Bladder facility added to Lanxess’ growing presence in Brazil
Lanxess’ Rhein Chemie business unit has opened a new production facility at its Porto Feliz site in Brazil. The facility produces ‘Rhenoshape’ high-performance curing bladders for use in tyre manufacture and has an annual capacity of approximately 170,000 bladders. Rhein Chemie says the plant employs state-of-the-art production technology incorporating the latest developments in bladder technology. The new plant will be joined by a further new facility next year; this will manufacture ‘Rhenogran’ pre-dispersed polymer-bound rubber additives and have an annual capacity of 1,800 tonnes. Altogether, Lanxess is investing around 10 million euros at the Porto Feliz site and creating up to 60 new jobs.
“Brazil is the sixth largest economy in the world, and it is the biggest and most important market in South America for Rhein Chemie,” said Dr. Anno Borkowsky, CEO and president of Rhein Chemie Rheinau GmbH, during the plant’s inauguration ceremony. “Thus, it is only natural that we are so focused on supplying sophisticated, high-tech products to the Brazilian automotive and tyre industries. Our customers place a high value on their ability to source Rhenoshape curing bladders locally, from our offices here in Brazil. And so it made perfect sense for us to erect the production facility.”
Tyre manufacturers are increasingly outsourcing bladder production as it is more cost-effective for them to concentrate on their core business. Rhein Chemie says bladder manufacture is a focus for the company and states it is “consistently working to achieve new breakthroughs in bladder technology” to ensure its bladders “deliver a corresponding level of quality and performance.” The company says Rhenoshape bladders have a much longer service life in part due to their high level of uniformity. “In other words, depending on the tyre factory and type of tyre, they can produce up to three times more tyres,” the company elaborates in a statement. “In addition to possible better productivity, the greatly improved thermal conductivity of the bladder compound and other factors boost the quality of the tyre, thus increasing safety and reducing rolling resistance.”
Rhein Chemie entered the bladder market less than two and a half years ago with the acquisition of Argentine company Darmex. It has already expanded its bladder production capacity in Argentina. The purchase of US firm Tire Curing Bladders last year added further bladder sizes to Rhein Chemie’s portfolio, including sizes used for truck and earthmover tyres and bladders for tyre building machines.
“Rhein Chemie is now the largest independent bladder manufacturer in the world,” added Dr. Borkowsky. “We also provide our customers with the added convenience of one-stop shopping, as we are able to supply release agents, bladder coatings and tyre tread marking inks from a single source. And when we look forward at the prospects for our markets in the years to come, we are very optimistic indeed.”
“Year of Germany in Brazil”
The plant’s opening on 13 May coincided with the start of the “Year of Germany in Brazil”, a government-level initiative officially launched at the 2013 Brazilian-German Economic Meeting in Sao Paulo by Brazil’s president Dilma Rouseff and German president Joachim Gauck. The “Year of Germany in Brazil” is expected to grow ties between the two countries, boost cooperation and encourage joint initiatives.
“With this investment in Brazil, the world’s sixth largest economy, we reaffirm our focus on the emerging markets,” stated Lanxess board member Rainier van Roessel. “We want to share in the positive development of the automotive and tyre industries in Latin America.”
Brazil is one of Lanxess’ fastest-growing markets. The country accounted for less than one per cent of the German chemical manufacturer’s global sales in 2005 but now accounts for roughly ten per cent of the global total. Lanxess became one of the largest chemical companies in Brazil following its acquisition of Petroflex in 2008, and now employs roughly 1,100 workers at seven sites.