VOLUME 12 ISSUE 6
Time to celebrate!
WE ARE celebrating this issue! What’s there to celebrate, it’s hardly been a great year? Well, we looked back on the year and decided to focus on what’s good in our industry … and came to the conclusion that product design in the plastics and composites industries is truly worth celebrating.
The result is that we have reports about several year-end design competitions, including the SPE thermoforming design competition in the USA; Bioplastics design awards in Europe; the British plastics industry awards, where over 800 people attended the presentation function; our own PISA Student Design Awards, which provided among the most interesting designs and the SPE Benelux Plastics Innovations Awards.
A wide array of design solutions are presented, each of which is worth studying. Our hope is that readers will take something out of this process and look at the possibility of developing new products.
Plastic and composite materials offer major opportunities for new product solutions and better utilization options. That’s why we need to get away from the constant downward price pressure that is becoming endemic. I, for one, cringe when I hear of people planning to make a product in plastic ‘because it’s cheaper’. It ISN’T CHEAPER: change because it’s a better solution!
SASOL’S massive R88-billion investment in Louisiana in the United States, where it is putting up an ethane cracker that will produce as much as 1.5 million tons of ethylene a year, was alluded to earlier in the year by a number of the persons interviewed in our polymer pricing article. One of the interviewees suggested that it would not be a surprise if Sasol shifted its focus to foreign markets, particularly markets where it gets a positive response – as opposed to the frequently hostile attitude it has had to deal with from the Competition Commission in South Africa.
The prospect of lower cost feedstock from shale gas in the USA was obviously a factor too, but it looks like the Louisiana state government offered Sasol very favourable terms to invest.
Don’t see this as a departure: it’s a sign of a South African company that is becoming a global player. Maybe more of the converting companies can follow suit?
THE standout feature at Propak Cape in October was the excellent presentations by the automation systems suppliers, several of who are local. For some reason, Paarl in the Western Cape has become a regional centre for the packaging automation equipment manufacturers?
Automation does not necessarily mean staff redundancies: it’s meant to improve efficiencies and output, and it’s good to see South African companies becoming leaders in this area.
WE asked some of the industry’s leaders to look in the crystal ball and forecast what lies ahead for us in 2015 and beyond. I’m happy to say the gentlemen concerned are all positive. We are going to need it: challenges lie ahead.
I’m also happy to point out that many of the converting companies are getting it right, they have cooperative and strong company cultures, incentivised workers, reliable systems and are going places. Let’s aim for that success standard and look at lifting our game in 2015!
Best wishes for a peaceful festive season from the team at SA Plastics mag!