The year 2016 has seen considerable activity in geosynthetics manufacturing, despite a slow start for many producers. As has often occurred, conditions such as resin supply fluctuations, geopolitical uncertainty, or stalled legislation in a country or multi-national body cools output. This year saw a bit of all of that affecting much of the world. Still, it gave a great many companies the time to make smart investments in the future, by way of new equipment, repurposing old equipment, working with masterbatch producers on new polymer characteristics, and much more.
As the year picked up, many manufacturers announced new or completed previously announced expansion initiatives. Much of this has occurred in the Americas, as the summary below from Geosynthetica stories attests.
2016 GEOSYNTHETICS MANUFACTURING YEAR IN REVIEW
- In November, Agru announced a move into its next growth phase. The company added significant capacity in production to its Georgetown, South Carolina and Fernley, Nevada production centers. The primary focus is on geomembranes, and expanding on both side of the US is enhancing the company’s response time to projects throughout the country.
- In summer 2016, geomembrane manufacturer Atarfil established an office in the United States as the first step in its investment in North America. The company established a home in Suffolk, Virginia (near Chesapeak and Norfolk) and is on track to initiate full operations in spring 2017. Production will primarily focus on HDPE & LLDPE geomembranes.
- Brawler invested an additional USD $10 million in its Houston, Texas plant in 2015, the fruits of which showed in 2016. The move has enabled the geomembrane manufacturer and fabricator to support greater production and proprietary development initiatives, particularly in regards to scrim-reinforced and polyethylene geomembranes (LLPDE and HDPE). The expansion also has helped ensure the goal to meet or exceed the high quality marks of GRI-GM13 and GRI-GM17 standards.
- The global manufacturer announced in August that it was adding a new geonet and geocomposite manufacturing line to its South Carolina facility. The move, which will support production of GSE’s full suite of biplanar and triplanar products, is in response to surging market demand for engineered drainage solutions. Additionally, GSE also set itself to converting its Houston, Texas facility to enable production of the biplanar geonet and geocomposite materials.
- Huesker completed work on major facility expansions and new headquarters in North America and South America. The North American operation (which also serves the Central American market) tripled its manufacturing site in Shelby, North Carolina and opened its new headquarters in nearby Charlotte. The sites hosted a high-level technical networking event in October.
- In Brazil, Huesker’s South American operations opened a new 9,000m2 headquarters and production center. The number of employees on site has roughly doubled, to handle the new capacity. Of particular note, the facility has dramatically increased the Brazilian subsidiary’s production capacity for SoilTain® geotextiles tubes. The company will now be able to manufacture on a level consistent to the South American demand for dewatering solutions in mining, port development, remediation, and other critical sectors of infrastructure and industry.
- Imagine Intelligent Materials Pty Limited (Imagine IM) broke ground on and completed Australia’s first commercial graphene manufacturing plant. This is significant for the quickly emerging field of graphene-enhanced materials, and those materials include geosynthetics. Graphene offers high electrical and thermal conductivity, hydrophobicity, strength, and impermeability to all gases. Layers of graphene could give materials strength exceeding steel, enable self-repairing qualities, and impart an electrical conductivity greater than copper. The company is at work on developing geotextiles with graphene enhancement through partnership with international geosynthetics manufacturers.
- Raven installed a 7-layer cast extrusion lamination line. The new line is housed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at the company’s state-of-the-art production facility. The line is capable of advanced wide-width cast capabilities, including for sheet extrusion and reinforced composite materials. The company noted widths of 150 inches (12.5 ft.) and thicknesses ranging from 4 to 80 mil were possible with the line.
NOTE: This list is not exhaustive. It is only a portion of the activity going on in the geosynthetics field. Also, a number of producers are at work on expansion and major production capability transitions at the moment but those developments have not been cleared as market-ready for broadcast. We expect more of these to be made official and published here by 2Q 2017.
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