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Engel Has Grown By 14%; Will Expand Headquarters

By: Heather Caliendo 23. June 2015

The Engel Symposium 2015 was recently held in St. Valentin and Linz, Austria. Every three years, the injection molding machine manufacturer invites its customers, partners and (lucky for us) the media to gorgeous Austria for the in-house exhibition.

 

If one word could describe the symposium it would be: upbeat. Generally speaking, the company is feeling pretty good about the current state of business. Engel reported a record breaking turnover of 1.07 billion euros ($1.19 billion) in the 2014-2015 financial year that closed the end of March, according to Peter Neumann, CEO of Engel. In comparison to the previous year, the company achieved an increase of 14%. Neumann said that almost all regions have made a contribution to this success. Specifically in North America, Engel is expecting sustained growth as many companies have brought their production back to the U.S. Another reason for growth in the U.S.: the replacement of old machinery.

 

Still, to remain competitive, companies must attract the best talent and focus on keeping them. Neumann says this is the key factor in how Engel is preparing for future. For the new fiscal year, the company plans to make further investments in its sites worldwide, in the distribution and service structures and also in the apprentice workshop.

 

One focus for investments in the current 2015-16 fiscal year is on the headquarters in Schwertberg, Austria. In the summer of this year, Engel will already begin with the construction of a new building to the south of the factory site, expanding the Technology Centre that was built in 2009. The development, distribution and customer service departments will all add more personnel. "With that we are laying the foundation to solidify our very strong presence in the European market and to continue to grow in America and Asia," Neumann said. Shanghai experts for the individual business units have also been added.

 

A larger apprentice workshop will also be located in the new building and furnished with new equipment. The company says it will provide its staff with optimal working conditions already as trainees with "lots of daylight, ergonomic workplaces and an open atmosphere."

 

Around 150 of the more than 170 Engel trainees worldwide are in Austria and they are given training there for nine technical professions. Those workers are integrated into the assembly of the machines from the very beginning. The machine components that are prepared by the apprentices are used for the on-going production. "For those just starting in the profession, that is a huge motivational factor. We will be intensifying this integration with the newly designed apprentice workshop," Neumann said.

 

The company says about 98% of the apprentices are retained. Besides Austria, Engel has training programs for technical professions in Germany and in China.

Will BASF's Nylon 66 Force Majeure Impact the Domestic Market?

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 23. June 2015

 

Last week, BASF declared force majeure at its Seals Sands, UK facility on hexamethylenediamine (HMD), nylon salt, and nylon 66 polymers and compounds supplied here from Europe under the Ultramid A and Capron PA66 brands.

 

The company cited production problems at its 276-million lb/yr plant for its action, which went into effect June 17. It also noted that it was not in a position to predict how long the force majeure situation is likely to last, but that it would update its customers as soon as possible.

 

I checked in with Mark Kallman, v.p. of client services for engineering resins, PS, and PVC at Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), who is a key source for keeping us up to date on resin pricing trends based on major fundamentals such as the balance of supply and demand. Both at the end of first quarter and as we are closing in on the end of the second, Kallman has noted that domestic nylon 66 supply is relatively balanced and that demand has been good, and is already trending to be a bit above 2014.

 

But, he also clarified that when he describes the market as balanced, he includes the nylon 66 materials imported to the North American market by BASF. As such, Kallman ventures that if the plant’s restart is delayed more than a few weeks, the domestic market will be impacted by supply constraints.

 

As for pricing, nylon 66 prices dropped a few percent during first quarter, and have been primarily flat with a bit of a downslide in some cases through this quarter. An attempt by suppliers in mid-April to push through a 15ȼ/lb increase following a force majeure action by Invista, failed as it did not affect resin availability. Prior to last week’s BASF force majeure action, Kallman was projecting a largely flat trend in prices to continue into third quarter. This may now change depending on the duration of this latest industry production disruption, along with factors such as the trajectory of feedstock costs.

 

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.

 

MHG Strives to Accelerate Biopolymer Formulation Capabilities

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 22. June 2015

 

Biopolymers are here to stay and advancing their use in diverse applications requires determination and partnerships in both the R&D and application development realms. Biopolymer producer MHG, Bainbridge, Ga., has taken such steps to accelerate its research and development capabilities by opening its own specialty labs and gaining access to equipment at the University of Georgia (UGA).

 

With this ‘academia partnership’ agreement now in place, MHG’s specialty labs at the university allow researchers to determine certain properties and characteristics of bioplastic formulations that have been created at the Bainbridge facility. In this way, MHG can determine the proper formulation for clients by making minor changes to optimize their biopolymer applications. The company is a specialist in the customization of biopolymer formulations that combine PHA, PLA and other biopolymers through a proprietary reactive extrusion process.

 

Access to UGA’s state-of-the-art equipment such as the 900 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer (NMRO otherwise unavailable, is allowing the company to create cutting-edge quality product more efficiently. The research findings at the specialty labs can easily and swiftly be replicated at MHG’s manufacturing headquarters.

 

Says Paul Pereira, CEO and executive chairman of MHG’s board of directors, “There are many great resources, such as the 90 MHz NMR, but the truly great opportunity comes from being able to harness the brainpower of young and energetic scientists, increasing our bench strength by multiples…..This provides us the unique opportunity to further advance our research and development of our bioplastics and into a realm otherwise not possible. We look forward to our future with UGA.”

 

MHG has been very active in academia; chief science officer Isao Noda, the “Father of Nodax PHA”, has had numerous speaking engagements on Nodax, as well as 2D spectroscopy. Most recently, in addition to UGA, he spoke at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology in Seoul, Korea. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware and a professor at the University of Paris. MHG also serves as an industrial advisor for the University of Minnesota, which is part of the Center for Sustainable Polymers.

           

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.

 

Nova Installs Nine-Layer Blown Film Coextrusion Line to Enhance Customer Collaboration

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. June 2015

 

The cornerstone of what is said to be a broader set of purchases and upgrades at the Calgary R&D facility’s Center for Performance Applications of Nova Chemical Corp. is a new, state-of-the-art Brampton Engineering nine-layer blown film coextrusion line.

 

Aimed at enhancing customer collaboration and product and application development capabilities, the new semi-commercial scale line enables in-house production of complex multi-layer films to optimize coextruded film structures and determine which polyethylene and other materials perform best.

 

The line is capable of running several different complex film structures per day with precise layer distribution and converter-quality film rolls. Films produced on the line will support Nova’s expanded applications development work for the food packaging, heavy-duty sack and other flexible packaging markets.

 

Technical services manager Sarah Marshall says that Nova Chemicals is the first PE resin producer in North America to have a nine-layer line. “This investment provides a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with our customers and quickly generate new ideas and applications utilizing our resins to help them succeed. It helps deliver on our commitment to expand our innovation capabilities and provide greater value to our customers.”

 

Before this installation, Dow Chemical's seven-layer Alpine line in Freeport, Tex. was considered the most complex blown film installion at any PE supplier location.

 

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.

 

SPI's Paper on Compatibilizers Aims to Boost Plastics Recycling Profitability

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 18. June 2015

The newly released paper, “Compatibilizers: Creating New Opportunity for Mixed Plastics”, from SPI’s Recycling Committee aims to increase awareness among plastics recyclers who can explore the potential to create value out of mixed streams that are not currently being recycled. The paper essentially provides the entire recycling value stream with a primer on compatibilizers—additives that are designed to make disparate traditionally incompatible varieties of post-consumer recycled plastic materials compatible.

 

SPI’s Recycling Committee’s report determined that widespread use and understanding of compatibilizers could present recyclers with the opportunity to convert multi-layer flexible packaging and highly-mixed streams, such as the yield loss from increasingly contaminated bales—bales comprised of several different types of plastics rather than one variety—into valuable recycled resin.

 

The report’s recent findings show that HDPE recyclers are currently experiencing a 20% yield loss, while their PET recycling counterparts are experiencing upwards of a 40% yield loss. According to the report, this rate of material loss can quickly change the economics of an operation from black to red. In contrast, putting that yield loss to use as another valuable feed stream can dramatically change the economics of an operation, as well as further divert valuable plastics from the landfill; compatibilizers are one means by which this can be accomplished.

 

“Compatibilizers, long used by the prime industry, offer the potential to create new mechanical recycling solutions for post-industrial and post-consumer scrap plastics. This project demonstrates the innovation that can happen in recycling when you engage all segments of the supply chain. This is a real world solution being offered, one which is currently being used today by a number of our members to recover mixed resin streams that would otherwise be landfilled,” said SPI president and CEO Bill Carteaux.

 

The new report offers a list of available products and explains the way different compatibilizers function, including bipolar copolymer compatibilizers, malleated copolymer compatibilizers, and in-situ macromolecule catalysts and the challenges their use pose with inconsistent mixed-plastics streams. A full copy of the paper is on SPI’s website.

 

 

 




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