News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

September 30, 2008

Goodyear Idles NA Tire Plants Due to Raw Material Shortages

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Rubber Chemicals, Tires — Notch @ 12:18 pm

Goodyear has become the second North American tiremaker to announce it is idling production due to raw material shortages. Last week, Cooper announced that it was suspending production at its North American plants from September 23-28 due to shortages.

Yesterday, the Gadsden Times reported that Goodyear planned to idle its plant in Gadsden, Alabama for one week, from Saturday, September 27 until Sunday, October 5. In addition, four other Goodyear plants have taken days off, while three others have reduced daily production.

In the article, a Goodyear spokesperson said that Goodyear’s plants in Bayport, Beaumont and Houston were affected by the recent hurricanes and were not able to provide Goodyear’s tire plants, including Gadsden, with raw materials used in tire manufacturing. Goodyear’s Houston and Beaumont plants produce synthetic rubber while the Bayport plant produces chemicals. The spokesperson said other plants in that area were not able to provide Goodyear with other materials used in tire making due to hurricane-related damage and disruptions. The material shortage includes carbon black, chemicals, and other materials.

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September 26, 2008

Thai Carbon Black Experiences Shut Down

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 10:43 am

According to The Nation (Thailand), Thai Carbon Black’s plant in Angthong Province, Thailand was partially shut down on August 21 due to the accidental release of carbon dust. Carbon dust from the furnace was released after a short circuit that led to the automatic opening of a valve on the furnace. Water pumps intended to spray water on the dust failed to function.

The partial shutdown followed an inspection by industrial official Suraphon Chamat and Angthong governor Suthana Theeveerapanya. Under the Industrial Plant Act, the governor could have shut down this unit until September 15. I am awaiting word on how long the shut down actually lasted.

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Update: Sources at Thai Carbon Black report that the problem was minor and immediately repaired. The shutdown affected only one of the plant’s 15 reactors (divided amongst five production lines) and lasted less than a day.

SRF Plans Tire Cord Expansions

Filed under: Tire Cord — Notch @ 10:30 am

According to Fibre2fashion, SRF Ltd plans to spend Rs. 5 billion for capacity expansions, including the establishment of India’s first plant to produce polyester tire cord. Other expansions include packaging film. SRF, which is a leading Indian producer of tire cord and chemicals, made two major acquisitions this year, including a tire cord company in Thailand and a belting fabric producer in South Africa. Through a combination of acquisitions and internal growth, SRF plans to nearly double its revenue by the end of its fiscal year March 31, 2012.

SRF is building a plant at its factory in Gummidipoondi in the southern Tamil Nadu state to produce 4,000 tonnes of polyester cords a year. Production is expected to start as early as February 2009.

Lanxess Raising Rubber Chemical Prices

Filed under: Rubber Chemicals — Notch @ 9:34 am

Lanxess AG plans a worldwide price increase for rubber chemicals effective October 1. The increase will offset higher costs for raw materials, transport and energy.

The increase will be as follows:

  • Vulkacit accelerators: $150 to $1,300 per tonne
  • Vulkanox antioxidants: $100 to $2,500 per tonne
  • Specialty materials (Vulcuren, Vulkalent G, Cohedur, Silica Additive, Vulkanol and colloidal sulfur): price increase varies depending on the product and the region.

India is Reviewing Anti-dumping Duty on Nylon Tire Cord

Filed under: Tire Cord — Notch @ 8:59 am

According to the Yarns and Fibers Exchange, India has initiated a sunset review of the anti-dumping duty on nylon tire cord fabric imported from China. India’s domestic tire cord industry has requested the review and seeks to have the current anti-dumping duty both continued and enhanced. Notification of the review, released by India’s Department of Commerce on September 16, states that “dumping has continued in spite of imposition of anti-dumping duty on import of the subject goods from China PR and the domestic industry continues to suffer injury on account of dumping from the subject country.” The imposition of anti-dumping duty on nylon tire cord fabric imports originating or exported from China was recommended in March 2005, following which the Department of Revenues imposed a provisional duty and definitive anti-dumping duty.

Cooper Suspends NA Tire Production Due to Material Shortages

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 8:41 am

Tire Business (subscription required) is reporting that Cooper Tire & Rubber has suspended production at all its North American plants from September 23-28 due to continuing raw materials shortages in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. According to Curtis Schneekloth, Cooper’s director of investor relations, the company expects production to resume on September 29 at some of its facilities.

September 18, 2008

Lanxess Growing in Asia, Russia, Latin America

Filed under: General, Rubber Chemicals, Tires — Notch @ 11:10 am

The Lanxess website has posted an excellent presentation from Dr. Alex Heitmann, Chairman of the Board of Management, LANXESS AG.

By 2010 our investments in Asia will have doubled to represent 49 percent of our capital expenditures. This move gives us greater proximity to our customers. It is a natural hedge against currency fluctuations and raw material costs, and it optimizes our transportation costs.

Update on Ike, Part 2

Filed under: Carbon Black, General — Notch @ 10:48 am

Evonik Degussa’s carbon black plant in Orange, Texas remains shut down in the wake of Hurricane Ike. The plant was not flooded and damage is light. However, power is still out in the area, and employees are not yet able to return to work. The company expects the plant to be down for at least another week. Evonik Degussa reports that it is able to fill its orders from other plants.

Aside from Orange, all of the carbon black plants shut down in preparation for Ike have restarted.

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Update: Turns out I had some wrong information regarding the post-storm situation. Sid Richardson’s plant at Addis, Louisiana started back up today, not over the weekend as previously reported, due to continued delays in restoring electrical power. The plant shut down over the weekend of August 30/31 in preparation for Hurricane Gustav. It sustained only cosmetic damage from the storm.

Where is the growth in the tire industry?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Notch @ 10:38 am

Just-Auto has an interesting interview with James Bailey, Goodyear’s corporate communications manager.

An excerpt:

just-auto: Overall, we are seeing the mature tyre industry growing at about 3% a year, but I guess there are some tyre segments growing faster than others. Which tyre segments are the fastest growing? Is it the performance markets of W, Y, Z and 4×4?

James Bailey: Yes, the main growth is in high performance fitments. A 17 or 18 inch tyre was supercar territory in the early 90s – now it is the main tyre for the Mondeo market. Our fastest growing area is RunOnFlat tyres. With standard fitments across the BMW and Mini ranges, and option choices for many Ford, GM, and Mercedes models, the growth has been rapid.

And later in the interview.

James Bailey: A 6% cut in rolling resistance equates to a 1 percent cut in fuel consumption. Goodyear is working on the development of an ultra low rolling resistance RunOnFlat tyre with environmentally friendly materials. On this project Goodyear is working in close cooperation with two research partners: The Italian research company Novamont and our OE partners, BMW. One of the project’s main tasks is to develop a new ‘bio’ filler as an alternative to traditional fillers used in tyres. This new filler, which will be made out of renewable resources like corn starch, may have a major environmental impact and lead to a reduction of CO2 emissions during its production process.

September 16, 2008

New Tackifier from Lanxess

Filed under: Rubber Chemicals — Notch @ 11:40 am

Lanxess showcased a number of new products at the International Engineering Fair, running this week (September 15-19) in Brno, Czech Republic. One of the new products was Nanoprene, which is a tackifier/binder used in SBR/NR tread compounds. It serves a similar function to BASF’s Koresin.

The Technical Rubber Products (TRP) business unit has launched a brand new development in tire technology in the form of Nanoprene. This additive for rubber mixtures used in tire treads can significantly reduce tire wear. This helps to extend the service life of tires, which brings both economic and environmental benefits. Together with LANXESS’s Rhein Chemie business unit, TRP is opening up new application areas for Nanoprene.

Here is the press release.

I have heard from Lanxess that the new Nanoprene product acts as a tackifier/binder in SBR/NR systems.

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