MEXICO CITY — Kimex SA de CV is investing several-million dollars in new injection and blow molding equipment to make PET bottles.
``There is a great demand for PET bottles for soft drinks and water. We are running at 100 percent capacity, and still cannot keep up with demand,'' said Jorge G. Larra¤aga, marketing director for the PET division of Kimex.
The company has invested in new equipment every year since the 1994 peso devaluation.
Kimex was the first company to produce PET resin in Mexico, but now is the smallest supplier with capacity at 132 million pounds annually of fiber-grade and bottle-grade resin.
Larra¤aga said the firm's integration is its advantage — it makes resin, injection molded preforms, blow molded bottles, and also recycles 13 million to 15 million pounds of PET a year.
Larranaga, in an April 6 interview, did not specify how much Kimex is investing this year, or in what kind of equipment. He said only that the machines and auxiliary equipment were worth more than ``several million dollars.''
He pointed out that one preform mold alone can cost $600,000. Kimex mainly uses robot-assisted Husky molding presses and tooling. It also recently bought a Nissei injection press.
One of Kimex's customers is Coca-Cola Co.'s biggest Mexican bottler, Coca-Cola Femsa SA de CV.
Kimex has been buying and upgrading its Husky equipment continuously during the past few years, said Enrique Estrada, project engineer for Husky Injection Molding Systems SA, Husky's Mexico City sales and service center. Kimex also nearly doubled its resin production capacity in 1996.
For part of the new purchases, the firm received funding from Northstar Trade Finance Inc., a venture supported by the Canadian government that finances exports for projects valued at C$100,000 and C$5 million (US$70,200 and US$3.5 million).
``We are just in the process of arranging a second transaction for Kimex,'' Craig McKenzie, Northstar's executive vice president, said in an April 8 telephone interview from his Vancouver, British Columbia, office.
Kimex also is developing several other projects, such as manufacturing a wide mouth PET bottle just under 2 fluid ounces, Larra¤aga said. Kimex already offers a variety of preform and bottle sizes from 0.67-2.1 ounces.
In addition, Kimex spends a good deal on research and development, Larranaga said.
``We have several projects that are well-advanced to develop specialty resins and engineering plastics,'' he added, including a collaborative effort with Amoco Chemical de Mexico SA de CV.
The firm is considering setting up blow molding centers close to a soft drink manufacturer's filling center to cut down distribution and trucking costs, he said.
Kimex is based outside Mexico City near Queretaro.