“By using engineering services to position ourselves on the level of raw materials production, we will be able to better utilize the position of this global growth market in the future,” says Stefan Kross, CEO of the Oerlikon Segment Manmade Fibers.
In the technology-driven and less cyclical business involving projects and systems used to make manmade fibers, Oerlikon supplies a concentrated, financially robust customer base that, altogether, is responsible for about half of the annual production of fibers and filaments.
The growing population and expanding consumption seen in emerging countries, continue to fuel the demand for textiles. In the process, manmade fibers play an ever-increasing role: With 50.6 million tons, these fibers made up 59 % of worldwide fiber production in 2012.
A total of 81 %, or 41 million tons, of this total was attributed to polyester fibers, the majority of which was used in clothing. Following the divestment of the Natural Fibers Business Unit in July 2013, Oerlikon has begun to entirely focus the textile activities of the Manmade Fibers Segment on expanding mass markets.
In the future, the Segment will concentrate even more closely on the engineering of plants, particularly those used in the polymer melt production process.
“As a result of this shift, we will be able to provide our customers with highly integrated complete solutions, extending from the melt to fibers, yarn and nonwovens. This will enable producers to gain more independence from other granulate manufacturers, have greater influence on quality and create additional value,” Kross says describing the advantages of this approach.
Manmade fiber business is based on major projectable long-range investments
The focus on systems and processes used for producing manmade fibers, also makes the plant business less cyclical and better planable for Oerlikon. While the investment decisions made by natural-fiber producers are primarily linked to the prices of raw materials, thus subject to extreme swings, manmade fiber production is dominated by relatively few large companies.
“These producers are integrated right up to the manufacturing of raw materials and middle and long term plan the construction of their large polymerization and spinning systems,” Kross says.
Altogether, about 25 major producers, the majority of whom are located in Asia, are responsible for about 60 % of the annual production of filaments and fibers. Twenty-two members of this group are customers of the Manmade Fibers Segment.
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