cellasto automotive spring aids, made from microcellular polyurethane (PU) elastomers, will start operating this year, and the company recently broke ground for a new PU system house in Tianjin, to start up by 2012. Also for the PU market, BASF recently broke ground for a 400,000 tonnes/year MDI project in Chongqing. The RMB8 billion complex includes a PU system house and will start up by 2014. All this is in line with the company’s plans to invest EUR2.3 billion in Asia between 2011-2015, said Tobias Haber, Head of Speciality Plastics, Asia Pacific. In addition, BASF was promoting its Ecovio and Ecoflex biodegradable resins. Having run a pilot composting programme in Thailand and Germany, BASF is focusing on the use of its resins for agricultural film and plastic bags that can be composted. It also introduced two Ultramid PA grades for junction boxes and connectors in the solar industry, and a new light stabiliser Tinuvin XT 100, which extends the life of agricultural films. Spanish TPU supplier Merquinsa has also opened an office in Guangzhou to provide product training, application development and technical sales and marketing support. It says this will “better meet the growing market demand for higher value and sustainable applications.” It also said that it is helping Chinese customers “to grow profitably

BASF says its new light stabiliser combines an economic improvement in agricultural film with the benefits of UV protection

in a wide range of industries such as footwear, textile and automotive.” The company plans to hire TPU engineers in China to support its strategic growth. At Chinaplas, Merquinsa introduced a bioTPU, with a 62% bio-content, for electronic applications like mobile phones. Pearlthane ECO D12T80 is a soft, transparent, UV and scratch-resistant grade that features 40% lower CO2 emissions. Another supplier Borouge used the show to reiterate its plans for the region. Last year, it started up a 50,000 tonnes/ year compounding plant in Shanghai, with an R&D centre, and logistics hubs in both Shanghai and Guangzhou. It is now planning a second compounding plant in Nansha, with a capacity of 105,000 tonnes/years and to start up by 2012. On a global level, at its petrochemical plant in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Borouge recently increased the capacity of its PP and


Chinese machinery and technology

PE to 2 million tonnes/year. An additional expansion is underway and this will increase it to 4.5 million tonnes/ year by mid-2014. It will also open a US$70 million innovation centre in Abu Dhabi by the year-end. A joint venture between Austria-based chemicals supplier Borealis and Abu Dhabi-based oil and gas company ADNOC, Borouge also used the show to promote its elastomer-modified PP compounds for the automotive sector, especially since China sold 13.8 million cars last year. Borouge also offers PE/PP for the wire/cable market as well as solutions for the appliances market. In China, new household goods, from coffee makers to washing machines and microwaves, racked up sales of 138 million units in 2010. Borouge has introduced a random copolymer offering productivity gains for rigid packaging

Amongst the products it launched is a RG468MO PP random copolymer offering up to a 20% productivity gains for the rigid packaging converting industry and a Borstarenhanced FB1350 PE resin for geomembranes. Meantime, though it is not targeting to set up any manufacturing in China, Russian chemicals firm Sibur will direct output from its US$2 billion complex in Siberia to China, said company spokesperson Konstantin Sorokin. To start up by 2013, the Tobolsk Polymer complex will triple the company’s PP homopolymer capacity, with a majority of the output to be for the Chinese market, Sorokin said, adding that it will be Russia’s largest PP plant. It will use Ineos Technologies’s Innovene PP technology to manufacture around 70 different grades. Last year, China accounted for more than 14% of Sibur’s sales, amounting to EUR312 million, and Asia as a whole, EUR934 million. The company sells a diversified line of products to the region, including PP, PE, nitrile rubber and butyl rubber. Almost 76% of the PE it produces is sold to Chinese processors. In terms of rubber, it exports 1520% of its nitrile and butyl rubbers to China. This year, it expects its Chinese sales to grow 5-7%, said Sorokin. Scottish plastics processor and decorative products supplier John McGavigan also plans to expand into the Chinese market by setting up a facility in Suzhou. The company says that demands in Asia are very much as high as they are elsewhere in the world and it is for this reason it is setting up in the country. It will cater mainly to the automotive interior market, where it is best known for products like printed instrument cluster dials, bezels for audio and climate control panels and interior trim components, supplying many of the global Tier One suppliers.




To be operational by the year-end, the facility will include a wide range of decorative technologies including in mould decoration (IMD), spray painting, precision thermo and high pressure forming, as well as injection moulding machinery of up to 400 tonnes and a variety of automated assembly technologies. High-tech plastics forte for Lanxess German speciality chemicals supplier Lanxess has split its high-performance plastics business to serve both the automotive and electrical/electronics sectors in China, said Milan Vignjevic, Asia Pacific Head of the Semi-Crystalline Products (SCP) unit. “The good thing is that the business has a healthy structure,” he added. Lanxess’s Durethan PA and Pocan PBT are also targeted at the building/construction and consumer goods markets. In fact, demand for its compounds in the country recorded double-digit growth in the first quarter of this year, said Milan. I n t h e m e a n t i m e , i t i s investing EUR10 million to increase compounding capacity at its Wuxi facility to 60,000 tonnes/year. Its third line for its high-performance plastics, the expansion is due to come on stream by this year and will cater to Asian demand. “It will be the largest PA and PBT lines in Milan Vignjevic says a China,” said Milan. Singaporean processor While the other industry is researching the use sectors are pushing demand of Lanxess’s PBT ecograde, which contains for the compounds, the post-consumer PET, for automotive industry is still the a consumer product. largest customer. “The use “Though requests for the of plastics in passenger cars eco-PBT and PA (containing lags far behind,” emphasised PA regrind) in Asia are Milan, adding that the growing, these are not at potential is wide in metal an advanced stage yet,” he replacement, such as using a said nylon composite sheet, instead of metal, in the plastic/metal composite technology (hybrid technology) Lanxess is promoting for lightweighting. More importantly, he says that now Chinese OEMS are more open and willing to undertake development with materials companies in the country. “China is not waiting for development to come from elsewhere,” he added. With a 7% growth expected for PA and PBT resins up to 2020, Lanxess is building a 20,000 tonnes/year compounding unit in Jhagadia, India, which will start up by 2012, to cater to the growing demand in Asia. For the rest of Asia, Milan says interesting developments are expected in Indonesia. “There are a lot of projectdriven developments,” he said, adding, “we see positive trends in the area of electrical/electronics and consumer sectors as with increasing awareness of quality regulations, processors are turning to high-tech plastics to replace commodity plastics.”

German Chinese machinery and technology

ExxonMobil promotes combo resin packages Another company with a growing presence in Asia is ExxonMobil Chemical. At a press conference, John Verity, Vice-President of Polyolefins, said the company has been investing in China’s Fujian province through the joint venture it has with Sinopec and Saudi Aramco. Started up in 2009, the complex includes an 800,000 tonnes/year ethylene steam cracker, 800,000 tonnes/year PE unit, 400,000 tonnes/ year PP unit and 700,000 tonnes/year paraxylene unit. Furthermore, ExxonMobil recently opened the Shanghai Technology Centre (STC), which houses analytical and testing laboratory equipment and commercial-scale product processing equipment. To reinforce its commitment in the region, the US company is also pumping up capacity for commodity and speciality plastics at its Singapore plant to 2.5 million tonnes. The start-up of the units will occur in phases and when completed the plant will be ExxonMobil’s largest integrated complex globally. Verity also said that the new facility will be able to cater to mPEs, since metallocenes have become a big part of the company’s portfolio, with future expansion to be dedicated to Vistamaxx propylenebased elastomers. “We have an efficient cracker, 20% bigger than the competition, with the latest technology and stable feedstock,” said Verity. At Chinaplas, ExxonMobil was focusing on Exceed and Enable mPEs, Vistamaxx, Santoprene TPVs, Vistalon EPDM rubber as well as PP and Exxtral polymer resins. To provide an idea of the resin combos possible, ExxonMobil showcased film applications at processor and machinery maker booths. These centred on multi-pack collation, heavy-duty sack, stretch hood (with a thickness of 12 microns as a result of Vistamaxx), hygiene overwrap, lamination and personal care uses. The Exceed and Enable mPE combos are targeted at high clarity films, collation shrink retail packaging and advanced formulations for cast stretch machine wrap. PE Market Development Manager in Asia Pacific, Haridass Kalidas, explained, “In some of these blends, Exceed gives strength while Enable improves processability. A combination of Exceed, Enable and other polymers retain the mechanical properties while allowing for downgauging of up to 20%.” Besides increasing processability, the mPEs are also able to replace C4-LLDPE blends, thus allowing for sustainability in the long term, said Haridass. Jeffrey Beck, Global Marketing Manager for PE, said that the company is noticing an uptake of its materials in the region, adding that it’s not just a China-centric development. “Asian countries are going for more convenience-type food and single-serves. This creates the need for new types of packaging, with a feel good and appeal factor.” The speed and responsiveness of creating solutions in the region is possible through the STC. “It is an important element of working with customers and harnessing the various attributes of our materials to make tailored solutions. In fact, the first-ever patent for a global application has been innovated by the Chinese team,” said Beck. Having introduced three new PP grades to the region last year, in conjunction with the business’ 50th anniversary, one of the grades was shown processing a thinwall injection

ExxonMobil’s Exxtral polyolefins are able to improve stiffness balance and high-impact strength in automotive parts

moulded packaging at the booths of machine makers WETEC and Borche. These impact copolymers are said to improve performance and lower production costs for food packaging, totes, refrigeration bins and sporting goods. Meanwhile, four Vistamaxx grades have been introduced for scratch and indent-free surface protective films; improved tear resistance at high stretch ratios in elastic hygiene and stretch hood applications, improved sealing and packaging integrity as well as printing and optical quality. Besides acting as a modifer, Vistamaxx can also be combined to replace olefins in a high percentage and provide cling properties to films. According to Anthony Soo, Global Development Manager for Vistamaxx, “It is not limited to PP and metallocenes, Vistamaxx can help to build across many business lines.” Soo said that it is able to provide up to 60% holding force when used in stretch hoods. Chinese machine maker Zhejiang Honghua was thermoforming disposable cups using a PP/Vistamaxx blend, with a 5-10% increase in output, less scrap and minimal investment in technology. But it is the hygiene market, especially diapers, that the company expects the highest interest for Vistamaxx. “Blended 15% with PP grades, Vistamaxx provides the elasticity and softness needed for adult diapers, for example,” said Beth Stokes, Global Marketing Manager for PP. She added that brand owners in Asia were receptive but the conversion process would take some time. The company is also leveraging knowledge of its 50year old Vistalon EPDM and 30-year old Santoprene TPV to introduce new grades. “Three new grades of Vistalon have been launched. Featuring better processing and properties, these have been produced for the metallocene platform and will be commercialised next year,” said Olivier Van de Voorde, Global Products Manager of Speciality Elastomers, adding that the products will be targeted at the weatherseal and hose markets in the region. Traditionally used in interior skins for cars, TPVs are making a detour into under-the-hood parts like the Santoprene 101-73 grade for an air duct, shown at Chende Injection Molding’s booth. The air duct is almost 50% lighter, compared to the previous design in EPDM. ◆





Resilience from an organisational viewpoint Stating that the concept of resilience is both interesting and important, Bob Wrighton explores it on three levels: organisational resilience, operational resilience and personal resilience. In this first series of the article, he covers organisational resilience.


esilience can most readily be defined as the capability of returning to a status quo after (serious) problems. Ideally, the resolution of the problem should leave an organisation stronger. In this article, we take a look at the people side of resilience, which is referred to as organisational resilience. Loss of a CEO/Senior Manager The news of Osama bin Laden’s death leapt off the front pages of all the newspapers. It was big news indeed. Though the “CEO” of the global militant group Al-Qaeda has gone, it seems that his successor had been in place for some time. What happened to Al-Qaeda can happen to any company, though not with the same size of a headline! Since Al-Qaeda is not listed on the stock exchange – at least not under that name – the market, so to speak, was not seriously affected, compared to when it was reported that Steve Jobs, the iconic CEO of electronics manufacturer Apple, had gone on sick leave. We know neither the day nor the hour a company needs to be prepared for such a loss. And it need not be as a result of a demise. Headhunters will almost certainly be targeting effective CEOs of smaller companies when a vacancy is likely to occur at a bigger one. Also, a Senior Manager may be removed for poor performance – as is happening in the English Premier League (for followers of English football!) – or even misconduct unrelated to the business – as seems to be the case with the CEO of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Coping with the loss How does a company cope with the loss of a CEO or Senior Manager, whether it be immediate and terminal as in a demise, or more slowly as in being headhunted or a resignation? The way not to do it has been described in what could be one of the most significant books on management to have been published recently – “Immunity to Change” by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey (Harvard Business Press, 2009). In this book, the authors outline the situation in a large Japanese company when the CEO was suddenly stricken with an illness, which meant that he had to stop work immediately. It was a family business so the problem of succession was not so difficult and the eldest son took over the business. But he and his siblings seemed to be stricken also with an incapacity to act after the father could no longer participate in company affairs. It took several months – and some expensive consulting – for the new CEO to really get his act together and for the business to start to function again as it should.




CEO being removed What would happen to your company if the CEO were to be suddenly removed? For a smaller company there are a number of issues. Are there any successors in place? Do they know everything that is going on so that they can step up to the CEO slot seamlessly? Have they been prepared to become a CEO by having attended college and getting a relevant degree, followed by work experience, or are they likely to simply carry on doing what they have been doing for the last number of years? If it is the latter, most probably the business will decline, perhaps seriously and maybe even fatally. This is because the new CEO will be managing using techniques and processes that may be many years out of date, and the younger the person is, the longer it is likely that she/he will run the company in the same way, and thus the company’s business will drop further behind. In the case of the loss of a Senior Manager, the situation is only marginally better than for the CEO and the smaller the company, the greater the risk. Let us go to the other end of the scale and look at the USbased technology, services and finance company General Electric (GE) where the former CEO – the legendary Jack Welch – was in the hot seat for more than 20 years. GE is known and cited throughout management literature for its leadership development programme. Before Jack Welch retired and was replaced by the present CEO Jeff Immelt, there were many potential replacements identified, many of whom have moved on to head other large companies. This is well documented in “The Cycle of Leadership” by Tichy and Cardwell (Harper Business, 2004). How about MVPs? MVPs are Most Valuable Performers. They exist in all the companies and not just in the North American basketball leagues! Not all of your staff are of equal value to your company. A small percentage – maybe no more than 10% -- are your MVPs. Without them, your business might grind to an untimely halt. Some years back, the Chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates, was quoted as saying that there were maybe 20 absolute key performers in Microsoft who were practically irreplaceable. Losing these people can be a very high risk for any organisation. As such, have you identified them and if you have, do you give them special treatment? If they are critical to your organisation, they could be equally critical to a competitor, who may be prepared to pay them extra big bucks. A recent book, “The Differentiated Workforce” by Becker, Huselid and Beatty (Harvard Business Press, 2009), explores this issue and makes some very pertinent points. The authors


suggest that there are three classes of staff: A, B and C. The A performers are the MVPs and since they are of special value to a company, they require special treatment. Meanwhile, the B performers are the ones who do most of the processing that needs to be done to keep a company running, and to support the activities of the A performers. Finally, the C performers are those who are the gofers and a gofer’s work can be done by almost anybody, or even outsourced. I knew of a company that had a driver and a fairly expensive car to support the company’s need to deliver and collect documentation from lawyers who were required to process it daily. The driver was on the permanent staff list and got a raise each year, therefore costing the company more annually. He was also insured and of course so was the vehicle, which had to be maintained as well. I estimated that sub-contracting this work to a courier service would have saved the company a considerable amount of money every year. Managing human resources Does your company have a Human Resource or HR department? A standard rule of thumb is that a company with a minimum of 150 staff requires specialist HR staff to undertake HR work. That last phrase is critically important. A clear definition of what HR work is is seriously needed before you run out and hire a HR person. One company I consulted employed a HR Manager whose main job was to check time cards and compile reports on attendance and lateness, which no one ever read and so were never acted on. She also handled the government requirements for salary deductions, for example for retirement funds. A people's job? No. An accounting job? Yes. Was there a need for a HR Manager? No. Or a Finance Clerk? Yes. Could it have been outsourced? Yes. Even more importantly, the authors ("The Differentiated Workforce" by Becker, Huselid and Beatty) highlight the significant difference between equity and equality. If all staff are not equal, why treat them as such? If your company has had a good year, the A performers, whose efforts are generally responsible for the company having had a good year, will probably get proportionately the same bonus payment – often calculated in weeks or months – as the least important C performers. This is equality, but is it equity? And within any department where there are two or more people doing the same job, there are good performers and the not so good ones, too. Do they all get the same amount of bonus payment? Probably. So is this equality or equity? Workers but not managers Incidentally, A performers need not necessarily be managers. Think about that one. When bonuses are given or salary raises are worked out, they are generally calculated based on the earnings in a year and in an industry, a manager generally has a higher base pay rate than his/her staff. But the staff may in fact be the real A performers. Does this mean that in some cases the manager will be paid less than one or more of his/her staff? Yes, it does. Does that matter. No, it does not. In fact, it may be that Sir Alex Ferguson, Manager of the English football team Manchester United, gets paid more than the star player of Manchester United, Wayne Rooney. The moral of the story? Identify your A performers and treat them very well. Identify your B performers and treat them well. Identify your C performers and decide whether you need to keep them at all! Furthermore, at all times bear in mind the critical difference between equity and equality. You need the former, but you don’t necessarily need the latter. ◆ Acknowledgement: Bob is an English-born New Zealander who has lived in Asia for the past 20 years. He has been in the field of human resources his entire working life and has been a management consultant since 1980. Most recently, he has been functioning as an ideas broker, which means reading widely, mining new ideas and linking them with ideas already mined, then sharing them with managers and companies that are interested in keeping themselves at the cutting edge. Bob shares ideas on his free blog at





Mixed bag of results for compounders The global compounding industry is undergoing changes, says a new report from Applied Market Information (AMI), with growth in Asia and stunted performances in Europe. Europe on the downturn While the compounding market continues to surge ahead in Asia and Latin America, the European market has been through a period of shrinking demand that has seen compounders reorganise their operations, according to a report published by industry consultant AMI. A 5% drop in the number of compounders listed in AMI’s guide to the compounding industry in Europe illustrates some of the effects of the previous year’s global recession. With the market having shrunk by 1 million tonnes between 2006 and 2009 it is perhaps surprising that the decline in numbers was not even greater. According to AMI, production of compounds recovered in 2010 and amounted to nearly 7.6 million tonnes.

During the 2009 downturn, compounders were more interested in minimising credit risk than seeking to preserve volumes or gain market share. In general terms, this means that compounders responded to the recession by seeking to maintain or grow margins rather than chasing volume. That the industry did not see more bankruptcies or fire sales is testament to their success in achieving this. Asia on the growth trend Asia presents a different picture in terms of how the global recession affected the industry. In the previous edition of AMI’s guide to the industry in Asia (published just before the downturn), 841 sites were listed. In the new edition, nearly 25% more compounding sites (over 1,000) are listed. While market growth in Asia stuttered as the financial crisis hit in 2008, the industry continued to expand through 2009, albeit modestly, and grew very strongly during 2010. Output of compounds is believed to have been close to 11 million tonnes in 2010. Compounding demand has also been growing strongly in Latin America, with demand in 2010 growing by nearly 7% for the hundred plus companies listed in the latest report. However, the size of the industry is much smaller compared to Europe and Asia at just over 1.2 million tonnes of production for 2010. AMI’s analysis also shows that the structure of compound production varies by region. In Asia, colour compounds are more widely used while masterbatch accounts for a much smaller share of production. PVC compounds share a similar standing in all markets while engineering polymer compounds are more significant in the Asian and European markets. ◆





Corporate Profile

PTT expands its portfolio PTT Polymer Marketing (PTTPM) is set to play a role in bioplastics development and marketing in Thailand. PRA spoke to its President, Pramin Phantawesak, to learn more about the company’s plans for these products as well as others in the pipeline.


hailand is expected to be a hub for bioplastics in Asia, with various companies announcing p l a n s t o e s t a b l i s h f a c i l i t i e s i n t h e c o u n t r y. I n r e s p o n s e t o t h e T h a i g o v e r n m e n t ’s p o l i c y that encourages the private sector to set up b i o p l a s t i c p l a n t s i n t h e c o u n t r y, p e t r o c h e m i c a l s and downstream products supplier PTT Group has entered into green chemicals. A s s u c h , P T T P o l y m e r M a r k e t i n g (P T TPM), the marketing and sales/service arm of PTT Group, has its work cut out for it. This is because PTTPM will have a wider portfolio to cover, besides the HDPE and LLDPE resins its parent company produces. A p a r t f r o m m a r k e t i n g t h e p r o d u c t s , P T T P M ’s role is also to develop the bioplastics market in the country. Said the company’s President, Pramin Phantawesak, “We provide information to the public and are doing product and market development with key brand owners, converters as well as several research institutes in Thailand and in some Southeast Asian countries. Several formulae have been approved and are being used in our target applications.” Recently, PTT Chemical and US-based Myriant signed an agreement that will further drive technologies to manufacture green chemicals. Next y e a r, M y r i a n t w i l l s t a r t u p i t s 1 4 , 0 0 0 t o n n e s / y e a r succinic acid plant in the US and PTT has invested US$60 million into Myriant to further collaborate in R&D work. PTT’s other collaboration is a 50:50 joint venture compa ny w ith J apa n-b as ed Mi tsu bis hi Chemical . Known as PTT MCC Bio-Chem, in the first two years, the company plans to design a 20,000 tonnes/year PBS (polybutylene succinate) facility and develop alternative technologies to produce substrates for bio-succinic acid (BSA). The second phase will involve building a 36,000 tonnes/year PBS and BSA plant. The company expects to start commercial operations by late 2014 and plans to market the products in the domestic and international markets.

More products on the cards Pramin also said that PTT is increasing its speciality products base, apart from the LDPE and HDPE it has in its portfolio, by developing unique products to suit specific requirements. “We have been doing these special product developments with key global customers since 2000. Right now, nearly one-fifth of our HDPE capacity is dedicated to these specialities. We aim to double the sales within five years.” Last year, PTTPM also tied up with Thai chemicals supplier IRPC. “The company is supplying t r a n s p a r e n t h o m o P P, UHMW HDPE, green ABS and polymer catalysts as well as additives like impact modifiers. These specialities were launched last year and we are now assisting IRPC to achieve its plan to supply these products to the market,” he explained. Pramin Phantawesak expects the company to do more non-PTT work by 2015

When asked if the parent company had any plans to increase the outputs of HDPE and LDPE, Pramin replied, “PTT is undertaking several feasibility studies but these are still in the study phase. T h e r e w o n ’t b e a n y n e w H D P E / L D P E c a p a c i t y f o r the next two to three years. But some of the current HDPE/LDPE capacities are and will be moving to more speciality types of products.” With the prices of raw materials for HDPE and LDPE on the upswing, it has been a roller coaster year for the resins. As such, PRA posed this question of price stability to Pramin who candidly replied, “This is one of the most frequently asked questions. Anyone who knows the answer to this will be the world’s richest person!” He went on to say, “Although the demand/supply balance is believed to be in favour of buyers, world demand is growing faster than one can estimate. We believe the prices of PE/PP are and will be increasing throughout the year and we are passing the bottom of the cycle.” As for future outlook, Pramin said the company’s vision is to be an international trading house with US$3 billion sales by 2015. “Not only are we serving PTT Group but we are also doing trading activities. By then, some 20% of our revenue will be coming from polymer trading from nonPTT manufacturers,” he added. ◆





Aiming for lower costs Given the rising cost of materials and the increased focus on sustainability, packaging converters are seeking ways to reduce their costs. Machinery makers are, thus, rolling out concepts, faster than we can say package it! Meanwhile, automotive part manufacturers are offered a novel form of composite material that can be thermoformed, to replace metal parts.


Competing in cost cutting machinery Canadian GN Thermoforming Equipment, manufacturer of roll-fed, in-mould cut machines for the production of packaging, says its GN760 plug-assist thermoformer is able to reduce costs by 5-25%, versus competitive form, cut and stack systems. Introduced last October at K2010 in Germany, the machine is also able to reduce material waste since a minimal gap is allowed between cavities, unlike competitive machinery that require 12 mm between cavities. For example, the ten-up meat tray that GN ran at the K show had a 7 mm web between cavities providing a scrap rate of 15% per shot. Currently, a European customer is manufacturing a new mould for the GN760 to further reduce the scrap rate by making common cut dies in the material direction, eliminating webs between products. GN calculated the material waste for a range of competitive models and found that its machine offered an advantage even when the speed of competitive machines was increased to 50 strokes/minute. F u r t h e r m o r e , t h e n e w m o d e l o f f e r s a 3 5 - 5 0 % reduction in electrical consumption as it uses servo drives for plugging, material transport, stripping and stacking. It also boasts a radiant infrared heating system with 60 zones and an electronic regeneration system that reduces energy use, resulting in savings of US$9,000/year, says the company. Other features are the advanced diagnostics for easy troubleshooting. A split conveyor for transporting stacks allows conveyors to be emptied without disrupting the stack count. With a forming area of 762 x 533 mm, it expands GN’s line of plug-assist machines, meeting the demand for medium to large-volume runs. It is able to handle sheet widths up to 812 mm and thicknesses ranging from 0.25-1.5 mm, processing all thermoformable resin grades. The company is currently targeting food packaging but is also exploring medical and electronic packaging uses.

and paper labels can be processed (without additional adhesive). At a recent exhibition, Illig also showed solutions for thermoforming of containers with pronounced undercuts. So far, these containers could only be realised by injection and blow moulding. Another new equipment developed for the FSL48 is a multi-lane filler, suitable for CIP (cleaning in place) and SIP (sterilisation in place) that can be used as an aseptic filling device. The machine’s hygiene levels range from forming with sterile air; complete covering of filling section (also available in the CIP/SIP versions) and lid material sterilisation by means of UV radiation. The machine is connected to a sterile module for generation of sterile air and hot steam as well as peroxide spraying of filling tunnel. The thermoformer has a forming area of 480 x 320 mm (for packaging without decoration up to 350 mm) and a speed of 32 cycles/minute. The company says it is able to process materials such as PS, PP, multi-layer materials (PS/EVOH/PE), APET and sheets made of biopolymer PLA. This also applies to heat-sealable lid materials.

Hygienic packaging takes centre stage German company Illig is promoting its newly designed FSL48 form, fill and seal line. Suitable for food packaging, especially dairy products, it can also be equipped to comply with hygienic demands, meeting up to Class IV standards. As well, it can be integrated with a newly developed IML (in-mould labelling) station. The company says a variety of cup shape options can be produced since for IML decoration, walls don’t have to be vertical. For decorating thermoformed cups, it works with printed blanks from the magazine. Also, PP, PS

Bio label for thermoformed packaging Renewable thermoformed packaging developed by Clear Lam Packaging has earned the industry’s first US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Biobased Product Label, part of a new voluntary labelling programme to help purchasers choose products made with bio-based commodities. Manufacturer of rigid and flexible packaging, Clear Lam’s containers are produced from over 93% plantbased bioplastics derived from NatureWork’s Ingeo PLA, along with ingredients that add performance



Illig’s new machine comes with IML capabilities


characteristics such as enhanced impact and temperature resistance. With seven manufacturing facilities (four in the US and three in China), the company says it has four other applications underway. Currently, Clear Lam works with several retailers, l i k e Wa l m a r t , a n d c o n s u m e r p a c k a g e goods companies to supply renewable packaging. Additional packaging Clear Lam has submitted for the BioPreferred programme includes packaging for condiments, salty snacks and dairy-based items, such as yoghurt and cottage cheese.

car and found that it weighed 30% lower compared to a sheet metal one. â—†

Composite material offers replacement value for vehicles Italian company Persico has teamed up with Structura/IQ Holding to innovate a thermoplastic PBT composite material that can be thermoformed and overmoulded. To make the Skintec material, the company impregnates PBT with fibres such as glass, carbon and basalt. The resulting material is recyclable, environmentally friendly and made without VOCs or toxic emissions, says the company. Skintec is supplied in coils ready for thermoforming. It is heated at temperatures in excess of 250°C, put into a cold male/female mould and left to cool down under pressure. The high crystallisation temperature of the PBT makes the forming process fast, allowing for high productivity. However, Skintec does not have Class A finish and it needs a surface finish that is applied directly in the mould during the forming process. Having said that, its thermal properties (it softens at 200°C and has practically zero thermal expansions) mean that it is suitable for on-line coating. The surface finish aside, Persico says Skintec is ideal for a number of automotive uses, where the surface appearance is a secondary factor, such as the front and rear reinforcement bars, central reinforcement bar with built-in bumpers, car seat frames, flat bottoms, crash boxes, integrated chassis, interior lightweight panelling supports and structural components used under the car body. The possibility to give the surfaces of Skintec different aesthetic finishes further expands the application potential to hinged bonnets, panelled doors, bumpers and exterior mirrors. The companies have used the material to produce a front reinforcement bar for a




Testing & Quality Inspection

Maintaining a competitive edge New equipment is being introduced to improve productivity, speed up processing and maintain quality.

Controlling quality with portable system Portable measurement and imaging solutions p r o v i d e r F a r o Te c h n o l o g i e s , h a s i n t r o d u c e d a portable measurement arm for quality control through inspections, tool certifications, CAD-to-part analysis and reverse engineering. Built based on customers’ input, it incorporates existing benefits of a FaroArm, plus it is integrated with a personal measurement assistant. With its built-in touchscreen and on-board operating system, it provides stand-alone basic measurement capability and does not require a laptop to perform simple checks. O t h e r i m p r o v e m e n t s include connectivity via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, US B a n d E t h e r n e t while a smart sensor technology provides warnings against e x c e s s i v e external loads, corrects thermal variations and detects possible The portable Edge arm set-up problems. from Faro allows for The weight quality control distribution has also been improved with a patented internal counterbalancing; and a multi-function handle port allows interchangeable accessory integration. Sterilisation technology extended to bottles Electron beam technology supplier Advanced Electron Beams (AEB)’s e16ITB emitter, an “in-thebottle” product for sterilising PET and HDPE bottles, is designed specifically for the Asian market where bottles require a narrow nozzle emitter.




Derived from AEB’s e25ITB emitter platform, which is in use in FFS packaging applications, the emitter features a 16 mm diameter and 350 mm length nozzle, compatible with narrow neck bottles of up to 2 l. It is able to sterilise a single-serve bottle in 2 seconds, to support high-speed aseptic filling systems. The US company also says that electron beam-based bottle sterilisation offers a low cost of ownership and smaller footprint compared to traditional chemical-based sterilisation systems. Meanwhile, AEB has entered into an agreement with a major equipment OEM based in Japan. Pinpointing extrusion faults Italian company Gefran has expanded its Impact series of melt-pressure sensors with new versions designed to increase the safety of extruders in compliance with new international regulations. According to the company, the sensors were designed for greater strength (parts in contact with the process are reportedly up to 35 times stronger than normal probes), simplicity of installation (designed with floating mechanics) and reliability (a three-year warranty is offered), compared with standard melt-pressure sensors. The series complies with the latest revision of European Standard EN1114 concerning safety requirements of extruders with the new Performance Level C version. This version features smart electronics with auto-diagnostics to detect all possible fault conditions. NDC Infrared Engineering’s OptiMike meets the need for a measuring tool for thicker foamed sheet that would otherwise require nuclear gauges. Measuring across the crown of a roller, OptiMike measures the shadow cast on detectors from an array of LEDs, while an integral eddy-current sensor measures the proximity of the roller surface to calculate the exact caliper thickness of the product, without influence from the product density. OptiMike also offers an economic advantage through its single-sided configuration, reducing hardware requirements and easing installation. Another US company, Processing Technologies (PTi), is making available a real-time IV monitoring system to complement the HVTSE (high-vacuum twin-screw extrusion) system developed by Italian company Luigi Bandera for “dryerless” production of PET sheet. Bandera has installed more than 80 of these “dryerless” systems worldwide. The IV monitoring system is based on precise measurement of melt temperature and capillary piping pressures. These results are benchmarked against the ASTM D4603 Solution Test Method for measuring IV and possess an accuracy of ±0.02 dl/g. The test data are continuously fed into PTi’s flagship Titan control system. With the new Bluehill 3 materials testing software, Instron says it has an updated version of its software for measurement, test control and report generation. This enhanced software package is compatible with all its 3300, 5500 and 5900 series testing systems and has a number of tailored solutions, such as fully programmed application modules for testing, along with supporting documentation covering the relevant testing standards.

Testing & Quality Inspection

Bluehill 3 offers the capability to launch standard or user-defined testing methods directly from the desktop and start testing with a simple click of the mouse or key stroke, allowing for efficiency in the test laboratory. The new Expression Builder is ideal for programming user-defined expressions and calculations for complex evaluations based on the acquired measurement values. To increase the accuracy and repeatability of test results in the day-to-day operations of a laboratory, Bluehill 3 identifies the load cell or strain gauge used for the current measurement and verifies compatibility with the intended test method in real-time. Equipment companies grow Triton Technology, the company that developed the IdentiPol QA portable identification and quality assurance tester for plastics, has been taken over by international testing equipment manufacturer Mettler-Toledo. The IdentiPol business, together with Triton’s humidity generators and controllers, were transferred to a new company spun out of Triton, known as Lacerta Technology. Lacerta will continue to make IdentiPol in the UK and will also continue the instrument development business and consultancy services formerly provided by Triton. It will also continue to develop, manufacture and supply humidity control systems as well as the dielectric thermal analysis (DETA) equipment formerly belonging to Triton and will remain the European importer for Shimadzu Thermal Analysis equipment. Germany-based Mettler Toledo has also acquired Triton’s dynamic mechanical analyser (DMA) technology, which it aims to develop further and integrate into its own range of instruments. US supplier of rubber and polymer laboratory equipment Alpha Technologies, which is part of measurement/control solutions supplier Dynisco, says its sales grew by 41% last year and it has doubled its staffing in Asia with a new distribution centre in Shanghai. The company is also investing in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. Having acquired the Tech-Pro product line in 2008, Alpha says it is able to supply rheometry and testing equipment for industrial and general rubber goods applications. The mid-tier business constitutes a large part of the rubber industry in Asia and has contributed significantly to overall growth, regionally and globally. It is for this reason that it is adding several new agents in China and Southeast Asia. It has also expanded its presence in Europe and US, where it has boosted its customer service and technical support staff. Despite its increasing global presence, Alpha continues to manufacture all instrumentation products in the US and is investing in engineering and new product development. ◆

Lacerta is the new company behind the identiPol QA, a portable device for quality assurance testing of thermoplastics




IndustryNEWS Using ultrasound in micromoulding Using ultrasound to melt plastic, Spanish ultrasonics technology company Ultrasion is applying this concept in its Sonorus IG micromoulding machine. Ultrasion is spin-off company comprising Ascamm Private Foundation, CETEMMSA Foundation, Fipsa, Mateu & Solé, Mecasonic and Plastiasite.

First shown last year at an exhibition, the machine caters to shot weights of 0.05-2 g. Using ultrasound instead of conventional heaters to melt plastics, the machine is said to enhance melt flow and improve mould detail at lower moulding pressures. It also reduces material degradation. The fully electric machine is suitable for use in white rooms and laboratories. Since no electrical heaters are required it boasts energy savings of up to 100 times that of conventional machines, says the company. The 3-tonne machine also allows for rapid mould change and material change. The machine, which will be available in June, is also able to process

conventional as well as micro pellets. The company is also working on a new solution known as UDM (Ultrasound Deposition Modelling). It allows manufacturing of parts by

NEWS in brief Synventive has a new owner US-based hot runner systems supplier Synventive Molding Solutions has been acquired by American private equity firm Littlejohn from Advent International. Terms were not disclosed. Synventive is the former Dynisco hot runner business and was bought by Madison Capital Partners in 2003 and sold to Advent in 2005. Boom year for Engel’s German operations Austrian injection moulding machine manufacturer Engel expects a banner year in the German market and has expanded its sales team in BadenWürttemberg and will add on a 1,000 sq m automation centre at the Hagen facility. During 2010/11, the company’s turnover in Germany totalled EUR123 million and orders, EUR162 million. It expects a record turnover for the current financial year, mainly due to the automotive industry. It also generates 20%

Sonorus micromoulding machine uses ultrasound instead of heaters to melt plastics

Italian Negri Bossi buys robot company Italian machinery supplier Negri Bossi has expanded its automation portfolio by having acquired robot supplier Sytrama. The latter, located in Vignate a few miles away from Negri Bossi, has an advantage as it is able to design complete manufacturing cells. Belonging to the Sacmi Group, Negri Bossi also has access to Gaiotto, a Sacmiowned company that supplies six-axis robots, and has its own range

continuous depositions of layers, without moulds, from a digital CAD/CAM file. Specially designed for the production of small batches and customised parts, the solution is patented by Ascamm and also uses ultrasonic energy to melt plastics.

of Flash integrated and non-integrate cartesian robots. Sytrama offers beam and side-entry robots for machines ranging from 404,500 tonnes. Sytrama has produced systems for PET preform production plants, CD plants and in-mould labelling operations. It also produces linear electric motors and this may be used by Negri Bossi for its range of all-electric machines. 1

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of its turnover through German companies that expand into Eastern Europe. Engel claims a 50% market share in Europe for production cells that are ordered with both automation and machine and a 25% share of robots. Japanese-Sino alliance for low cost machine Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has tied up with Hong Kongbased injection moulding machinery supplier Chen Hsong to produce two-platen hydraulic machines. MHI will design the MMX series that will be produced in Chen Hsong’s Chinese facility, thereby reducing the cost of the machine. However, MHI will market it under its own name, while Chen Hsong will also sell the same platform of machines under its own brand. The partners plan to launch the first OEM machines within the next six months. MHI also this year said it will sell Engel’s 1,000-tonne multicomponent Duo Combi machines in Japan.

IndustryNEWS Husky is sold; adds on closures Canadian injection moulding machine and hot runner system supplier Husky has been sold by its owner Onex to US-based private equity firm Berkshire Partners and OMERS Private Equity, the private equity arm of OMERS Worldwide. The announcement puts to rest months of speculation about the sale. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2011. Husky’s President/CEO John Galt will remain in his present position and the management team will be a significant investor in the business through continued equity ownership. Though no terms were disclosed, the deal is worth US$2.1 billion, according to news reports. Onex bought Husky in December 2007 for nearly US$1 billion. Financing will

be provided by certain affiliates of Goldman, Sachs & Co, including its principal mezzanine fund, Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, RBC Capital Markets and TD Securities. In other news, Husky has completed the acquisition of Austrian mould maker KTW. The company now becomes the closure industry’s only provider of complete injection moulding systems, including mould, machine, hot runner, temperature controller as well as a range of consulting and after-sales services. Husky will now offer KTW branded closure moulds as part of its fully integrated turnkey systems. Husky’s closure offering includes its HyCAP system for beverage closures, Hylectric system for speciality closures, a full line of hot runners and Altanium controller.

Joint team for lighter car seats Engineering solutions and automotive components supplier Faurecia and speciality chemicals company Rhodia have formalised their agreement to develop lightweight automotive seat structural components using PA. The two companies have worked together since 2009 and entered into an agreement early this year. The main aim is to develop a range of seat

cushion components utilising Rhodia’s Technyl SI, an impactmodified PA grade. The resulting plastic seat cushion structural components are projected to be 20% lighter than conventional steel parts. The seat cushion components designed by Faurecia and Rhodia are currently in advanced development, with series production expected in 2014.

New multi-layer packaging solution Swiss injection moulding machinery maker Netstal has teamed up with mould supplier Glaroform and automation specialist Ilsemann Automation to develop a packaging solution, which is a barrier foil placed between injected layers of plastics, to replace metal cans. The packaging is made by first placing a preformed barrier foil, made from metal or plastic of low permeability, into the mould. The first plastic layer is then injected into the outer side of the container

followed by a second plastic layer onto the barrier foil on the inner side. An advantage of this structure is that the barrier foil is protected against damage from the outside without coming into contact with the packaged product. Other benefits are that there is no “retort shock” upon sterilisation of food in the autoclave and it can be used for in-mould labelling. The same process can be used to produce the lids. 2

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Developments across the board Injection moulding machinery makers and auxiliary suppliers rolled up their sleeves to receive a host of visitors at the recent Chinaplas show. Some, like KraussMaffei, Netstal, Engel and Shini, also announced expansions while Chinese suppliers are gearing up to conquer the overseas markets. a n d a u t o m a t i o n e q u i p m e n t . “ We n e e d t o b e o f a certain size to be able to do this,” he said, adding that KraussMaffei had the hardware, like stocks and a facility, in place already. “The advantages of localised m a n u f a c t u re a re , o f c o u r s e , s h o r t e r l e a d t i m e s a n d faster after-market service,” he added. Netstal had an Elion all-electric machine with a 96cavity closure mould running at 2.3 seconds or 2,200 closures/minute. Merki said the machine was shown t o t a rg e t t h e h i g h v o l u m e C h i n e s e m a r k e t . H a v i n g s u c c e s s f u l l y ru n c u s t o m e r t r i a l s i n E u ro p e , N e t s t a l will start producing the machine in August. KraussMaffei did not have any machines running but showed the latest ZE30 UTX twin-screw laboratory extruder developed by sister company KraussMaffei Berstorff.

All bundled into one German machinery supplier KraussMaffei is consolidating its injection moulding machine arm b y c re a t i n g a s i n g l e s u b s i d i a r y i n C h i n a . T h e t w o existing Chinese subsidiaries of sister companies KraussMaffei and Netstal will be merged to form Shanghai KraussMaffei Machinery. The new subsidiary will market KraussMaffei, KraussMaffei Berstorff and N e t s t a l m a c h i n e s i n t h e c o u n t r y. T h i s f o l l o w s t h e recent move in Brazil, where the two companies merged their operations.

Big gains from the automotive sector Executives at Austrian machine maker Engel’s booth h a d p l e n t y o f re a s o n s t o s m i l e . I t ’ s s a l e s w e re u p by 50% from EUR358 million in 2009/10 to EUR650 million in 2010/11, plus it has EUR700 million worth of orders in hand. A reason for its record performance i s t h e a u t o m o t i v e s e c t o r w h e re p ro c e s s o r s a re n o t only investing in replacement machinery but also in n e w e q u i p m e n t , s a i d M a r k e t i n g D i re c t o r / H e a d o f Sales Gerd Liebig. Engel has also started rehiring and now has 3,500 employees, back to its pre-crisis days. Furthermore, Engel has upped its market share in the packaging, telecommunications and electronics sectors with its two-platen Duo Pico and hydraulic Victory lines. “The introduction of servohydraulics for the Victory means energy consumption is reduced by 30-50%,” Liebig explained. The automotive growth has also trickled to C h i n a w h e re t h e c o m p a n y i s p u m p i n g u p c a p a c i t y at its Shanghai plant to 200 machines/year to meet higher demand for its large machinery ranging f r o m 5 0 0 - 3 , 2 0 0 t o n n e s . “ We ’ r e e n j o y i n g m a r k e t growth in the country, not just in the short or midt e r m . We e s p e c i a l l y s e e f u r t h e r m o m e n t u m f r o m t h e a u t o m o t i v e m a r k e t w h e re a 1 0 - 1 5 % g r o w t h i s e x p e c t e d f o r v e h i c l e s a l e s , ” s a i d G e ro Wi l l m e ro t h , President, Sales and Service, of Engel’s Chinese operations. He also added that the automotive industry, which is concent rated in Ea s t C h i n a n o w, is expected to fan out to the West.

Netstal was demonstrating a high-volume production of closures

“ We d e c i d e d o n t h i s o p t i o n a f t e r l i s t e n i n g t o o u r c u s t o m e r s , ” s a i d H a r a l d S c h w e i t z e r, w h o w i l l manage the new subsidiary from 1 July. “We regard China as a growth market and want to provide our full attention with one team of engineers servicing both companies,” he said, adding that KraussMaffei h a s b e e n i n C h i n a f o r t e n y e a r s n o w. H e a l s o s a i d the company has “made a name for itself in the automotive industry as a supplier of big machines.” Other models like the MX swivel-platen and c o m p re s s i o n m o u l d i n g m a c h i n e h a v e b e e n s o l d t o make multi-colour TV screens and windscreens. Meanwhile, Bernhard Merki, CEO of Netstal, told PRA, “It is important for us to join forces i n a f a s t g ro w i n g m a r k e t . ” M e r k i d i d n o t ru l e o u t t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f f u t u re m a c h i n e b u i l d i n g i n t h e c o u n t r y, s a y i n g t h a t t h e f i r s t s t e p w o u l d b e t o assemble PET closure systems and integrate auxliary 3

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MACHINERY NEWS focusing on its energy-saving SE model, having sold 3,000 units since it was launched in 2009, which represents 70% of its total injection machinery sales. At Chinaplas, the company showcased hybrid, servodriven and rubber injection machines and also introduced a nano infrared heater, with energy s a v i n g f e a t u re s . I t a l s o s h o w c a s e d i t s i S e e m o b i l e application, a tool that allows remote monitoring of machines using a mobile phone. It exhibited the iPad version at the K show last year. One of China’s largest producers of injection moulding machines, Haitian International says its e x p o r t s i n c re a s e d b y m o re t h a n 1 0 0 % l a s t y e a r. I t recently started up in Vietnam and expects to produce up to 2,000 machines/year at its 12,000 sq m facility. It had record sales of RMB7 billion last year with i t s e n e rg y s a v i n g M a r s s e r i e s c o n t i n u i n g t o l e a d , accounting for 70% of machines sold, while its alle l e c t r i c Z h a f i r Ve n u s s e r i e s s a w a 3 0 0 % i n c r e a s e i n s a l e s . A t C h i n a p l a s , i t p re s e n t e d a P a l l a s 2 5 0 0 e q u i p p e d w i t h Tr e x e l ’ s m i c r o c e l l u l a r f o a m i n g t e c h n o l o g y. E x e c u t i v e D i re c t o r H e l m a r F r a n z s a i d that the future focus of the company will be in the moulding of bioplastics and high-heat materials like PEEK, PEI, PPS and PES, which is possible on its Zhafir Mecury model.

Having generated a turnover of EUR50 million last y e a r, t h e C h i n e se operation is expected to grow at 10% this year. “Most of the output is for the domestic market with some machines exported to Malaysia, T h a i l a n d , I n d o n e s i a , I n d i a a n d S o u t h K o re a , ” h e added. Chinese machinery makers seeking expansions in overseas markets Chinese machinery makers are also beginning to be noticed like Yizumi Precision Machinery that recently acquired the intellectual property and customer lists o f U S - b a s e d H P M , w h i c h w e n t b a n k r u p t . Yi z u m i now plans to set up a technical centre in the US and reintroduce to the market HPM’s range of die-casting and injection moulding machines. At the show, Yizumi demonstrated a 48-cavity PET preform machine with an AC servomotor-driven hydraulic pump running in a 12-second cycle. E s t a b l i s h e d i n 2 0 0 2 , Yi z u m i c l a i m s t o h a v e a strong presence in China. According to a company spokesperson, who did not want to be named, Yizumi is China’s largest die-casting machine maker and the sixth largest injection moulding machine maker. It h a s a l s o a p p o i nt ed di st rib ut ors and ag ent s ab road and last year exported 20% of its total turnover. To double its capacity, the Guangdong-headquartered c o m p a n y i s c u r rently building a facility in Foshan t h a t w i l l s t a r t up next year. This year, it expects a turnover of around US$90 million for both its plastics and rubber machinery and a growth of 30%, said the spokesperson. Another Chinese machinery maker that has its eye on the foreign market is Guangzhou Borch Machinery. S e t u p i n 2 0 0 3 , t h e c o m p a n y s a y s i t s o l d a ro u n d 4,000 machines overseas last year, around 30% of its total output. At Chinaplas, it showed its BU twoplaten machine moulding furniture and a BM fourcolour machine, a range it introduced in 2003. The company builds its own servomotors and assembles the hydraulic drive systems using Yuken two-stage piston pumps. In 2009, it launched an all-electric range, with clamping forces of 30-50 tonnes, and was also the first supplier in the country to make its own tandem mould. Early this year, Hong Kong-based Cosmos Machinery formalised its Indian joint venture company JHWelltec Machines in Ahmedabad, set up together with Indian machine maker Jishu-Hozen Machines. It plans to source 40% of the machine parts from India and to manufacture models with clamping forces of up to 700 tonnes. In China, Cosmos opened a facility in Dongguan r e c e n t l y, t o i n c r e a s e i t s c a p a c i t y b y 3 0 % a n d i s b u i l d i n g a n o t h e r f a c i l i t y i n Wu x i . A l l t h e s e g o a l s are to increase its sales by 50% come 2013. It is also

Auxiliary equipment makers French robot maker Sepro is targeting American and E u ro p e a n O E M c u s t o m e r s i n C h i n a , s a i d c o m p a n y CEO Jean-Michel Renaudeau when met at Sumitomo D e m a g (S H I ) ’ s b o o t h . I t f o r m e d a p a r t n e r s h i p w i t h SHI in 2009 and launched its SDR range of robots to fit SHI’s Systec IntElect moulding machines. Though it has been catering to the high-end automation market in China since the late 1990s, with car company Peugeot as its main customer, Sepro wants to develop its local sales further. Renaudeau f e e l s t h e t i m e i s r i g h t n o w. “ S a l a r i e s a re r i s i n g i n China and this is where automation comes in to re d u c e s t a ff n u m b e r s , ” h e e x p l a i n e d . W h e n a s k e d i f t h e ro b o t s w o u l d b e b u i l t l o c a l l y, h e s a i d , “ O u r philisophy is to produce all our products in France, despite the exchange rate, so as to centralise quality and R&D.” He said that Sepro does not pretend to be a “cheap manufacturer,” adding, “we bring value to customers.” Ta i w a n e s e a u x i l i a r y e q u i p m e n t p ro d u c e r S h i n i , meanwhile, is constructing its sixth facility and this time in West China. The company has acquired a 20acre site in Chongqing Province and expects to start c o n s t r u c t i o n t h i s y e a r. I t w i l l i n v e s t u p t o R M B 3 m i l l i o n i n t h e f a c i l i t y o v e r f i v e y e a r s . To p ro d u c e up to 500 units/month, the new facility will cater to electronic/electrical, automotive and food packaging suppliers. ◆ 4

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IndustryNEWS More Baypren and EPDM for Lanxess


aving received the necessary approvals from anti-trust authorities, speciality chemicals group Lanxess has completed the acquisition of DSM Elastomers. Lanxess is paying EUR310 million for the elastomer business of the Dutch company DSM that produces EPDM under the brand name Keltan. DSM Elastomers operates a 160,000-tonnes/year EPDM facility in SittardGeleen, the Netherlands, and a 40,000-tonnes/year facility in Triunfo, Brazil. Lanxess plans to transfer the headquarters for the combined EPDM business from Marl (Germany) to Sittard-Geleen. The Technical Rubber Products (TRP) business unit of Lanxess will sell its EPDM products under the brand names Buna EP and Keltan. It currently

NEWS in brief Momentive to go public Silicones and speciality chemicals producer Momentive Performance Materials is planning to launch an IPO. The company’s sales last year were US$2.6 billion and it had a growth of 24%. Momentive is the former GE Silicones operations.

produces EPDM at its sites in Germany and the US. Meanwhile, the TRP unit is investing EUR17 million to expand capacity of its polychloroprene solid rubber, which is sold as Baypren, at the Dormagen site in Germany. It is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012 and will increase production by 10% to 63,000 tonnes/year. The polymer is used to produce cable sheathing, hoses, belts, seals and air springs. The demand for this type of rubber is currently growing globally at an annual rate of 3%. The company also announced recent increases in SSBR and neodymium polybutadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) capacities in the US. It is also expanding its Nd-PBR production at the Dormagen site and at Cabo in Brazil.

New process for carbon black plant Sabic and US-based ExxonMobil Corporation’s 50:50 joint venture partner, Al-Jubail Petrochemical Company (Kemya), will utilise Continental Carbon’s technology to construct a new greenfield carbon black plant at Kemya’s petrochemical complex at Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia. US-based Continental Carbon will also market part of the production of the new Kemya carbon black plant to serve the local and international tyre industry. New SSBR line in Germany US company Styron recently held a groundbreaking for its 50,000 tonnes/year SSBR (solution styrene butadiene rubber) production line at its Schkopau facility in Germany. The new production train will be built alongside existing trains and is expected to be fully operational by the fourth quarter 2012. It will focus on producing all existing clear and oilextended Styron grades.

Tyre companies expand reach globally


ith its sales growth in Asia increasing 50% last year to EUR4 billion, Continental has its eye on the market. It recently opened its first Chinese tyre plant in Hefei, Anhui Province. The German company is looking to have an over-proportional growth in China and has expanded its presence to 18 production locations and 15 sales offices, representing a workforce of 14,000 in the country. With an investment of EUR185 million, the

new facility will have a capacity of 4 million tyres/year for the Chinese and Asian markets. The targeted production volume of the Hefei plant is 16 million tyres, for which further investments are planned. Meanwhile, Japanese company Sumitomo Rubber Industries will invest US$346 million to construct a tyre plant in Brazil. Work will begin next year and production is slated to kick off in 2013. It is targeting an output of 15,000 tyres/day by 2016.

Sartomer to market liquid coagents Speciality chemicals manufacturer Sartomer will resume direct sales and distribution of its SR, CN and Saret liquid rubber coagents. The US company produced and marketed liquid rubber coagents until 2009 when 1

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Cray Valley took over as a distributor. Cray Valley will continue to manufacture and market its Ricon resins and metallic monomers for the rubber industry. ColorMatrix buys LSR specialist US-based additive, colourant and dosing equipment supplier ColorMatrix has bought Gayson Silicone Dispersions, a dispersion specialist in high consistency rubber (HCR), liquid silicone rubber (LSR) and room temperature vulcanisation (RTV) silicone. It caters to automotive/aerospace parts, airbag coatings, healthcare, cosmetics, household and architectural products. Gayson’s expertise in liquid colour dispersions and colour matching make it an ideal partner for ColorMatrix, while Gayson will use ColorMatrix’s global presence to expand its market, both companies said. CR imports restricted in China The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) says it will continue to impose anti-dumping measures on chloroprene rubber imported from Japan, the US and the European Union for another five years. It imposed duties ranging from 2% to 151% on imported chloroprene rubber in 2005. Hose plant in China Japan-based Yokohama Rubber will construct a plant specialising in the production of highpressure hydraulic hoses in Hangzhou Construction is expected to start this year and the plant will start-up with a volume of 400,000 m/month in 2013. Yokohama Rubber is investing 3 billion yen for the plant.

IndustryNEWS Asia to benefit from new tyre technology


ichelin has developed a selfsealing inner-liner technology, which it says will become standard on all its tyres. Besides making a tyre puncture-resistant, the French company believes the innovation has the potential to do away with the need to carry a spare or tyre changing equipment. The inner liner material is not made from butyl rubber but from another polymer. Though the company will not specify which one, it says it is a soft compound that uses a filler with a platelike geometry to reduce the air

permeability. Unlike other systems, which claim to seal over a puncture, Michelin says its system has no significant drawbacks in service. There is a small weight gain of 500 g for a car tyre and a bit more for a truck tyre as the inner liner is thicker, but there is no penalty in terms of rolling resistance or lifetime. The company says the value to consumers is especially strong in China and India where tyre punctures are more common than in the developed countries.

Ford taps on dandelions for rubber


andelions may be considered as weeds but Ford Motor and Ohio State University (OSU) are looking at the plant in a new way by researching its potential use as a sustainable resource for rubber. A milky-white substance that seeps from dandelion roots is used to produce the sustainable rubber. The substance could potentially find its way into plastic parts in Ford vehicles as an impact strength modifier for cup holders, floor mats and interior trim. The possible use of dandelion root as a rubber substitute is an example of Ford’s investment in sustainable materials for its vehicles, including soy foam seat cushions, wheat strawfilled plastic for interior trim, recycled cotton from denim jeans as a sounddampening material, recycled resins for underbody systems and recycled yarns on seat covers. Not all dandelions can be used as a sustainable resource

for rubber and the researchers are particularly honing in on the Russian dandelion, Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS), which is being grown at OSU’s Agricultural Research and Development Centre. Before the dandelion-derived rubber can be put to use, Ford researchers will assess the initial quality of the material to evaluate how it will perform in a variety of plastics that are used in vehicles and to ensure it meets its tough durability standards. Besides the dandelion, the team is also looking into the use of guayule (a shrub grown in Southwest US) as a natural rubber, which is provided by OSU and can also be grown domestically.

Ford intends to put dandelion weeds to good use

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Glove Industry

Glove industry still going strong in Malaysia Malaysia is still the largest producer of gloves in the world, a position that it has kept for the eighth year in a row in the fast growing glove industry that shows no signs of slowing down, says PC Teh in this article.


alaysia has a lot of natural rubber latex, though it is no longer the biggest source of the commodity since the 1990s. Thailand and Indonesia have emerged as the world’s top two producers. Likewise it has a goodly supply of nitrile latex – the former is a highly versatile and increasingly sought-after synthetic cousin – in which the country has recently acquired leadership in production capacity. That’s an enviable platform for a nation to develop and establish itself as the world’s biggest supplier of rubber gloves – and to continue to be so for some time. Malaysia posted its eighth straight year of record rubber gloves exports in 2010. Then again, that sea of latex – of the natural variety, at least – spans region wide, which is to say Malaysia fully earns the credit for having recognised and tapped the commodity’s potential with such huge success. It is estimated that 1.3 to 1.4 million tonnes of liquid latex, worth US$3.7 billion, go into the global non-tyre marketplace every year. For the last 15 years, the country has been the top source of rubber gloves, exporting about 100 billion pieces of the products to meet two-thirds of global demand – which has shown no sign of slowing down and continues to grow at an annual rate of 8-12%. A recent report from Bank Islam Malaysia also states that Malaysian rubber glove exports could reach US$1.33 billion this year, supported by a strong growth in global demand and liberalisation of the healthcare industry in emerging markets like China and India.

Top Glove, Malaysia’s top producer, is currently the largest global supplier of nitrile, latex and vinyl gloves

41.25 billion pieces/year. The target is to corner 30% of the world market by next year when the plants are fully commissioned. Top Glove makes 13 types of gloves – latex (powdered), latex (powder-free), vinyl and nitrile – designed to meet a whole range of requirements. Another Malaysian producer Latexx Partners, meanwhile, will invest RM70 million to undertake the final phase of its expansion exercise to raise its annual production capacity to 12 billion pieces in two years, from the present 9 billion pieces. The company is adding on another facility to the existing six it already owns in Taiping, Perak. It expects to expand its market share in Europe, Asia Pacific and South America, with the US market still accounting as its single biggest export earner, accounting for 50% of its output. In nitrile glove making, Hartalega H o l d i n g s w i l l become the world’s number one when its fifth plant in Batang Berjuntai, Selangor, is completed next March. Malaysia’s biggest producer of synthetic rubber gloves, the company said the new factory’s ten high-capacity production lines will raise the output to 9.5 billion pieces of gloves/year from 7.6 billion now. According to Executive Chairman Kuan Kam Hon, with the new capacity, Hartalega – which currently controls 23% of the US market for nitrile rubber gloves – expects to take the pole position from US healthcare products group Kimberly-Clark in this market segment.

Companies in the limelight Malaysia’s top producer Top Glove, for one, started out in 1991 with only one factory and three production lines. Today, it is the world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer, with 20 factories (four of which are in Thailand and two in China) and 379 production lines. The company has a total capacity of 33.75 billion pieces of gloves/year, sells to 180 countries worldwide and has a 23% share of the global market. Top Glove is building four more plants costing about RM160 million. This will add 80 production lines to raise the company’s capacity by 7.5 billion pieces to 3

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Glove Industry Hartalega has been producing latex gloves since 1988 and exports 100% of its output to 23 countries, of which 83% is used by the healthcare industry. Feedstock supply assured And it must be of some measure of comfort operationally for Hartalega, and other Malaysian companies making nitrile gloves, to know that feedstock is one question they don’t have to delve too deeply into. For this, they have Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK) to thank. Since April this year, the Ipoh-based planter has become the world’s biggest synthetic latex producer via its 19% owned British subsidiary Yule Catto.

Yule Catto, having recently merged with PolymerLatex, has broadened its clout as the world’s largest supplier of nitrile latex

“The demand for nitrile latex has been on the uptrend in the last five years. We foresee there is a need for an additional 30,000 tonnes every year as more glove makers switch to nitrile,” Synthomer Asia’s Managing Director Brendan Catlow was reported saying. Synthomer o p e r a t e s a 1 3 0 , 000-t onne/year nit rile pl ant in Kluang, Johor. It s polymers business is wholly-owned by Yule Catto. Yule Catto, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, emerged as the world’s biggest nitrile latex producer after completing its purchase of Germany’s PolymerLatex Group in March. PolymerLatex owns a 100,000-tonne/year nitrile latex plant in Pasir Gudang, Johor. “As an enlarged group, Yule Catto now supplies 40% of the world’s needs for nitrile latex,” Catlow said at a press conference. World demand for nitrile latex is currently about 550,000 tonnes/year. Among the other major producers of the commodity are BASF, Dow Chemical, DSM and Lanxess. Switch to nitrile imminent A key challenge faced by makers of rubber goods worldwide has been the escalating cost of raw materials, especially natural and synthetic rubbers – the market for which is significantly influenced by the global oil price, outlook for major economic sectors (principally the automotive industry) and factors like the rainy monsoon season and wintering of rubber trees. In addition, natural latex is susceptible to speculative trading. On the other hand, while nitrile latex is also prone to price fluctuations, the factors here are generally related to the question of factory production capacity and therefore more manageable. Consequently, there has been a steady shift of late in Malaysian rubber gloves production capacity to the nitrile variety. For example, Top Glove intends to step up nitrile glove production to half of its total installed capacity of 30 billion pieces. Currently, nitrile gloves account

Glove Industry for only 20% of the company’s total gloves output. “Natural latex takes up 64% of our production cost. The volatile swings in latex prices have had an impact on our profits. To diversify our risks, we’ve started to switch some of our lines to make nitrile gloves,” said Top Glove Chairman Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai in April.

Even low-protein latex gloves can cause allergies, according to Showa-Best Gloves, a US-based maker of nitrile gloves

reactions. However, vinyl doesn’t offer the barrier protection from blood-borne pathogens that nitrile does. Still, in terms of cost, vinyl gloves are said to be an increasingly popular option in disposable gloves. In light of technological advances in recent years, today’s vinyl examination gloves are suitable for most work situations, if not yet all that natural latex and nitrile gloves are designed for.

Allergy crisis pushes nitrile forward Another big push factor for the nitrile switch is of course the stepped-up efforts to outlaw medical gloves made of natural rubber or powdered with cornstarch in the US. Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen has submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently in April, claiming that it is renewing its call for a ban on powdered medical gloves, and expanding that to all natural rubber latex medical gloves because of a continuing allergy crisis. Public Citizen, which sought a similar ban in 1998, said in the petition: “The dangers posed by powdered surgical and patient examination gloves have been widely recognised throughout the medical profession and the world for many years and are indisputable.” Airborne powder from medical gloves can cause serious allergic reactions in sensitised workers even if they themselves aren’t wearing those gloves, the group said. Even powder-free latex gloves pose serious threats to allergic workers and patients, according to the petition. FDA’s own database shows the death of one surgical patient and severe reactions from nine healthcare workers caused by powder-free gloves since 2005, it said. FDA rejected the original Public Citizen petition in July 1999. The agency argued that a ban on powdered gloves would not address exposures to latex gloves with high levels of proteins and might compromise the availability of high-quality medical gloves. Instead, FDA proposed labelling latex gloves with warnings about possible allergic reactions. However, the petition said Germany banned powdered latex gloves in 1998 and by 2002 the number of suspected cases of latex allergy in that country dropped 80%. Since latex allergies surfaced as a problem in the late 1980s, virtually every maker of protective gloves has worked to address it through removing proteins from latex, not powdering gloves or using alternative materials. Ansell Healthcare, for instance, said it has spent years working to make substantial reductions in the amount of proteins in its natural rubber latex gloves. And Malaysian producers have likewise made available low-protein and powder-free gloves.

Alternative green technology An alternative approach to the challenge is to “engineer” an alternative type of natural latex that has reduced amounts of antigenic proteins. Another US company Vystar believes its Vytex is the solution, with the added advantage that it is also a green technology and therefore more sustainable, since it takes less water and energy to produce.

Vystar, maker of Vytex NRL, has modified natural latex by stripping down antigenic proteins to cut risks for allergy reactions

The Vytex natural rubber latex is a multi-patented, allnatural, raw material that contains significantly reduced levels of antigenic proteins found in natural rubber latex and can be used in over 40,000 products. Vystar is working with manufacturers across a broad range of consumer and medical products to bring its Vytex to market in adhesives, balloons, surgical and exam gloves, other medical devices and natural rubber latex foam mattresses, pillows and sponges. Vytex latex may cost more but since it eliminates the need for a glove manufacturer to perform two or three chlorine bleaches and warm water rinses to reduce the proteins to an acceptable level, it is cost-effective in the long run, the company says, and the environment benefits, too. ◆

Nitrile versus vinyl But US-based Showa-Best Gloves believes nitrile gloves are the best solution to allergy problems. Its technical production specialist, Donald F. Groce, said, “Powder-free latex can still cause anaphylactic shock. Low-protein latex would cut down on allergic reactions, but not eliminate them.” According to him, many hospitals have switched to vinyl gloves, which are cheaper than latex or nitrile and don’t cause allergic 5

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2 0 1 1 17-20 AUGUST PDMAEC 2011 Venue: World Trade Centre Metro Manila (WTCMM), Philippines Contact: Philippines Die & Mould Association Internet: 25-27 AUGUST Qingdao Plastics & Rubber Expo Venue: Qingdao International Convention Centre, Qingdao, China Contact: Qingdao Jinnuo Exhibition Tel: +86 532 85785101/02 Fax: +86 532 85785105 e-mail: Internet: 31 AUGUST-3 SEPTEMBER Tiprex Venue: BITEC, Bangkok, Thailand Contact: Messe Düsseldorf Tel: +65 6332 9620 Fax: +65 6337 4633 e-mail: Internet: 5-8 SEPTEMBER AP Plas Venue: Shanghai New International Expo Centre, Shanghai, China Internet: 7-9 SEPTEMBER CITEXPO (China International Tire Expo) Venue: Shanghai Everbright Convention & Exhibition Centre, Shanghai, China Contact: Reliable International Exhibition Services Tel: +86 10-8589-8181 Fax: +86 10-8589-8180 e-mail: Internet: 28 SEPTEMBER-1 OCTOBER Koplas Venue: Kintex, Seoul, South Korea Contact: Korea E&Ex Tel: +822 551-0102 Fax: +822 551-0103 e-mail: Internet:

18-20 OCTOBER JEC Composites Asia Venue: Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Centre, Singapore Contact: JEC Tel: +33 0 1 5836 1500 Fax: +33 0 1 5836 1513 e-mail: Internet: 18-22 OCTOBER Fakuma Venue: Friedrichshafen Exhibition Centre, Friedrichshafen, Germany Contact: PE Schall GmbH & Co Tel: +49 7025 92060 Fax: +49 7025 92060 e-mail: Internet: 25-29 OCTOBER IPF Japan Venue: Makuhari Messe, Tokyo, Japan Contact: International Plastic Fair Association Tel: +81 3 3542 1487 Fax: +81 3 3543 0619 Internet: 9-12 NOVEMBER M-PLAS Venue: KLCC Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Contact: Messe Düsseldorf Tel: +65 6332 9620 Fax: +65 6337 4633 e-mail: Internet: 16-19 NOVEMBER P & R Indonesia Venue: Jakarta International Expo Kemayoran Contact: PT Pamerindo Indonesia Tel: +62 021 316 2001 Fax: +62 021 316 1981 e-mail: Internet: 22-24 NOVEMBER RubberTech China Venue: Shanghai New International Expo Centre, Shanghai, China Contact: China United Rubber Corporation Tel: +86 10 58650277 Fax: +86 10 58650288 e-mail: Internet:


1 Visit: 2 Select the 'Advertiser' tab from the website’s page menu 3 Select the year that the advertiser appears in 4 Select the issue that the advertiser appears in 5 Select the advertiser from the list displayed 6 This will then take you to the homepage of the advertiser


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8:43 PM

PRA June/July 2011  

Plastics and Rubber Asia 2011 electronic issue

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