By David Shaw, ERJ staff
Budapest, Hungary -- Columbian Chemicals will soon announce an expansion of its carbon black factory in Hungary, Columbian Tiszai. Although representatives of Columbian declined to comment on strong rumours of the news at the Carbon Black World event being held in Budapest, at least one potential customer said Columbian had confirmed the expansion project.
Speaking in general terms, Rikki Lamba, vice president for carbon black technology at Columbian said the company does not make formal announcements about expansion plans until it has sold all the potential new capacity to clients. Nevertheless, he said Columbian is likely to make an announcement about capacity in the next few days.
He said Columbian has an excellent model for predicting the demand for specific grades of carbon black. Columbian has been working with UK-based consultancy LMC to estimate the speed ratings and sizes of tyres being made in the various factories around the world and uses this to forecast demand for grades of black used in carcass, tread and other tyre components.
If a factory is making 35-series tyres in Z-rating, then the demand for tread grades will be higher while sidewall grades will be reduced, he indicated. He said Columbian has been developing this model for about five years and uses it to forecast demand for specific grades of carbon black. Approximately 29percent of a car tyre by weight is carbon black
In addition to this sophisticated model -- he said no other supplier to the tyre industry has anything remotely similar -- Columbian works together with customers to provide reliable supply, adding capacity in time to meet increased demand from customers.
Both Bridgestone and Hankook are building new tyre factories in Hungary, while Pirelli has recently opened a new plant in Romania. Pirelli will begin mixing operations in Romania next year.
Columbian Tiszai currently has nominal capacity for 65 kt/year of carbon black, but when it was opened, the company said it had acquired sufficient land to build an identical plant adjacent to the initial one. The factory opened with initial capacity of around 50 kt/year.
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of the Carbon Black World conference