Archive for the ‘Manufacturing Optimization’ Category

China losing ground to Latin America

Thursday, May 12th, 2011
By Dan Hockensmith | PLASTICS NEWS STAFF 

Medical Devices logoHURON, OHIO — China’s status as the most favored place for U.S. contract medical manufacturers to offshore production is being challenged as its domestic market matures and global shipping costs increase.

That’s good news for other Asian countries and Latin America, according to several presenters at the recent Plastics in Medical Devices 2011 conference.

Scott Smith, vice president of sales and marketing and mold design and injection molding firm Plas-Tech Engineering Inc. in Lake Geneva, Wis., said April 12 that more U.S. companies are getting wise to costs that they formerly ignored, such as the 4.2 percent tariff on Chinese-made tooling imported into the U.S. for production.

In addition, the price of oil has inflated shipping costs, he said, citing the 7,000-mile distance from China to Cleveland, the nearest large city to the conference venue in Huron. (more…)

Nice-Pak Expands Wet Wipe Manufacturing Plants and Distribution Facilities

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Company Consolidates and Reconfigures its North American Operations –

ORANGEBURG, N.Y. /PRNewswire/ — Nice-Pak, the world’s leading manufacturer of wet wipes, is dramatically expanding its overall capacity, and introducing new state-of-the-art equipment and packaging technologies in its Jonesboro, AR, and Mooresville, IN, facilities.  Production at Nice-Pak’s soon to close Green Bay, WI, facility will be relocated to its expanded manufacturing and distribution facilities in Indiana. This strategic move will further the company’s leadership position and significantly enhance its global sustainability platform.

“Nice-Pak produces over 125 billion pre-moistened wipes annually focused on improving family health and wellness,” says Robert Julius, Chairman and CEO.  “The installation of state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and advanced packaging technology is consistent with Nice-Pak’s leadership role in the wet wipe industry, and involves a well-orchestrated reconfiguration that has been designed to benefit current and future customers.” According to Julius, the drive for continuous improvement and this manufacturing and distribution realignment address Nice-Pak’s goal of providing its customers with the most cost-effective solutions for delivering more efficient production, transportation, distribution and sustainability to meet all of its customers’ needs.

Source: PRNewswire

Groesbeck filtration unit integrated into Polyester Fibers

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Investment firm Empire Investment Holdings has finalised the integration of the Groesbeck filtration business unit, formerly a division of Ahlstrom Corporation, with its platform portfolio company Polyester Fibers.
“I am very pleased with both the speed and accuracy in which our operations team has completed the integration of the Groesbeck filtration business unit into Polyester Fibers,” said David F Alfonso, Empire’s chairman and CEO. “We are committed to strategically growing our portfolio company both organically and acquisitively.”
The Groesbeck filtration business unit, which is now part of Cumulus Fibres, was acquired from Ahlstrom Corporation in December last year.
Polyester Fibers added over 100 employees, customers in North America, Asia and Europe, and annual revenues of approximately $25 million with the acquisition.

Source: WTiN

Wide US HDPE blow molding, PET spread to lead to substitution

Monday, March 28th, 2011

A nearly 30 cents/lb spread in the price of PET and HDPE blow molding could lead some PET converters to switch to HDPE, several sources said Friday.

“The spread is very wide now, we’ll have to see if switching happens,” a PET producer said.

PET prices were not settled for March but were likely to be around 92-93 cents/lb, and likely would go up again in April due to higher paraxylene prices. PET producers have issued 5 cents/lb price hikes for April on an expected climb in the PX contract.

HDPE blow molding prices for the largest volume converters were heard to be in the low 60’s cents/lb delivered in February. Prices for March were not set with negotiations centering around a possible 2 cents/lb price increase.

Asked if he had seen any converters make the switch a distributor said, “Not yet, but I am sure some will do it.”

Source: Platts

Reclaimers support initiatives

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011


Recycling logoNEW ORLEANS (March 10, 1:45 p.m. ET)  — Although the plastic recycling industry has only officially put its support the past few years behind expansion of existing bottle deposit laws, more than four out of five plastic reclaimers believe that extended producer responsibility programs — prevalent in Europe and spreading throughout Canada — are beneficial to plastics recycling and should be pursued.

In addition, 76 percent support container deposit legislation and 62 percent support single-stream collection, although the level of support for those two initiatives differs among PET and high density polyethylene reclaimers, according to the fifth annual survey of plastics reclaimers by Plastics Recycling Update, a publication of Resource Recycling Inc.

The survey results were unveiled on the second day of the 2011 Plastics Recycling Conference in New Orleans, held March 1-2.

The high levels of support for initiatives that could increase the amount of supply may reflect the growing concern of reclaimers who continue to see more than half of the recycled PET bottles and almost 25 percent of the HDPE containers exported to China, even as end markets in the U.S. are expanding. (more…)

Low and Bonar Expands in Saudi

Friday, February 18th, 2011
Low and Bonar has established a joint venture in Saudi Arabia with Saudi-based company NatPet,with the aim of starting up a factory for the production and sale of nonwoven geotextiles.

The factory will be built in Yanbu, in the western part of Saudi Arabia at the Red Sea coast. Natpet is a producer of polypropylene resin and a daughter company of Alujain Corporation, a public company in Saudi Arabia with a substantial stake held by Xenel Industries, a diversified industrial holding company based in Jeddah. Alujain leverages Saudi Arabia’s significant hydrocarbon resources in developing world-scale, energy-intensive industries.
The combination of Bonar TF’sknow-how in geotextiles, with a strong local partner producing the raw material, offers a number of unrivalled advantages. (more…)

K-C Executives Won’t Comment on the Fate of Jeans Diapers

Friday, February 4th, 2011

will only say that diaper innovations will come in 2011


In a conference call announcing its fourth quarter and full year results, Kimberly-Clark’s top brass today refused to comment on whether or not the highly successful Huggies Jeans style diapers would be making a reappearance on store shelves anytime soon. K-C launched the limited edition “jeans” diapers last summer in an effort to draw more attention to its Huggies Little Movers diapers.

“Fashion is certainly an area in personal care where we are trying to drive growth,” CEO Thomas Falk told investors. “The jeans diaper was key in bringing an element of fashion to diapers, which mothers love.” (more…)

Strategic deals likely to rule in materials

Thursday, January 6th, 2011


AKRON, OHIO (Jan. 25, 1:50 p.m ET) — Materials-related plastics deals picked up at the tail end of 2010, with buyers coming from within the industry — a trend that market watchers say should continue into 2011.

Plastics News tracked 10 such deals in the second half of 2010, with half of those occurring in the month of November alone. Globally, for all of 2010, the number of resin, color and compounding deals increased by 21 percent vs. 2009 for a total of 70, according to P&M Corporate Finance LLC, a financial firm in Southfield, Mich. (more…)

Caterpillar spinout targets environmental metamorphosis for factories

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

By Heather Clancy | Dec 7, 2010

Much has been written about how changes and efficiency tweaks to information technology infrastructure can help a business improve its corporate sustainability profile. But what about improvements to your applied technology, such as all the specialized equipment and systems that keep your manufacturing operation afloat?

That’s the concern of Advanced Technology Services (ATS), a spinout from Caterpillar in Peoria, Ill., that focuses on recycling parts and reducing the environmental impact of factory equipment. The company got its start as an internal Caterpillar division and were spun out when the giant company realized its services were applicable for a broad range of manufacturing concerns, says ATS President Jeff Owens.

Let’s be clear, ATS is first and foremost concerned with improving the productivity of your factory. It just so happens that reducing energy waste, air leaks and other energy-related inefficiencies happens to be a big part of this, Owens says. “The No. 1 reason our clients hire us is productivity, but soon after, sustainability is the focus,” he says.

One example of what I’m talking about is ATS focus on ensuring there are no air leaks associated with equipment that uses compressed air, which is one of the most expensive processes in any factory — used for robotics, automotive assembly, silicon production. Owens says ATS listens for leaks that the human ear would not normally be able to hear by using ultrasonic technology.

“Fix these leaks and you will see a decrease in the time it takes a compressor to run, which is much more efficient,” he says.

What other smart things can you do to make your factory operations more sustainable?

Here are three additional suggestions from Owens:

  • Invest in smart lighting that only operates when facilities are in use.
  • Consider clean in-factory transportation operations, such as electric Cushman vehicle pictured to the right, which uses recyclable batteries. The vehicles cost 2 cents per mile vs. 22 centers per mile for gas-powered units.
  • Proactively maintain the oil and lubricant levels for all equipment, in order to decrease friction that could keep systems running for longer than necessary. Some of ATS’ tools also analyze oil life, which helps cut back on the frequency with which it must be recycled.
  • Consider variable speed hydraulic pumps and fans, which can site idle unless they are being used.

Looking into the future, Owens and I debated the potential impact that remote technology management services could have on factory systems.

This approach, often described as “managed services” has dramatically improved the support experience for information networks, data center services, desktop machines and other pieces of IT infrastructure. The challenge is that the communications protocols used by most factory equipment today are proprietary, and the systems themselves are often 20 to 30 years old — compared with three to five years for your typical piece of IT equipment. Smarter factory equipment is emerging, but it will take years before it is the dominant technology in use, Owens says.


Nice-Pak Products Goes Zero Landfill

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Nice-Pak Products Inc., a global leader in the manufacture of wet wipe products, has announced the transformation of its Mooresville,IN manufacturing plant into a “ZeroLandfill” facility.Theplant now converts excess waste into energy that produces steam heat for the City of Indianapolis. Prior to this transformation, the plant had been sending 4200 tons of waste per year to landfills.

Nice-Pak Products has partnered with a cutting edge waste-to-energy facility that supplies steam to Indianapolis.The facility can process more than 2000 tons per day of solid waste, to produce no less than 4500 pounds of steam per ton of waste. The steam is used to power the Indianapolis Downtown heating loop, which includes businesses, IndianaUniversity and Purdue University’s Indianapolis campus.