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Granulator maker Avian opening US factory in Chicago

By: Rebecca Kanthor
PLASTICS NEWS CORRESPONDENT

March 14, 2014

SHANGHAI — Granulating equipment manufacturer Avian Group will open a factory in Chicago this year, and plans to move its headquarters there in the near future.

After a year of preparations, Avian bought the factory in January and the 60,000-square-foot plant will go into operation in July or August, said Mark Miao, general manager of Avian (Shanghai) Machinery Co. Ltd. and president of Avian Group.

The 5-year-old facility in Chicago’s Manufacturing Zone had been used for storage. Miao called the building “near new,” and he declined to disclose the cost of the investment.

The factory will make granulators, shredders and pulverizers for customers in North and South America. The factory will soon be hiring many American workers, Miao added, although he did not specify an exact number.

He wants to ramp up production quickly.

“This is my dream,” he said. “I want [the factory to be] the same size as [Avian’s factory in] China in the future.”

Within three years, he hopes to reach a capacity of 200 units per year.

Avian already has factories in Shanghai and Australia. Miao said that opening the Chicago plant is a strategic move.

“We think North and South America will be one of the stronger markets for Avian in the near future,” he said. “We want to bring good service and high quality for this market and good cost for this market,” he said.

“Also, the cost of labor in China is getting more expensive,” he added. U.S. manufacturing will help the company save money, Miao said.

“[Because of] the labor and the oil… the [transportation] cost is going up every month [and] every year,” he said. “I think many companies will go to the U.S. in the future,” he said. “The costing is always stable, not like China always changing quickly. This is good for manufacturing. This area is also good to find good technicians if you make a good quality machine.”

 Miao declined to give a time frame for moving Avian’s headquarters to Chicago.

“If we move over there, we can find very good R&D people,” he said, adding, “it is easier to manage there [in the United States].”

Avian was founded in 1982 in Australia and in 1997 the firm transferred production to China.

In 2009, the company said it was being purchased by Bredaryd, Sweden-based Rapid Granulator AB, which is part of IPEG Inc., a global auxiliary equipment company based in the Pittsburgh suburb of Cranberry Township. But that deal fell through.

Meanwhile, Avian also announced product news: At Chinaplas, the company will introduce its second-generation model super heavy pipe shredder.

After two years in development, production on the line started early this year. The machine can handle pipe up to 118 inches in diameter. The line doubles output and cuts energy cost by 30 percent compared to Avian’s first-generation pipe shredder.

“Customers are looking for energy saving and big capacity,” Miao said.

A machine this large became necessary because the market is changing.

“The industry is getting bigger. More people are interested in making pipe,” he said. “Before, it was small pipe. Now everyone wants to make big pipe because the market needs them.”

Avian has built two large pipe shredders for a China subsidiary of JM Eagle that is making a major transmission line to bring drinking water from southern China to areas in northern China.

Avian delivered two shredders to Quanen Eagle High-Tech Piping Co. Ltd., according to Andy Gu, vice president of operations at the machinery maker’s North American operation, Avian (USA) Machinery LLC in Naperville, Ill. Avian USA put together the deal working with officials at JM Eagle’s Los Angeles headquarters. The shredders are at the China pipe plant in Langfang, Gu said.

“It’s a huge project,” Gu said.

One shredder handles scrap PVC pipe and the other high density polyethylene pipe. Both shredders can handle pipe lengths up to 26 feet long. A large hydraulic ram pushes the pipe through the machine.

The larger machine, the PASG-2000, can grind up HDPE pipe with a diameter of up to 6.5 feet. First the pipe goes through a shredder to reduce it to chunks that are about two or three inches in size, Gu said. Then the chunks go through a granulator, and the material can go into an extrusion line.

Avian claims the PASG-2000 is the largest high-capacity heavy duty shredder in the world.

The other shredder, the PASG-1600, is for PVC pipe up to 5 feet in diameter. The pipe goes through a shredder, then a granulator, followed by a pulverizer to turn the PVC into powder. The powder is then conveyed to a silo.

Plastics News senior reporter Bill Bregar contributed to this report.