Hoping to tap a market for recyclers facing a more contaminated stream of materials, equipment supplier Erema Engineering Recycling Maschinen und Anlagen GmbH is using Fakuma to launch a new business unit to sell its filter systems as individual components.
Ansfelden, Austria-based Erema is hoping its new unit, called Powerfil, can convince customers to put Erema's filter technology on third-party extrusion lines, rather than strictly on Erema extrusion machinery as they've been sold to date.
"In recent years, the recycling market and the noticeable parallel increase in more heavily contaminated input materials have led to a growth in the demand for efficient filtration systems," said Robert Obermayr, head of the Powerfil unit.
Erema presented some details of Powerfil at a Sept. 26 open house at its technical center in Ipswich, Mass., where it pitched the new unit as a way for plastics recyclers to process more heavily contaminated post-consumer waste plastic into high-quality recycled resin pellets.
Erema CEO Manfred Hackl said the company sees Powerfil as a niche market within its overall sales, which hit 138 million euros ($162 million) in its most recent fiscal year, ending March 30.
But even as a niche, it could still eventually add several million euros a year in sales, Hackl said, noting that the filter market is large enough to support companies that only sell filtration equipment.
"There are a lot of recyclers in the market which have existing extruders but have a filtration issue," he said.
The company said, for example, that increased demand for recycled PET in end products is putting additional requirements on recyclers to handle more contaminated material streams.
Erema said Powerfil will offer both its SW RTF partial surface backflush filter and its laserfilter systems as components on third-party extruders.
The company said its laserfilter allows for a continuous filter system with screen fineness of 70 micrograms and can handle materials with over 1 percent contamination without difficulty. It said the discharge unit can reduce melt loss from the 1 to 2 percent common with piston filters down to 0.1 percent.
Contaminants that the laserfilter can handle include rubber, silicone, paper or aluminum, Erema said.
Obermayr said the Erema laserfilter technology works with "really finely tuned" scrapers and a material flow design that quickly separate contaminated materials and discharges them.
"We have high throughput, we have constant pressure [and] it is self-cleaning," he said. "It's not a system like a piston screen changer where the operator needs to stand by and change the filters.
"Melt filters are a decisive component in reaching top standard material quality," Obermayr said.
The launch of Powerfil is the third standalone business unit launched by Erema in as many years, following the startup of its Pure Loop unit in 2015 and its Umac unit for used machines and components last year.
It said Pure Loop, which specializes in processing production waste, generated 4.5 million euros ($5.3 million) in sales in the last fiscal year, while Umac generated about 1.5 million euros ($1.8 million) in sales.
The company reported that its sales in the fiscal year rose 5 percent to 138 million euros ($162 million), with part of that demand being driven by major global brand companies wanting more recycled content in their packaging or products.
Even in a time of low prices for virgin resin, which squeeze the recycling industry, company executives see market trends that point to growth for the recycling equipment market.
Erema said it has doubled its sales in the last eight years, which Hackl said is probably faster growth overall than the niche market for plastics recycling equipment.
"We see growth opportunities in the recycling manufacturing market in the U.S. due to the fact that the brands are the driver and the brands have a clear commitment given that recycled material has to be used in future in their products," Hackl said.
As well, he said Erema, which is one of the largest manufacturers of plastics recycling equipment worldwide, expects China's recent ban on imports of many grades of post-consumer waste plastic will over time boost the need for its equipment in North America and Europe, as recyclable material that had been exported to China will increasingly be processed in its region of origin.
Erema announced earlier this year that it had expanded both in Austria, where it added a new assembly workshop to decrease lead times, and in North America, where it added machinery to its newly expanded Ipswich technical center.