Published On: Mon, Jun 3rd, 2013

Chinapas 2013: Songwon speaks on auto, China market, and business focus

Polypropylene (PP) is a key material in the quest to lightweight automobiles but it needs to be properly stabilized. Automakers realize this according to Philippe Schlaepfer, EVP of Corporate Development at Korean additives supplier Songwon Industrial (Ulsan), to the point whereby the company now enjoys direct access to automakers as part of an “integrated consortium” together with the compound supplier when materials are in the specification phase.

Songwon speaks on auto, China market, and business focus

Songwon speaks on auto, China market, and business focus

The main light stabilization package being promoted by Songwon to the auto sector nowadays couples HALS with a benzoate-based stabilizer. “Benzoates have been around for a long time but their application in conjunction with HALS is relatively new. The right combination provides a two-fold boost in performance,” says Schlaepfer. “And our alliance with HALS manufacture SABO gives us access to both stabilizers. We produce benzoates in-house.”

“Application development has been the focus of our efforts over the past two years,” says Schlaepfer. “To bring a completely new molecule to market is almost impossible, and registration would be a nightmare.” Hence, “We are focusing on the available toolbox and combining molecules in order to configure solutions.”

Schlaepfer also notes that the light stabilizer supply situation is in a phase of transformation. “Chinese suppliers have the quality but the supply stability is not there because they are not integrated and the supply base for key intermediates is shaky,” he explains. “Companies are also coming under pressure to clean up their production processes and these factors when combined mean that the playing field has largely been leveled in China according to Schlaepfer.

Songwon has tripled its revenue over the past six years through a globalization drive for antioxidants and light stabilizers but it still retains interests in the Northeast Asian and local South Korean market for PVC additives, organotin intermediates, and non-additive products such as thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs). “We can’t rule out a divesture of certain non-core products that are difficult to globalize moving forward,” says Schlaepfer. “Our future investments will focus on non-PVC stabilizers and our one pack systems (OPS) business.

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