Safripol group expands


PHOTO:Blaas hom! – The brass band Swing City was in full flow from the word go, placing current and classic hits and intermingling that with some impromptu jokes about all and sundry at the event in Sandton in July

A NEW chapter has commenced for leading South African polymers manufacturer Safripol, seeing the inclusion of fellow KAP Chemicals group businesses Hosaf and Wood Chemicals SA to the Safripol brand and implementation of a group-wide management systems for the three manufacturers, creating the opportunity for the expanded group to be benchmarked internationally.

Safripol, a manufacturer of various grades of high-density polyethylene and polypropylene, was purchased by KAP group in late 2016 in an R4,1-billion transaction and became part of the KAP Chemicals group officially on 3 January last year. Other members of the KAP Chemicals group include Hosaf, the PET manufacturer operating out of Jacobs, Durban, and Wood Chemicals SA, a manufacturer of urea formaldehyde (UF) resins for the panel industry based in Piet Retief, northern KZN. Woodchem is the largest producer of wood panel resins in Africa supplying formaldehyde into more than 30 different industries in South Africa.

In the rebranding process completed on 1 July, Hosaf has been renamed Safripol Durban and Woodchem as Safripol Piet Retief. An integrated management system for the three manufacturers has now been implemented, creating a substantially larger entity which will be more competitive internationally and which, it is anticipated, will benefit each of the manufacturers’ operations in terms of synergies and logistics.

Following the supply problems encountered at Hosaf in the second half of 2017, when supply was interrupted during its plant expansion project, a new management team is due to be announced for Safripol Durban, boosted by the fact that the expansion project has been completed and PET production at the Durban plant is now running at 550 tons a day, the intended goal of the plant upgrade. The output from Safripol Durban is, in fact, being ramped up and is currently running at levels over 600 tons/day and is expected to reach 650. Just prior to the big capex project at Jacobs, forecasts were that there was a global over-supply of PET, whereas there is now a world shortage. But that’s how things go in the commodities supply market, one month there’s a glut, the next there is a shortage.

Of immediate relevance to converters in South Africa and further afield is the fact that the Hosaf name for its PET resins, Cazeden, is to be phased out and be replaced by the Aspire™ name, which will henceforth be Safripol Durban’s brand name. Safripol has applied for the new trade name and the new name will be applied as current stocks with the old name are depleted during the second half of the year.

According to a Safripol statement, the grade name rationalization and batch numbering system will be uniform and standardized. The naming system used before, where the target IV (intrinsic viscosity) figure was added as a suffix to the name, will apply as before. Safripol Durban currently has three grades and the IV figures will be retained: for example, Cazeden 84 FRX will from now become Aspire 84 FRX.

With the implementation of a common SAP system from 1 July, Safripol Durban is changing the batch numbering systems for its PET materials to allow improved traceability of its Aspire product range. The new batch numbering system will be the same as for Safripol’s existing HD and PP materials.

Typical batch numbers follow the sequence G (year of production); B (month of production); and then the day of production followed by an internal Safripol code and lastly the number of the batch produced on any specific day.

A similar strategy for Safripol Piet Retief is also being implemented.


Latest chapter This latest chapter for Safripol follows a history which saw it created as a venture involving the then Sentrachem group and Hoechst of Germany in 1972; the setting up of its polymer production plant at Sasolburg (HD production started in ’72 and PP in 1996), its sale to Dow group in 1999, its subsequent purchase by a consortium involving ABSA and Thebe Investments in 2007, releasing it from foreign ownership, and most recently, its purchase by KAP group in 2016.

The purchase in 2016 was arguably one of the more important for Safripol, as it returned it to ownership by a manufacturing group as compared to ownership by venture capital funds, bringing it back to its core culture

One of the features at Safripol Sasolburg throughout this time has been minimal staff change and hence steady strengthening of its core capabilities and efficiencies. The new, expanded Safripol business now combines a wider range of products with improved management abilities and inter-group synergies, which bodes well for both the group’s customers and its personnel.

Safripol is now a global scale operation with capacity for 240,000 tons per annum of PET; 160,000 of HD; 120,000 of PP and 110,000tpa of urea formaldehyde, which compare well internationally – certainly in the emerging economic sector.