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Solutions 4 Polymers is underway registering apprentices for a course run with the College of West Anglia.

It launched its new Diploma in Polymer Processing Level 3 certificate at the last Interplas exhibition.

Managing Director, Andy Barnard, said: "We are pleased with the positive feedback that our clients within the industry have given on both the structure of the qualification and its delivery method."

The qualification is certified through the awarding organisation, PIABC, and aligns with Cogent's Level 3 Science Industry Technician Apprenticeship. However, a major benefit of the qualification is that it is polymer industry specific and can be contextualised to the employers' specific needs.

There are currently five pathways available; Extrusion, Injection Moulding, Parison Blow Moulding, Injection Blow Moulding and a general route to cover less common processes. Following customer demand development of a Thermoforming option is nearing completion.

Enquiries and registrations for the apprenticeship standard are increasing and it is fundable under the new levy system which was introduced last year.



The British Plastics Federation has joined its European counterpart, the European Plastics Converters Association (EuPC), to update a coauthored position paper focusing on the plastic industry's focus regarding Brexit negotiations.

The second phase of negotiations, centring on trade relationships, will start early this year, after the British and European negotiating teams agreed a settlement on a 'divorce bill', the status of the UK-Irish Republic border and EU citizens' rights in December 2017.

The BPF said it was emphasising the need to develop a deep and comprehensive agreement that eliminates customs and minimises possible non-tariff barriers, as Alexandre Dangis, EuPC Managing Director, and Philip Law, the BPF Director-General said in a joint statement: "In the interest of the European plastics converting industry, we ask the European Commission and the British Government to avoid any disturbances of the current trade with plastics and plastic products between the UK and the EU, especially in the second phase of the negotiations on possible sector trade issues."

The paper urges that restrictions to the free movement of labour could worsen the already existing shortage of qualified personnel that the European plastics converting industry is facing, and legal differences in the highly-regulated plastics industry could become major barriers to international trade and investments. "The EU's flagship programme to create a circular economy can only be addressed in conjunction with the UK as a partner with the EU," they added.

Finally, Law and Dangis highlight the "major risks" of a hard Brexit, including the imposition of customs duties and other non-tariff barriers such as regulatory barriers or custom checks. "Any of those barriers would have negative impacts on the highly integrated plastics converting industry," they said.

Therefore, they suggest a temporary or permanent agreement to include the confirmation of duty-free trade between the EU27 and the UK; mutual recognition of regulatory procedures and standards (especially REACH regulation); and customs procedures that are as efficient, simple and fast as possible.




A positive start to the year from the UK's manufacturers has led to a lift in investment plans and overall outlook.

According to findings from the CBI's latest quarterly industrial trends survey, acceleration in manufacturing growth over the past three months has led to optimism about both business conditions and export prospects.

This has led to investment intentions for buildings, plant and machinery moving back above average after deteriorating in the previous quarter and spending on innovation expected to continue to increase at a robust pace in the year ahead.

According to Kevin Horne, Chairman of the Polymer Machinery Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMMDA) and Managing Director of Renmar Plastics Machinery Limited, the momentum felt amongst plastics manufacturers at the end of 2017 seems to have carried over into the New Year, with order books strong.

"It is quite possible that 2017 was one of the most mixed in recent times, with all its ups and downs. Despite this, and certainly following Interplas--both the market and all the PMMDA's members are reporting a good level of interest received both during and after the show, which I believe has resulted in a good level of orders being secured in the final quarter of 2017," Home explained.

"It is still too early to give the actual numbers and values of UK ancillaries and machine sales for the year, as our meeting to discuss this does not take place until 13th February. However, if the interest level and commitment from customers remains as positive as it did at the end of last year then I have no reason to doubt that 2018 will be as good, and hopefully even better."

The same outlook was echoed by EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, which reported 40 percent of its members are planning for growth in the coming year. In its latest survey, conducted in November, 62 per cent of those asked were expecting domestic sales growth, 51 per cent looking for an increase in global exports and 47 per cent anticipating higher orders from Europe.

Stephen Phipson, EEF's new Chief Executive, said: "Manufacturers left 2017 in an upbeat mood and are set to outpace the rest of the economy again this year as the growth in global trade continues to gain momentum."

Despite this optimistic start, there are warnings that issues such as ongoing Brexit unknowns, cost pressures, skill shortages and competitiveness challenges present a growing threat to success.

"It's great to see UK manufacturers capturing their share of the growing global market and investing in innovation," said Tom Crotty, Group Director of Ineos and Chair of CBI Manufacturing Council. "However, we need to see a strong focus from government on creating the conditions for businesses to grow and thrive and play their part in growing the UK's prosperity. It's crucial for real progress to made in implementing the industrial strategy, improving the apprenticeship levy and designing a well-functioning migration system," he added.





Omega Plastics Group has celebrated a 'stellar year' in 2017, where it won North East Company of the Year, from the British Chambers of Commerce, and secured several new large clients from the automotive and medical industries.

With factories in Washington, Hartlepool and Blyth, Omega also secured a nomination in the High Growth Business of the Year category at the highly sought-after Chamber Business Awards.

OPG were finalists at the event held in London and, despite not winning overall, Managing Director, Dave Crone, felt confident about the nomination's impact on his business. "2017 has been an outstanding year for the Omega Plastics Group and winning the Company of the Year title was a huge deal for us. The opportunities it has afforded us since have really helped us to take our business to the next level," he explained.

"OPG now has a national profile which will certainly help us to attract new business from larger organisations and companies operating across other regions of the UK."

In October Omega launched an education outreach program with a school in Teeside to develop a two-year vocational programme combining theoretical workshops with practical assignments and factory visits encourage local students to look to jobs in northeast manufacturing as a career.



The KraussMaffei group is set to be listed on the Shanghai stock exchange by its owner, ChemChina.

The injection moulding machine manufacturer will become a subsidiary of Qingdao Tianhua Institute of Chemistry Engineering Co. Ltd, which is listed on the Shanghai stock exchange and is a subsidiary of ChemChina.

In addition, ChemChina plans to integrate - amongst others - three sites for the production of tyres and rubber facilities into the listed entity. The transaction is subject to approvals by relevant bodies and regulators.

"KraussMaffei's business would make up about 85 percent of the listed company," said Frank Stieler, CEO of KraussMaffei. KraussMaffei would continue to expand the international business from Germany as well as drive the Chinese business locally.

Through the planned access to the Chinese capital market, KraussMaffei says it will be able to accelerate its growth in the mid-term. The company increased its revenue for the 2016/17 financial year by five percent to 1.27 billion Euros and is hoping to cross the 1.3 billion Euro mark at the end of the 2017/18 period.

KraussMaffei has been under majority ownership of ChemChina since April 2016.


Interface Polymers is expanding its additive technology research team with two new full-time positions at its main laboratory in Loughborough.

Launched in February 2016 to develop its new Polarfin block copolymer additive range, the University of Warwick spin-out company is responding to demand for polyolefin compatibility and surface functionality solutions across a wide range of applications in the packaging, construction, agriculture, automotive and recycling sectors.

The Polarfin additive can be incorporated into a polymer formulation and used with existing polymer conversion processes with little change to existing production equipment. It works by modifying the surface chemistry of poIyoIefin-based materials to enable interfacial bonding or other desirable surface properties such as anti-fog performance. For example, Polarfin additives enable permanent interlayer surface adhesion, not possible before without costly, energy-intensive 'functionalising' methods such as: flame torching, chemical etching, corona discharge and plasma treatments.

Many of the Polarfin additive grades currently being commercialised bring the added benefit of reducing processing costs in addition to the main advantage of providing enhanced surface properties in end-use applications.

The new research appointments, which started in January, will substantially expand the company's in-house testing resources whilst also adding expertise in downstream polymer processing methods such as multi-layer extrusion and film-blowing.

Dr Christopher Kay, Chief Scientific Officer and founder of Interface Polymers, said: "After encouraging discussions with interested customers across a diverse range of markets and application areas, we now have a large number of very interesting NPD opportunities. The addition of polymer processing expertise to the research team is now essential. These new roles will build upon our strengths in polymer synthesis and enable us to both speed up product development and optimise downstream processing guidelines in collaboration with our customers."



In the November/December issue of British Plastics and Rubber we featured news of three UK companies that have collaborated on the new design of a ground-breaking turntable from Rega. We'd like to point out the correct name for the new turntable is 'Planar 6'.
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Publication:British Plastics & Rubber
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2018

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