Key PersonnelJ.C. Tai, president and owner; Dr. Kirk Hwang, president; George Wong, hygiene business director; Herman Tai, industrial specialties business director; Alvin Hu, technical vice president
PlantsTaipei, Taiwan; Shanghai, China
ProcessesAir through bonding, thermal bonding, meltblown, airlaid, needlepunching
Brand NameCarnation brand used for hygiene; Co-Fiber for industrial specialty products
Major MarketsHygiene, industrial, agriculture, geotextiles
Sales grew 10% for Taiwanese roll goods producer KNH Enterprises thanks largely to increases in the wipes business. Despite this growth, KNH’s earnings were impacted by higher raw material costs, a situation the company has been battling with cost controls throughout its operation. Additionally, lower weight materials are being developed to combat raw material costs. “Surface area enlargement and surface characteristics modification for value-added applications are the growing technology,” explained company president Kirk Hwang. “KNH has been challenging itself to leverage new innovation for other fields to reposition its nonwovens business.”
From a regional standpoint, the Asian nonwovens market continues to grow, led largely by China’s large volume growth as well as Japan’s increased focus on high value, highly technical applications. According to the company, efforts to integrate and modernize the Asian nonwovens industry, which has traditionally been very fragmented, are paying off, allowing the region to experience growth in a number of segments ranging from high volume commodity to lower volume, high technology areas.
“The major growth lies in the auto industry and technical textiles for high performance products,” said company president Kirk Hwang. “Nonwoven has served as a unique substrate for nano, antibacterial, solar cell, and biological reaction beds. KNH is exploring various applications in biological reactions and slow release for skin care.”
One area of increasing interest to the company is wastewater treatment, which is becoming more important to Asian countries as they look toward modernization and try to clean up heavily polluted areas. KNH has been supplying a meltblown/needlepunch/spunbond composite membrane for these applications. The material forms the filtration media in products that use bacteria to convert debris in wastewater to carbon dioxide and water.
Meanwhile, growth in the wipes market has led KNH to add a new spunlace line to support its hygiene wipes converting operation in Shanghai. Executives hope this move will allow the company to position itself in the heart of the Chinese home and personal care wipes markets, which are growing at the same pace as the country’s economy. In other expansion news, KNH has added a second meltblown line in Taiwan—and is planning on installing a third—to meet demand for the material in face mask and room air cleaning filtration media markets as well as in the water treatment industry, which is being targeted with a meltblown composite product.
Other highlights of KNH’s converting operation include a second airlaid line as well as a new film/nonwovens line, which came onstream in 2004, to produce polyethylene/nonwoven laminates for hygiene applications. From a technological standpoint, KNH has been lowering weights, and subsequently costs, of its carded nonwovens. The company has developed its materials to provide the same absorbency at 25 gpsm as it did at 30 gpsm. In airlaid, the company has been fine-tuning its two-in-one airlaid product, sold in the feminine hygiene market, to increase performance and decrease basis weights.