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Amoco Chemical Company.


Amoco Chemical Company Worldwide Nonwoven Sales: $65 million

Amoco Fabrics and Fibers 900 Circle 75 Parkway, Suite 300 Atlanta, GA 30339 (404)956-9025; Fax: (404)984-4453 U.S. Nonwovens Sales: $35 million Key Personnel: Frank Andrusko, vice president and general manager, fabrics; Peter Cella, business manager, lightweight nonwovens; Craig Rusert, marketing manager, lightweight nonwovens; Jack Godfrey, vice president-marketing, industrial fabrics; Richard Carriker, marketing manager, civil engineering fabrics; Robert Jenkins, marketing manager, nonwoven furniture fabrics; Dr. Kerry Williams, vice president-research and development; Mark Williams, director of development; Pete Pascavage, research supervisor, fabrics Plants: Hazlehurst, GA; Nashville, GA; Roanoke, AL (ANCI plant under construction) Processes: Needlepunched, RFX fabrics Brand Names: RFX, AmoPave, Amolene, CLAF Major Markets: Geotextiles, Furniture Fabrics, Protective Apparel, Medical Disposables, Agricultural Fabrics

Amoco Fabrics Europe Dueppelstrasse 16, P.O.B. 1709 D-4432 Gronau Germany 49-2562-770 European Nonwovens Sales: $30 million Key Personnel: Peter Haas, president, Amoco Fabrics Europe; Klaus Koblischke, director, nonwovens; Wim Pieters, director, technology and development Plant: Gronau, Germany Processes: Reicofil Spunbonded, Carded Thermal Bonded Major Markets: Personal Hygiene, Coverstock, Industrial Applications Notes: While many other nonwovens companies concentrate on either developing new technologies or forming new companies to produce new nonwovens, Amoco Fabrics and Fibers has done a little of both. During the past two years, the nonwovens producer has formed a unique joint venture with a Japanese partner and has developed a new nonwoven material that is just finding its way through the complicated nonwovens marketing maze.

The joint venture with Nippon Petrochemicals is notable because, unlike most other ventures involving a U.S. or European nonwovens producer, this particular effort is aimed at utilizing Japanese technology to start production in the U.S. The company, called Amoco Nisseki CLAF Inc. (ANCI), manufactures and markets CLAF fabric, a lightweight nonwoven scrim fabric. ANCI is headed by Frank Andrusko, who carries the title of chief executive of the new venture; Mr. Andrusko also oversees Amoco's nonwovens operations as vice president and general manager, fabrics. ANCI recently broke ground for a 200 million sq. yard annual capacity plant in Roanoke, AL (at the site of an existing Amoco plant that produces secondary carpet backing). Initial production, slated to begin by the end of the year, is expected to be at 60 million sq. yards. Full production is expected in 1993. The fabric will be imported from the Japanese partner until production is started later this year.

"ANCI is the first joint venture in the U.S. for Amoco and it is the first joint venture outside of Japan for Nippon Petrochemicals," Mr. Andrusko explained. "It is a learning process for both of us." Japanese personnel have come to the U.S. site to help staff the venture's manufacturing and marketing positions. Amoco maintains exclusive sales rights in North America. Nippon Petrochemicals has manufactured and sold CLAF fabric primarily in the Far East since the mid 1970s.

Since September, 1990, when the joint venture was first announced, the company has been exploring various application areas. "Potential end uses include high performance envelopes, pouches, flexible packaging, multi-wall bags and various industrial and building product end uses," said Yasuo Takamura, senior vice president of marketing. CLAF offers, according to product literature, outstanding uniformity, strength and tear resistance without additional bulk or weight. The fabric will be used primarily as a reinforcement for a variety of packaging materials such as nonwovens, paper, film and foil.

"We are bringing in substantial amounts of product now from Japan to get the project started," Mr. Andrusko told NONWOVENS INDUSTRY. The aim of ANCI's marketing plan is to establish a North American presence for the new joint venture company and to get a variety of programs started by working closely with converters as well as end users.

The other new technology news at Amoco in the U.S. is the development of its "RFX" fabric, which is produced from a proprietary process. RFX is competitive to spunbonded fabrics, but with some very key, unspecified technical differences. "RFX fabric is not a spunbonded," Mr. Andrusko emphasized. "It is our proprietary version of a nonwoven that competes with a spunbonded but is not made like a spunbonded." The product ranges from 0.25-2.0 ozs. sq. yard and its primary target markets are medical disposables, agricultural products, furniture and bedding fabrics and protective clothing, as well as carrier fabrics for other materials.

The future for this technology is, according to Mr. Andrusko, in composite applications. Already a RFX composite fabric is challenging alternative fabrics in preventing liquid strikethrough in medical garments.

In addition to its uniform coverage and strength at low basis weights, an advantage of RFX is its ability to be handled in a non-calendered state, which allows Amoco to combine it with other materials in a separate process. "Rather than taking the spunbonded leaders head-on, we would prefer to combine our RFX fabrics with other fabrics to produce something better," Mr. Andrusko added.

Current developmental projects for RFX fabric composites include disposable medical isolation gowns and industrial protective apparel. The RFX fabric technology can also utilize resins other than the current polypropylene, including polyester, nylon and various high performance resins. Despite all of the promise, Amoco is concentrating the RFX fabric developmental work to certain areas. "We are looking at selected applications, making sure we can meet our customers' requirements at a competitive price," he said.

While its CLAF and RFX fabric technologies work their way up the learning curve, Amoco is already beginning to turn its attention to yet another nonwovens technology. The company, in conjunction with its parent Amoco Chemical Co., is developing a "porous polypropylene film." The development project, which basically has devised a new way to produce a breathable film, may be launched in 1992.

These lightweight nonwovens projects are designed to enhance Amoco's position in the nonwovens field, especially as a diversification from its strengths in woven fabrics. Amoco produces about three billion sq. yards worldwide of woven products, while its global production of nonwovens is more in the 500-600 million sq. yard range. But the key to expanding its reach is certainly not in copying someone else's technology. "For us to come in now with a me-too product at a me-too price against well established competition doesn't excite us very much," Mr. Andrusko explained.

All of this developmental work is made possible, however, by the continued success of Amoco's primary business in needlepunched nonwovens for furniture and bedding and for civil engineering. Mr. Andrusko reported that sales for furniture and bedding applications are doing well considering the economy and continuing price pressures. Meanwhile, the geotextile area is suffering from a lack of road construction as a result of the economic downturn for many cities and states; sales for this market have been lower than expected this year. Amoco has not engaged in any significant capacity expansions in the past few years for its polypropylene needlepunched nonwovens. Debottlenecking and quality control efforts, however, have resulted in substantially increased output from existing lines.

Amoco's marketing focus for the near term will be in exploring existing markets for its new technologies using a targeted approach. "We have limited quantities in the near term so we want to work with selected customers in selected end uses," Mr. Andrusko said in explaining this philosophy. "We are trying to get into new markets with our new technologies and we need the support of these customers."
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Title Annotation:Amoco Fabrics and Fibers Co.'s nonwoven fabrics business
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:company profile
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Previous Article:Vliesstoffwerk Christian Heinrich Sandler.
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