The Plastics Design and Moulding exhibition this year had an extensive range of seminars; Kavia attended six seminars over the two days and found them informative and insightful. This article is about the future of plastics presented by Smithers Rapra’s Patrick Ellis.
The global market for speciality plastics is $74 billion and is forecast to grow 5.5%. In the next 5 years it is expected
- Technology and manufacturing developments
- End user sector & geographical differences
- New business opportunities, changing market drivers and product developments
The seminar also offered insights into: regional growth, consumer trends, energy trends and new applications.
Patrick kicked off with the phrase – the only constant is change, things are moving fast. This author also recalled Ikea using this same phrase when he worked with them as a customer.
Shale oil is new big change to polymer base material sourcing, traditionally the plastics and rubber industry takes what’s left over for fuel oil industry but shale oil will change this because of its lower cost of manufacture. Ethane is the base product so polyethylene will become more available and cheaper. Polypropylene will need new investment, as a different process is required.
Automotive will remain to be the driving force but medical sector is rising as the population average is getting older and people are living longer. Electrical and electronic sectors will also increase as more Internet enabled devices increase.
The packaging sector is under pressure to improve their environmental impact but this sector is battling against one-use product popularity. Did attend a packaging seminar where rigid thin wall was hot topic of conversation and innovation but I would much rather see a change in one-use packaging to re-usable approach.
Strengths of the UK Industry
- Feeling of innovation
- Sound engineering culture
- Technical base
- Pound versus Euro
- Automotive base
- English language
Kavia comments on strengths: Innovation is key to Kavia and our customers to gain advantage in new projects, products and tool transfers. We present to our potential customers to engage us as soon as possible to take advantage of innovative approach to injection moulding. Kavia’s core function is based on engineering with key personnel with over 25 years experience. We engage of over 20 projects per annum, which affords us a lot of experience and technically challenging projects which we are happy to transfer into new projects to ensure their success.
Weaknesses of the UK
- Engineering education
- Weak economy
- Poor local polymer base
- High transport costs because of government taxes
- Recycling potential not fulfilled
- Poor support from banks
Kavia as a business does not reflect the weaknesses of the UK, we nurture our staff members with engineering knowledge and experience. Our toolmaking team has two apprentices. You will see from our accounts we have cash in the bank, our injection mould machines are paid for and have no loans in the business. Kavia has developed new products that uses 100% regrind material to utilize scrap material and encourages customers to do the same.
There is certainly a trend in new enquiries of geographically closer customers because of the high transport costs. Kavia is well placed for the M62 corridor and Yorkshire/Lancashire/ Greater Manchester/Derbyshire and Cheshire. Within an hour of driving are Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Blackburn and Bradford.
- Global need for hi-tech
- Labour not fully utilized
- Apprenticeship schemes
- Return of manufacturing to UK
- 3d printing
- Growing automotive market
- Low Interest rates
- Increasing Asian and African purchasing power
Kavia has a highly experienced and skilled work force, average time served is over 13 years. Where possible customers can take advantage of the machine operator’s time to do additional actions in-cycle saving customers money and manufacturing space.
We are seeing manufacturing returning to the UK and feedback from new customer offers is Kavia solutions are cheaper than Asia and Malaysia.
- Weak UK economy
- Rising energy costs
- Overcrowded roads
Energy costs are a significant proportion of the injection moulding overhead but where possible Kavia runs lights-out production with no staff to offset costs and stabilize pricing to our customers.
Further to the high transport costs mentioned above, over crowded roads also heavily contributes to the costs and it make sense to reduce the number of times your injection moulded plastic components and products hit the road. Kavia has a number of solutions for this right up to being the final point of distribution. Still looking the suitable project for a factory shop.
So to sum up, there is a growing future for plastics and Kavia Moulded Products. Use of plastics in some sectors offers major environmental and product performance gains. New Internet connected products are emerging all in plastic enclosures. New sources of raw material oils from shale fields outside the typical oil sources will bring lower prices and greater availability. Russia and China have the largest fields followed by USA/Canada. The UK has some good size fields that will help with our local polymer supplies.