In September 2014, J-Tec Material Handling officially signed a contract with Asahi Kasei Plastics North America Inc., to build a $30 million installation for advanced thermoplastic compounds.
The plant is built on Asahi’s newest site in Limestone County, Athens, AL. Prior to this decision, an extensive period of brainstorming, exchanging ideas, and revising concept solutions took place. Each party brought its knowledge and expertise to the table, thereby making the project a success story.
Asahi Kasei Plastics chose Athens as its new central location in the Southern U.S. in order to provide an optimal service to a number of its key industries, including automotive, commercial seating, pool & spa, and electrical & electronics. For the design and construction of the process lines and civil works, J-Tec Material Handling (process engineering) and Katoen Natie Supply Chain Engineering (civil and infrastructural works) joined forces, making it a unique concept.
Creating Added Value
J-Tec Material Handling is not supplier bound, which enables the company to implement tailor-made solutions in every project it designs. Together with Katoen Natie, J-Tec has many years of experience in designing and building turnkey plants worldwide. This enabled the company to think out-of-the-box and take this compounding project to a higher level.
In cooperation with Katoen Natie Supply Chain Engineering, who took care of the civil works, added value was delivered. Being two companies within one group of companies brought along another benefit for Asahi Kasei: one partner providing a complete turnkey solution.
In July 2015, J-Tec Material Handling Inc. was established in Houston, in the same building as the Northern American Headquarters of Katoen Natie.
Greenfield Compounding Installation
The Athens facility will produce compounded PP and PA pellets that will be used by producers of automotive, furniture, electronics, pool and spa, etc. J-Tec designed and erected the railcar unloading system, raw material storage and conveying, recipe dosing system, and the complete compounding lines until the packaging of the finished products. A lot of attention was given to automation and control systems in order to ensure operator safety, a high-quality product, and the ability to easily and efficiently operate the entire process.
The pellets will arrive in railcars and be conveyed to raw material silos by pneumatic unloading systems. The entire process installation is divided into three different levels. On the upper level the raw materials are collected and stored into buffer hoppers. On the second level the raw materials are dosed by feeders and sent to extruders located on the ground floor. Additives can also be brought into the process through Super Sacks, small bag discharging stations, and special premix preparation installations. After the product is extruded it will be granulated, cooled, classified, and delivered to dedicated packaging lines. During the engineering process, additional attention was given to vapor treatment and dust extraction, ensuring a safe and healthy environment for Asahi’s future operators.
With this project, Asahi Kasei Plastics, J-Tec Material Handling and Katoen Natie, contribute to the development of the community of Athens, AL. The newest compounding plant is fully operational and will create up to 100 new jobs over the next three years.
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