Looking back at Plast-Ex 2007
Grow businesses through innovation: DuPont VP
Grow businesses through innovation: DuPont VP
Strategies for innovation and diversification have become a major focus for the industry, especially at what one industry expert described as “a time of turmoil and confusion.” At the Plast-Ex 2007 Automotive and Transportation breakfast seminar, held on May 2, James Hay, vice president of sales and marketing at DuPont Engineering Polymers, noted that innovation is the best strategy for business growth.
DuPont was created more than 200 years ago, and has adapted to the changing landscape of the raw materials sector.
“Today, our focus is on what we call customer-driven innovation,” explained Hay. For instance, DuPont is investing more heavily in developing environmentally responsible materials for plastic processors, he said.
“By 2015, we plan to double our investment in research and development programs with direct, quantifiable environmental benefits for our customers and distributors along the value chain,” Hay said. The company expects to release about 1,000 new products and services to help make people safer globally by 2015.
DuPont is moving ahead with plans to commercialize two new polymers made with renewable resources later this year.
The Sorona EP polymer uses Bio-PDO, which is derived from corn sugar using a proprietary fermentation process, as a replacement for petrochemical-based 1,3-propanediol (PDO) and/or 1,4-butanediol (BD). Hytrel RS is a polyester elastomer produced with a polyol made of Bio-PDO instead of a petrochemical polyol.
In addition to providing the innovative bio-based characteristics many manufacturers are looking for, Bio-PDO requires approximately 40 per cent less energy to produce than its petrochemical equivalents.
NORTH American auto sector not in decline: industry analyst
Far from being in crisis, the North American auto market is alive and well, according to industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers.
Speaking before a packed room at the Plast-Ex 2007 Automotive and Transportation luncheon session, DesRosiers explained that while the “Big Three” automakers continue to lose market share to imports, consumer demand for vehicles in North America is actually growing, with new models being introduced to keep pace.
The Canadian auto sector is doing particularly well, DesRosiers continued, especially given the stresses of a very competitive market. “Some of the Canadian OEMs, suppliers and dealers are indeed in crisis, and the unions are in crisis, but the Canadian industry itself is growing and will continue to grow,” he explained.
The changing nature of the North American industry, which is adjusting to shifts in market share, has led to the loss of thousands of unionized jobs. This, in turn, has led union leaders to exaggerate the difficulties the industry is facing, when the reality is that lost union jobs are being replaced by employment in non-union assembly shops, DesRosiers said.
Overall, DesRosiers concluded, the fiercely competitive environment is actually fostering innovation, with new models as the key to earning back pricing. He also noted that there are significant opportunities for global parts companies to enter the North American market through investments, joint ventures and licensing arrangements.
A father’s legacy
One family’s past and present met during Plast-Ex 2007 when Glenn Frohring, of Worcester, Mass.-based Absolute Haitian Corporation, posed in the Plast-Ex 50th Anniversay exhibit with a 1960s-era vertical injection molding machine designed by his father, Glenn Sr.
Manufactured by Newbury Industries Inc., the Frohring Mini-Jector was hydraulically operated, with an injection capacity rate of up to one ounce per shot. Weighing approximately 700 lbs., the unit retailed for US$1,770.
CPSC launches certification program
The Canadian Plastics Sector Council (CPSC) used Plast-Ex 2007 to launch its new Certified Plastics Practitioner designation. Paul Waller, president of Toronto-based Plastics Touchpoint Group, became the first person to be certified under the new program, earning Level 3 Film Extrusion Operator certification as a result of his participation in a pilot program.
The certification program is the first of its kind in Canada, setting national occupational standards for plastic processors. Charlie Brimley, executive director of the CPSC, is seen here (at right) presenting Waller with a lapel pin.
NUCON Wittmann honours Maple Leaf goalie Johnny Bower
Borrowing a page from the Beatles’ songbook, Nucon Wittmann took what for some is a sad song and made it better on May 2 by celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Toronto Maple Leafs last (to date) Stanley Cup championship.
At the company’s hockey-themed Plast-Ex 2007 booth, Michael Wittmann, general manager of Wittmann GmbH, and Rob Miller, president of Nucon Wittmann Inc., presented a cake to goaltending great Johnny Bower, who was a member of the victorious 1967 Maple Leaf squad.
Ingenia Polymers announces capacity expansion
Ingenia Polymers plans to expand to add production flexibility at its Brantford, Ont. facility, president and CEO John Lefas announced at a reception during Plast-Ex 2007.
The Houston, Tex.-based company is also adding an additional 100 million lbs. per year of black masterbatch capacity, Lefas said, and plans to build a plant in Dammam, Saudi Arabia to meet local needs.
The size of the Dammam facility was not disclosed, but Lefas said it would manufacture masterbatches, compounds and superblends when operations commence in approximately 18 months.
Show from the Floor
Canadian Plastics technical editor and “View from the Floor” columnist Jim Anderton enlightened Plast-Ex 2007 showgoers with his daily “Introduction to Plastics” seminar. Among the notable props: a Play-Doh toy doubling as an extruder.
CPIA awards dinner spotlights industry leaders, volunteers
On April 30, less than 24 hours before the official opening of Plast-Ex 2007, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) kicked the show off unofficially when it honoured industry leaders and volunteers at an awards dinner in Toronto.
The evening’s highlight was the presentation of the Leader of the Year award to Manfred Lupke, founder of Concord, Ont.-based pipe manufacturer Corma Inc. For biographies of all other honourees, see the May 2007 issue of Canadian Plastics.