Friedrichshafen, Germany — Even during a pandemic, Teknor Apex Co. successfully found a way to open a new compounding plant in Rothenburg, Germany.
"Our team did a great job during COVID to make it happen," Europe general manager Jan Duyfjes said Oct. 12 at Fakuma 2021. "The plant was built in cost and in timeline and we're very happy with it."
The state-of-the-art plant opened in late 2020. It covers 538,000 square feet and increases custom compound manufacturing capacity for Pawtucket, R.I.-based Teknor Apex. The new site employs 150 and operates eight twin-screw extrusion lines.
Duyfjes said the new plant is double the size of a previous one in the area. That plant closed when the new one opened. The new site makes compounds based on a wide range of thermoplastic elastomers and engineering resins.
The plant uses LED lights, a closed loop water system and heat recovery systems with heat pumps to support it. It also includes a new European center of excellence for plastics research and development, complete with sample lines.
The new building also has room for additional lines and future growth, Duyfjes said. "We're very committed to Europe," he added. The new plant "is our next step to grow here."
At Fakuma, Teknor Apex is focused on engineering thermoplastic compounds and Sarlink-brand thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPVs) for the automotive market, Duyfjes said. The firm also is spotlighting styrenic-based materials for consumer and other markets.
Teknor Apex also has seen increased interest in sustainable materials, mostly in the form of compounds with recycled content. "We see sustainability as part of the innovation process," Duyfjes said.
Like many firms, Teknor Apex struggled at the start of the pandemic before demand improved.
"We recovered over the summer [of 2020] and now we're glad to be back and able to work with our customers," Duyfjes said. "We've invested in Fakuma because of those relationships we have and because we're in a good position because of our new capacity."
Teknor Apex is one of North America's 30 largest compounders and concentrate makers. The firm operates 13 plants worldwide in the U.S., Belgium, Germany, China and Singapore and has annual sales of more than $1 billion.