News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

August 20, 2020

Phillips Carbon Black Limited successfully embeds technology

Filed under: Carbon Black, General — Notch @ 11:01 pm

With a market presence in 35+ nations, Phillips Carbon Black Limited is India’s largest carbon black producer, with manufacturing units in Durgapur (Eastern India), Kochi (Southern India) and Palej and Mundra (Western India.) Phillips manufactures and supplies carbon black found in eyeliners, laserjet printers, Iphones and even BMW cars. During the pandemic, Phillips faced challenges maintaining operational efficiency, however the company successfully addressed these challenges with the support of technology.

“With our vendor support by IBM, we have embarked on a long term journey with successful projects such as cloud migration, SAP S/4 HANA deployment, remote monitoring setup and counting more. Amid the initial stage of lockdown pan India, we were able to address overnight hardware and software requests of our employees. Our partnership together has strengthened the business with many technology driven benefits…”

Dipan Sengupta, Head- IT, Philips Carbon Black Ltd

To protect users during remote work from home, Phillips invested in a layered security approach to ensure there were no intrusions or threats, and maintained 100% availability of the infrastructure, even safely conducting annual board meetings and audit committee meetings online.

We are a listed company and recently all our major transactional decisions were made online, which were supported by the core IT setup. As we were fully equipped with IT support and availability of applications which are secured, our workflow became seamless. All of this was possible because of our early investments in right technology and infrastructure”

Dipan Sengupta, Head- IT, Philips Carbon Black Ltd

Technology also plays a role in helping manufacturing plants operate efficiently with a system that helps monitor any abnormalities of process. With the collaboration of internal IT and IBM teams, the plants were fully operational, and the company maintained sanitation, thermal testing and social distancing regulations. Phillips has embedded technology at every functional process, resulting in growth and operational efficiency during the pandemic.

August 12, 2020

Notch updates Carbon Black World Data Book

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 8:56 am

Notch Consulting has published a new annual edition of the Carbon Black World Data Book, the most widely read and referenced report on this $16 billion industry. The report provides extensive proprietary data on carbon black capacity, capacity utilization, production, trade, markets, and pricing. The subscription package includes the annual report (with Excel spreadsheet), quarterly supply and demand updates (October 2020, January 2021, April 2021), monthly pricing, and special topic reports. The new report includes a special report on the effect of COVID-19 on tire, rubber, and carbon black markets. Here is an overview. For more information or samples, contact Notch.

July 20, 2020

Tokai Carbon CB reaches key milestones in environmental projects

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 8:15 am

Tokai Carbon CB (Fort Worth, Texas), the largest carbon black company in the US, announced today that it has reached several environmental milestones at its three US carbon black plants, which are located in Addis, Louisiana; Big Spring, Texas; and Borger, Texas. These projects are part of the company’s Consent Decree regarding NOX and SO2 emissions as negotiated with the EPA and the DOJ.

TCCB said that particulate emission detection instruments and operating procedures are in place to monitor and reduce particulate emissions at all three plants. In addition:

  • Big Spring has installed and is already continually operating NOX reduction equipment.
  • Work at Borger is in process and is scheduled to be finished by April 2021 for NOX and SO2 reductions. NOX and SO2 emissions will be dramatically reduced in Hutchinson County upon completion.
  • At Addis, NOX and SO2 reduction equipment will be ordered by the end of 2020 and installation is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. Completion of this project will dramatically reduce NOX and SO2 in the West Baton Rouge parish of Louisiana.
  • In addition, TCCB is investing $25 million to install power generating equipment for the Addis plant, which will reduce the plant’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. While reduction of GHG’s is not part of the consent decree, this project will have a large positive impact on the environment in the Baton Rouge area. After completion of the Addis project, TCCB will have process gas generated electricity at all three plants, exporting electricity at two facilities.

TCCB already has invested more than $50 million on environmental projects for its US plants and plans to spend another $73 million by the end of 2022 to meet its agreements. Including the cogen project at Addis, the company’s full investment related to these projects will total $148 million by the end of 2022.


July 10, 2020

Orion completes air emissions project at Orange

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 6:00 am

On July 9, Orion Engineered Carbons S.A. announced that it has successfully completed a significant upgrade of its emissions controls at its plant in Orange, Texas. As a result of these actions, the site complies with strengthened environmental standards which reduce the site’s emission permits for NOx and SO2 by 2,300 metric tons of air pollutant emissions per year. Technology installed at the facility includes a thermal oxidizer that is more effective than the incinerator which was previously used to reduce the pollutants. In addition, the company installed a Selective Catalytic Reduction reactor to reduce the emission of NOx. The project spanned from the middle of 2019 and is now fully operational.

July 9, 2020

Birla Carbon announces global restructuring

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 12:22 pm

This week, Birla Carbon (Mumbai, India & Marietta, GA) announced a global restructuring program. The company will transition to a global functional organization from one which previously operated in five global geographic regions. In a press release announcing the move, Dr. Santrupt B. Misra, Chief Executive Officer, Birla Carbon, said, “The Birla Carbon business has always been keenly focused on our customers and we believe that these changes will allow us to bring a greater focus to those relationships in a way that will lead to even greater innovation and partnership.”

The press release included the following management changes:

  • John Davidson, currently the President of the Europe and Africa Region, will become the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and will continue to report to John Loudermilk, Birla Carbon’s Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Davidson will be responsible for all sales and marketing aspects of the company supported by a team of sales leaders, market sector leaders, and marketing leaders positioned around the world.
  • Sanjeev Sood, currently the President of the South Asia Region, will become the Chief Manufacturing Officer for Asia.
  • Dale Clark, currently Chief Technology Officer, will become the Chief Manufacturing Officer for Americas, Europe, and Africa.
  • Ronaldo Duarte, President of the South America Region, will be retiring from Birla Carbon later in the year after serving more than 40 years in a variety of leadership roles.
  • Mark Bass, President of the North America Region, and Todd Cottrell, President of Specialty and North Asia, are both leaving Birla Carbon to pursue other opportunities.

June 30, 2020

Cabot completes placement of air emission control equipment at Franklin

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 6:00 am

On June 26, Cabot Corporation announced that, as of June 2020, all major emission control equipment has been installed at its carbon black plant in Franklin, Louisiana. The project is part of an industry-wide agreement with the EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control air emissions from carbon black plants in the US. With this milestone, Cabot said that the project was 90% completed and on track to be completed in early 2021, well ahead of the industry deadline of April 2021. Cabot said that the project will reduce the plant’s NOx emissions by 90% through selective catalytic control and reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 95% through wet gas scrubbing. This is equivalent to 900 tons per year of NOx and 6,500 tons per year of sulfur dioxide. A separate project at Cabot’s plant in Pampa, Texas was completed in 2017 and has reduced NOx emissions by 67%, equivalent to nearly 1,500 tons of emissions in three years, according to Cabot.

May 12, 2020

Cabot reports Q2 FY 2020 results

Filed under: Carbon Black, Coronavirus/COVID-19, Uncategorized — Notch @ 12:04 pm

On Monday, Cabot Corporation reported results for its Q2 FY2020. Net sales declined to $710 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2020 from $844 million in the same quarter of FY2019, a drop of 16%. In Reinforcement Materials, volumes decreased 14% year-over-year as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted demand. The impact was most pronounced in Asia but impacted both Americas and EMEA demand at the end of the quarter. Offsetting the lower volumes were higher margins due to pricing and mix benefits in both the tire and industrial product lines. Net sales in the Reinforcement Materials business totaled $355 million for 2Q FY2020, down 20% from $445 million in the same quarter of 2019.

Changes in Reinforcement Materials volumes (Q2 2020 YOY change):

  • Global: -14%
  • Asia: -20%
  • Europe, Middle East, Africa: -13%
  • Americas: -8%

Performance Chemicals saw net sales of $245 million in Q2 FY2020, down 3.5% from $254 million in the same quarter of 2019.

Cabot held its earnings conference call on the results earlier today.

Tokai Carbon raises carbon black prices and changes price index for Japan

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 11:19 am

On April 13, Tokai Carbon Co. announced a price increase for carbon black in Japan of 6.0JPY/kg (US5.6 cents/kg) effective May 1, 2020. In addition, going forward carbon black prices will be revised using the crude oil index, as the index used in previous price revisions can no longer be used due to the impact of IMO regulations on bunker fuel oil sulfur content.

May 7, 2020

Orion announces Q1 results, sales down 12.7% YOY

Filed under: Carbon Black, General — Notch @ 9:17 pm

On Thursday, Orion Engineered Carbons released their results for Q1 2020, reporting a 12.7% drop in sales and a 10.5% decline in volumes relative to Q1 2019. Declines were sharpest in Rubber Carbon Blacks, which showed a 14.6% decline in sales and an 11.1% decline in volumes. Specialty Carbon Black saw a decline of 9% in sales and 8.8% in volumes during the quarter. Specialty black demand was down mainly due to “weakening demand in the North America and Western Europe regions predominantly in the automotive and pipe markets.” Rubber black demand was down due to a “sharp decline in sales volumes beginning in mid-March as tire and auto manufacturing plants closed due to COVID-19.” Orion also attributed lower Rubber Black volumes to a “strategy as part of 2019 contract negotiations to emphasize raising price closer to reinvestment levels over volume.”

A few key takeaways from the earnings announcement:

  • OEC reported that all of its plants continued to operate during the quarter but the company implemented a flexible production schedule whereby reactors are run for a few weeks to restock inventories, then shut down.
  • OEC plants were at about mid-40s percent utilization in April.
  • More than 75 percent of tire plants served by OEC were fully or partially idled in April.
  • OEC expects tire manufacturing plant restarts to occur slowly.
  • In contrast to the tire market, only a few specialty customers were idled.

OEC will hold its earnings call on Friday, May 8 at 8:30 a.m. (EST).

April 28, 2020

LG Chem announces expansion of Carbon Nanotube Production

Filed under: Carbon Black, General — Notch @ 12:45 pm

On April 27, LG Chem announced that it will expand carbon nanotube (CNT) production at its plant in Yeosu.  LG Chem will be expanding by 1,200 tons, increasing total production capacity to 1,700 tons.

CNT is a new material with superior properties used in batteries, semi-conductors, auto parts and aircraft fuselages.

The expansion is designed to target the rapidly growing global EV and CNT markets and accelerate LG Chem’s product structure advancement strategies.

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