Two Canadian injection molders lose business as TV maker Hitachi and Sanyo opt to move production from Quebec to Mexico. But TVs haven't completely disappeared. Indiana injection molder Thomson Consumer Electronics Inc. is adding a 1,500-ton press to produce a 32-inch TV cabinet. Televisions as small as 20 inches are still being made by Thomson in house.
Entrepreneur Peter Wood opens Automated Plastics Inc. out to prove that it is possible to run a plant with no one there. The South Carolina company's “lights out” approach to overnight production turned the corner on profitability in just 18 months, he says.
And you thought Rock Star was just a recent video game phenomenon. Ahead Inc. of Bedford, Mass., has introduced the Virtual Guitar, a guitar shaped, polypropylene controller packaged with a CD-ROM game that challenges the user to play the game by strumming along at the proper rhythm to a variety of popular tunes, including “Hey Jealousy” by the Gin Blossoms and “Kick Start My Heart” by Mötley Crüe.
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association predict that the sale of vinyl windows should surpass wood windows for the first time in 1995, then leave wood behind for good in 1996.
The National Housewares Manufacturers Association cancels a planned trade show in Mexico City after a recession there prompts 10 of the 31 exhibitors to drop out.
A Greenpeace-backed effort to block the use of PVC is prompting organizers of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney “minimize and ideally avoid” use of the material.
Plastic Safety Systems Inc., the Cleveland-based molder of those large orange construction barrels, begins producing the barrel using recycled plastics and recycled resin. “It's not a lot more money,” says President David Cowan. “The cost of virgin plastic has gone up, so recycled barrels cost almost the same.”
Lear Seating Corp. is about to turn itself into an auto supply giant as it buys Automotive Industries Holding Inc. The purchase will create a company with broader expertise in production and products says CEO Ken Way. Lear Seating will soon change its name to Lear Corp. as it continues to refine its business.
After a wave of consolidation, nearly every play ball sold in the U.S. comes from Ashland, Ohio, home of the two remaining makers of PVC rotomolded balls: National Latex Products Co. and Hedstrom Corp., which claims to be the world's largest maker of play balls. (Nearly 20 years later, Hedstrom says it is considering reshoring production which has since moved to China.)
Ford's group vice president for product development Jacques Nasser says the company's “Ford 2000” plan calls for suppliers to improve their quality by 25 percent on existing parts and 50 percent on new parts. (Nasser's career at Ford becomes a living embodiment of the Peter Principle as he rises to CEO, only to be ousted and replaced by Bill Ford, the great grandson of founder Henry Ford.)
Japan's Ube Industries Ltd. has decided that the soaring yen makes it necessary to set up plastics machinery assembly operations in the U.S. It will break ground soon for a 50,000-square-foot plant in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Eventually, by the year 2000, we are planning to build 70-80 machines” annually, executives say.
Mercedes-Benz is a partner in a new micro-car concept called the “Swatch” car, made with plastic panels which can be swapped out for a different color — like the popular Swatch watches. The microcar will actually hit the market as the Smart Car, and still have the replaceable plastic panels.
Executives at SPI's annual polyurethane division meeting say that investment in China in slowing because of a variety of issues, including an inflation rate of 20 percent and laws which restrict foreign investments, but still say there is much potential in the country.
Ford's Automotive Components Division has dropped $32 million on a new engineering test facility that will focus on plastic electronic and climate-control parts. The captive molder is also investing in gas assist injection molding, co-injection, in-mold decorating and low-pressure molding.
Europe has two companies making equipment for the new plastic lumber industry, but you can be forgiven for thinking there is only one. Both go by the name A.R.T., and both are based on the original firm Advanced Recycling Technology Ltd. When the original company was forced into bankruptcy, two different firms emerged claiming a version of the name A.R.T.
Lexmark International Inc. is getting out of the computer keyboard business and will sell all of the molds and 32 presses and auxiliary equipment it had used to make keyboards for IBM. Instead, it will focus on making printers.
GE Appliances has swapped out polypropylene for metal for its new generation of washing machines. The company even bought 18 large tonnage injection molding presses from HPM to produce the tubs in house.