BERLIN - European PVC window profile leader HT Troplast AG, which bought the financially ailing German profile extruder Gebruder Kommerling Kunststoffwerke GmbH in October, has expanded production into Russia and started up a major in-house PVC compounding line at its KBE window profile plant in Berlin.
As part of its bid to capitalize on growth in the window market in Eastern Europe, Troplast of Troisdorf, Germany, is installing three new extrusion lines at the plant in Voskresensk, Russia, southeast of Moscow. The new extrusion lines, manufactured by Battenfeld Extrusionstechnik GmbH, will begin operating by the end of the year, a Troplast spokesman said.
The 216,000-square-foot facility, which opened in October, already has two lines working at full capacity making KBE- and Trocal-brand profiles aimed at the local market, Troplast said. The expanded plant will supply profiles to the Baltic states, the Ukraine, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. A Trocal fabrication plant in Kosovo is making 120 window units a day.
``In spite of the financial and economic depression in Russia, which has had a negative impact on the countries of central and Eastern Europe ... market volume recovered noticeably in 2000,'' a Troplast spokesman reported. The company forecast annual growth in that region of about 10 percent in the medium-term future.
Troplast also is looking for good business growth in Turkey, the region's third-biggest windows market. The company recently established a subsidiary company, HT Turkey.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, Troplast early this year began running a dry-blend PVC compounding line from Azo GmbH + Co. for its KBE profile business. Trocal said the $8.7 million plant serves the Berlin plant, with 51 extruders - 50 of them Battenfelds - as well as the factory in Russia.
Trade press reporters recently toured the KBE plant during a pre-K 2001 press conference for Battenfeld. Rudi Baumann, Azo's director of sales and marketing, said the compounding line's capacity of about 200 million pounds is much more than KBE needs right now, allowing for future growth.
Azo, of Osterburken, Germany, supplied the turnkey line, from designing the layout to erecting the steel structures. In a second-floor room, four silos hold ingredients such as fillers, modifiers and titanium dioxide. Surge tanks feed the additives to a mixing system. On the lower level, features such as vibrating screws provide a high feed rate and very accurate weighing.
KBE used to extrude pellets, but the strategy changed to running dry blend after Troplast bought the Berlin window extruder in 1999. Baumann said dry blend is a challenge because the material can easily clog conveying lines.
Troplast already was a global player even before the new Russian plant. Troplast runs four profile production plants in Germany, as well as in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, and Jiangsu, China.
In addition to window profiles, Troplast has invested heavily in a new plant in Troisdorf to make two new products: fireproof rigid expanded foam for heat insulation and cross-linked polyolefin foams.
Also in the foams business, subsidiary Trocellen GmbH has increased its stake in Polifoam in Hungary, the only Eastern European expanded foam producer, to 47.16 percent.