Maastricht, Netherlands — An upgrade to Perstorp’s Capa caprolactone monomer production facility in Warrington, UK should be on stream in the second half of 2019.
‘The upgrade is a significant piece of work,’ said Joel Neale, the company’s global product manager for the caprolactone polyol range. Neale was speaking at UTECH Europe 2018 in late May.
A second production line at the facility to was built to supplement the existing caprolactone monomer line back in 2011, giving two parallel production lines.
‘In 2008 when Dow stepped out [of caprolactone] as a result of Hurricane Katrina and decided not to put [a line] back, it was quite traumatic for the market,’ Jan Secher, Perstorp’s CEO, said. ‘That’s when we decided to build the second line, doubling our capacity and providing redundancy. Now we are taking the next step in providing security of supply by upgrading the older line.’
The upgrade will also give much better safety and sustainability, Secher added, as well as providing a platform for future growth. ‘There have been supply issues in the past year, and we are stepping up to the plate to support the industry,’ he said.
The Warrington site is one of Perstorp’s 10 production facilities around the world, in Europe, North America and Asia. ‘We have about 1600 people worldwide, and turnover of EUR 1.4bn with approximately 16% EBITDA,’ Secher said. ‘We have been growing for the past four years by about 6%, which is about double GDP [growth].’
Secher added his company averages one acquisition a year to consolidate and strengthen its position across all its business units. About EUR 250m has been invested in the past five years. ‘We have spent a lot of time and effort over the past five years to develop customer intimacy,’ Secher claimed.
‘Caprolactone is a great example of where customer intimacy can drive growth,’ he said. ‘We have had double-digit growth in the caprolactone area because we are much closer to our customers and what their needs are than many of our peers. It’s not just about responding to an existing market – it’s about expanding that market.’
According to Neale, caprolactone polyols are problem-solvers – they are used when customers are looking for higher performance to access a new market, or to increase a product’s lifespan.
‘The key feature of caprolactone versus other chemistry is its durability – products look nicer or hold their integrity for longer in terms of the mechanical properties. Resistance to hydrolysis is exceptional compared to a standard polyester.’
Typical uses are seals and gaskets, wheels and rollers, hoses and tubing.
‘We have about 50 commercially available polyols in the range,’ Neale said. ‘We continue to give customers that little bit more by tailor-making these grades.’
At UTECH Europe in 2015, the company announced a new application development lab. Neale said these are now paying dividends. ‘Our innovation strategy is now changing to look at market trends and developing our products based on those trends.’