The facility will manufacture high-viscous Akulon brand polyamide 6 polymer that is sold to converters for use in food packaging and other segments. It will be built next to DSM Engineering Plastics’ existing Augusta facility, which manufactures medium-viscous grades of Akulon and Novamid polymers used in durable goods packaging.
The choice to build the plant next to the existing facility was based on several factors, according to Richard Pieters, president, DSM Engineered Plastics Americas.
“Augusta has excellent access to railway and truck transportation, and we have support from the state of Georgia to modify the rail access if necessary,” Pieters told FoodProductionDaily.com “The location helps minimize transportation cost and risk, as one of our big customers is only two hours away.”
Moreover, being adjacent to the existing plant takes advantage of economies of scale, Pieters said. “The facility will use the same feedstock as the existing plant; it will just be processed differently,” he explained.
“Being next to the other plant will also help us with staffing and training,” he added. “These plants have a high degree of automation and require highly skilled and educated operators — process engineers and such. Our current staff can train employees for the facility in our existing plant.”
In addition, he said, the factory will be able to share wastewater treatment processing, maintenance, and other ancillary operations with the existing facility.
The facility will be DSM’s first polymerization plant for high-viscosity grades in North America. “Currently, our high-viscosity polymers are manufactured in Europe,” said Pieters. “That makes for long lead times and high costs to import those materials.”
Establishing production of its nylon polymers in the US will cut costs, ensure predictable availability, and speed time-to-delivery, he said.
“We are also looking at [increasing our business in] South America. Several of our customers — companies such as Sealed Air and Bemis that supply packaging to food manufacturers — have customers in South America. Food companies today are global, so we have to be, too,” he added.
Once the polymerization plant commences, “We predict our business will grow by more than 50% within three or four years,” he said.