20 September 2017

PP Innovation for New Markets


Interview with Khun Kessaraporn Trongtorsak, Department Manager, PP Solutions

Q: What is the outlook for HMC PP Specialty Grades including Medical, Terpolymer and Pipe grades for the 2nd half of 2017?

Medical Grades
Let’s talk about medical grades first. Thailand has positioned itself as an Asian medical hub following the current government "Industry 4.0” policy. The Government has included the medical industry in the 10 target industries to be promoted in accordance with this policy.

Over two million foreign patients are processed in Thailand each year and a large number of local hospitals are internationally accredited. The medical device industry presents excellent growth opportunities as Thailand serves the growing domestic market and an export base as well.

PP is a great product for medical applications
HMC targets the development of new, innovative PP products to align with both export opportunities and Thailand 4.0 covering both medical products and instruments. For example, previously we were familiar with glass bottles for saline solution, but as a breakable material, glass was not well suited for public transportation. PP has seamlessly replaced glass bottles due to its impact strength and heat resistance for sterilization.

In addition, HMC plans to further develop medical packaging to optimize Blow Fill Seal technology (BFS). This technology enables the manufacture of preservative-free single-unit doses. Preservatives are recognized as potentially harmful to the sensitive mucosae of the eyes, nose and lungs, offering an enormous benefit to sensitive patients.

Another advantage of unit-doses is that they ensure that the patient takes the correct amount of product, especially when dealing with highly potent compounds, i.e. those therapeutically active at a low concentrations.

Sterile unit-doses are portable and easy to use individually, excellent properties for today’s active lifestyles. Blow-fill-seal (BFS) single doses are an ideal solution for use in ophthalmology, respiratory diseases, rhinology, antisepsis and wound care.

This is what I term “innovative products” for which HMC is developing PP medical grades which respond to those changing trends and market needs in the medical industry.

Terpolymer Grades
Terpolymers offer a major functional capability for flexible packaging. It is well known that minimum wages in Thailand are rising steadily. That trend is directly affecting the flexible packaging business, with entrepreneurs investing in new mechanization as wages increase.

As previous generation production machines are replaced, manufacturers are requesting that the PP products they use offer low temperature seal performance. That capability saves energy, increases productivity and reduces labor costs. Besides low temperature seal performance, PP products should provide suitable seal strength and excellent processability as well. HMC is expanding its PP portfolio with new Terpolymer products to deliver enhanced capability for these production and end-use requirements.

Also, now due to the global trend of urbanization already a fact of life in Thailand, the popularity of convenience foods and ready meals is growing. Retort packaging is an expanding product area. HMC is focusing on this market and we also receive outstanding support from our joint venture associate LyondellBasell (LYB) as the global innovation leader in the development of new products to arrive at the best solution for our customers and end-consumers. We expect the overall market for flexible packaging will grow between 10-12% per year.

Pipe Grades
As a result of the regional strategy of CLMV integrating trade and investment between Cambodia, Lao PDR (Laos), Myanmar and Vietnam, those countries and Thailand will have embark on more infrastructure mega projects. When the mega construction projects are underway the real estate and property markets grow rapidly.

All buildings need piping systems as integral construction components. As a result, we expect pipe demand to be high and HMC will have more opportunities to sell pipe to these growth markets in Thailand and the region. The forecast growth rate of pipe in the markets mentioned is approximately 10-13% per year. Now HMC produces PP-R (PP-Random for pressured pipe) for the supply of water and HECO PP products for waste water pipe. We see this as an exciting area of growth, in particular as pipe converters recognize the opportunity and establish operations here in Thailand.