Lanxess in Antwerp

Against the Tide: What Has Lanxess Planned with its State-of-the-Art Production in Belgium?

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Networking is the key

The trend toward increasingly lighter cars has given particular impetus to polymer sales. Lanxess intends to develop strongly in this area: With the new product lines Durethan, Pocan and Tepex, they are well-positioned in high-performance plastics. With the Hi-Ant concept, the chemical company also provides know-how in engineering, concept studies and manufacturing for its customers.

Caprolactam is just one aspect of a bigger picture: “We do not want to sell commodities”, explains Zobel the Lanxess plans. Accordingly, the lion's share of the Antwerp production is consumed directly within the company - often also on the River Scheldt: A brand new state-of-the-art Polyamide-6-plant in Antwerp had cost the Cologne-based company 75 million Euros, making it the fourth-largest single investment of the company. For comparison: The initial “green field” development of the first caprolactam production in 1967 had cost Bayer about 200 million marks.

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What is Behind the Concept of Forward Integration?

Polyamides are used for synthetic resin and film products. “Forward integration” is the key word, explains Dr. Stephan Deutsch, Head of Worldwide Intermediates Activities of the Lanxess business unit HPM. Around the clock, a fleet of trucks supplies caprolactam from Antwerp to Uerdingen on the Lower Rhine for polyamide production.

Through the use of energy and heat, the site is also well-integrated backwards, assures Deutsch. Economies of scale, the high level of capacity utilisation and the security of supply of its own polyamide lines do not only offer consistent product quality, but will also put Lanxess in pole position in terms of cost efficiency, explains the intermediates expert.

The announced increase of investments to about 400 million Euros in Antwerp is only a building block in the overall performance material plan: Support plastic solutions from concept to production with market proximity, innovations and expertise: “Our engineers speak the same language as the application specialists of our customers” explains Tim Arping, Head of Application Development. In contrast to decentralised, global production, formula development is centralised according to uniform standards in Germany.

There might be more to it than just Caprolactam - page 4 unveils 'the big picture'!