Clariant Masterbatches has expanded its operations in Southeast Asia, doubling its manufacturing footprint in Thailand with a new regional headquarters there and adding capacity in Indonesia. It's also set to open its largest masterbatch facility in China, in the southern city of Guangzhou.
``Our business here has been growing at rates that are double or triple those in Europe and North America, and the region remains a core focus,'' said Kevin Pfeifer, Asia-Pacific marketing head for Clariant Masterbatches Division. ``We have a strong, established base in [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and New Zealand and a growing presence in China.''
Clariant, based in Muttenz, Switzerland, announced the investments May 16. It declined to release financial details or specific capacity figures for the facilities.
The Thai facility, in Chon Buri, began operations in the third quarter of 2007, and replaces a much smaller, space-constrained facility in Bangkok. The new plant will be the Masterbatch division's Asia-Pacific headquarters, and include high-speed extrusion lines for black and white masterbatches, additives and single-pigment concentrates.
The plant is designed for Asian and Australian markets, with packaging being its largest single market.
In Indonesia, the company in January finished an expansion of its Tangerang facility that boosted capacity 30 percent, with an additional 10 percent capacity expansion later this year.
The company said it added twin-screw extrusion technology to make both its Remafin masterbatches for packaging and consumer goods, and its Renol products for PET and polycarbonate sheet. The firm also added two-layer blow molding and injection molding equipment in an expanded laboratory.
In Thailand and Indonesia, the new or redesigned facilities will allow for better technology. In Thailand, in particular, Clariant is building with future growth in mind, said Juergen Heise, general manager of the Greater China region at Clariant Masterbatches. Heise was interviewed June 4 at the company's old Guangzhou factory.
Also, this month Clariant is set to open what will be the largest of its three masterbatch plants in China.
The 151,000-square-foot Guangzhou facility reflects continued growth in Clariant's South China market, including in packaging, which represents about half of its business in the region. The new plant also includes a development lab, and will be Clariant's center for fiber-technology development for China. The lab also will focus on isolated manufacturing areas for quality-sensitive products like specialty whites for the computer, communications and consumer goods industries.
The firm also is building what it says is a state-of-the-art waste-water treatment plant for the new Guangzhou facility - partly a response to legislation and partly because the Guangzhou facility is more multipurpose than Clariant's other Chinese plants, in Beijing and Shanghai.
Clariant is seeing more than 20 percent annual growth in China, above general market estimates of 12-15 percent growth for masterbatch companies there, Heise said. He cautioned, however, that it can be difficult to get qualitative information on the size and growth of that market.