Wittmann Robot & Automation Systems, Inc., Torrington, Conn., has acquired Capitol Temptrol Inc. of Centerbrook, Conn., a maker of portable and central chillers and mold-temperature controllers. These products are now offered under the Wittmann Capitol Temptrol name. All operations have been moved to Torrington. Wittmann also supplies robots, granulators, dryers, and materials-handling equipment.
On April 1, Eurotherm Gauging Systems, Inc. of Billerica, Mass., was purchased in a management buyout from its former parent company, Eurotherm International Inc. President John Sharood and senior vice presidents Vince Chambers and Richard Murphy will lead the newly independent company. Said Murphy, “We are totally focused on gauging and will stay with what we do best.”
Last month, Amcor Ltd. of Australia agreed to acquire the PET container and closure operations of Schmalbach-Lubeca of Germany. Schmalbach is the world’s largest maker of PET containers and is the leader in North America, Europe, and Latin America. It has 33 PET plants in 17 countries and produces around 18.4 billion containers a year. Amcor, parent of Amcor Twinpak Americas, Mississauga, Ont., has 18 PET plants—seven in Canada, four in the U.S., four in South America, and three in Australia & New Zealand. They produce 6.4 billion containers annually. Together, these operations—51 plants in 20 countries, with 5600 employees—produce 12% of global PET packaging, about three times as much as the nearest competitor. The expanded Amcor will have 21% of U.S. and Cana dian production, roughly double the size of its largest competitor.
In addition, Schmalbach-Lubeca White Cap is one of the world’s leading makers of food and beverage closures in metal and plastic. Amcor is a joint-venture partner with Bericap Group of Germany in Bericap Inc., a plastic closure maker based in Burlington, Ont. With Schmalbach, Amcor will have nine plastic closure plants in eight countries and will account for half the specialty plastic closures market in the U.S.
Following approval by the European Commission and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Solvay S.A. of France last month completed its acquisition of Ausimont, the Italian-based fluoropolymers and fluorochemicals producer. Regulatory approval was conditioned on certain divestments, including that of Solvay’s PVDF activities in Decatur, Ala., where Solef resin is produced (it is also made in Europe). Solvay Fluropolymers (formerly Solvay Advanced Polymers) is based in Houston.
Coperion Corp., Ramsey, N.J., and Davis-Standard Corp., Pawcatuck, Conn., have agreed to jointly supply complete in-line compounding and extrusion systems for the NAFTA market area. Under the agreement, Coperion becomes the exclusive supplier to Davis-Standard of compounding extruders—either Coperion Werner & Pfleiderer ZSK corotating twin-screws or Coperion Buss single-screw, reciprocating kneaders. Davis-Standard will be the exclusive supplier of in-line extrusion systems utilizing Coperion compounders.Cast film and sheet are among the anticipated applications.
Davis-Standard will discontinue its own production of co-rotating twin-screw compounders (under license from Japan Steel Works). Support will continue for existing customers, and D-S will still make counter-rotating twin-screws.
Davis-Standard will set up a demonstration line with Coperion equipment at its Pawcatuck technical center.
Degussa Engineered Carbons, LP in Parsippany, N.J., is the name of a new 50/50 joint venture that combines the carbon-black operations of Degussa Corp. of Parsippany, and Engineered Carbons Inc. (ECI) of Borger, Texas. The new venture has six U.S. plants that make furnace, thermal, and specialty blacks. The venture’s products are sold through Degussa Corp.
Under a new sales-distribution agreement, ACS Group, Wood Dale, Ill., is offering the full range of powder-conveying and gravimetric-blending equipment from Colortronic, Inc., Runnemede, N.J. ACS Group sells them under its AEC/Whitlock brand.
The move expands ACS Group’s line into powder conveying and powder blending, according to president Thomas Breslin. “Colortronic is clearly one of the global market leaders in powder conveying and blending technology. This complements our products for basic blending and enhances our ability to handle other materials such as PVC compounds, powder additives, and wood flour in addition to plastic pellets.”
DuPont White Pigment & Mineral Products, Wilmington, Del., the world’s largest producer of titanium dioxide, has changed its name to DuPont Titanium Technologies.
Meanwhile, Ineos Acrylics, Cordova, Tenn., the world’s largest supplier of methacrylates, has changed its name to Lucite International.
Milacron Inc., Cincinnati, has just started up an independent manufacturing consulting business called Concentric Custom Services, Inc., also based in Cincinnati. The new firm’s purpose is to increase profitability of extrusion and injection molding firms through improved asset utilization. “We can reduce overhead and operating costs,” says president William J. Gruber, former president of Ferromatik Milacron North America. He says Concentric helps processors achieve real and measurable savings and then shares those savings with the customer. Thus, its services do not add to overhead costs.
Concentric is contractually affiliated with more than a dozen leading service, material, and equipment providers to consult in areas such as information technology, primary equipment, energy management, health/safety/risk management, control systems, facility maintenance, resins, mold design, and financial services.
Gruber considers operator and maintenance training to be the most basic element in its profit-enhancement services. Other elements include training customers in use of predictive/preventive maintenance, computerized maintenance-monitoring software, machine-calibration technologies, process optimization, lean manufacturing techniques, and improved financial performance measurements.
Central to the client relationship is a Concentric engineer, resident at the site, who conducts operator training, establishes a predictive/preventive maintenance program, coordinates other resources, and is responsible for showing immediate benefits from these services. Web-accessible reports let the customer monitor results.
Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Tarrytown, N.Y., has expanded its flame-retardant additive offerings through the acquisition of the Melapur melamine-based, halogen-free FR technology of DSM of the Netherlands. The Melapur line is aimed primarily at engineering plastics for automotive, electrical, and electronic applications. Ciba will offer Melapur in customer-specific blends as well as the current powder and granulate forms.
Basell in Wilmington, Del., has a new Ziegler-Natta catalyst family that is said to significantly expand the properties of polypropylene homopolymers and impact copolymers by broadening their molecular-weight distribution. These succinate catalysts were recently tested in commercial PP plants in Italy and the Netherlands. Basell expects to use them commercially early next year.
“We have produced heterophasic copolymers with unprecedented stiffness/impact balances,” says Michael Mulrooney, v.p. of Basell’s catalyst business. Succinate catalysts are expected to improve stiffness and processability of BOPP film, pipe, and injection molded parts.
Riverdale Color Manufacturing, Inc. has moved from Brooklyn, N.Y., to a new 60,000-sq-ft headquarters and manufacturing facility in Perth Amboy, N.J. Two older facilities in Brooklyn and Scotch Plains, N.J., are now closed. The company has started commercial production of liquid colors and additives at the new plant, which triples the company’s capacity. Adjacent to the plant is a customer training center.
Cyclics Corp. opened its new headquarters last month in Schenectady, N.Y., and announced an alliance with Dow Automotive, Auburn Hills, Mich. They will jointly develop cyclic PBT resins for automotive structural composites, including vertical and horizontal body panels and truck boxes.
Cyclics holds the rights to patented technology, originally developed by GE Corporate Research, that produces low-molecular-weight oligomeric precursors of engineering thermoplastics such as PBT. These precursors have extremely low viscosity, which allows them to be processed like thermosets with high fiber or filler loadings, but they cure to form high-molecular-weight thermoplastics.
ExxonMobil Chemical Co., Houston, has started construction of expanded production capacity for metallocene ethylene elastomers at Baton Rouge, La. The project will add more than 180 million lb/yr when it comes on stream in the third quarter of 2003. In addition to EPDM, the new capacity will produce plastomers and novel polymers from Exxpol metallocene technology.
Omnexus in Atlanta now offers a searchable catalog of excess inventory available for on-line purchase from its partners—all well-known resin producers. The new surPLUS Center, available through the Omnexus portal at www.omnexus.com, lets users buy this discounted inventory directly from the seller. Omnexus says this new service opens the market for excess prime materials to all buyers, whereas it was previously available only through limited channels.