Canadian Plastics

Bemis plans more custom molding with new capacity

Bemis Manufacturing Company has extended its manufacturing capability in Canada with a massive expansion of the company's molding facility in Barrie, Ont. Bemis also has six production facilities in t...

February 1, 1999   Canadian Plastics



Bemis Manufacturing Company has extended its manufacturing capability in Canada with a massive expansion of the company’s molding facility in Barrie, Ont. Bemis also has six production facilities in the U.S., as well as one in England and Mexico. The expansion at the Barrie site represents a major, strategic investment intended to provide the basis for future growth.

The original 60,000 sq. ft. plant is now a 307,000 sq. ft. climate-controlled Automated Defect Free (ADF) factory. The new floor space is divided between a warehouse (220,000 sq. ft.) a manufacturing facility (70,000 sq. ft.) and offices (17,000 sq. ft.). The manufacturing facility houses a total of nine retro-fitted, large-tonnage Cincinnati Milacron injection molding machines, ranging from 177 to 2000 tons, with the capability of accommodating up to 15 more presses. Expansion of business is a top priority.

“We have a mandate to fill the space,” says Tom Smith, facility manager. “We plan on attracting more contract engineering jobs that vary in both size and scope.”

To accomplish this, Bemis has made a major investment to upgrade its technological capabilities. Its presses have been retro-fitted from top to bottom, says Smith. The re-worked presses have incorporated new hydraulics, PLC machine control, multiple core pulls and sequential valve gating which allows the plant to do specialty molding such as co-injection. Seven ABB robots were expected to be in place by the end of January, providing a high level of automation.

The Barrie plant currently produces toilet seats and casual furniture. Smith says the plant is looking to do more large part molding of thermoplastic engineering resins and extend its market into areas such as consumer appliances, lawn and garden equipment and electronics. As an example of its capabilities, Smith notes that Bemis recently co-injection molded a refrigerator door handle in one piece that previously consisted of eight metal parts. The handle is constructed of a polypropylene skin and a structural foam core.

A paperless, real-time warehousing system implemented last year in Barrie has increased the accuracy of inventory retrieval, and lets the Barrie facility process customer orders quickly and correctly. Each forklift operator has a laptop-type computer screen and keyboard built into the truck. The driver uses this to enter information about each warehouse transaction by scanning the part number bar code or the location number. The information is instantaneously transmitted from the warehouse computer to the Bemis headquarters in Sheboygan Falls, Wis.

“We haven’t had to do an end of the year inventory for three years,” says Smith.

CPIA-ATLANTIC HONORS SAINT JOHN ROTOMOLDER

At its annual luncheon, held this past November in Saint John, NB, CPIA-Atlantic named Sigurdur Johannson, general manager of Dynoplast Ltd., the Atlantic Plastics Industry Person of the Year. In presenting Johannson with his award, CPIA-Atlantic management committee chairman, and general manager Ipex Inc., Gary Rent, stated the award was as much a recognition of the success of Dynoplast and its employees as a personal honor for its leader.

“Looking back at the past few years at Dynoplast is to really look back at an important segment of Atlantic Canada’s economy,” Rent noted. “Indeed to study how the company overcame forces beyond its control regarding the fishery is to study how other companies should proceed in diversifying their product line to bring stability and prosperity to one’s manufacturing operation.”

Dynoplast located in Saint John in 1989. As a rotational molder primarily of fishing boxes, Dynoplast had to weather the closing of the fisheries in the early 90s.

“We had to find new products,” Johannson recalled. “We were fortunate in being chosen to develop a frozen chicken container for Tyson foods.”

Today, Dynoplast’s product line has been expanded to include large industrial containers, floats, buoys, pallets and containers for fresh food, aqua-culture and compost. The company doubled its floor space two years ago to roughly 47,000 sq. ft. and has increased the number of employees from 25 in 1992 to 50 in 1997.

Johansson came from his native Iceland in 1991 to manage the Saint John operation.

Other Atlantic news….

Wayne MacIntosh has been named as the new executive director for the Atlantic region of the CPIA, replacing Rob McInnes, who resigned to pursue other career opportunities in the private sector. MacIntosh has held a number of executive management positions throughout his work history. MacIntosh is a member of the steering committee studying New Brunswick’s educational needs with respect to training in the plastics industry. He will also lead a study of niche construction and packaging markets in the eastern USA in order to determine the feasibility of the Atlantic plastics manufacturers to supply those markets.

CANADIAN MOLDERS/MOLDMAKERS ESCAPE CROSS-BORDER TAX HIT

Canadian companies with branch plants in Michigan have dodged, for the time being, an extension of Michigan’s tax law that would make foreign companies liable to pay new tax and tax liabilities retroactively. The State of Michigan decided in early December not to pursue for the time being any tax discovery programs aimed at foreign-based businesses potentially liable under the state’s Single Business Tax. Michigan’s Single Business Tax was originally enacted in 1976 as a tax on the basic revenue of Michigan companies. In February 1998, as a result of court decisions, the state broadened its tax jurisdiction in a way that made more foreign companies liable and made taxes payable retroactively.

“There is no doubt that the extended tax measures would create a burden on Canadian companies and could harm Michigan companies as well,” said International Trade Minister Sergio Marchi.

Before this reprieve, Canadian companies could have faced from four years of back taxes and interest to a full 10 years in back taxes and interest, plus a 50 percent penalty.

Canada-Michigan trade reached $82 million in 1997.

PLASTIC DRUMSTICK PIONEER LOOKING TO EXTEND BUSINESS

Frank Maine, the Guelph-Ontario inventor of a plastic drumstick which is catching on with musicians, is looking to broaden his business base as a raw material supplier of structural shapes. To this end, says Maine, he is currently working with customers on three product development projects, one of which he expects to be commercialized by the end of summer.

Maine uses RAM extrusion, a process similar to aluminum extrusion, and die drawing, a technique similar to pultrusion developed at the University of Leeds, to create rod-like structural shapes from an oriented polyolefin. The shapes can be machined to make specific products, such as his drumsticks.

“Our process is cheaper than pultrusion, on both the processing and raw materials side,” Maine notes. He believes the drumstick, which is three times stronger than wood drumsticks and significantly cheaper than aluminum drumsticks, will demonstrate the viability of the material and processes and encourage development of the product lines in other markets, such as electronics and automotive.

Maine says his business, Frank Maine Consulting Ltd., is projected to turn a small profit this year, and is looking for people and companies to participate in strategic partnerships in the development of new products.

VENTRA ACQUIRES JPE ASSETS

Oakville, Ontario-based Ventra Group Inc. has reached an agreement to purchase the assets of JPE Canada Inc. (Peterborough, Ont.) from its creditors. JPE supplies injection molded exterior trim, bumper fascias, rocker panels, and body side moldings to automotive OEMs. The firm operates plants in Peterborough and Kitchener, Ontario, with annual sales of over $70 million. Ventra designs and manufactures a variety of parts for passenger car and truck industries in Europe, Japan, and the Americas. Ventra expects the transaction to be completed by no later than February, 1999.

MAGAZINE BILL PUTS PLASTICS AT RISK

Bill C-55 the proposed law to sto
p American “split-run” magazines, has raised the spectre of U.S. retaliation under the Free Trade Agreement. Split runs are foreign magazines printed as Canadian editions containing discounted advertising but little or no Canadian editorial content. NAFTA allows U.S. retaliation if Canada uses the cultural exemption to protect Canadian cultural industries. Plastics has been mentioned by U.S. trade representative Richard Fisher as a target industry for retaliatory action, along with clothing and wood products. Three to four billion dollars of exports could be affected.

PRETIUM PACKAGING EXPANDS INTO CANADA

In their first venture outside the continental U.S., St. Louis, MO-based Pretium Packaging has acquired Montreal blow molder Leabrooke Inc. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Leabrooke specializes in the pharmaceutical, food and personal-care packaging, using injection-blow, extrusion-blow, and injection stretch-blow molding processes. The firm also operates a full-service toolmaking operation. Pretium Packaging is privately held, with sales in excess of US$125 million per year.

CANADIAN CHAIRING STRUCTURAL PLASTICS CONFERENCE

Horizon Plastics vice-president (and Canadian Plastics editorial board member) Brian Read is the conference chairman for Structural Plastics ’99, to be held April 18-20th at the Westin Copley Place in Boston, MA. Over 300 attendees will participate in seven technical sessions where over 30 papers will be presented. Sessions will cover a variety of topics including a focus session on structural foam, and a special session on Computer Aided Material Pre-Selection by Uniform Standards (CAMPUS)–the database of resins and their performance. Other sessions include advanced processing, materials, design and tooling. A new product design competition will showcase 100 outstanding products produced by a wide range of processes. For more information, contact: Phylis Hortie, SPD 202/974-5247.

McMASTER FORMS ROTOMOLDING RESEARCH ALLIANCE

Chroma Corporation (McHenry, IL.) and McMaster University’s CAPPA-D Department of Chemical Engineering (Hamilton, Ont.) have signed a research contract to develop and test new materials and processes for the rotational molding industry. Chroma Corporation manufactures colorants for thermoplastics.

SYNTHETIC LUMBER PLANT OPENS IN B.C.

“Mixed results” is a polite way of describing past attempts to recycle mixed, post-consumer plastic into useful products, but one Victoria-area company looks to be a winner with its process. Syntal Products Ltd. (Victoria) recently began producing synthetic lumber from raw material that is entirely post-consumer plastic. The company is aiming at the pressure-treated lumber market and makes standard-size plastic lumber suitable for fences, decks and outdoor furniture, such as planters and benches. Even the colors are the same as pressure treated lumber: khaki brown and khaki green, but gray is also available. And the synthetic lumber can be primed and painted any other color.

Altwood, Syntal’s brand name, is priced to be competitive with pressure-treated lumber and is certainly expected to last longer. One promising product is a patio block that is perhaps one-eighth the weight of its concrete counterpart.

Syntal is a spin-off from Industrial Recycling Systems Corp., which has the Canadian and western U.S. rights to the Julien Environmental Technology (JET) developed in Belgium nearly 30 years ago. Syntal is the pilot plant for what is hoped will be a string of such operations within the licensing territory. The 3000 metric-ton-per-year plant could supply approximately two percent of the local demand for pressure-treated lumber.

Syntal President Richard Jablonski maintains that the JET process has few limitations in terms of feedstock characteristics. He says the amount of styrofoam and PVC must be limited, but otherwise all he asks is that plastic containers be rinsed before they are delivered to the plant. Even though the plant has been operating for only a few months, a steady stream of mixed plastic is being dropped off by local residents. One regular supplier is BC Ferries, which provides bagged food containers from its fleet of ships. While scrap industrial plastic is certainly acceptable, Jablonski believes most of his feedstock will come from the 20,000 tonnes of mixed household plastic that are produced annually in the area and now end up at the landfill.

Describing the JET process as using an adiabatic screw that causes plastic mixtures to melt through their own heat of friction, Jablonski says JET was designed from the ground up as a recycling system, unlike so many past attempts which involved modifications to existing extruders. Currently, more than 100 JET machines are said to be operating worldwide. Jablonski says Altwood is a unique product requiring its own marketing approach, so it will be available only at the Syntal plant until it becomes established.

Contributed by Bob MacKenzie. Bob is a writer and editor living in Victoria, B.C.

SUPPLIER NEWS…

NOVA COMPLETES HUNTSMAN STYRENICS DEAL

Calgary-based NOVA Chemicals Corporation has completed its acquisition of the bulk of Huntsman Corporation’s styrenics business for US$637 million, plus working capital. The purchase price reflects the removal of Huntsman’s Mansonville, Que. and Peru, IL EPS plants from the deal. The two plants represented approximately 10 percent of Huntsman’s total PS production capacity. The company has announced plans to close the Peru solid-PS facility in the third quarter of 1999, to remove excess capacity. NOVA emerges with one styrene plant with 1.25 billion pounds of capacity, and six PS plants, four in North America, and two in Europe, with a combined annual capacity of 1.8 billion pounds. The deal, which closed December 31, leaves NOVA as the number one styrene monomer, PS and EPS producer in North America, and the seventh largest commodity chemicals company in the world.

CUMBERLAND ENGINEERING ADDS NEW LINE

The Cumberland Engineering Division of John Brown Plastics Machinery and Accrapak Systems Ltd. (Burtonwood, England) have announced an agreement to distribute Accrapak strand pelletizers and auxiliary equipment. Accrapak provides a range of equipment for post-extrusion operations including strand pelletizers, classifiers, and pellet packing/weighing units. Contact: Robert Bloom at 508/ 399-6400, ext 292.

DOW, M.A. HANNA SIGN AGREEMENT

Dow Plastics and M.A. Hanna Engineered Materials have entered into a licensing agreement which will allow Hanna to formulate specialty thermoplastics using Dow’s QUESTRA crystalline polymers. QUESTRA is a range of metallocene-catalyzed polymers with the highest melting points of any single monomer polymerization product, 270 C. Competing materials range fropm nylons and polyesters to polyphenylsulfide and polybutylene terephthalate in applications such as automotive and electronics. The agreement contains a sublicense that allows M.A. Hanna customers to sell products containing QUESTRA-based compounds anywhere in the world.

ROYAL ADDS PVC CAPACITY

Royal Group Technologies Ltd. has purchased Imperial Oil’s PVC resin manufacturing facility in Sarnia, Ont. in a deal worth approximately $67.6 million. Royal will absorb the entire 400 million lb. annual capacity of the plant to satisfy the firm’s growing resin requirements. Production will be rationalized to efficiently produce a limited number of proprietary PVC grades tailored to Royal’s building product and building system operations. Royal extrudes custom profiles, siding, pipe, and manufactures a pre-engineered modular building system.

Anderson Controls (Toronto, Ont.) has added the Danfoss line of industrial and sanitary pressure transmitters and sensors.

Robert L. Holmes Professional Placement Services Inc. has moved. Their new address is : 266 Water St. North, Cambridge, Ont. N1R 3C2. Ph: 519/621-4373, fax: 519/621-4084

COMING EVENTS…

Emerging Technologies for Manufacturers Workshop, February 22-23, Toronto, Ont. Presented by
CANMET, MMO & Industry Canada. Contact: Raymond Horton, Industry Canada, 416/954-1430.

Society of Automotive Engineers Congress and Expo, March 1-4, Detroit, MI. Contact: 877/SAECONG.

MOLDING ’99: Emerging Technologies in Injection Molding, March 1-3, New Orleans LA. Contact: Executive Conference Management, 734/420-0507.

SPE Quebec Meeting, March 2, St.-Laurent, Que. Contact: Frank Barth, 514/626-6277.

Plastic Injection Molding Part 2: Polymeric Materials, March 4, Midland, Ont. Presented by IRDI. Contact: Elaine Sylvester, 705/527-4554 ext. 201.

CAMM Meeting, March 15, Windsor, Ont. Contact: 519/255-7863.

SPI NPE 2000 Exhibit Space Draw, March 16-17, Chicago, IL. Contact: 630/434-7779.

SPE Ontario Tour, March 18, Mississauga, Ont. Contact: Paul Waller, 416/745-0500, ext 25.

CPIA Mould Makers Meeting, March 25, Toronto, Ont. Contact:416/323-1883.

APOLOGIES

JLD Group Inc. was incorrectly identified in last month’s issue. The JLD Group Inc. offers independent pricing information on thermoplastic resins and colorants as well as corrugated containers and point-of-purchase displays. The firm has supplied pricing information for over four years. Contact Christopher Casey at 416/503-3123. Web: www.thejldgroup.com


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