12 January 2018

President's New Year Message

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2017 was another good year for HMC and we are proud of our achievements and the steps we are taking towards our vision of being “A Most Admired Company”.

The market environment was again strong, and absent any global disruptive events, I believe this will continue for the foreseeable future. PP is an excellent polymer, often offering the best balance of product properties and also the most environmentally sustainable solution to meet the requirements of modern society’s lifestyle.
 
We have made good progress in our mission to capture the full potential of PP, with a number of new products being commercialized in 2017 - and many more in the pipeline. 2017 achievements include the launch of our new Adsyl brand, an emerging family of low heat seal resins to enhance the functionality of PP Films (BOPP, Cast, IPP).

This is the first time such resins have been produced on LyondellBasell’s Spherizone process and, although early days yet, we are confident that over the coming few years we will develop a portfolio of truly market leading products.
 
Similarly our launch of our family of pipe grade products, with our new pressure pipe grade H5416T coming close to completing the 10,000 hour tests necessary to demonstrate the highest standards of performance in the application. More exciting is that this will be the platform from which we hope to launch a  new product with revolutionary performance attributes. And more immediately, the introduction in 2017 of our H2483 grade for sewage pipe and drainage applications has been very successful, where again our Spherizone process allows us to achieve a unique level of stiffness, allowing customers to gain advantage through even further down-gauging PP solutions versus alternative material solutions.    
 
The above represents the tip of our Market Leading Innovation, but our introduction of new grades went further, for example with grades for BOPP printable film (RC2472); sports drink caps (RP6061) and high clarity TWIM (HP6088).
 
Our financial performance in 2017 was solid – and for me in particular, coming from many years of managing polymer operations in Europe that are cash neutral to negative – it is rewarding to achieve returns which allow some re-investment back into innovation, process and performance improvement. In this respect we have a number of exciting projects in the pipeline for new capabilities and capacities in addition to retaining asset integrity. This will help us to fulfill our internal mission - to capture the full potential of HMC.
 
In terms of our drive for World Class Operational Excellence, we successfully executed major turn-arounds of all of our PP plants and PDH during July-August, without recordable injury and on-schedule. HMC worked 2,000,000 man-hours in 2017 – almost 700 man-years - with only 2 minor first aid injuries. That is an achievement to be proud of, with HMC now approaching 8 million man hours since the last serious injury in 2013.  
 
The low light of 2017 performance was that we had several significant process reliability incidents; with our assets fully loaded, any unreliability event brings a risk of disruption in smooth supply, but I am pleased with the collaborative way we were able to work with our customers to minimize any negative impacts. Excluding those bigger incidents, our underlying reliability was above industry average – but we are not satisfied with “above average”, and so have launched a decisive program for long term and sustainable improvement in our plant reliability.
 
Another area in which we target improvement is in what we call “Quality in the Eyes of the Customer”. Customer feedback suggests our product performance, lot-to-lot consistency and delivery performance is already good. But I believe we have the maturity in our operations to create further value through targeting tighter specifications and higher expectations for quality and consistency where these are beneficial to our customers. In the highly competitive and global industry we work in, it is important to find differentiation wherever we can. We will very much welcome any input from customers on our ambitions here.
 
I mentioned in the opening paragraph that PP often represents the most sustainable approach to support the lifestyle of 7 billion people and modern society. But I believe we need to respond, as an industry, to the growing social disquiet in respect of plastic litter. If not countered, this threatens to bring consumer or regulatory actions that will be detrimental to our industry and detrimental to the bigger picture of environmental impact and sustainability. HMC therefore is seeking to increasingly engage in a dialogue to communicate the benefits of plastics when properly disposed of, and to encourage the responsible use of plastics – “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - and Recover (for energy)” (4R’s).
 
As a final note, a summary of HMC in 2017 would not be complete without commenting on the people.
 
Here at the end of my first year in Thailand, I have really appreciated the welcome and friendship of our customers and all Thai people. And it is the staff in HMC that are making the difference in delivering the great performance of HMC; I can honestly say I am truly impressed and proud of the quality, experience and commitment of our people. This creates a capability that enabled us to set out our new vision, to achieve World Class performance admired by all for what we are able to deliver. A vision is of course aspirational, and we have a lot of work to do to get there, but I hope you will see us making progress in our journey. Building on a foundation of the most experienced, engaged and result oriented people in the industry.
 
2017 was a great year. 2018 I believe will be even more exciting.






Martyn Tickner
President, HMC Polymers, Ltd.