2003 is shaping up to be an eventful year at DuPont Teijin Films' PET film site in Hopewell.
Production at the 31-year-old plant - which DuPont acquired in 1998 from Imperial Chemical Industries plc - is shifting from declining markets such as photographic film, floppy disks and transparencies to stronger-growth markets like electronic displays and digital printing media, and the firm is aiming a new film grade at the beverage label market.
``The moves we're making now will replace those decreasing volumes as these new products and markets increase,'' Hopewell site manager Kevin Corby said in a recent interview in Hopewell.
The beverage label product is Cool2Go wrap, an insulated label that keeps beverages in plastic, metal or glass packaging cooler for 70-100 percent longer than standard foam packaging on a glass bottle. The wrap also prevents bottles from sweating and can be used on existing labeling machinery, the company said. Cool2Go will be fully commercialized by the end of the year.
If that isn't enough to keep Hopewell hopping, a dozen executives are set to move from DuPont headquarters in Wilmington, Del., to Hopewell by the end of the year. Those moves will complete a transfer of 35 sales, marketing, financial and customer service personnel from Wilmington to Hopewell that began in 2002.
``We think that having people closer together will allow them to work together more easily and benefit our operations,'' Corby said.
Corby, a 22-year DuPont veteran, recently was named Americas manufacturing manager for DuPont Teijin. That means that - in addition to Hopewell - Corby is in charge of film production at plants in Richmond, Va.; Florence, S.C.; Circleville, Ohio; and Fayetteville, N.C. The Hopewell site is the largest of the five, encompassing 800,000 square feet of manufacturing space and resting on a 147-acre, wooded site.
With annual sales of about $1.3 billion, DuPont Teijin Films ranks as North America's second-largest film and sheet maker, according to a Plastics News industry survey.
Since chemicals giant DuPont Co. and Japanese conglomerate Teijin Ltd. formed the joint venture in 2000, management has worked to consolidate the strengths of DuPont's core Mylar-brand PET film business - and the Melinex-brand line it acquired from ICI - with Teijin's Teonex films.
Mylar has remained focused on specialty packaging, such as barrier and sealant films used for meats and cheeses and frozen foods. Melinex is aimed at printable displays, LED monitors and identification cards, while Teonex has found a niche in advanced magnetic applications.
The slowing global economy led DuPont Teijin to idle one of its eight film lines in Hopewell in 2001. The move resulted in some job cuts, but transfers from other sites - primarily of support staff - kept Hopewell's employee count steady at around 520, according to Corby. None of the Hopewell layoffs were forced, with most of them coming via early retirement or redeployment to other sites.
The idled film line can be restarted once demand improves. The line is one of three remaining from the plant's 1972 opening. The other two still are in operation and are running well, according to Hopewell operations manager Mark Allen.
The Hopewell plant runs 24 hours a day, producing films ranging from 0.5-14 mils in thickness. Almost all of the plant's film output is coated. About three-fourths of production in Hopewell is transparent film, although the site also can make white, blue and black films. Every line at the site also has coextrusion capability.
About half the site's PET needs are met by resin made on-site, with the other half coming from a plant in Fayetteville, Allen said. The Hopewell site previously made polyethylene naphthalate resin and films, but transferred that work to DuPont Teijin's Japanese operations in 2000.