Energy costs are rising, at the gas pump, in home heating bills - and in plastics factories, said Conrad Bessemer, Novatec Inc.'s new president and chief executive officer.
Novatec sells loaders, blenders and dryers, and Bessemer said resin dryers gobble up a large amount of energy.
``Energy is huge in our industry right now,'' Bessemer said at a news conference at NPE, held June 19-23 in Chicago.
New dryers cut energy use. Novatec estimates there are 12,000 dryers in operation that are at least 20 years old. ``You have a lot of old dryers out there that are what I call energy pigs,'' he said.
Bessemer led a group of investors to buy Novatec in a deal announced May 11. He is a former executive of auxiliary equipment maker Conair Group Inc.
Keeping with the energy-cutting theme, the company announced two new drying technologies, using infrared radiation and vacuum to remove moisture from plastic pellets.
Novatec offers desiccant, hot-air, compressed-air and infrared dryers, plus the patented NovaDrier compressed air/membrane system and the new NovaVac II vacuum dryer.
The company distributes blenders made by Maguire Products Inc.
At NPE, Novatec announced it is adding a drying technology center at its Baltimore headquarters. Novatec started building the 4,200-square-foot center to evaluate resin dryers under controlled laboratory conditions. The facility will enable processors to compare alternative types of Novatec dryers in terms of energy efficiency, drying speed and other parameters, according to Mark Haynie, product sales manager.
Haynie said Novatec will work with resin companies on drying different polymers.
``This is a huge investment for us, but it's a major leadership stance for our industry,'' Bessemer said.
At NPE 2006, Novatec rolled out the Infrared Rotary Drum for drying PET resin, which uses infrared radiation to dry and crystallize PET quickly, in one continuous operation. In the conventional process, the PET is crystallized first, then is moved onto a separate desiccant dryer.
Novatec is the exclusive North American distributor of the infrared dryer, which is manufactured by UPM Machinery Sales Ltd. of Berks, England.
PET moves through a rotating stainless-steel drum, set up in a horizontal position. On the inside wall there is a helical structure whose flights transport the material through the length of the rotating drum. The resin tumbles as it moves along, so that all of it is exposed to the radiation from a central bank of infrared heaters.
Since infrared is radiant energy, it heats only the resin, not the surrounding air, so it heats from the core of the pellet to the outside. Then the moisture is driven from the pellets by a stream of ambient air.
The Infrared Rotary Drum delivers a steady supply of properly dried and crystallized PET to the production line, in only eight to 13 minutes - compared with five or six hours for traditional desiccant systems, according to Novatec.
In other technology news, Novatec introduced a vacuum resin dryer, called the NovaVac II, manufactured by Maguire. Bessemer said Novatec has studied and tested the vacuum dryer since it was commercialized in 2000, and has seen continuous improvement in the technology.
``We are now convinced that this radically different dryer can reliably save energy and increase productivity for a wide range of processors,'' he said.
Novatec is billing the NovaVac II as a beside-the-press unit for short production runs or frequent color changes.
It dries quickly. Conventional dryers work by exposing batches of resin to hot, dry air for several hours, in effect baking the pellets so that the residual moisture migrates to the surface and is carried off by evaporation. The NovaVac II uses a vacuum to pull moisture out of the pellets. It takes only about 40 minutes to dry material - about one-sixth the time of conventional drying - and uses only 20 percent of the energy.
The dryer has three indexing stations, making it possible for the system to dry relatively small batches and also to turn a batch process into an essentially continuous one that keeps pace with the processing machine, the company said.
Novatec also announced several people moves, after the ownership change.
The company said Lawrence DeBaugh, who had been president before the buyout and is a member of the investment group that bought the company in May, now is chairman. Jack Doub remains as executive vice president. John Gillette, another long-time staffer, continues as vice president in charge of engineering. Also, Joe Rich remains as national sales manager.
Novatec has hired:
* Elizabeth Pypa as Novatec's executive vice president in charge of finance and operations. She comes with 25 years in plastics processing, most recently as senior vice president of automotive molder Plastech Engineered Products Inc., where she oversaw the building of eight plants, including specifying all auxiliary systems.
* Timothy Noggle as vice president of sales and marketing. Most recently he was sales director-Americas for Graham Machinery Group.
* James Zinski as vice president in charge of applied projects. He also will coordinate project management and installation of resin-handling systems. He has a 17-year career in plastics auxiliary equipment, most recently with Conair, where he held sales and product management positions.
* John Heinrikson as vice president of system sales. His 12-year career in plastics includes sales posts with Sterling, Motan Inc. and Manvel Machinery Sales.
* Chuck Morgan as resin-handling business director. He had spent 29 years with Conair in a range of positions. For much of the past 10 years, he was in charge of Conair's conveying product line and product development.
* Douglas Arndt as senior project manager for systems, who will work in Novatec's new Engineered Systems Project Group. He has 21 years of technical management work in plastics, including 16 at Motan.
Other internal promotions include:
* Tony Crook to product manager for blenders, after working in sales.
* Mark Haynie to product manager for dryers, after working in dryer sales.