By David Shaw, ERJ staff
Leverkusen, Germany -- Lanxess intends to increase output of EPDM from its multiple plants, following the acquisition of DSM Elastomers on 1 May.
Gunther Weymans, head of Lanxess Technical Rubber Products unit said it expects to increase the total output by around 5 percent over the coming months. This corresponds to an increase of some 10kt - 15 kt annually. He also said the third EPDM line at the former DSM site in Geleen is now operating at full capacity after a power outage in February led to a temporary end to production there.
Weymans said it is too early to discuss investment in more assets in the EPDM business, but acknowledged that EPDM is now by far the biggest unit within the Lanxess TRP business, having a total capacity of some 300 - 320 kt annually. He added that the company is putting in very substantial resources to merge the EPDM activities of Lanxess with the former DSM activities.
The increased capacity will come as a result of rationalising production schedules between the five EPDM reactors Lanxess now has at its disposal. Three in Geleen from the former DSM activity and two Lanxess plants. Weymans said the different grades of EPDM are produced on a production wheel, in which the plants move from one grade to another in a pre-planned sequence. During the switch from one grade to another there are off grades and transition grades while the process stabilises on the new graade.
Previously DSM performed this wheel across its three reactors and Lanxess performed a similar wheel on its two reactors. Now that Lanxes can manage all five reactors, that opens opportunities for the manufacture of up to five grades simultaneously and longer production runs, leading to less transition material and so higher productive output.
Weymans also noted that DSM's former customers have seen invoicing already move across to Lanxess paperwork from 1 May. He said there are likely to be changes in the customer contacts in the coming months, but Lanxess has worked hard to ensure that ther are no interruptions to the ordering and delivery processes as a result of the acquisition.
He said Lanxess now produces 60 different grades of EPDM: the widest range of any EPDM supplier. When asked if this was too many grades, Weymans said any decisions on decreasing or increasing the number of grades would be guided by the customers.