- May 01, 2012, Tom Bezigian
What I observed at the NPE show was: a LOT of international participation, a lot of high technology being implemented on traditional equipment, and an emphasis on waste recovery. What was missing from past shows was the abundance of live demonstrations of basic processes.
As far as international participation, I saw many many participants from overseas. While many view a trip overseas as a vacation, it is indeed work and is indeed expensive, so seeing a large number of overseas visitors to the US indicates something of a global economic recovery. On the flip side, the presence of so many foreign suppliers at the show in addition to their foreign service attachés indicates the desire for overseas competitors to enter the US market. This can be a good thing for converters and a potential threat for suppliers here in the US, especially where a reduced number of suppliers has occurred due to acquisitions and mergers. What I am seeing also is that the price to make something simple, such as a plastic bag, is so much less in certain parts of the world that those bags can be made and shipped to the US for less than what it costs to make locally.
As far as technology, everything today computer controlled, touchscreen, advanced logic and graphics, servo-controlled, high-speed, automated, robotic, with advanced software offering excellent monitoring, reporting and tracking abilities, trending, and on and on. The equipment underneath this technology hasn't changed too much, but the technology allows converters to produce better product more efficiently. What is "under-the-hood" so to speak that people don't see is the design of certain parts of the machine, such as molds and dies, is much more accurate than ever possible before due to advanced computer and software technology. Companies big and small, such as Rao Technologies, Beaumont Technologies, CompuPlast and Extrusion Dies for example, can all model and design molds and dies with much more precision than in the past. More to come on this in future blogs.
Lastly, companies such as Erema and Kronos have complete turn-key solutions to both consumer and industrial waste so as to minimize the size of the landfill stream and cost to the consumer. Sophisticated technology allows these plants to increase the IV (intrinsic viscosity) of PET (polyester) so that the recycled stream has the same physical properties as the virgin material. The same goes for polyethylene-based waste stream (minus the IV increase step).
All in all it was a great show. I decided to take a side trip to the Kennedy Space Center after the show, and ran into the same contingent of people from Spain that were at my hotel. Small world.