Engel shutting down toolmaking operation
SCHWERTBERG, AUSTRIA - Injection molding machinery maker Engel Holding GmbH will close its mold-making operation at its Schwertberg headquarters.
Engel marketing director Gerd Liebig said the unit, which employs 60 and has been part of Engel's operations for more than 50 years, will be wound down during the next six months or so as existing contracts are completed.
Engel said no job losses are expected as a result of the move; existing staff will transfer to other tasks within the business.
Liebig said Engel produced 20-30 injection molds a year, around 90 percent multicomponent designs for the auto industry. However, the firm's major growth activities now extend beyond auto- motive, requiring a new approach.
``Now, more and more demand is in new industries such as packaging. In the past it has been difficult for us to work with specialists in these areas when we have our own mold making,'' Liebig said.
The company will set up a mold project planning team comprising 20-30 engineers, which will be located in the new technology center in Schwertberg. The team will work with outside mold-making partners on a project-by-project basis.
PU precursor demand rises rapidly in China
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. - Demand for a polyurethane precursor is forecast to soar in China but will grow only 4 percent per year in the United States, according to a study by Eldib Engineering & Research Inc. of Berkeley Heights.
Chinese demand for hexamethylene diisocyanate will grow 10-13 percent per year, while the overall Asia-Pacific market will fuel growth of 10 percent a year to the year 2010. HDI uses include PU elastomers and coatings.
The primary issues facing HDI are environmental and safety. Trends toward lower volatile organic compound emissions mean HDI is losing some market share, especially in coatings. Despite slow growth prospects in North America, the study's authors state there is room for another U.S. producer because supply is tight and prices are increasing.
Ermo, Caulonque SA team in technology
MARCILLÃ-LA-VILLE, FRANCE - Two French toolmakers, Soustons-based Société Nouvelle Caulonque SA and Ermo Group of Marcillé-La-Ville, have formed a technology partnership.
Ermo, focused on high-end multicavity injection molds chiefly for packaging, has plants or offices in Poland, Canada, Argentina, China and France. It runs a test center in France with 11 molding machines for multi- and mono-component production. Half of its business is in exports.
Caulonque is a leading European mold maker for rigid packaging, specializing in molds for thin-wall packaging. It has developed and patented a range of products for quick-change systems, in-mold labeling, stack molds, gating, venting and cooling.
Caulonque employs 35 and has annual sales of 6 million euros ($8.2 million). Its test center is equipped with BMB and Netstal injection presses with 200-500 metric tons of clamping force.
The firms have worked separately in different markets for years, but each felt that together, with higher capacity, they could attract wider market interest.
``It's time now [for us] to become global,'' said Caulonque Chief Executive Officer Philippe Vignacq. ``We are well-known in thin-wall parts, with a significant background. But today that is not enough. We also want to become a worldwide player and Ermo is the right partner to do [that with].''
Ermo Chairman Jean-Yves Pichereau said the deal is a big step for his company.
``This is a great opportunity for both of us,'' Pichereau said.
Ermo has a subsidiary, Ermo North America Inc., in Montreal.
Velsicol increasing plasticizer capacity
ROSEMONT, ILL. - Velsicol Chemical Corp. is expanding plasticizer production capacity at its Chestertown, Md., plant.
Velsicol said the facility will have 16 million pounds per year more annual capacity beginning in the fourth quarter. Affected products include benzoate plasticizers and polymeric types mainly based on adipic acid, a spokesman said. The Rosemont firm introduced several new, patented benzoate ester plasticizers earlier this year.
``As demand for our products grows, we will continue to make investments in assets and, as appropriate, acquisitions to provide value-added product solutions,'' Velsicol Chief Executive Officer Ross McMillan said in a news release.
The company also is expanding in plasticizers at Kohtle-Jrve, Estonia, for Western and Eastern Europe, where it said there are growth opportunities as phthalate plasticizers are replaced.
In China, Velsicol's joint venture plant in Wuhan is due to begin commercial production in September. The venture, with Wuhan Youji Industries Co. Ltd., will make benzoate and polymeric plasticizers.
Mexichem considers Colombia VCM plant
MEXICO CITY - PVC and specialty chemicals maker Mexichem SAB de CV of Mexico City may build a vinyl chloride monomer plant in Cartagena, Colombia.
``This VCM plant will supply our PVC resin plant, which will supply PVC resin to Amanco's plants in Colombia and other countries in Latin America,'' said Enrique Ortega, Mexichem's investor relations manager.
Mexichem this year acquired Brazilian PVC pipe maker Grupo Amanco of Sao Paulo in its entirety and took a controlling stake in PVC resin maker Petroqu¡mica Colombiana SA of Cartagena.
Ortega said the possible VCM project in Cartagena is part of a $1 billion, five-year expansion plan by Mexichem in Latin America that also includes the possible extension of chlorine and caustic soda plants in Coatzacoalcos.
``We are also reviewing other opportunities,'' Ortega added. ``In the U.S., there are some opportunities as well.''
SolVin PVC capacity to grow in Belgium
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - SolVin SA, the European PVC joint venture between Solvay SA and BASF AG, will add capacity at its plant in Jemeppe, Belgium, to capitalize on vinyl demand worldwide.
With the global market growing 6 percent annually and rising consumption in Europe, SolVin aims to expand the facility's annual output to 882 million pounds by adding 165 million pounds of capacity by 2009.
In the European Union, the market has expanded significantly, with additional consumption of 1.32 billion pounds of PVC since 2005, according to Brussels-based SolVin.
``The vinyls market has changed drastically in recent years. The robust growth of the market offers significant business opportunities,'' said Jean-Pierre Pleska, general manager of Solvay's vinyls business unit, in a news release.
He added that Solvay's global vinyl operations, including Solvay Indupa in South America, Vinythai in Asia and SolVin in Europe and Russia, will take advantage of those opportunities with competitive plants and technologies.
SolVin also believes it has an advantage over producers in China, where vinyl demand is rising nearly 15 percent a year. The joint venture's ethylene-based technology, with lower energy consumption and reduced environmental impact, contrasts with China's acetylene-based process, which is raising environmental concerns, according to SolVin.
RJG Inc. establishes Singapore subsidiary
TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. - RJG Inc. set up a wholly owned subsidiary in Singapore in August to meet double-digit growth in the main Asian markets for its specific-cavity-pressure technology for molds.
RJG operated in Asia for five years through joint venture RJG Plastechnic Asia Pte Ltd. The Singapore office has replaced the joint venture.
Wholly owned RJG (SEA) Pte. Ltd. aims to raise awareness of RJG's technology and educational programs, said General Manager Jeffrey Siew. The unit will have six staff members within the first year, including technicians and trainers.
``We are not simply selling technology and training with the hope that our customers will figure it out on their own,'' he said. ``The customer defines what successful use of our technology is to them, and we work diligently to ensure that those parameters are met.''
Traverse City-based RJG makes its products in the United States, and there are no plans to start a manufacturing facility in Asia.
Siew said RJG recorded business growth of 20 percent in 2006 and is targeting 40-60 percent growth per year for the next two to five years.
He said RJG is benefiting as customers explore the concept of lights-out operations.