News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

September 29, 2011

Cabot Invests in Inkjet Colorants Business

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 12:25 pm

Chemical and Engineering News (subscription required) has an excellent article on Cabot’s growing position in ink-jet printing colorants, exemplified by the company’s announcement last month of a $10 million investment to increase capacity for Cab-O-Jet color pigment dispersions and polymers at its facility in Haverhill, MA by 2012.

From the C&EN article:

The Haverhill plant opened in 2001 in a former backpack factory. Today it employs close to 80 lab technicians, engineers, managers, and hourly workers. The expansion project should add another 15 full-time positions, says Fred von Gottberg, who heads both Cabot’s ink-jet business and its new business segment.

Cabot began commercial production of its black pigment dispersions in 1998 and expanded into color products around 2000. The business has grown to $70 million in annual revenues.

September 28, 2011

Cabot Corp. expanding global carbon black production

Filed under: Carbon Black, Silica — Notch @ 8:39 am

A staff report in the European Rubber Journal summarizes Cabot Corp.’s global carbon black expansions. Cabot is expanding three facilities in Europe and plants in Argentina, Brazil, China, and Indonesia. Investment in the expansions totals $180 million over the next two years. Cabot’s carbon black output will be increased by 15% (over 300,000 metric tons) with the expansion completions in 2013. Cabot has also embarked on fumed silica and masterbatch projects in Wales and China that will upgrade its production base in Europe and Asia.

Basic structure of carbon black industry changes radically with latest acquisitions

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 8:06 am

Mike McNulty at Rubber & Plastics News recently did a piece on recent restructuring in the carbon black industry focusing on the June purchase of Marietta, Georgia-based Columbian Chemicals Co. by Aditya Birla Group of India and Evonik Industries A.G.’s sale in August of its carbon black business, now called Orion Engineered Carbons, to New York-headquartered Rhone Capital L.L.C. and Jersey, England-based Triton Advisors Ltd. have shuffled the ranking of the top carbon black companies. Orion slipped from second to third. Cabot Corp., the long-time #1, is positioned either barely ahead of the Birla Group, slightly behind it or tied with the Indian conglomerate, depending on the figures being used.

Mike quotes Notch Consulting in the article to the effect that the top tier of the carbon black industry hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years but it certainly has with the completion of these two acquisitions. In particular, the acquisition of Columbian changes the industry’s perception of Aditya Birla from a fast-growing upstart to a dominant player across all regions.

September 26, 2011

ITC to issue report on retread tires, remanufactured goods

Filed under: Uncategorized — Notch @ 10:18 am

A September 23 European Rubber Journal staff reports that the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will issue a study entitled, “Remanufactured Goods:  An Overview of the U.S. and Global Industries, Markets, and Trade.” The report will be issued on October 28. The study is being prepared at the request of US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

In a 28 June letter to the ITC, Kirk remarked, “American consumers and businesses purchase remanufactured products and use them in their daily activities, as they know that such products provide high-end performance at lower cost. Remanufacturing also provides significant environmental benefits, since it uses less material, energy and water than manufacturing goods from virgin material… I believe that additional data collection and analysis will help manufacturers…in growing their companies, accessing foreign markets and responding to increasing resource scarcity.”

The study will cover the years 2009-2011 and cover the size and scope of remanufacturing in the US; the US market for remanufactured goods; US exports of remanufactured goods by sector and destination; and the factors affecting sales, trade and investment in US remanufactured goods.

PPG announces increased production of precipitated silica

Filed under: Silica — Notch @ 9:58 am

PPG has announced that it will grow its global precipitated silica production capacity through expansion projects at its Lake Charles, LA and Delfziji, Netherlands sites. “PPG is committed to the precipitated silica market, and these investments will enable us to continue meeting the growing needs of our customers for high-quality precipitated silica,” said Kevin Braun, PPG general manager, Silica products. Some of the increased production will come online 4Q 2011 with the remaining increases to be completed by late 2012.

September 22, 2011

EPA Launches Green Products Web Portal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Notch @ 10:26 am

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is observing Pollution Prevention Week (September 19-25, 2011) by launching a new tool designed to provide easy access to information about everyday products like home appliances, electronics and cleaning products that can save money, prevent pollution and protect health. The green products web portal is available at www.epa.gov/greenerproducts. The product categories include several relevant to the tire and rubber industries, including tire additives, mulch, hoses, coatings and insulation.

LANXESS to produce first bio-based EPDM rubber

Filed under: Uncategorized — Notch @ 9:51 am

The German specialty Chemicals group, LANXESS, announced on September 21 that it is targeting bio-based ethylene-propylene-diene monomer (EPDM) rubber production in Brazil by late 2011. This will be the first-ever commercial production of bio-based EPDM rubber. LANXESS states that it is strengthening its commitment to produce premium synthetic rubbers from bio-based raw materials. Additionally, LANXESS plans a bio-based form of ethylene produced by dehydrating sugar cane, a renewable resource. This underlines LANXESS’s “commitment to reducing CO2 emissions through sustainable production,” says Guenther Weymans, head of LANXESS’ Technical Rubber Products business unit. “We are very excited that our Brazilian plant will be the pioneer for bio-based EPDM.”

Bridgestone announces $1.2 billion investment in South Carolina

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 8:27 am

On September 21, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. announced construction of a 1.5 million ft2 manufacturing facility for off-road radial tires on a greenfield site in Aiken County, S.C. An additional 474k ft2 expansion of the existing passenger and light truck tire plant in Aiken County was also announced, which builds on a July announcement of a 266k ft2 expansion of the site. The projects total $1.2 billion and will add 850 jobs to the local economy.

“The announcement of this greenfield off-road radial tire plant is a major strategic investment by the global Bridgestone Group to enhance its supply systems, improve its sourcing flexibility and further strengthen the Bridgestone Group’s position as the global leader in the offroad radial tire segment,” said Gary Garfield, Vice President and Senior Officer, Bridgestone Corporation, and CEO and President, Bridgestone Americas.

Full phase one production is targeted for late 2015. Bridgestone did not disclose the new plant’s projected capacity.

September 19, 2011

Cabot Opens Masterbatch Facility in China

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 9:58 pm

On September 18, Cabot Corporation held the opening ceremony for its new black masterbatch plant in Tianjin, China. Cabot announced the beginning of construction in February 2011 with plans to invest approximately US$20 million for the plant, which is located inside its Tianjin facility, a joint venture with Shanghai Coking and Chemical Corporation, a subsidiary of Shanghai Huayi Group Company, Ltd. The site in Tianjin already supports the world’s largest rubber and specialty carbon black complex.

The masterbatch facility will have an annual nameplate capacity of approximately 45,000 metric tons and expansion capacity to 80,000 metric tons in the future. According to Cabot, the state-of-the-art plant includes the latest environmental and manufacturing technologies to ensure production of high-quality masterbatches.

“This world scale plant is a milestone for Cabot because it is the first fully integrated black masterbatch production plant with our carbon black production facilities,” said Patrick Prevost, Cabot president and chief executive officer.

Here is the full release.

Bridgestone Corporation to plead guilty in marine hose bid-rigging case

Filed under: Uncategorized — Notch @ 12:49 pm

The September 15 Wall Street Journal reports that Bridgestone Corporation will plead guilty of participating in conspiracies to rig bids, bribe Latin American government officials, and fix prices in the international rubber marine hose business. Bridgestone has agreed to pay $28 million in fines according to press releases from the company and the Justice Department. The department said that Bridgetstone was part of an antitrust cartel that fixed prices for hundreds of millions of dollars of marine hose, which is used for transferring oil from tankers to storage facilities. The company’s actions took place from 1999 to May 2007. Bridgestone is the fifth company to be charged in the department’s marine-hose investigation. The department said it agreed to recommend a “substantially reduced” fine for Bridgestone because the company cooperated extensively with investigators, restructured parts of its business and fired many of its third-party agents. Bridgestone emphasized its efforts to cooperate in a written statement and signaled that it would withdraw from the marine hose business.

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