2012 Nonwovens Sales: $251 million
Key Personnel: Y.K. Lee, chairman and CEO; W.C. Hwang, vice president/head of fiber division; Hitoshi Takeuchi, senior director/fiber division; W.S. Chun, senior director/fiber division; J.N. Kim, president of TPN; Y.K. Kim, president of TPJ
Plants: Korea, China, Indonesia
Processes: Spunbond PP (SS, SSS, SMS, SSMMS, SMMMS, bicomponent), PET (embossed and needlepunched)
Major Markets: Hygiene, medical, protective apparel, industrial specialties, agricultural, upholstery, filtration, construction, geotextiles
Continuing its aggressive Asian expansion plan is Toray Advanced Materials Korea (TAK). The Seoul, Korea-based company most recently announced it would add the fourth spunbond Line in Nantong, China to help sate demand for disposable baby diapers in China, which is being driven by an improvement in people’s lifestyles. The new spunbond line will be a polypropylene-based SSSS spunbond line capable of making 20,000 tons of material per year.
Including this new line, announced in June, the company’s total Chinese output will amount to 78,000 tons on four production lines. Toray already operates a three-line site in Nantong, which was established in 2006 and expanded twice, once in 2010 and again in 2012.
“Our spunbond business in China is one of the most successful overseas businesses for Toray Group,” says deputy general manager of TAK’s fiber marketing team, Evan (S.Y.) Lee. “We started the third Chinese line in August 2012 and it is nearly fully operational with strong partnerships. Through this investment, we are continuing to hold a leading position as the most advanced polypropylene spunbond maker in China.”
The Chinese operation is being complemented by a new operation in Tangerang, Indonesia, where a 20,000-ton spunmelt line began operating in June 2013. This new investment not only increased capacity but also broadened TAK’s footprint in Asia, allowing the company to supply all of Asia more easily and effectively.
Lee says it’s the company’s goal to continue to be a leading spunbond maker in Asia and the company will continue to expand its spunbond business in China, Indonesia and one other unnamed Asian country.
“We have proceeded with the continuous and planned investment in the Asian market with full consideration before the decision,” Lee says. “But, we worry about the current oversupply situation due to over investments in a short period in certain areas even though the market is growing. There is not much differences between nonwoven suppliers because of similar machines used and manufacturing processes utilized. This can be negative and hinder proper profit management for growth. “
A subsidiary of Japan’s Toray Group, Toray was centered solely in Korea before expanding into China and later Indonesia in the mid-to-late 2000s. In recent years, investment in polypropylene based spunmelt lines for the Korean hygiene market has slowed but the company added a second polyester line there last year to supply geotextile markets.
“We are seeing more growth in demand for high functional nonwovens in industrial applications such as automobiles and filters and construction in Korea and Japan, where diaper penetration in these countries is nearly 100%,” Lee says.