Vinetech investing in PP post for wine
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - A polypropylene post could be the biggest plastic product to hit the wine industry since plastic corks. Melbourne-based Vinetech Pty. Ltd. is negotiating with investors for funding to market its Vertiplas Post System.
Rick Stefanutti, Vinetech director, said the PP post has greater flexibility than traditional treated pine and steel posts, allowing mechanical harvesters to get closer to the crop for a higher grape yield. Prototypes have been tested for three seasons in Victoria's Yarra Valley and trials have shown as much as a 7 percent increase in grape yields.
Stefanutti said Vinetech is seeking A$1.2 million (US$898,000) to take the venture to its next stage, and he expects to market the posts in 18 months. He said the Vertiplas Post System is cheaper than wood or steel frames and has a lower breakage rate.
``It's going to be about 10 percent cheaper and will have a longer life, because it won't have the failures,'' Stefanutti said.
The posts will last up to 20 years, depending on the amount of ultraviolet-light stabilizer used. Interest has been mostly from Australian investors, but the company has patents for the product in the United States and Europe.
Mack, Mass. firm team on drug device
ARLINGTON, VT. - Mack Molding Co. of Arlington is joining with Transport Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Framingham, Mass., to design, develop and bring to market a proprietary device used in treating cold sores.
The drug system is currently in clinical trials. The two companies said in an Oct. 12 news release that they will work together to finalize the product design. The product will be tested in a skin irritation study in February 2006 and in a trial to begin in the second quarter of 2006.
``This development agreement is the first step in what will become a full manufacturing partnership where Mack is providing services in every phase, from product development, plastic molding, printed circuit board manufacturing to final assembly, test and distribution,'' Joan Magrath, Mack business unit manager, said in the news release.
Transport's device delivers acyclovir, a cold sore treatment, directly to affected skin at concentrations up to 40 times higher than conventional topical formulations. It uses a low-voltage electrical charge to increase skin permeability and requires one 10-minute application.
The applicator will have a reusuable control unit and disposable, single-use medicated cartridges.
Transport already has signed an agreement to market and sell the product in Europe. For Mack, it presents an opportunity to boost its medical device business, which has grown from less than 1 percent of sales in 2000 to nearly 30 percent in 2005.
Mack had $202 million in overall sales last year.
Indian foam maker to buy Joyce units
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - Joyce Corp. Ltd. expects to finalize the sale of its polyurethane and polystyrene foam businesses to Indian flexible PU foam manufacturer Sheela Foam Private Ltd. by the end of November.
Perth-based Joyce reached agreement with Delhi, India-based Sheela to sell the businesses for A$16 million (US$12.1 million), excluding property and debt. The sale will result in a gain on net assets of about A$5 million (US$3.8 million). The consumer and industrial foam businesses will become a wholly owned Australian subsidiary of Sheela and will be named Joyce Foam Pty. Ltd.
The sale follows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's refusal in March to allow a merger of Joyce's foam divisions with Melbourne, Australia-based Pacific Brands Ltd. The commission opposed the merger, claiming it would result in Pacific Brands having too much market power.
The Joyce foam products business accounts for 35 percent of the Australian flexible PU foam market, and Sheela holds 35 percent of the Indian market. Sheela is trying to expand its foam businesses in Australasia.
The sale is subject to shareholder approval Nov. 29, and Joyce said it intends to use the funds to ``aggressively pursue'' its development of Perth-based bedroom furniture firm Bedshed Franchising Pty. Ltd., in which it holds a 49 percent interest.
T&T uses state funds for presses, training
HAZLETON, PA. - Plastic closures maker Torres & Towers LLC is using a $590,000 state financial-assistance package to train its workers and add machinery.
``The state of Pennsylvania, the Governor's Action Team and local authorities have done a tremendous job showing their support and we really appreciate it,'' T&T President Ray Torres said in a telephone interview.
The company is in the process of expanding operations at its 80,000-square-foot facility in Hazleton. T&T recently added a 500- ton injection molding machine and is planning to add five more in the next two years, bringing its total to 12 presses.
T&T is receiving $500,000 through a machinery and equipment loan fund, and $50,000 in job-training assistance to update the skills of its 22 workers in such areas as quality control. The package also provides $160,000 in job-creation tax credits, as the company plans to add 20 workers in the coming years.
Torres said that when Crown Zeller USA purchased a 49 percent stake in the minority-owned company in November 2004, there was the possibility of moving the business closer to its base in Libertyville, Ill. However, Torres said he and his wife instead decided to move to Hazleton. He pointed to its location, staff productivity and the local reception as the main reasons for his change of mind.
T&T is looking to press its case for more minority packaging work. It has major contracts with PepsiCo Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co., both of which are increasing their minority suppliers.
Torres said the firm is optimistic about its future, but had a minor setback last week, shutting down for four days due to a lack of resin. He said Hurricane Katrina interrupted the flow but that T&T had just received a rail-car load.