Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec

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Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec
Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy

technology: the
backbone of Irish
Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec
1    Chair’s foreword
2    Director’s welcome
4    Polymer Technology Ireland strategic pillars
7    Polymer Technology Ireland organisational chart
8    Model of Substance
9    Business case studies
29   Categories of company in the polymer industry
30   Mapping Ireland’s polymer technology industry
32   Talent and skills
40   Gateway to growth
44   An eye on the EU
Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec
Chair’s foreword
In the late 1950s Ireland’s industrial take-off
was bolstered by manufacturing output growing
6% annually, 1958-1963. Manufacturing played
a major role in the development of the Irish
economy at a time when it was a predominantly
agrarian economy. And in these early years the
Federation of Irish Manufacturers, a precursor
of Ibec, played an important role leading the
business agenda and driving growth.

          he manufacturing        as agri-food, automotive,          vision for the future in this
          industry in Ireland     medtech, ICT and biopharma.        special publication.
          has expanded               The polymer technology             While the sector continues
          significantly since     industry is the backbone of        to be ambitious with 4.2%
          then. The sector now    Irish manufacturing with world-    growth forecast for the Irish
comprises 4,000 enterprises       class processors, suppliers        economy in 2018, we must
employing 230,000 people,         and service providers              continue to work with our
making it the second largest      employing nearly 7,000 people      members to ensure they
employer in Ireland and           across 230 businesses with         are adequately equipped to
accounting for nearly a quarter   exports of €1.62 billion.          face challenges and seize
of economic output.                  Polymer technology              opportunities in the years
   Irish manufacturing has        businesses are manufacturing       ahead.
evolved from traditional          autoinjector devices for              Polymer Technology Ireland,
industries such as textiles and   diabetes treatment, plastics       as part of Ibec, will continue
steel to a higher technology,     components for Jaguar              to provide industry foresight
higher value businesses, such     and Land Rover cars,               and business services to
as ICT, biopharma, medech,        engineering materials for use      our members to help them
agri-food and automotive.         in cardiovascular stents, and      compete and thrive.
   Polymer Technology             designing packaging to extend      Thank you to our member
companies, represented by         the shelf-life of food products,   organisations and expert
Polymer Technology Ireland,       as well as leading the way in      colleagues who helped us
have played a major role          using recycled materials for       develop our 2020 strategy.
in the growth of these high       use in the automotive industry.
technology manufacturing             We’ve brought together
industries. These companies       some of these leading              John Wallace
are driving growth and            companies in a series of           Chair, Polymer
creating jobs across Ireland      interviews to outline their        Technology Ireland
and across key sectors such       strategies for success and

                                                            2020 Strategy                             1
Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec
    The Irish polymer sector continues to evolve
    as one of Ireland’s premier manufacturing and
    technology industries. It has been very rewarding
    for Polymer Technology Ireland to be part of this
    success story and to watch companies from
    across Ireland mature, win new customers and
    invest in their technology and people. Many of the
    member companies of Polymer Technology Ireland
    have developed beyond recognition over the last
    ten years to become world class providers of the
    most advanced polymer solutions.

2                      Polymer Technology Ireland
Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec
“ Polymer Technology Ireland will
  continue to be the voice of the sector
  in Ireland. We will work with our
  colleagues in Ibec to deliver a
  high-quality environment where
  businesses can grow and prosper.”

           olymer Technology       of the Polymer Processing           to tackle challenges arising
           Ireland is developing   Technologist Apprenticeship         from the evolving policy and
           alongside its           that is delivered in conjunction    regulatory environment. With
           membership. We          with Athlone Institute of           the support of our colleagues
           have changed our        Technology and IT Sligo. The        across Ibec, PTI promotes
name from Plastics Ireland         Apprenticeship is geared            industry best practice through
and we continue to develop         towards providing the polymer       working groups on Operational
our services. Our focus            industry with an attractive         Excellence, Advanced
has traditionally been on          long-term career path for           Manufacturing, EHS/OHS,
developing skills and on           new employees who can               Skills, Employer Relations
promoting the industry. The        become apprentices in the           and Gender Leadership
First Polymer Training Skillnet    knowledge that they will work       Development.
centre in Athlone continues to     towards a level 7 qualification         The European Union plays
go from strength to strength       and a rewarding career in           a vital role in the evolution
and is consistently adding to      polymers. With a growing            of the industry particularly
its offering of training courses   industry and extremely strong       through its regulation of the
for the sector. In this fast-      demand for skilled people,          industry, the EU Plastics
moving world, it is essential      the apprenticeship will play        Strategy and its work in the
that our training centre adapts    an important role in attracting     area of the circular economy.
to the needs of industry           the highest calibre of young        PTI’s memberships of EuPC
and stays up to speed with         people into the polymer             and Plastics Europe enable
the latest technologies and        sector – this is fundamental        us to effectively represent
techniques. First Polymer          to the future development           the industry’s interests in
Training Skillnet is highly        of our industry.                    these areas.
regarded by the industry               Polymer Technology Ireland          Polymer Technology
because of the quality of          will continue to be the voice       Ireland will continue to deliver
training that it provides, its     of the sector in Ireland. We        a strong, industry-specific
cost effectiveness and its         will work with our colleagues       offering to the polymer
ability to meet the industry’s     in Ibec to deliver a high-          industry and we look forward
requirements. There is no          quality environment where           to growing our organisation
doubt that First Polymer           businesses can grow and             further and to supporting the
Training Skillnet has made an      prosper. Skills and training will   continuing evolution of the
enormous contribution to the       remain core elements of what        polymer sector in Ireland.
skills profile of the polymer      we do whilst we continue to
industry in Ireland and Polymer    bring companies together to
Technology Ireland is proud to     make connections, develop           Mark McAuley
continue to support this.          business links and identify         Director, Polymer
    Polymer Technology             opportunities. PTI enables our      Technology Ireland
Ireland is also the backer         members to work together

                                                              2020 Strategy                               3
Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec
    Polymer Technology Ireland is part of Ibec,
    Ireland’s leading business organisation.
    |t represents the polymer industry including
    suppliers of raw materials and technologies,
    polymer processors and support services.
    Vision for the industry
    The polymer industry in Ireland
    is a dynamic, innovative and
    competitive industry where
    technology-led firms provide
    high quality products and
    services and give employees
    excellent careers in a sector
    where firms are growing
    and prospering.

4                        Polymer Technology Ireland
Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec
Strategic pillars:
                     1. Represent the polymer sector
                            n Represent the Irish polymer industry sector to key stakeholders including the Government, state agencies,
                              the EU and partner manufacturing sectors.
                            n Advocate for policies and conditions that support a competitive business environment where polymer
                              companies can prosper and grow.
                            n Support an ambitious national planning strategy which invests in infrastructure to address the needs of all
                              regions of the country.

2. Build awareness of the value of the polymer
   industry to key stakeholders
   n Build awareness of the scale, diversity and value of the polymer industry to the Irish economy by showcasing
     end market application across manufacturing sectors.
   n Promote the polymer sector as an innovative high-tech industry.
   n Publicise the environmental credentials and initiatives of the polymer industry and ensure that the correct
     information about plastics is fed into the environmental debate.
   n Provide information about the positive contribution of plastics to the health sector and the environment.

                     3. Deliver high quality information to Polymer
                        Technology Ireland members
                            n Improve awareness of policy and market developments affecting members. Identify key areas for specific focus
                              such as skills, the circular economy, health and safety and trade.
                            n Establish appropriate forums to enable industry leaders to share knowledge, discuss the impact of changing
                              business models and prepare for the future.
                            n Collaborate with the Technology Gateways which provide close-to-market technology solutions and work
                              closely with centres, such as APT in Athlone IT and PEM in Sligo IT.
                            n Encourage businesses across the polymer sector to become early adopters of new technologies in areas such
                              as additive manufacturing.

4. Support the development of a world class talent pool
   for the polymer sector
   n Promote policies and conditions that will make Ireland a leader in talent development for the polymer industry.
   n Continue to develop Ibec’s First Polymer Training Skillnet Centre in Athlone which upskills and reskills talent
     for the sector.
   n Grow the Polymer Processing Technologist Apprenticeship in line with global best practice and evolving
     industry needs.
   n Publicise job opportunities and raise awareness of the exciting career development in the sector.
   n Support the development of skills required for new business models and emerging technologies.

                     5. Provide opportunities to maximise B2B engagement
                        and support business development
                            n Facilitate interactions with relevant sectors which offer business-to-business opportunities.
                            n Help members to identify opportunities and new markets in the light of changing market and economic trends.
                            n Host events and collaborate with strategic partners to provide opportunities for networking.

                                                                 2020 Strategy                                                               5
Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec
Polymer Technology Ireland will:
     + Be the voice of the polymer industry in Ireland.
     + Further the objectives of the polymer industry
        through Ibec.
     + Promote skills supply and development in the
        sector, grow and develop the First Polymer
        Training Skillnet Centre and the Polymer
        Processing Technologist Apprenticeship.
     + Connect member companies to exchange
        views, develop business links, address
        industry concerns and identify opportunities.
     + Provide members with industry relevant
        information, expertise, knowledge and insight.
     + Support industry best practice through
        working groups in the areas of Operational
        Excellence, Advanced Manufacturing, EHS/
        OHS, Skills, Employer Relations, Gender
        Leadership Development.
     + Support the industry across Europe through
        EuPC and Plastics Europe.

6                        Polymer Technology Ireland
Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec
Organisational structure
                 Polymer Technology Ireland Chair

              Polymer Technology Ireland Council

    Innovation                         Skills                         Business

      Advanced                       First Polymer                      Operational
     Manufacturing                  Steering Group                      Excellence
     Working Group                                                     Working Group
                                    Apprenticeship                  Gender Leadership
                                     Consortium                       Development
The Council and working groups
allow Polymer Technology            Manufacturing
Ireland members to work on
strategic issues for the industry
                                    Apprenticeship                   OHS/EHS Forum
and share best practice.             Consortium

                                                                        IR/HR Forum

                                      To find out more about business trends, Ibec member
                                      supports, and how to get involved in initiatives like this
                                      special publication, contact Polymer Technology Ireland
                                      Executive Ciara Finlay by emailing ciara.finlay@ibec.ie.

                                      2020 Strategy                                                7
Polymer technology: the backbone of Irish manufacturing - Polymer Technology Ireland 2020 Strategy - Ibec
Model of
    The business environment in Ireland is
    characterised by substantial activity in key
    areas, which means opportunities and a
    bright future for the polymer industry.

               he Irish economy is     favourable to the polymer           the problems of too much           markets are becoming more
               now in a very new       industry – is the fact that         of a good thing. In order          and more sophisticated.
               phase. While it may     Ireland is bang in the centre of    to deal with the emerging          They are moving away from
               feel similar, nothing   the latest industrial revolution,   challenges, we need to             mass manufacturing and
               that went before        known as Industry 4.0, McCoy        move quickly to ensure we          commoditisation. The capacity
    can be compared to what            notes. This is concerned with       have the right infrastructure      of their workforces to deliver
    we are experiencing now,           automation, the interoperability    to sustain prosperity,” he         sophisticated solutions has
    according to Ibec CEO Danny        of machines and devices             says. “This includes modern        increased,” he says. “In order
    McCoy. “I don’t believe we         and the ability of information      housing solutions, maximising      to stay competitive with these
    have ever had a better set of      systems to virtually represent      interconnectivity and              countries we need to keep
    circumstances in terms of          the physical world.                 broadband and modernising          going further and further up
    the business environment,”             “Historically, Ireland missed   the education curriculum to        the value chain and continue
    he says.                           previous industrial revolutions.    be geared towards artificial       to embrace new technologies
       A report released by Ibec       What is driving innovation in       intelligence and robotics.”        in manufacturing.”
    recently shows how the Irish       manufacturing now are not               Seen by many in the               Looking to the future,
    business environment is built      natural resources such as           business world as one of           McCoy believes it is very
    on what the OECD terms             iron ore, but rather computer-      Ireland’s biggest challenges in    bright for the polymer industry
    “substance”. In McCoy’s view,      aided design, technology            the coming years, Brexit may       because of globalisation
    the polymer industry is well       and intellectual property. A        well be more of an opportunity     as well as Ireland’s access
    placed to take advantage of        lot of substance in terms of        for manufacturing and the          to European markets and
    the immense opportunities for      these intangible assets has         polymer industry, according        talented, skilled workers.
    Ireland that this represents.      been moving to Ireland,” says       to McCoy. “We have no idea
       Entitled ‘Ireland: A Model      McCoy.                              of the impact of Brexit or
    of Substance’, the report              “I believe the polymer          the form it will take. It could
    points out that economies          industry has a unique               be disastrous but equally
    of substance have depth,           advantage in this regard as         manufacturing could actually
    diversity, and years of            it is in the vanguard in terms      benefit from it. This is because
    tactical policy planning and       of manufacturing. It doesn’t        it is involved in global value
    implementation behind them.        have to deal with the legacy of     chains and is not affected in
    In contrast, insubstantial         post industrialisation and the      the same way as agri-food, for
    economies don’t encourage          baggage of Brownfield sites.”       example, which is dependent
    a diversity of industries;             While Ireland’s economy         on the British consumer
    they don’t do research and         of substance presents huge          market,” he says.
    development (R&D) or high-         opportunities, it brings with it        Low cost, but highly
    value manufacturing and don’t      certain challenges. However,        productive, jurisdictions such
    generate indigenous firms of       in McCoy’s view these               as China, Indonesia, Malaysia
    scale or outward investment.       challenges are a function of        and South Korea present
       One of the reasons that         success not failure and should      much greater challenges to
    the economy is in a new            be viewed as largely positive.      Irish manufacturing than Brexit
    phase – which is particularly          “We are grappling with          does, McCoy adds. “These

8                                                         Polymer Technology Ireland
case studies
From plastics processors, suppliers
and service providers, the industry
in Ireland is leading the way. Get to
know some of these businesses here.

                  2020 Strategy         9
Business case studies                 Over 30 years ago, JL Goor
                                           started out as a supplier of of
                                           machinery and later moved into
                                           supplying polymer raw materials.

     a step
     Recognising that there was
                                                                                        he polymer industry
                                                                                        in Ireland started
                                                                                        in a modest way in
     an opportunity to add to the                                                       the 1980s. It was
                                                                                        made up of injection

     knowledge of polymer materials                                           moulding companies, sheet
                                                                              manufacturers, film and
                                                                              rotomoulders and, until about
     in the growing medtech sector                                            ten years ago, there was a
                                                                              predominance of relatively

     in particular in Ireland, Dublin-                                        basic products,” says JL
                                                                              Goor’s sales director Joe Wall.

     based JL Goor decided to make
                                                                              Injection moulding is the most
                                                                              widely used plastic process,
                                                                              producing high volumes from

     this a point of difference for it                                        all polymers in every shape and
                                                                              size while rotomoulding is used

     as a distributor and become
                                                                              for products with larger hollow
                                                                              sections, such as oil tanks.
                                                                                 “The medtech sector really

     more proactive in this area.                                             began to grow and more
                                                                              research and development
                                                                              was happening in Ireland. Our
                                                                              approach on this was to meet
                                                                              market demand but go a step
                                                                              further,” says Wall.

10                           Polymer Technology Ireland

    “We decided to be a             Administration approval,”            Based in Co Waterford,          such films are made before
resource for customers or           notes Wall.                       Mima Films, one of the             they decide to make major
potential customers in the             Over 30 years ago, JL Goor     country’s leading suppliers        capital investments,” explains
medtech sector and guide            started out as a supplier of      of stretch film for the            Wall. “Cheese packaging
them on the most appropriate        machinery and later moved         containment of pallets, is also    needs to protect the cheese
materials to use to begin initial   into supplying polymer raw        a client of JL Goor, as well       and extend its shelf life for as
product approvals.”                 materials. In addition to the     as Boran Plastic Packaging         long as possible. Many cheese
    Currently employing a team      medtech sector, it serves         in Co Kildare – a company          packs may have up to seven
of nine people, in recent years     clients in the automotive,        which invested heavily in          layers to control the barrier
JL Goor hired two polymer           aerospace, pharmaceutical,        innovation through the             properties. This design it is
scientists and also invested in     general packaging and food        economic downturn to ensure        driven by a mix of commercial
logistics expertise to ensure       and beverage markets. No          its packaging keeps food           reasons and the desire to
it is offering added value. It      one sector accounts for more      fresher longer.                    reduce food waste.”
has two strategic warehouses        than 30% of turnover. Food           JL Goor’s partnership              JL Goor has also worked
in Dublin, one in Cork; one         and beverage is the largest       approach in sharing polymer        with Irish Custom Extruders
in Belgium and another in           followed by pharmaceuticals       expertise extends beyond           in finding the right materials
Singapore.                          and automotive.                   the medtech sector. In food        for its unique comfort slat
    “The logistics process             In Northern Ireland, JL Goor   packaging, it has worked           mats for cows and Oral-B
for medtech products can            works closely with Denroy         with a number of customers         in coming up with a material
be complicated and time             Plastics in supplying injection   which were looking to do           for toothbrushes that was
consuming. It is very important     moulded components to a           things differently, for example,   resistant to biting and
to ensure the right amount of       wide range of customers in        modifying cheese packaging         could withstand being in a
materials is held in stock at       the aerospace industry and        using layering of different        dishwasher.
the right time so companies         with coachbuilder and pioneer     materials.
can quickly ramp up once            of the low-floor bus Wrightbus       “We work with these clients
they get US Food and Drug           International.                    to help them to indentify how

                                                              2020 Strategy                                                                 11
Business case studies

     As the demand for more cutting-edge plastic
     products has increased, distributors of polymer
     materials based in Ireland have become
     more focused on engaging with clients at the
     research and development phase.

                      ith offices in 27      “Where we are trying to       Jeff Hobbins, Ultrapolymers
                      countries and       step in is by getting involved
                      50 warehouses       at the start of a research
                      across Europe,      and development process
                      polymer             by proposing new and/or
     distributor Ultrapolymers            alternative materials produced
     Group brands itself as               locally in Europe that are
     “a partner from design to            fully medically accredited
     production”.                         with a notification of change
        In Ireland, the healthcare        process which is critical
     sector has become a                  for that industry,” says Jeff
     particularly strong focus            Hobbins, managing director of
     recently as local medical            Ultrapolymers Ireland.
     device manufacturers                    “By utilising tools such
     engage in the material               as Moldflow we can offer
     selection process for new            guidance on topics such
     product designs and/or seek          as common issues in
     alternatives for materials which     component design, design
     can often be specified on other      features to avoid when
     continents and converted at          using certain materials as
     plants here. Ultrapolymers           well as trade-offs between
     hired a business development         aesthetics and mechanical
     manager dedicated exclusively        performance.” Moldflow
     for medical applications two         simulates the injection
     years ago.                           moulding process in order to
        Ultrapolymers’ philosophy         improve plastic part designs,
     is to work in partnership            injection mould designs and
     with designers, converters           manufacturing processes.
     and original equipment                  “Moldflow allows us to make
     manufacturers, providing             material recommendations,
     a significant competitive            pre-empt problems and
     advantage through effective          suggest doing something
     material selection, improved         different,” Hobbins adds.
     part performance and process            Headquartered in Belgium,
     optimisation.                        Ultrapolymers employs

12                                                          Polymer Technology Ireland
250 people. In 2002, it was      curve and Ultrapolymers now        consumer packaging and            becoming a one-stop shop
acquired from BASF by the        has offices all over Europe,       also rotomoulding. It works       for our customers,” says
Ravago Group, a service          including South Africa and         with around 15 major polymer      Hobbins. “We have chosen
provider to the plastics         Turkey,” notes Hobbins. “We        manufacturers, including global   to be exclusive with each of
industry founded by Raf          have always maintained a           leaders such as LyondellBasell    our suppliers and not to offer
Van Gorp in 1961. Ravago         strong presence in the Irish       – which Ultrapolymers works       the same resin type from
Group was one of the first       market because we firmly           exclusively with in supplying     competing manufacturers.
companies in the world to        believe that a local supplier      Polyolefins to clients – and      This allows us to work
get involved in the recycling    has a better understanding of      the world’s largest Styrenics     closely with suppliers whilst
of plastics. Since becoming      customer expectations so we        manufacturer INEOS                simultaneously providing
part of Ravago in 2002,          can adapt and continuously         Styrolution.                      support to and being
Ultrapolymers’ footprint has     improve our service level to all      “We work very closely          more innovative with our
grown beyond Ireland and         customers.”                        with our suppliers. That          customers.”
UK to now having a pan-             In terms of market              allows for penetration into         Ultrapolymers also acts
European presence.               segments for Ultrapolymers,        multiple markets around           as the Irish agent for Romi
  “Ever since then we have       these include healthcare,          Europe through our large          Moulding Machines (formerly
been on a steep growth           automotive, construction,          customer network whilst also      Sandretto).

                                The polymer industry has
                                  an annual turnover of

                                          Each year the
                                          Irish polymer
                                                                                        of sales in
                                        industry pays out                              the industry

                                                                                       are exported

                                                in wages

                                                            2020 Strategy                                                              13
Business case studies

     Global grasp
     Spotting a gap
                                                nnovative Polymer              drying, dosing and dispersing
                                                Compounds (IPC) was            technologies. It is currently
                                                set up in Kilbeggan,           evaluating putting its current
     for the supply of                          county Westmeath
                                                in 2008 as a joint
                                                                               product range of around 2,000
                                                                               different polymer compounds

     polymer compounds                     venture between polymer
                                           compounding company
                                           Associated Plastics of Ireland
                                                                               into 3D filament format.
                                                                                  In each instance, a special
                                                                               formulation is made for
     to the medtech                        and polymer and chemicals
                                           distributor National Chemical
                                                                               medtech clients in volumes
                                                                               ranging from as small as 5kg

     sector in Ireland                     Company (NCC) – each of
                                           which has over 30 years’ track
                                                                               for engineering trials up to 5
                                                                               tonnes for mass production.

     in 2008, Innovative
                                           record in the polymer industry.        The compounds processed
                                             The joint venture partners        by IPC end up in products
                                           saw an opportunity to supply        in a number of key areas:

     Polymer Compounds                     compounded materials
                                           to original equipment
                                                                               cardiovascular tubing/stents;
                                                                               neurovascular treatment;

     has gone on to
                                           manufacturers (OEMs)                intrauterine devices;
                                           and first- and second-tier          orthopaedics; gastric balloons
                                           suppliers serving the               and surgical tools.

     successfully grow                     medtech sector in Ireland.
                                             “NCC had been supplying
                                                                                  “We take the basic
                                                                               engineering polymer and then

     its export business
                                           polymer raw materials to            put additives into it to improve
                                           the medtech sector as far           its performance. These
                                           back as 1996 so it knew the         include radiopaque materials

     around the world.                     customer base well. Instead
                                           of just selling raw materials,
                                           the aim with IPC was to work
                                                                               – which allow clinicians to
                                                                               see devices inside the body
                                                                               on x-rays – specialist colours
                                           with clients such as Boston         or antimicrobial materials,”
                                           Scientific, VistaMed and            explains Howard.
                                           Teleflex by adding capability          “From the outset we
                                           and value,” explains sales          recognised that it was
                                           and marketing director of IPC       imperative that IPC is involved
                                           David Howard.                       at the very beginning of a
                                             “Until IPC was established        client’s product life cycle so
                                           not a single granule of             we can recommend materials
                                           compounded materials was            and ensure they are suitable
                                           supplied from within Ireland –      for application. Once a
                                           historically it all came from the   specification is written by
                                           US. We wanted to compete            engineers and materials are
                                           with the American companies         validated on a product, this
                                           on the basis of local service,      cannot be changed without
                                           faster lead times and research      huge cost and revalidation.”
                                           and development [R&D]                  IPC is unusual in Europe for
                                           support.”                           its medtech specialisation and
                                             IPC’s state-of-the-art white      in 2010 decided to leverage
                                           room facility in Kilbeggan          this to extend its footprint
                                           features the latest in material     outside Ireland.

14                           Polymer Technology Ireland
“Historically in Europe         its European agent IPC won       Stuttgart and Compamed in          Avenues is an initiative
industrial materials              contracts with a number of       Dusseldorf. “We are also very      funded by the EU aimed at
compounders have been             large clients in Germany,        well supported by Enterprise       helping European companies
focused on electrical or          France and Italy. It has since   Ireland across Europe as well      to establish long-lasting
automotive applications. We       built up a customer base         as in the US. We recently          business collaborations in
are a small unit employing nine   of over 100 clients in 23        won a client in South Korea        Asia. Selected companies get
people, purpose-built to only     different countries.             having visited the country         to participate in a one-week
serve the medical technologies       A key driver of IPC’s         there as part of the EU            business mission focused
sector,” notes Howard.            business has been attendance     Gateway/Business Avenues           on a specific sector in South
  Further to taking on            at major medical tradeshows      programme,” says Howard.           Korea, South East Asia,
German distributor Velox as       such as MedTech Europe in           EU Gateway/Business             China or Japan.

“ IPC won contracts
  with a number of large
  clients in Germany,
  France and Italy. It has
  since built up a
  customer base of
  over 100 clients in 23
  different countries.”
                                                                                                   David Howard, Marketing
                                                                                                   Director, Innovative Polymer
                                                                                                   Compounds (IPC)

                                                           2020 Strategy                                                              15
Business case studies

     perfection                                                                                                      Andrea Cawley, Director
                                                                                                                     of Sales and Marketing,
                                                                                                                     Automatic Plastics

     The pace of process innovation is
     accelerating in manufacturing and Irish-owned
     companies are making sure to adapt to compete.

                 ased in Tinahely,       improve pricing or quality,”       incorporated a mentoring         strength to play to,” she says.
                 county Wicklow          Cawley explains. “This requires    partnership with Waters          “It has been transformational
                 since 1972,             expertise not only on the          Technologies in county           for us in terms of reducing
                 Automatic Plastics      design side, but also on the       Wexford involving reciprocal     waste as well as staff
                 differentiates itself   technical side – as frequently     site visits and the sharing of   engagement and up-skilling.”
     from other injection moulding       visits on-site to see the client   templates for lean tools.           Automatic Plastics recently
     companies through its               lines identifies root-cause           “The mentoring partnership    launched its APL2020 vision
     focus on improving product          problems that design tweaks        fast-tracked our lean            which includes, for example,
     design for manufacture for its      can eliminate.”                    implementation. The              further up-skilling of its 90 staff
     clients in the pharmaceutical,         Once the design is agreed,      whole area of lean is really     and aiming to have all staff
     medtech and food packaging          Automatic Plastics builds the      collaborative in Ireland.        trained to lean manufacturing
     sectors.                            custom-made tool or mould          Other companies such as          white belt in 2018, with a
        “Clients come to us with         for its injection moulding         Rottapharm and Depuy             core team of 12 accredited to
     a design for food packaging         machines to make the client’s      Synthes have been happy          green belt.
     with specific requirements, for     product or parts. Having           to open their doors to us           The company has served
     example. We give feedback           started out as heavily focused     and show us what they have       the UK market for many
     on a better way to go about         on the automotive sector, the      achieved,” notes Cawley.         decades, mainly focused on
     the design to avoid quality         company gained certifications         Automatic Plastics has also   the medical technologies and
     issues – this could be the          such as the 13485 (ISO)            worked closely with Enterprise   food packaging sectors. It
     use of different materials or       quality management standard        Ireland on lean manufacturing    represents a significant part of
     slightly different processes        for medical technologies,          programmes. Richard Keegan,      its portfolio.
     to reach the finishing line,”       which allowed it to diversify in   head of the competitiveness         Since the Brexit vote, the
     explains director of sales and      the past five years.               department at Enterprise         family-run company has
     marketing Andrea Cawley.               An increased emphasis           Ireland – who has led over       realigned its strategy with the
        In food packaging or             on operational excellence          1,500 best practice lean         aim of targeting the French
     pharma, Automatic Plastics’         has been a major driver of         missions to Toyota’s Deeside     and Benelux markets. “We
     clients might be making             Automatic Plastics’ success.       plant in the UK – visited        believe that the larger injection
     millions of units to run down       During the past 12 months it       Automatic Plastics and said      moulding companies in
     fast filling lines. This can        has used the Mór Benchmark         it was “like a little piece of   Europe are not as agile and
     require precision down to +/-       Model devised by members           Japan” in county Wicklow,        flexible as we are. Our aim is
     0.10 of a millimetre.               of Ibec’s Irish Medtech            Cawley points out.               to always come up with new
        “Our clients come with a         Association to measure                “We recognise that if we      ideas,” says Cawley.
     product design, but small           the company in areas of            can be lean and efficient in
     changes can drastically             lean manufacturing. This           our processes, this is a major

16                                                          Polymer Technology Ireland
2020 Strategy   17
Business case studies

     Over the past year family-owned business
     Gem Plastics Ltd has undertaken a number of
     key measures as part of its continuous pursuit
     of general process innovation at its 10,000
     square metre plant in Regaskin, county Cavan.

18                           Polymer Technology Ireland
“ With turnover now in excess of €21 million and
  employing 90 people, Gem Plastics supplies a full
  range of industrial containers that are used across
  a spectrum of industries in the UK and Ireland.”

          his general process         “We supply the largest         has given Gem Plastics the              Over the past 12 months
          innovation is focused    chemical distributors in          ability to monitor the dosing        Gem Plastics undertook
          on implementing          the UK and Ireland. We            of polymer materials into the        a Sedex Members Ethical
          improved production      also supply the Irish and         machines to an accurate level.       Trade Audit (SMETA), which
          methods through the      UK manufacturing sites of            “With blow moulding there         involved a deep investigation
use of different techniques,       top global pharmaceutical         are so many variables and            and holistic review of its
equipment and technologies         companies as well as serving      variability impacts cost and         plant focusing on labour
such as new ways of                global brands in beverages,”      quality. Every shot is unique.       standards, health and safety,
measuring data and an              says Burke.                       This smart piece of kit allows       environment and business
upgraded material handling            Investment in automation       us to monitor dosing in terms        ethics. A global not-for-
system.                            and achieving the quality         of the weight and volume             profit organisation, Sedex is
   Alec Milligan established       management system standard        of the materials going in,           home to the world’s largest
Gem Plastics in 1988 as a          (ISO 9001) and the food safety    which will then be converted         collaborative platform for
sister company to his lubricant    system certificate (FSSC          to produce the containers,”          sharing responsible sourcing
distribution company Gem           22000) in recent years led        explains Burke.                      data on supply chains.
Oils, which was founded in         to the company’s focus on            Gem Plastics’ process                “The SMETA audit
1962. He started out with          high-end food, chemical and       involves three materials being       started as a key customer
one blow moulding machine          beverage packaging.               mixed at all times: virgin           requirement but since then
making plastic drums to               “The nature of our work        resin, colour masterbatch            we have used it as a positive
supply the oil industry. Blow      has changed largely because       and regrind (material that           selling angle. More and more
moulding mainly produces           of investment in high-tech        has undergone at least               companies have requirements
hollow products, such as           equipment and automation,”        one processing method).              for their suppliers in this area,”
bottles, drums and ducts.          says Burke. “There used           The company has adopted              says Burke.
   “The company grew rapidly       to be one person to every         blending and control systems            Gem Plastics recently
from there to have a life of its   blow moulding machine and         from TSM to ensure a                 hired a full-time HR manager
own,” says managing director       a lot of heavy lifting. Now,      consistent mix. It is piloting a     focused on skills development
Maura Burke. With turnover         there is one person running       system which measures the            and team building. “We have
now in excess of €21 million       multiple machines and the skill   trend of weight of containers        a rigorous training system
and employing 90 people,           needed to do an entry-level       and alerts engineers if there        in place. Presently we are
Gem Plastics supplies a full       job has moved on quite a lot.     is a variation outside of the        rolling out a new food safety
range of industrial containers     Traditionally, we had general     specification. In addition, it has   programme to all operations
from 1-litre to 220-litres in      maintenance people to fix         invested in a vision system unit     staff building on good
size that are used across          things when they broke down;      used for measuring containers        manufacturing practices
a spectrum of industries           now we have skilled electrical,   as they are produced and             (GMP) training which they had
in the UK and Ireland.             electronic, design, quality and   spotting any malformations.          previously completed.”
Containers include anything        project engineers. We are            “All of our own data
from wholesale washing-up          recruiting further for 2018.”     combined with TSM systems
liquid bottles to rigid packs         Re-investment in a             gives us an advanced picture
to contain highly dangerous        sophisticated material handling   of the true performance of a
chemicals.                         system in the past 12 months      machine,” says Burke.

Gem Plastics was established in 1988

                                                            2020 Strategy                                                                      19
Business case studies

     From its base in
     county Cavan, fibre
     specialist Wellman
     has addressed
     and competition by
     carefully targeting
     four key market
     segments and
     focusing on R&D.

     well ahead
20                           Polymer Technology Ireland
Donal Breen, CEO,
Wellman International

     n October, Wellman               fibre with a capacity of 88,000      then cooled and spun into            Recent product
     International announced          tonnes, it mainly exports to         a continuous fibre. At the        developments for the
     a new research                   mainland Europe. Ireland             Wellman International plant,      automotive market from
     collaboration with the           accounts for about 3% of             the fibres are then collected     Wellman International have
     Royal College of Surgeons        sales.                               in special containers and put     included bespoke hollow
in Ireland (RCSI). It is the latest       At its plant in Mullagh,         through a second process.         and coloured solid fibres for
step in the county Cavan-             county Cavan, it started out            “We elongate the fibres        aesthetically critical parts such
based company’s strategic             making fibres for domestic           under tension to improve          as carpets, door panels and
R&D programme to deliver              bedding and home furnishings         the tensile properties. This      parcel shelves and black and
higher value added fibre-             – which have become                  allows us to do things to         white fibres for acoustic and
based products to the market.         increasingly commoditised            the fibre to engineer it to a     thermal insulation in cars and
    Together with RCSI clinical       in recent years due to               specific application, such as     light trucks.
researchers, Wellman                  competition from the Far East.       specialised crimping or adding       “We supply tier 1 and tier
International will develop                To address this challenge,       attributes such as inherent       2 suppliers to the original
a novel bedding material              it diversified into specialist       antimicrobial properties,”        equipment manufacturers of
with the aim of preventing            solutions for the hygiene and        Breen explains.                   Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Audi,
pressure ulcers by controlling        healthcare and automotive               Wellman International          Volkswagen, Volvo, Hyundai,
moisture levels on the skin’s         markets in the past ten years.       has several unique fibres         Nissan and General Motors
surface and evenly distributing       It has also evolved from being       undergoing trials with key        and work as a development
pressure while a person is            a mainly a polyester fibre           customers at the moment           partner with them,” says Breen.
seated or lying in bed.               provider to providing multiple       in areas such as moisture            Back in its early days,
    “Otherwise known as bed           polymer and fibre types.             management, microbe               Wellman International was one
sores, pressure ulcers cost the       It is continuously learning          inhibition, skin health           of the first companies in Ireland
NHS in the UK £4-6 billion a          how to further enhance and           promotion, blood flow             to use recycled materials
year. As people get older and         improve the performance and          enhancement and optimum           to produce polyester staple
living standards continue to          efficiencies its fibres can offer,   comfort. The type of products     fibres and this ethos has been
rise, healthcare systems and          according to Breen.                  which may result from these       maintained ever since.
care homes could potentially              “We are focused on using         unique fibres include special        “At least 75% of our
face more problems like               engineered fibre design to           bandages for people with          polymer base now comes
this,” says CEO of Wellman            solve specific problems in           conditions like diabetes.         from recycled materials.
International Donal Breen.            our four key segment areas:                                            Drinking bottles are turned
    “We are looking at designing      hygiene and healthcare;                                                into flakes at Wellman
fibres that can facilitate the        technical fibres; automotive;        Automotive advances               manufacturing units in
absorption of much larger             and home and apparel,” says                                            France and the Netherlands
volumes of fluid compared to          Breen. “This has required            The automotive market is          and shipped to our plant in
those used in baby diapers            capital expenditure every            going through quite a change      Mullagh, where we convert
and other care products.”             year in order to upgrade our         at present as it moves more       them into fibres,” says Breen.
    Founded in 1973, Wellman          plant to meet the needs of the       towards hybrid and electric          “For our home and apparel
International is owned by             products of the future.”             vehicles, notes Breen. “Weight    segment, we have recently
global chemicals company                  In order to be turned into       becomes even more critical        produced fibre from plastic
Indorama Ventures and                 fibres, polymers go through a        with these new types of           reclaimed from the sea which
employs around 270 people             process where they are heated        vehicles and we have focused      will eventually be transformed
directly. The largest European        into a liquid and extruded           on designing lightweight fibres   into fabrics for T-shirts and
producer of polyester staple          through small capillaries,           for that purpose.”                other types of clothing.”

“ At least 75% of our polymer base now comes from
  recycled materials. Drinking bottles are turned into
  flakes at Wellman manufacturing units in France and
  the Netherlands and shipped to our plant in Mullagh,
  where we convert them into fibres.”

                                                                  2020 Strategy                                                                  21
Business case studies

     Bang on trend
     Trend Technologies’
                                                      urrently employing       Technologies became one of
                                                      175 people, Trend        its major suppliers and, by the
                                                      Technologies’ state-     early 2000s, the computer
     plant in county                                  of-the-art facility in
                                                      Mullingar, county
                                                                               giant accounted for 40% of
                                                                               its business. Nowadays, the

     Westmeath has                         Westmeath is the centre
                                           of excellence for injection
                                           moulding for the whole group.
                                                                               medical technologies and
                                                                               automotive sectors make
                                                                               up the lion’s share of Trend
     constantly adjusted                   Since it was set up in 1981,
                                           the facility has come through
                                                                               Technologies’ output, although
                                                                               it does still supply inkjet

     to changes in                         a number of phases of
                                           reinvention to enable it
                                                                               cartridge mouldings to HP.
                                                                               Most of its clients are in Ireland

     the marketplace,
                                           to adapt to the needs of            and the UK.
                                           different industries.                  “In order to be able to serve
                                              The most widely used             the medical technologies and

     ensuring it has                       plastic process, injection
                                           moulding produces high
                                                                               automotive industries, we had
                                                                               to develop a lot of expertise

     the expertise and
                                           volumes from all polymers           and achieve certifications,
                                           in every shape and size; this       including, the standard to
                                           was Trend Technologies’ core        supply the automotive industry

     capability to stay                    technology from the outset.
                                              “We started out
                                                                               (ISO16949) and the standard
                                                                               to supply the medical

                                           manufacturing and supplying         technologies industry (ISO
                                           products to the young               3485),” says Murtagh.
                                           computer industry at the               Trend Technologies built its
                                           time, such as tape reels and        first clean room in Mullingar in
                                           floppy disk boxes,” explains        1997, mainly geared towards
                                           Brendan Murtagh, business           HP. It now has three Class
                                           development manager at              7 clean rooms, with one
                                           Trend Technologies. “Within         dedicated to post-moulding
                                           a few years, this business          operations.
                                           was declining so we decided            “In order to work with
                                           to become a sub-contract            medical technologies
                                           manufacturer of plastic             companies, we had to have
                                           components for the                  an area like an operating
                                           computer industry.”                 theatre – the products have
                                              From the mid 1980s               to be produced in a very
                                           to the late 1990s Trend             clean environment and are
                                           Technologies’ Mullingar             packaged and sealed before
                                           operation supplied global           they leave the clean room,”
                                           companies such as IBM,              says Murtagh. “The next time
                                           Apple, 3Com and Dell with           the package is opened is in
                                           outer housings for desktop          a similar clean room at the
                                           computers, keyboards and            client’s manufacturing site.”
                                           mice. “By 1999 there was               Trend Technologies invested
                                           none of that type of computer       €3 million in upgrading the
                                           manufacturing left in Ireland       site and adding clean-room
                                           – one by one the companies          capacity in 2017. “We want
                                           moved it to the East,”              to be able to add as much
                                           says Murtagh.                       value as possible to the raw
                                              When Hewlett Packard             plastic component and have
                                           (HP) arrived in Leixlip, Co         introduced new technologies
                                           Kildare 20 years ago, Trend         such as digital printing and

22                           Polymer Technology Ireland
laser welding specifically for   of plastic components every         ensure that a good product is
that purpose,” notes Murtagh.    day to Draexlmaier in the UK,       consistently made, regardless
   Medtronic, Cook Medical,      which then converts them            of any kind of variation in
Olympus Medical and KCI are      into complete car interiors for     the environment (such as
among Trend Technologies’        Jaguar and Land Rover. “The         a change in temperature
medical technologies             components we supply are            or moisture in the air) or in
customers. It supplies           used for everything you see in      material supply,” Murtagh
the sector with wound            the front of a car, including the   explains.
care products, diagnostic        dashboard, heater controls,            Typically, when a client
laboratory consumables,          glove box and Sat Nav,” notes       comes to Trend Technologies
ventilator housings, surgical    Murtagh.                            they have the general concept
handles and stent delivery          Trend Technologies uses          of a product developed and
systems.                         moldflow analysis to develop        know how it is going to work.
   From 2000 to 2007,            tooling before it is built. This    What they don’t know is how
Trend Technologies built         simulation technology allows        to move the design on so
up capability in serving the     engineers to assess how             that it can be manufactured in
automotive industry and by       the polymer material will           volume at the lowest possible
2007 Donnelly Mirrors in         flow through the tool and to        cost.
Naas accounted for 50% of        predict and eliminate potential        “We provide a huge amount
its business. When Donnelly      problems. It has also built up      of advice and support in this
Mirrors closed its Irish         particular expertise in product     area,” notes Murtagh. “We
operation and moved much         and process validation after a      would usually be involved
of the business to Slovakia,     tool is built and in advance of     six months to two years with
Trend Technologies replaced      production start.                   a client during the product
that business with other            “Customers expect                development stage onwards
automotive clients.              production processes to be          to manufacture.”
   It now ships two containers   validated to the highest level to

“ Trend Technologies now ships two
  containers of plastic components every
  day to Dräexlmaier in the UK, which
  then converts them into complete car
  interiors for Jaguar and Land Rover.”

                                                                                               Brendan Murtagh, Business
                                                                                               Development Manager,
                                                                                               Trend Technologies

                                                            2020 Strategy                                                  23
Business case studies

     The path to
     industrial 3D
     3D printing is now viable for
     large scale manufacturing

24                                   Polymer Technology Ireland
HP is investing heavily in industrialising
nylon based 3D technology to transform
manufacturing industry. The HP Multi Jet Fusion
Technology allows for final part production
economically in volumes of up to 110,000 small
parts when compared to traditional injection
moulding techniques. This along with design
improvements and single process production
for complex parts means that many industries
can make better parts whilst reducing
inventory and total cost of production.

          D printing is one of     and the ability handle larger        Today, HP also announced         strength, versatility, and
          the most disruptive      quantities of 3D printing         the further expansion of its        flexibility, but only one of them
          technologies of our      materials, while significantly    industry-first Open Materials       is going to space (for now).
          time, spearheading       lowering production costs with    Platform, a collaborative              The new HP 3D High
          a new 4th Industrial     reduced pricing on HP’s 3D        development and distribution        Reusability PA 12 Glass
Revolution that will radically     materials and shared service      model where HP and its              Beads, an innovative new
change the way we conceive,        contracts.                        growing ecosystem of 3D             nylon material filled with tiny
design, produce, distribute,         When put together with          partners work together to           glass beads, was used to
and consume pretty much            HP’s industry-leading Multi       drive materials innovation,         make one of the most complex
everything.                        Jet Fusion technology,            reduce costs, and create new        parts in a specially-designed
   But until now, 3D printing      those enhancements double         applications and markets for        HP ENVY Zero-Gravity printer
hasn’t been a viable means         the existing “break-even          Multi Jet Fusion technology.        developed with NASA that’s
of large-scale industrial          point” at which 3D printing       There are already over 50           being sent to the International
manufacturing (think big           remains cost-effective to an      leading companies actively          Space Station this February.
factories) because of              unprecedented 110,000 parts,      engaged on the platform.            The printer’s output tray
prohibitively expensive            and drastically reduces the       Materials companies can use         needed to be particularly
production costs and limited       cost-per-part, up to 65% less     HP’s Materials Development          lightweight, watertight, and
technology. In order to            than other methods.               Kit to quickly test compatibility   durable for its journey to
realize HP’s vision of digitally     “The new 3D 4210                with Jet Fusion printers.           space, and 3D printing with PA
transforming the $12 trillion      Printing Solution enables            Materials companies              12 Glass Beads provided the
global manufacturing industry,     our customers to mass-            can use HP’s Materials              perfect solution.
the economics of 3D printing       produce parts using HP’s          Development Kit to quickly             HP continues to unlock the
needed to be completely            Multi Jet Fusion technology       test compatibility with Jet         economics and technology
rewritten.                         for significantly less than       Fusion printers.                    of 3D manufacturing, with
   At the end of 2017, HP          other processes, and fully           It was announced that            a deeply-engaged network
announced that it has              benefit from the economies        leading chemical companies          of partners committed to
smashed that economic              of scale,” said Ramon             Dressler Group and Lubrizol         accelerating the digital
barrier and paved the way          Pastor, General Manager of        have joined the growing HP          industrial revolution.
for cost-effective, industrial-    Multi Jet Fusion for HP’s 3D      3D partner ecosystem, and              Says Corey Weber, co-
scale 3D manufacturing with        printing business. “HP’s Jet      also that three new three           founder of leading printing
the new Jet Fusion 3D 4210         Fusion 3D systems have now        new engineering-grade 3D            service bureau Forecast 3D,
Printing Solution.                 reached a technological and       printing materials are coming       “It has never been more
   The new solution increases      economic inflection point that    to the open platform: PA            clear to us that HP’s Multi Jet
production volume for HP Jet       combines the speed, quality,      11, PA 12 Glass Beads, and          Fusion represents the future
Fusion 3D printers by enabling     and scalability needed to         Polypropylene.                      of digital manufacturing.”
continuous operation, greater      accelerate manufacturing’s           The new materials raise
overall system efficiency,         digital industrial revolution.”   the bar on production quality,

                                                             2020 Strategy                                                                   25
Business case studies

     With contract
                                                          global manufacturer    a new 60,000 sq ft building
                                                          of packaging           facilitating the manufacture
                                                          components and         of medical devices with
     manufacturing                                        delivery systems
                                                          for injectable drugs
                                                                                 electronic component
                                                                                 integration to meet the

     operations in                         and health products, West
                                           Pharmaceutical Services
                                           has built up its presence in
                                                                                 increasing global needs of
                                                                                 customers and patients for
                                                                                 connected devices. Today,
     Dublin since 1998                     Ireland significantly since
                                           acquiring the Tech Group,
                                                                                 around 500 people are
                                                                                 employed at West’s Dublin

     and following its                     which included a contract
                                           manufacturing operation in
                                                                                    The Dublin site is to produce

     acquisition of ‘The Tech
                                           Mulhuddart in Dublin 13               around 35 million devices
                                           years ago.                            and 2 billion components
                                              Now West’s largest                 this year to support its

     Group’ in 2005, West                  contract manufacturing site
                                           globally, the Dublin facility
                                                                                 medical technology and
                                                                                 pharmaceutical customer

     recently expanded its
                                           started out in 1998 with 17           base, according to senior
                                           employees in a 40,000 sq              director Tom Clarke. These
                                           ft facility, initially serving the    devices will be shipped all over

     operations in Ireland,                consumer electronics sector.
                                           By 2004, when a further
                                                                                 the world.
                                                                                    “We have 95 injection

     both in Dublin and
                                           40,000 sq ft was added, it            moulding machines in Dublin
                                           was 100% focused on serving           supporting 14 high-volume
                                           medical technology and                assembly lines,” says Tom

     with a new site in                    pharmaceutical customers.
                                              Demand for autoinjector
                                                                                 Clarke, senior director, at
                                                                                 West. “Currently processing

                                           devices for the treatment             almost 6,000 tonnes of
                                           of diabetes drove further             polymer resin per year, we
                                           expansion in 2014 and in              expect this will grow even
                                           2016, the ribbon was cut on           more in 2018.”

26                           Polymer Technology Ireland
In recent years, West has     specific to Dublin, is going      for multiple product lines          and has 28 sites around the
invested in the digitisation     to enhance our efficiencies       in the future. It was built in      world employing a total of
of its Dublin contract           and make us an even leaner        a campus layout to ensure           7,300 people. The Waterford
manufacturing facility to        operation.”                       flexibility to grow in all          facility currently employs
allow real-time process and         West recently expanded         directions.                         80 people, with plans to
product monitoring across        its global manufacturing             “Waterford will be a             continue hiring in 2018.
the machines and automation      operations to include a new       centre of excellence for            Commercial production is
systems that produce the         site in Waterford on the          our proprietary elastomeric         planned to begin there by
devices.                         back of increased demand          sheeting, which is used             the end of the year.
   “This has significantly       from pharmaceutical and           to package insulin for use             West won the inaugural
enhanced our                     biotech customers. The            in pen injectors,” explains         Partner/Supplier of the
competitiveness and              new facility will produce         Clarke. “It will also offer high-   Year 2016 at the Medtech
business growth. 2018 will       packaging components for          value finishing for West’s          Rising: The Irish Medtech
see us embark on another         insulin injector cartridges and   elastomer products, such            CEO Conference and
enhancement of the facility,     other high-value packaging        as stoppers and plungers.           Awards hosted by Ibec’s
as we are going to look at       components.                       These capabilities include          Irish Medtech Association,
automation from the receipt         Situated at a 44-acre site,    washing, vision inspection          Enterprise Ireland and
of orders right through to the   the facility is around 20,500     and sterilization.”                 IDA Ireland.
shipping of products,” notes     sq m in size and is designed         Founded in 1923, West
Clarke. “This pilot project,     to accommodate expansion          is headquartered in the US

“ [West’s] Dublin site is to produce around 35
  million devices and 2 billion components
  this year to support its medical technology
  and pharmaceutical customer base.”

                                                                                                                 Tom Clarke,
                                                                                                                 Senior Director,
                                                                                                                 West Pharmaceutical

                                                           2020 Strategy                                                               27
Business case studies

     The test of time
     Over the past 24 years Anecto has evolved from
     being an electronics device test laboratory to
     having a state-of-the-art test facility serving
     multiple sectors including 80% of the world’s
     top 20 medtech companies.

                  ne of the standard,        Medtech and life sciences       the case by looking at plastic     packaging of a medical device
                  and perhaps             now account for 60% of             performance. If the packaging      was causing it not to seal
                  surprising, tests       Anecto’s business, followed        is problematic, we figure out      properly. Rather than the
                  Anecto carries          by energy and power, which         what we can do about it in a       company having to reengineer
                  out for automotive      makes up a quarter of its          cost efficient manner.”            everything, we found that a
     manufacturers is to see what         turnover. Electronics and             On the product side,            small formula change to the
     happens when sun tan lotion          mechanical and packaging are       medtech companies face             adhesion component meant
     is put on the internal plastics      its other main areas of focus.     a range of challenges and          the problem was solved.”
     in a car.                               “The size of the medtech        issues involving polymers and         Anecto won Partner/
         “Plastic can discolour in        industry in Ireland – with         plastics. Anecto assesses          Supplier of the Year 2017 at
     instances when you put sun           key players having a base          everything from making sure        the Medtech Rising: The Irish
     tan lotion on it,” says Mike         here, including nine of the        Luer fittings don’t crack and      Medtech CEO Conference
     Connolly, sales director and         world’s top ten medtech            leak to testing the bendability    and Awards hosted by Ibec’s
     director of testing services at      companies – was perfect            of catheters. “We always           Irish Medtech Association,
     Anecto. “The performance of          for a company such as ours         look at performance issues         Enterprise Ireland and IDA
     a product largely depends on         to develop expertise. It gave      against standards but can also     Ireland.
     the stresses plastics are going      us a competitive advantage         evaluate against a database
     to get, including vibration,         to expand throughout               of similar products,” says
     heat, cold and compression.          Europe,” says Connolly. “In        Connolly.
     Our job is to establish how a        some European markets the             He believes where Anecto
     product made out of plastic          medtech industry was too           is of real value to clients
     will perform in real life.”          small to concentrate on, while     is in understanding why
         The Galway-based company         in others, such as the UK and      something happens,
     offers a full range of services      Germany, there was so much         rather than just reporting
     that support companies in their      testing going on in so many        what has happened – it
     efforts to increase product          areas that it wasn’t important     is the expertise beyond
     reliability and reduce the risk of   to specialise in medtech.”         the test.
     failure throughout the product          Regarding polymers, there          “For example, we
     lifecycle.                           are two strains to Anecto’s        identified that the
         Currently employing over         work with medtech companies        interaction between
     90 people, its 40,000 sq ft          – packaging and products.          three components
     facility contains over €2.5          “The challenge for medtech         in the
     million worth of equipment,          companies is to deliver their
     including vibration systems          devices sterile at points of use
     and specialist medical device        anywhere in the world. The
     systems. “Our engineers will         product may have a five-year
     design and build specialist          shelf life, but still has to be
     test equipment to meet a             sterile,” explains Connolly.
     specific need if it is not already   “We work with medtech                      Mike Connolly, Sales
     available,” notes Connolly.          companies to ensure that is                Director and Director of
                                                                                     Testing Services, Anecto

28                                                           Polymer Technology Ireland
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