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Equipment upgrade gives film producer multi-layer capability...

August 1, 2004   Canadian Plastics



Equipment upgrade gives film producer multi-layer capability

Cast film extruder Copol International (North Sydney, NS) is entering the multi-layer film market with a coextrusion line from Davis-Standard. Copol, a supplier of unoriented cast polypropylene films to North American converters, is integrating multi-layer technology to strengthen its product offering and competitive advantage over offshore producers.

“Adding three-layer extrusion capability will enable us to improve processing rates while extending our product range to films with enhanced performance properties for specialty packaging applications,” explains David Sawler, Copol’s vice-president of operations.

The equipment upgrade, scheduled for summer, consists of two satellite extruders, a co-extrusion feedblock, die modification, gravimetric feeder and loading system.

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Copol’s product range includes homopolymer, copolymer and metallocene films in widths from 1 to 70 in., and gauges from 0.90 to 10 mil. The films are used in flexible packaging applications such as retail product bags, food packaging, industrial products and medical products.

CCL realigns Canadian label business

Packaging and label supplier CCL Industries Inc. (Toronto) has announced two transactions that will help it to focus on its key markets in health care, personal care and specialty products. CCL sold its label manufacturing plant in Winnipeg, MB, to Color Ad Label, a privately held company with interests in flexible packaging and labels.

Published information indicates CCL Label Winnipeg produces plastic labels and shrink sleeves, and performs printing. The company had focused on local customers in Western Canada with sales of about $10 million. The purchase price was $7 million.

CCL also recently purchased Graphiques Apex Inc., a privately-held, Montreal-based manufacturer of instructional leaflets for the pharmaceutical industry. Graphiques Apex has annualized sales of about $4 million.

Headquartered in Toronto, CCL employs 6100 people and operates 37 production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia.

Start up phase begins at Montreal polymer plant

PTT PolyCanada LP announced that construction of the first world-scale polytrimethylene (PTT) polymer plant is completed and start-up is underway. Production is expected to begin at the plant in the fourth quarter of 2004.

PTT PolyCanada will be the first world-scale plant to produce a new material called Corterra polymer, a thermoplastic polymer derived from 1,3-propanediol (PDO) and terephthalic acid that can be spun into both fibres and yarns. Corterra is a trademark of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group.

PTT PolyCanada is a 50/50 limited partnership of Shell Chemicals Canada Ltd. and Investissements Petrochimie (2080) Inc. (a subsidiary of SGF Chimie, a Quebec economic development agency).

“There hasn’t been a new polymer commercially available for fibre applications in 40 years,” says Stan Park, vice president of PDO/PTT for Shell Chemical LP. “Corterra polymer combines some of the best qualities of nylon and polyester in one material. Each day customers are finding new applications for it, like car seats, sportswear, toothbrushes and powder puffs.”

Located in an industrial zone of Montreal, the new plant has a capacity of 95,000 metric tons a year of polymer. Its output is primarily targeted for the carpet and textile market in North America. The project value is estimated at over US$100 million.

Fuel cell development alliance solidifies Ballard’s future

A long-term commitment to advance fuel cell technology and commercialize fuel cell vehicles has been announced by fuel cell developer and manufacture Ballard Power Systems (Vancouver, BC), DaimlerChrysler AG and Ford Motor Company. The three companies have entered a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding which defines roles and responsibilities within their alliance and establishes program funding requirements.

“This capital investment by DaimlerChrysler and Ford will provide Ballard with additional financial strength and flexibility,” said Dennis Campbell, Ballard’s president and CEO. “With funding and program plans established to advance vehicular fuel cell technology, Ballard is well positioned to build on its leadership position in the industry.”

Under the terms of the MOU, DaimlerChrysler and Ford would provide up to US$58 million in funding for the next two generations of vehicular fuel cells and the next generation electric drive system.

Also as part of the MOU, DaimlerChrysler and Ford would acquire Ballard’s vehicular fuel cell systems business, Ballard AG.

Ballard Power Systems develops, manufactures and markets proton exchange membrane fuel cells for vehicular, portable and stationary applications.

Self-heating containers for on-the-go consumers

That’s cool! Not really. Actually it’s hot. Global packaging company Sunoco has signed an agreement with OnTech LLC to manufacture and assemble self-heating containers. The containers will be used to package coffee, teas, cocoas, soups, baby formula and other foods for anytime, anywhere consumption.

The technology allows the contents of the package to be heated to 145F within minutes simply by pressing part of the container to activate the heating process.

The package consists of an outer container to contain the food or beverage, and an inner sleeve which contains crushed limestone. A “plug” in the bottom holds water. When the bottom is depressed it releases the water to mix with the limestone and creates a thermal reaction.

The high-barrier disposable container is shelf-stable and does not require refrigeration before opening.

OnTech said in May it had three contracts with national consumer products companies for more than 20 million units. Sunoco will manufacture most of the components of the container at its existing North America manufacturing plants. The first product is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2004.

Consider European buyers in your succession plan

An international mergers and acquisitions expert says European automotive suppliers have a definite interest right now in buying North American plastic processing companies. “To sell your business without involving European bidders might mean you’re missing out on a premium price,” warns Jean-Ren Hartpence, a partner with Canec International Ltd. “If a strategic decision has been made to sell your company, this is the time to do it.”

Hartpence says European Tier 2 suppliers have a strong incentive to locate in North America to serve transplant automotive assembly plants. Plus, the Euro has been strong recently.

He also notes that owners who may be reluctant to sell to a financial sector buyer can feel more confident that a European buyer is less likely to restructure or consolidate the newly-acquired company.

Based in Paris and Toronto, Canec International advises corporations on transatlantic joint ventures and acquiring or selling businesses.

RFID council seeks simple solutions for retailers

Microsoft Canada has formed a new RFID Partner Advisory Council to look at RFID requirements and how to take advantage of today’s technology to make it easier for Canadian retailers and manufacturers to reduce inventories, improve product availability and track and ship merchandise.

An RFID (radio frequency identification) system consists of an antenna, a transciever and a transponder. The transponder, or RF tag, is electronically coded with unique information. As RFID becomes more common in retail environments for product tracking, manufacturers may move toward incorporating RF tags into their product or its package.

“Microsoft is assembling a wide range of partner support for RFID solutions built with Microsoft.NET connection software,” said Lasha Dekker, director, developer and platform evangelism, Microsoft Canada. “As part of the Canadian RFID Council, Microsoft and the technology partners on board so far plan to address industry needs with RFID solutions that are low-cost, simple to deploy and built on a robust scalable technology stack
.”

Partners participating in the Canadian RFID Council include: Bell Canada, HP Canada, T4G Limited, Ship2Save, Cactus Commerce Inc., BearingPoint, RCM Technologies Canada Corp., CapGemini, Texas Instruments, SIRIT Technologies Inc and J.L. Albright Ventures.

For companies looking to find out more about RFID solutions which Microsoft technology partners are creating, Microsoft Canada is also launching the RFID Partner Highlight Web site, at http://msdn.microsoft.ca/RFID/partners.

CPIA’s Lavoie to lead international group

When the Council of International Plastics Association Directors (CIPAD) meets again at the K Show in October, Serge Lavoie will be appointed secretary general. Lavoie is president and CEO of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (Mississauga, ON).

CIPAD met most recently at Chinaplas in early July. Members heard reports from representatives of the various sectors of China’s plastics industry. Other subjects that were of particular interest to the group were plastics and the environment, and energy recovery from plastic waste. These two issues will be discussed further at the October meeting.

Compounder expands to China

Distributor and custom compounder A. Schulman Inc. has opened a $7.4 million, 100,000 sq.ft. manufacturing facility in Dongguan, China. The facility will produce compounded plastics for the film, packaging and automotive markets in China. The new facility currently has one compounding line with the capacity to produce 40 million lb. of product a year. The plant will start with 40 employees.

“As a global company, we have to invest in the markets we serve, particularly in the film, packaging and automotive markets in China,” said Terry Haines, president and CEO. “It will also help us bring our U.S. and European innovations to Asian markets.”

A. Schulman is headquartered in Akron, OH and has a sales office in Mississauga, ON, as well as a manufacturing plant in St. Thomas, ON.

New exhibit highlights role of plastic in design

Canada’s design museum, the Design Exchange (DX), is presenting a new exhibit that will explore the role of plastics from a historical, cultural and industrial perspective. The exhibit will investigate the ways in which plastic has revolutionized design, and survey the course of plastics in a wide range of industrial applications such as healthcare, furniture, fashion, space and construction.

The exhibit, titled PLASTIC, will also investigate the way pop culture has celebrated plastic itself, a material sometimes scorned as “cheap”, but in fact internationally beloved by designers such as Karim Rashid. The DX has consulted with the Canadian Plastics Industry Association and formed a Plastic Industry Advisory Committee to ensure the topicality of the content. The lead sponsor of the program is Decoma International. The exhibit opens to the public on Sept. 22 and will run until early 2005.

AES, Trexel will jointly develop auto weatherseal systems

Advanced Elastomer Systems and Trexel Inc. have announced a long-term exclusive agreement to develop dynamic sponge/foam automotive weatherseal systems. Under the agreement, AES will focus on the development of Santoprene thermoplastic vulcanizate products using Trexel’s MuCell microcellular foam process.

According to spokesmen at both companies, the agreement is intended to spur use for innovative dynamic weatherseals that perform comparably to traditional EPDM seals in the areas of compression load deflection, compression set, water absorption and other properties.

“Santoprene TPVs have been used in the transition from EPDM to TPV weatherseals systems for many years, and now we see an innovation potential for overcoming some of the final barriers to broad adoption in dynamic applications,” said Zev Gurion, global automotive marketing manager, AES.

Trexel will specify a full turnkey process for Santoprene TPV and will make available standard equipment packages under its worldwide manufacturing and support systems.

PolyOne to sell elastomer/additives business

PolyOne Corporation has signed an agreement to sell its Elastomers and Performance Additives business to a private investor group led by Lion Chemical LLC and ACI Capital, Inc. The purchase agreement provides that PolyOne will be paid a gross amount of approximately $120 million. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter.

The Elastomers and Performance Additives business is based in Solon, OH and consists of five manufacturing facilities in the United States, one in Mexico and one in the United Kingdom. Revenues for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004 were $349 million, which represents 13.5% of PolyOne’s total sales.

“Our Elastomers business unit is the largest of the businesses we targeted for divestment last year,” said Thomas Waltermire, CEO of PolyOne. “We are satisfied we negotiated a fair value and we plan to apply the proceeds to debt reduction.”

A spokesman for Lion Chemical said the Elastomer unit’s current management team will remain in place


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