While Evonik Industries AG moves to mitigate the impact of a March 31 explosion at its plant in Marl, Germany, executives in Shanghai announced the continuation of an investment program that will include construction of a nylon 12 plant in Asia.
Completion of that project remains years away, though, so it will not help automakers and suppliers that are working to deal with an expected shortage of nylon 12.
For now, the company is pushing to start production again in Marl.
“There is quite a lot of damage” at the plant in Germany, said Gregor Hetzke, head of the Performance Polymers business unit. “We are expecting it will take three to six months to get it back on line.”
The planned Asia plant will not come on line for a few years, officials said.
“In the not-so-distant future we will decide on a location,” said Dahai Yu, a member of the executive board of Evonik. “We are still dedicated to opening the plant in 2014.”
Yu spoke at a news conference in Shanghai at the Chinaplas 2012 trade show, held April 18-21.
2011 was a record year for Evonik, with 14.5 billion euros ($20 billion) in sales globally. Some 3.1 billion euros ($4.3 billion) came from the company's plastics business, and Asia comprised 20 percent of the company's overall sales.
Evonik aims to expand its business in Asia, with a goal of reaching 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) in sales in the region by 2015, expanding Asia's share to 30 percent of global sales.
“We concluded a strategy project recently,” Yu said, “and we want to double our sales in Asia.”
To do this, Evonik is promising to invest 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in the region from 2010-15. This will include hiring 2,000 employees over the next few years, the development of the nylon 12 plant and the expansion of the company's Shanghai research and development center.
Last year, the company increased production capacity in China for polyetheretherketone and polymethyl methacrylate molding compounds at production facilities in Changchun. It also doubled production capacity for acrylic molding compounds in Shanghai to 88 million pounds. In 2012, Evonik has scheduled the expansion of PMMA capacity in Taiwan to 187 million pounds.
“The supply chain has become increasingly important,” said Yu. “We want to increase our sales by local production to 60 percent by 2015.”
Evonik's investment schedule also includes the expansion of the company's capacity for the bio-based Vestamid Terra polymers at the beginning of this year, including another compounding facility in Shanghai that will become operative in the third quarter of 2012. The company also announced plans to expand its polymerization capacity in the region sometime in 2013.