Flush with more capital after a purchase by Tetra Laval International SA early this year, PET blow molding machine maker Groupe Sidel is looking into the idea of entering the market for extrusion blow molding machines.
The Le Havre, France, company already is one of the world's largest producers of injection stretch blow molding equipment, which are used to make PET bottles for carbonated soft drinks, water and other beverages.
But while the PET bottle market still is a growth area, Sidel is pondering expanding into other packaging markets, said Thierry Parages, senior vice president for North and Central America. Sidel is evaluating launching high density polyethylene and polycarbonate bottle machines. Like PET bottles, the HDPE container market has benefited from packages made of other materials switching to plastic, he said.
That market also includes formidable competitors such as Graham Machinery Group. (Booth E9901) and Bekum America Corp. (Booth S1849). Another rival, SIG Group (Booth S1615), makes both PET and HDPE packaging machines.
Sidel has not made a decision to enter that market but is looking closely at it, said Parages, who is based at Sidel's U.S. headquarters in Norcross, Ga.
``It would give us a stronger presence in more packaging markets,'' he said. ``We'll do what fulfills the needs of our customers.''
Packaging giant Tetra Laval of Pully, Switzerland, bought Sidel early this year. The European Union had blocked the sale, citing antitrust issues, but then changed its mind on the $1.6 billion deal.
At NPE 2003, Sidel (Booth N5139) is showing off a new machine that marketing vice president, Nicolas Rivollet, said is setting a speed record for PET bottles produced each hour. A dual-cavity machine at Sidel's booth can make 60,000 bottles per hour, surpassing Sidel's old record of 53,000 bph, he said. The old record holder is at a customer's site in England, he said.
The new machine heats preforms from two cavities on standard-size blow wheels. The company will ship the equipment to a U.S.-based customer once NPE is completed, Rivollet said.
The PET bottle market continues to grow by about 10 percent a year, Parages said. Overall, about half of the growth in containers for liquid food comes from the plastics side, he said. Dairy, juices and sports drinks are leading the charge, with Sidel offering special plasma coatings on a bottle's interior to increase shelf life, he said.
Sidel just received Food and Drug Administration approval to use recycled bottles with the plasma coatings for its products, Rivollet said. It now is working to increase the use of recycled and coated PET bottles to the North American market, he said.