A year after its China launch, Lanxess AG's semicrystalline products subsidiary is more than doubling its production capacity there for high-tech plastics.
It's an ambitious time line, said Lanxess spokeswoman Andrea KÃ¶hnen, but one the firm believes will pay off. ``It's a very important region for Lanxess,'' she said.
The company will have an additional production line running by year's end, KÃ¶hnen said. Another, smaller line for customized products will start during the summer.
The plant, in Wuxi, was launched in May 2006 with production capacity of 44 million pounds of Durethan nylon 6 and 6/6, and Pocan polybutylene terephthalate and an investment of 20 million euros ($27 million). The China plants are situated to provide products to the entire Asia-Pacific region, according to KÃ¶hnen.
In addition to Wuxi, Lanxess has plants in Shanghai, Qingdao, Weifang and Tongline, producing a line of plastics, rubber and additives. It also owns factories in South Korea, India and Pakistan. It employs 830 in China and almost 2,100 in the rest of Asia. Lanxess leaders always planned to expand the Wuxi site, spokesman Udo ErbstÃ¶sser said.
``It's really a growing market ... China is asking for this product to be produced,'' he said.
Both China and India drove sales increases and helped the firm grow, he said. Lanxess Group, which had 6.94 billion euros ($5.5 billion) in global sales in 2006, saw a growth rate of 18 percent in Asia that year.
Lanxess has opened a testing center at the Wuxi site that is intended to speed up development of new polyamide and polyester grades, giving it an edge over China-based competitors, he said.
``We do testing in Wuxi for new products,'' ErbstÃ¶sser said. ``The whole package is very good for the customer, so we have a very good position in the market.''
Lanxess plans to continue growth in Asia, aiming to employ up to 1,000 new employees in the region by 2009, two-thirds of which are expected to be in China. It is considering Nanjing and Ningbo as possible sites for a new ion-exchange resins plant.