Hozelock postpones expansion project
AYLESBURY, ENGLAND — Hozelock Group plc has delayed a £6 million ($9.6 million) expansion program, but the Aylesbury-based processor continues its expansion plans in mainland Europe.
Hozelock has two plants in the English Midlands, primarily extruding, injection and blow molding and assembling garden products. The firm had planned to complete the first phase of an expansion project at the Aylesbury site by October. It called for adding 12 new presses, followed by an additional eight to 10 each year during the next four years. The plant now has 59 presses.
Logistical problems at the site forced the firm to delay machinery installation until next fall, said technical director Peter Fewell.
Hozelock claims to have a 74 percent share in the United Kingdom market for garden-watering equipment, with a much smaller but growing stake in the European market. For the six-month period ended March 31, the firm reported sales of £22 million ($35 million), up 5 percent from the same period a year ago.
But torrential summer rain and floods across Europe have drenched the once-promising results, and the firm recently laid off 19 assembly workers in Birmingham, England, according to finance director Don Potter.
Hozelock said that it was reviewing costs as a result of the peak-season setback, but it will continue to invest to expand its business in mainland Europe.
Hozelock installed a new, 21/2-inch Boston Matthews extrusion line at its 3-year-old Birmingham plant earlier this year, and may install a second line in late 1997 or next year. It now has eight lines, including braiding and knitted-finish capacity for PVC hose.
Linpac adds presses for automotive work
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND — British custom molder Linpac Mouldings Ltd. is expanding its automotive components business by purchasing three new Husky injection presses for plants in Belgium and the United Kingdom.
Linpac Mouldings of Birmingham ordered three of Husky's larger-size E-series machines. Linpac's Overpelt, Belgium, plant will add presses with 2,700 and 2,000 tons of clamping force, and its plant in Dunstable, England, will add a 2,700-tonner.
Linpac Mouldings, which also produces a range of materials-handling, industrial and proprietary products and parts, has 15 injection molding plants across Europe with sales of more than $160 million, according to Richard Brown, Linpac automotive products projects manager.
Husky is based in Bolton, Ontario.
DRS gaining space, two HPM machines
HOLLAND, OHIO — DRS Industries Inc. of Holland is expanding its facility and adding two HPM injection molding presses.
``We're just advancing all possibilities,'' said Allison Cunningham, sales representative for DRS.
The company runs a 15,000-square-foot facility with two presses with 150 and 400 tons of clamping force. The two new machines cost $230,000 and have clamping forces of 200 and 95 tons.
In the fourth quarter, the firm plans to add 6,000 square feet of manufacturing space, which will cost $100,000.
DRS supplies the automotive and medical enclosure markets. The firm designs, builds and runs molds in-house.
The company has annual sales of $2 million and expects a 30 percent increase for this year.
Lens maker licenses eyeglass technology
WOODBURY, N.Y. — Research Frontiers Inc. and Orcolite division of Monsanto Co. have signed an agreement that allows Orcolite to incorporate Research Frontiers' controllable light-transmission technology into a wide variety of eyewear products.
Research Frontiers of Woodbury develops and licenses electronically operated light-control devices using proprietary technology called suspended particle devices. Glasses using the technology can adjust to light intensity automatically or can be adjusted by hand. The company is looking into other uses, such as windows.
Orcolite of Azuza, Calif., is an injection molder of polycarbonate lenses. The firm also manufactures other plastic lenses.
Vision buys presses for insert molding
WILSONVILLE, ORE. — Custom injection molder Vision Plastics Inc. of Wilsonville is installing four Mitsubishi Okuma rotational shuttle presses and additional robotic equipment that it purchased during NPE in Chicago in June.
``We are going through the setup now,'' Bernie Taylor, business developer, said in an Aug. 1 telephone interview.
Vision will use the 50-ton injection presses for insert molding of electronic connectors. The machines complement Vision's 34 existing presses, which have clamping forces of 5-600 tons.
In April, the corporate commodity plastic council of IBM Corp. named Vision one of its 29 core suppliers worldwide. Vision has molded parts for IBM data storage units for four years. Vision ships the parts to seven global assembly sites.
The scope of the IBM work deviates from Vision's usual regional approach, serving about 40 customers, mostly in the electronic, medical and sporting goods industries.
Vision Plastics employs 150 and, since 1992, has occupied a 40,000-square-foot facility. The business opened in 1988 in a leased Tualatin, Ore., facility with five injection molding presses and a crew of five.
Thomson planning financial turnaround
SINGAPORE — Thomson Multimedia, the ailing Paris-based consumer electronics firm owned by the French government, aims to be in the black this year despite a $123.6 million operating loss in the first half of the year.
The company is closing the last of its U.S. television assembly operations, including substantial plastic molding operations, and moving the units to Mexico.
According to an internal newsletter, Thomson's ``spring cost-reduction initiative in the Americas is beginning to pay dividends ... with a potential to trim more than $70 million in operating costs.''
The firm's newly appointed chief executive officer, Thierry Breton, is leading an aggressive cost-savings program, which is expected to result in as much as a 10 percent attrition in work force across the board in coming months, according to a company source based in Singapore.
The French government recently reneged on its plans to privatize the company, after facing protests when it tried to sell it to Daewoo Electronics Co. Ltd., a unit of South Korea's Daewoo Group. Instead, it will now seek European Commission help to recapitalize the company and form strategic partnerships with other firms.
Alloyd adds division, building clean room
DE KALB, ILL. — Alloyd Co. Inc. is building a new clean room at its De Kalb headquarters and creating a medical products division to produce custom light-gauge thermoformed trays.
The company will put two new thermoformers in the Class 100,000 clean room, and additional staff will be hired for the unit, said marketing manager Kent Hayward.
Sales director John McNulty will head up the unit, which could begin operation in the fall.
Hayward declined to say how much the company is investing or how many people will be hired. The trays will fit well with the firm's manufacturing and sales of heat-sealing and radio-frequency-sealing machines, Hayward said.
Alloyd ranked 15th in Plastics News' 1997 thermoformers ranking, with $50 million in thermoforming sales. The company has annual sales of $70 million.
PureTec growing with new building
EAST VANCOUVER, WASH. — PureTec Manufacturing Inc., a custom fabricator of mainly PVC and polypropylene in East Vancouver, is constructing a new building.
``We're trying to open up our manufacturing area,'' President Jerry Larsen said of the 12,000-square-foot building. The building will include a clean room.
``We couldn't keep up with demand,'' Larsen said. The company plans to bring in more fabrication equipment and routers. He did not disclose the cost of the expansion and the additional equipment.
The 34-employee firm had 1996 annual sales of $3 million, but already has reached that mark eight months into 1997. Larsen expects 1997 sales of about $4 million to $5 million.
Tomen, Mitsubishi plan PET film plant
SHANGHAI, CHINA — Tokyo-based Tomen Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. plan to invest $42.2 million in a joint venture to make and sell PET packaging films in Shanghai.
The plant will have annual capacity of 22 million pounds and is scheduled to start up in July 1998. Tomen will hold a 30 percent stake in the joint venture, Mitsubishi will own 10 percent, and the remaining share is set aside for a local partner, the firms said.