At a news conference held during Chinaplas, Rhodia Polyamide introduced a new nylon 6/6 technology aimed at applications requiring strength and durability a move that fits in with the company's revised strategy in the face of the financial crisis.
We're adapting ourself, said Laurent Schmitt, president of Rhodia Polyamide, a division of Rhodia SA of Courbevoie, France. We've launched specific action plans so we can make sure we get out of the crisis at least as strong as we were when we entered.
The crisis came at a time when the nylon sector already was in a period of re-adjustment, said Francois Hinker, vice president of Rhodia Polyamide's engineering plastics unit: For the last two to three years in North America there has been a decrease in housing applications, particularly in the carpet industry.
As a result, many nylon makers found themselves with an overcapacity to make nylon 6/6 fiber. Rhodia Polyamide, which is headquartered in Saint-Fons, France, has had to draw down capacity as demand has decreased and sales numbers have faltered. In the first quarter of 2009, the company was down 37 percent compared with the same period in 2008.
We have to reduce our production, reduce our inventories and optimize our cash flow, said Schmitt. On top of that, we have to make sure that we stay competitive in every market.
To help balance its budget, Rhodia SA of Courbevoie, France, has pledged to create an annual savings of 150 million euros ($208 million) by the year 2011. Some 60 million euros ($83 million) of annual savings is expected to come from Rhodia Polyamide.
As part of its new strategy, Rhodia Polyamide will spend much of its energy targeting the automotive industry in China. A new nylon 6/6, called Technyl Star AFX, offers superior flowability along with high levels of reinforcement.
Our vision stays the same, we want to be a worldwide leader in polyamide 6/6, Hinker said.
The new material has already been used, in collaboration with composites molder Inoplast in Saint-Désirat, France, to create the first polyamide reinforcement beam for truck radiator grilles.
At Chinaplas 2009, Rhodia also announced the launch of a closed loop recycling program for nylon used in rock-climbing rope. The recycling program was developed in tandem with Millet, a French mountaineering equipment company; Rhodia hopes to copy the program with other partners.