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Huntsman technologies leading the textile industry way forward; increasing recipe, process and environmental performances…

Huntsman is a global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals.  Huntsman operating companies manufacture products for a variety of global industries, including chemicals, plastics, automotive, aviation, textiles, footwear, paints and coatings, construction, technology, agriculture, health care, detergent, personal care, furniture, appliances and packaging. After acquiring the global textile effects business of Ciba Specialty Chemicals Inc. in 2006 and Baroda Division of Metrochem Industries in 2009, Huntsman Textile Effects (HTE) has become clear leader in manufacturing of dyes and chemicals to support the textile and allied industries worldwide. HTE could keep their focus in Research & Development intact over the years and so brought up some game changing technologies and products which are changing the world in terms of environment friendliness and sustainability. With an endeavor to explore Huntsman and its activities for its readers, Bangladesh Textile Today, Editor & Publisher, A S M Tareq Amin meets the high ups of the company.

Mr. Amin was talking to Mr. Kent Kvaal, Vice President, Sales & Technical Resources, HTE and Mr. Steve Gray, Vice President, Strategic Marketing & Planning, HTE, on different strategic and technical issues in Huntsman. The extensive discussion reveals many facts and happenings which are potentially important for the global, regional and local textile and allied industries. The entire discussion will be published in two subsequent issues. This is the first part.

Tareq: Please brief us on latest things in Huntsman Corporation & Huntsman Textile Effects.

Kent: The Huntsman Corporation last year (2012) exceeded revenue of 11 billion US Dollar, showing a very solid sales growth. ‘Huntsman Textile Effect’ (HTE) is one of the 5 divisions of ‘Huntsman Corporation’.  Mr. Paul Hulme as the president of the division and Steve and I (Kent) are two vice presidents with others in Top management while Peter R. Huntsman is the president & CEO of Huntsman Corporation.

kent-steve

 

From left, Syed Ismail Hossain, Country Head, Bangladesh; Steve Gray, Vice President, Strategic Marketing & Planning, Global Kent Kvaal, Vice President, Sales & Technical Resources, Global, and Ajay Kanwar, Director, South East Asia, Huntsman Textile Effect.

HTE has a balanced global reach serving over 10,000 customers located in 80 countries and is the leading global supplier of comprehensive solutions for the textile industry. It provides innovative value adding effects and processing solutions to its customers such as brilliant colors with high fastness, easy care, durable protection against oil, water and fire as well as a complete range of pretreatment and dyeing auxiliaries. The business has about 4,200 employees.

 

Tareq: How do you find Bangladesh and its contribution in HTE business?

Kent: Bangladesh’s textile industry is the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China and we have long partnership and presence in this market. Not only Bangladesh as a whole Asia is a key growth market for Huntsman Textile Effects. In the last few years, HTE have invested $100M in the region. These include world-class distribution centers and facilities located in China, Pakistan and most recently, a $17.5 million synthesis plant in Thailand. In addition, a state-of-the-art research laboratory in Mumbai was also established to complement its established research facilities in Panyu, China.

These measures firmly positions Huntsman Textile Effects as a truly competitive global and regional dyes and chemical manufacturer and demonstrate its confidence in the growth of the textile industry in Asia and Bangladesh.

Huntsman Textile Effects is leading the way by proactively engaging textile mills and brands in Bangladesh to reduce environmental footprint and to drive sustainable excellence to compete in the global market.

 

Tareq: We know that HTE now have 11 primary manufacturing facilities located in eight countries (Switzerland, Germany, France, USA, Mexico, China, Thailand and Indonesia), if Bangladesh is an important customer country, why not a manufacturing plant here or at least a Formulation and Distribution Centre (FDC) to reduce cost for Bangladeshi customers?

Kent: You have rightly mentioned. All our manufacturing and FDC bases are for making sure best services for our customers around the world. And so for Bangladesh we are planning for building a FDC here to facilitate the growing needs of this particular market. This particular facility will assure quick response to the customer requirements along with other facilities around it. Alongside the division will work to produce more customized products. To fulfill global need we emphasis on customer oriented product. Local FDC and Research & Development laboratories look into local or regional needs and take efforts to produce customized products for that particular market segment.

Tareq: So this planned formulation & distribution centre will have the capacity to produce customized products and will facilitate smooth distribution?

Kent: Yes, indeed. Such FDC and our chemists working in the regional research and product development labs located in Mumbai & China will be able to deliver more efforts in terms of customized product development. In addition to our global R&D centre, we have 4 other facilities around the world built to support that, we also have regional chemist focused on regional needs.

BTT: Do you have any plan to develop R&D lab here in Bangladesh?

Kent: If the market grows more we will have to think it seriously but till now Mumbai one can serve this market well.

Tareq: How long it may take to develop the said FDC in Bangladesh?

Kent: We don’t know yet but hope it will be fast. I think according to the strategic plan it will take at least 18 months. We already have project engineers working on facility design. At the same time we are looking for land and also has started process for hiring people, and we are developing facility framework.

Tareq: Yes, significant improvement, definitely that will reduce the cost for Bangladeshi customers for Huntsman products?

Kent: There would be a balance here, if you have centralized manufacturing in economy of scale. So when you have plants put in individual location it will boost in terms of economic scale, so there might be some thought, more importantly the feedbacks and responses matters.

Tareq: Thanks, I would like to go to the new technology and innovation issues and I have some questions about Avitera SE in fact, How do you evaluate the success of Avitera?

Steve: It has become our fastest growing dye ranges, 3 years ago we launched 3 dyes and we are adding new dyes in the range and now we have 9 in fact. We have hundreds of customers now worldwide. The volume proposition is rising up and prospect is getting stronger. Since we launched it we see energy price is going up, we see rise in water cost, and for customers wanting to expand like in Bangladesh, who want more kilograms out of the same dyeing machine in a day, also investing in new machines. So all these 3 things are driving good growth for us & we expect that to continue. In addition to that we will be bringing new elements as well to expand the range further because we really believe that this is the way forward for reactive dyes. It focuses not only recipe cost performance but also it ensures the total process cost performance. So this is the philosophy we will be following to move forward.

Tareq: So, Avitera SE itself is getting more developed day by day?

Steve: No it’s already in action, as we already have hundreds of customers worldwide. But if you introduce something brand new it takes some time to impact and some continuous work is inevitable for re-matching shades. As we have brought new elements in it so customers can now get round of some issues like metamerism, which they started when they got only 3 dyes it was difficult to do. So we have new cost effective elements like cardinal and orange. Now even in medium and deep shades, we can be very competitive in recipe cost and if you look at overall process cost we remain extremely effective. So as we bring these new elements the growth rate increased exponentially. In fact last 2 months was our biggest months in sales of Avitera since we made the launch.

Tareq: Is it the same in Bangladesh? How is it moving here?

Steve: For Bangladesh it is taking a little longer, but it started to come now, we had several discussions this week with our customers, wanting to take this to the next stage. I think, Bangladesh has huge growth opportunities in two sides. As customers wanting to reduce energy cost and also they want more kilograms out of the same machine they have. So, now it is the perfect time for rapid growth in Bangladesh.

Tareq: If I understand correctly, now you have many colors in the range, so you can overcome the problems like compitability, running shade and metamerism.

Steve: That’s right. One of the other things we developed, when you look at perspiration and light fastness in particular, normally you have a choice of an expensive blue shade or cheaper navy shade or dark blue shade where you have great light fastness otherwise no good light fastness. Now we have whole range of shades, depending on the requirements customers can achieve any shade. We have perfect match from performance point of view and we bring environment benefits as well. So the reasons for us to expand the range are to offer cost competitive recipe and still to match the high light fastness requirements, so the brands and retailers can meet customers need.

Tareq: And in reactive dye area is there any other important development you can mention about.

Steve: Yes, Last month we launched bright shade in greenish blue area and from areas in fashion like Kelly green. Most exciting benefit is that now designers are able to bring many new shades and we make sure no compromie in environmental side. It has a 97% fixation rate, so very easy to wash off. It is available for both continuous dyeing and batch dyeing.

Tareq: What is the maximum possible exhaustion percentage with Huntsman dyes?

Steve: Exhaustion obviously depends on depth of shade and shade area. Some people get confused about, that it’s not only about exhaustion and fixation rate, but to make sure getting perfect build up together with compatible dyes so that you can get levelness, so our main focus is on the whole thermo-dynamics of application with target of getting minimum wash off. So in some cases we get almost 100% fixations depending on shades but always we get over 95%. Important thing is to have compatibility. If we get maximum fixation but unlevel dyeing it will not help anyone. Main advantage of Avitera SE over any other dyes in market is that it has 3 reactive groups.  So it’s tri-reactive nature means 3 points of fixation that’s why this dye is effective and its performance is so good.

Tareq: Thanks for all your technical inputs. I think this will help our readers a lot.  I have seen number of things happening in disperse dyes areas, can you elaborate?

Steve: There are two important areas for traditional disperse dyeing. One is for high wet fastness. Despite people are moving to low washing temperature, there is a demand in market for high wet fastness and high wash fastness, especially for the sportswear branch. We see a market shift where sportswear is replacing traditional casual wear. So for everyday wear, fastness requirements are getting higher. We all know that synthetic fiber degrades much faster than cotton dyeing. So we see this move towards polyester in particular. We see more growth in sportswear than in regular apparel. So high wet fastness area is growing and we have projects regarding this area to bring high wet fastness dyes, we see this very fast growing area in global basis.

In light fastness area the automotives are very important market for us. We see some replacement of pigment dyes with polyester, for automotives, outdoor furniture, raincoat and umbrella etc. For automotives high light fastness is very important. So for area of high light fastness disperses dyes, we brought some new products last year. Such products continue to be a core part of our research, in disperse dyes for high light fastness and UV absorbency to go along with that.

Apart from the above mentioned traditional areas, we have some new areas. We continue to bring new digital inks. This sector is booming and business is growing extremely fast and this is very exciting for us. We see this moving from traditional base in Europe into Asia and its going very fast. For pigments and for reactive or disperse or acid, we have four ranges of dyes to match the print sets, to practically match the applications requirements of most of the renowned digital printing machine brands.

Tareq: In the digital printing area how is the market? Is it still between strategic partnerships with machine manufactures or is it open now?

Steve: Basically there is a mixture of business in the market place still. As the business matures; the scope is much more opened for future. So far our relationship and partnership with machine manufacturers, with print head developers are extremely important for us. So we have very close collaborations with both machine manufactures and print head manufactures as they are always moving towards newer and higher technologies, so our inks must keep in pace with that. Also we have very close collaboration with our customers as well. Once the speed of the digital printing machines were such that people used it or specialty end uses like flags, banners and signage with traditional customers to print those used it primarily for samples, but now the speed is going up so fast that bulk printing is possible now a days. This sector is now starting to be more & more competitive than regular printing areas. So we see the design possibilities are fantastic, the speed is great, the environmental side is very good, because you can reduce wastage and you don’t have long lead times, in terms of making screens and all that it’s very flexible. So, it’s a very exciting area for us and believes we have strong future with our partners and alliances.

Tareq: How is it in terms of customer’s point of view?

Steve: I think big customers with traditional printing will start using it more and more for sample machines. When they get comfortable with it, when they can avail parts and consumables and get regular supplies they will be more comfortable moving forward with bulk productions.

Tareq: Water free dyeing also using disperses dyes?

Steve: Yes, we have partnership with Dyecoo, they have developed excellent technology in machinery side to have safe use of high pressure CO2 and perfected the machine for recycling of CO2. For customers who are producing sportswear, particularly using polyester, this is the exciting new technology. Difference with regular dyeing is that all dye manufacturers for hundreds of years were making dyes soluble or dispersible in water. Now, they have completely different mindset, because we need things dispersible in CO2. It is easier to adapt that in disperse dyes. By this time we also launched some new technologies for whitening (bleaching) of polyester and new finishing products to aid the whole process. So for dyeing, whitening and finishing, this is the sector we are investing in, because we believe this type of technology has strong future. Normally for this type of application technology, it takes long time to start up, basically it is because of high capital investment it requires. But because brands and retailers are promoting and investing heavily in it, people like Nike, Adidas and IKEA taking stakes in companies and supporting its development. We believe in very strong growth and so it is important that we can meet some of the challenges of this new technology.  We are going along and hopefully we can deliver some of the innovations to solve some of these problems. It would be great prospect not only for polyester but for other fibers as well.

Tareq: Till now is it only polyester?

Steve: Mainly it’s all polyester, but work in other fiber area is ongoing as well. In general, because of the nature of CO2 and dyes available it is easier to do it on more polar fibers like poly propylene and polyesters than polyamides. Most difficult is fibers with high moisture content, cotton and other natural fibers. So rectifying these issues in creative ways to bring sustainable solution will be the key point.

Tareq: And this technology is moving only through the strategic groups like Dyecoo, Huntsman and selective others?

Steve: That’s correct.

Tareq: Somebody outside is not producing anything?

Steve: In terms of machinery I think Dyecoo is clearly the leader. But we see some activities in University level and we know that super critical CO2 dyeing is available for a long time. The theory is well known and well established. The value that Dyecoo has brought is to have a smart engineering to make it safe and user friendly and following the service and follow up. So they have some patents around in engineering part and they have very competent service and package for customers as they invest in new technology. I am sure, at some stage other people will try to copy but believe that Dyecoo will lead in this area and we have very good partnership with them.

To be continued…….

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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