Sunday 27 April 2014

Life Cycle Analysis: Assumptions determine outcomes?

More from INDA Vision, Dallas...

Calvin Woodings, Consulting Editor to Sustainable Nonwovens magazine gave the paper written with Adrian Wilson (Editor).  He showed how LCAs, while being a good tool for helping to design less impactful products, have proved too flexible to be a basis for comparing different consumer products or for use in policy formulation.  They are complex and costly studies where the output depends on the quality of data input and the assumptions made at the outset.  For instance comparisons of disposable diapers with reusable diapers have invariably “proved” the preconceptions of the organisation carrying out the study.  Furthermore, they are subject to wide margins of error even in the most easily quantified areas such as energy requirements, and conclusions drawn would not stand up to a rigorous statistical analysis.  

In short they lack objectivity and should not be used to guide major policy changes such as the Renewable Energy Directive in the EU.

The slides used follow:

Friday 25 April 2014

Progressive Diaper Design (Part 1)

More from INDA Vision 2014 in Dallas...

Carlos Richer of Richer Investments (USA) repeated his 4-hour tour de force workshop on diaper design and production and as in 2013 he targeted new entrants, especially those in the developing economies.  He noted that only 20% of his audience had been at last year’s Orlando workshop so he would cover similar ground but add many new observations.  He listed some of the mistakes made by new entrants in the emerging markets:

  • ·         There is no need to concentrate SAP in a target area.  It should be uniformly distributed throughout the entire area of the diaper so that the skin feels dry everywhere.
  • ·         Sandwiching the SAP between layers of pulp is also wrong, because this makes the surface wetter.  It is however necessary to protect thin backsheets from the sharp SAP crystals and a  pulp bottom layer would provide a good cushion.
  • ·         Free-swell capacity of a diaper gives impressive numbers for marketing, but is irrelevant to customer satisfaction.  Retention under appropriate pressure is the only absorbency measure of any value to the diaper designer.
  • ·         You can have too much breathability.  The most comfort is obtained mid-range because excess breathability leads to urine cooling too quickly and the dry-feeling diaper becoming uncomfortably cold sooner.
  • ·         Hour-glass shaped cores are no longer the best.  They should be rectangular with the straight leg cuffs glued on outside the core area.
  • ·         Channels in the leg cuffs near the waist to improve ventilation are a bad idea and lead to increased leaks.  Leg cuffs should be sealed in at the waistband.
  • ·         Permeable SAP is needed for better strike-through.  If it is, the acquisition layer is wrong and the diaper will feel wetter.  The ADL should hold enough urine for a non-permeable SAP to have time to absorb it.
  • ·         SAP content tends to vary too much from diaper to diaper.  The standard deviation of absorbency after centrifuging several diapers is a good measure of SAP variability.
He commented on the observed differences between P&G and KC globally.  KC have been growing by acquisition and their diaper range shows many types differing in chassis shapes, widths and lengths.  P&G on the other hand develop all products in house and have very consistent designs around the world. 

With regard to “training pants” it was now clear that this description of the pull-up diaper was hindering growth in the USA and EU.  The Asian market was growing faster at the expense of regular diapers because they were not being linked with potty training.  They were becoming the preferred option from about size 3 upwards.  The US and EU diaper/training pant markets had declined by 1.5 to 2% since last year.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

The New Consumer Mind

More from INDA's Vision 2014 in Dallas...

Dr Kit Yarrow, Chair of the Department of Psychology, Golden Gate University successfully promoted her new book “Decoding the new consumer mind” which considered the three massive socio-economic shifts affecting consumerism: technology, individualism and emotionality.

Technology – especially the smart-phone – is affecting the way we live in a profound way.  Gen-Y (millennial?) consumers who have never known a world without it are most deeply affected and show numerous traits which are hard for the older generations to understand:

  • ·         The phone is used like a pacifier.  It’s used when they are stressed or anxious and its main function is an emotional prop.
  • ·         It provides so much instant content that Gen-Y are getting increasingly...
    • - hard to excite
    • -  easily distracted
    • -   easily bored
    • -   intolerant of ambiguity
    • -   short of attention span
    • -   unwilling to figure things out.
  • ·         There are no trends anymore, but many more things are “trending”.
  • ·         Words are failing to communicate: visual aids and non-verbal clues get more attention.
  • ·         Choosing is a challenge: options are considered shallowly, New is always Better.
Individualism – “It’s all about me”.  Superficiality takes over.  Gen-Y groups are characterised by:
·         Being “alone together” with little eye contact and frequent or continuous use of the phone to the exclusion of other group members. 
·         Individuals crave the most “postable” moment and take photos frequently.  People who take most photos remember least about the live events.  They have a reduced experience of life.
·         Fewer shared experiences (e.g watching the same TV, reading the same papers.)
·         Fewer community bonds.  They live in the superficial social media where many shallow friends are more valued than a few close friends.
·         They feel they can get famous just by posting the right video on YouTube, preferably a Selfie, and getting it to go viral.
·         On-line is the only way to buy.

Emotionality – They are less secure, feel less in control and less connected to the rest of society.  They are more anxious and more easily angered.  They can be emotionally overloaded by buying things.  Complexity is out, but online advisors (Facebook or Pinterest), blogs, reviews and buying on gut-feeling is in.  They don’t like too much choice – it adds stress and they’ll walk away without buying anything.

So, how best to sell to them?  Involve them.  Create products with unique, crowd sourced and customisable options having used the social and interactive media, ratings, reviews to identify opportunities.  Ramp up the marketing with special promotions and offers to provide that key “reason to buy”, but be authentic, human, personal and transparent to overcome the inherent “trust deficit”.  Above all, innovate to stay relevant and incorporate technology e.g an app to complement the product - wherever you can.  Finally, refresh your messages and offerings ever more frequently.

INDA Vision Dallas Awards Presentations

The finalists - all winners in INDA's view - were:

Air-Allergy™ from Airware Corp. is an advanced nasal filter that fits inside the nostrils and is designed to remove, for example, pollen and viruses to help hay-fever sufferers and to help prevent colds and flu.  25% of the population are affected by air-born allergies every day and anyone flying is 100x more likely to pick up a virus in the plane than they are at home.  They are also marketed containing a eucalyptus oil as sleep improvers (reduce snoring) and with peppermint to reduce headaches and nausea by increasing oxygen inhalation.  As such they are thought to appeal to 169million Americans.

Laundry-Free Linens®: Beantown Bedding LLC has developed disposable bed linen made of  hydroentangled 100% Tencel.  The pillow passed around the audience had an impressively soft and linen-like cover.  The target market was the student population who failed to wash bed-linen often enough, and also campers.  Packs of 2 sheets and a pillowcase were sold wholesale to colleges at around $25.  Beantown thought these would be good for three-weeks use.

Butterfly™ Body Liners from Butterfly Health Inc., targeted the 15 million US women who suffer from Accidental Bowel Leakage or ABL although men are equally affected.  The Body Liner has no topsheet and no backsheet but uses a double-sided adhesive tape to fix it in place between the buttocks.  Trials with 202 women achieved a 65% acceptance rate.  It was launched on the web in Sept 2013, would be advertised in magazines in Feb 2014 and was expected to go national in April 2014.  However, Target took it national last December and Walmart would start selling it in April.  Kelly Brezoczky, the CEO is a former P&G Marketing Executive.

Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths from Pacon Manufacturing Corp. were stain-impregnated industrial wipes designed to colour timber.  Each wipe carried 30gms of stain and each 8-count flow-wrapped pack with its peel/reseal label included a pair of disposable gloves.  A pack would stain 50 square feet of wood.  5 colours were available currently, and soap and water could be used to clean up.  It was recently featured on the Today show and was on sale in Lowes, Amazon and Sherwin William stores at $7.99.

And the overall winner of the poll taken after the presentations was: Butterfly™ Body Liners

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Lenzing shipments to Nonwovens up 13%

Extracts from the 2013 annual report. 269,000 tonnes sold mainly into wipes...

The upward trend for man-made cellulose fibers, which has achieved growth significantly higher than the global fiber market as a whole, continued in 2013. Following a 12.9% production increase in 2012, total man-made cellulose fiber production was up 9.6% during the year under review, according to preliminary estimates, rising to a new record level of 5.8 mn tons. This included 4.4 mn tons of cellulose staple fibers, comprising a considerable rise in a year on-year comparison. For the most part, new production capacities were put into operation in China in 2013. The higher production volume can also be attributed to the higher capacity utilization on the part of the Chinese viscose fiber industry, with capacity utilization up by some 10 percentage points to about 85%.The nonwoven fiber market in 2013 was once again characterized by attractive growth rates.  According to initial estimates, global growth in the largest nonwovens segment, namely for wipes, once again reached a level of between 6% and 7%. Increasing prosperity in the developing and emerging markets served as the basis for above-average sales increases in this segment. The North American market also showed ongoing growth in contrast to the stable development of the nonwovens market in Europe. Asia continued its upward trend towards catching up with the rest of the world in 2013.

Demand for Lenzing’s nonwoven fibers [including viscose] was stable but at a high level in 2013. In contrast to the textile market segment, prices were considerably less volatile. However, the weak price situation prevailing on the textile fiber market increasingly impacted the nonwovens business in Asia in the second half of the year. Europe and the USA were not affected as much by this development. On balance, average fiber selling prices in 2013 were below the prior-year level.  

The nonwovens business of the Lenzing Group once again featured increasing sales volumes in 2013. Shipment volumes amounted to about 269,000 tons, about 13% higher than the 238,000 tons shipped in the previous years. More production capacities in the Group were made available for the production of nonwoven fibers in the course of the year due to the weak development of the textile fiber segment. Furthermore, additional capacities which came on stream in the USA and Indonesia in 2012 were available all year for the first time.  Most of Lenzing’s nonwoven fibers are used to produce wipes. Existing cooperation agreements in the wipes segment in the important American market were extended, new customers were attracted and new fields of application were conquered in spite of competition from China and India. 

In Asia, Lenzing nonwoven fibers scored top marks with customers in the
high-quality cosmetic face mask segment as well as in the women’s hygiene sector. Cooperation programs were set up with local partners in Indonesia for the first time.

 Source - Lenzing Annual Report 2013

Monday 21 April 2014

Flushability Update

More from INDA's Vision 2014 - Dallas...

Steve Ogle, Technical Director of INDA reported that the focal point for communicating with the Waste Water Treatment (WWT) industry was now the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).  NACWA were supporting the EDANA/INDA 2013 Guidance Document 3 and their Code of Practice (CoP) which required wipes producers, retailers and consumers to insist on the use of the “Do Not Flush” (DNF) label on wipes that did not meet the CoP.   A pilot consumer education program was underway in Portland Maine and this would develop into a campaign for WWT operators nationwide.

The CoP is based on the use of the 7 sequential fabric tests developed by EDANA/INDA all of which have to be passed to avoid the DNF label.  The tests are:

·         FG501 – Toilet and drainline clearance.
·         FG502 – Slosh box disintegration test
·         FG503 – Household Pump Test
·         FG504 – Settling Test
·         FG505 – Aerobic Biodegradation
·         FG506 – Anaerobic Biodegradation
·         FG507 – Municipal pump test

These tests effectively screen out any product with permanent wet strength – including Kleenex tissues - according to one participant.   Non-compliant products, which will now need to show a DNF label prominently include Baby Wipes, FemHi wipes, Disinfecting wipes, Haemorrhoidal wipes, cosmetic wipes and any of the older “flushable by size” products.  Feminine Hygiene products and paper towels are too strong to flush but are not in the scope of GD3.  

Mr Ogle reminded us that INDA’s investigation of municipal pump blockages indicated that 47% of the problem was paper towels, 18% Baby Wipes, 14% Household wipes, 13% Fem Hygiene, and 8% Flushable wipes.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Spunmelt Polypropylene Supply and Demand

More from INDA's Vision Conference in Dallas, Jan 2014

David Allan, Nonwoven Markets Editor at RISI Inc. foresaw the demand for spunbond PP fabrics growing by 2-4% per annum over the next 5 years.  Demand for use in diapers would be flat in tonnes, but increase slightly in area.  Inco and medical uses would grow about 5%.  The slight over-capacity would be tamed, with less new capacity coming on stream and older lines failing to compete in diapers.  The market should be in balance by 2016. Other figures of interest:

  • ·         Global nonwoven production would hit 10 million tpa by 2016.  3.6 million of this would be spunmelt PP.
  • ·         North American demand would reach 1.8 million tonnes by 2016, 600,000 tonnes being SMPP.
  • ·         About 80% of the SMPP use has been in disposables and of this about 65% has been used in diapers and pull-ups.
  • ·         Within the coverstock category, 26% is topsheet, 21% is leg-cuff, 31% is backsheet and the other 23% is mainly core-wrap.
  • ·         US Birth-rate is recovering from the recession low of 3.95 million and will reach 4.37 million in 2020.
  • ·         Nonwovens R&D spend in 2012 focused mainly on “improvements” (42%) and “new benefits” (28.5%)
  • ·         US production capacity would increase by ~100,000 tonnes from the 4 new lines now scheduled.
  • ·         PP resin costs have been on a slight upward trend since 2009 and 14gsm spunbond prices have been roughly level.  The NW producers are being gently squeezed in the diminishing gap.
  • ·         Future demand growth would be driven by the incontinence market.

Monday 14 April 2014

US Manufacturing Update

More from INDA's Vision Conference in Dallas, Jan 2014

Chad Moutray, Chief Economist at the National Association of Manufacturers observed that US manufacturing sector growth had been accelerating since July 2013, but January 2014 was slower than expected due to the weather.  

In 2013 as a whole, manufacturing grew 2%, compared with 0.1% in the EU, and 3% was expected for 2014.  This would be the highest growth since 2005. Consumer spending is up, inflation down, housing starts are increasing, energy production is high and productivity gains are expected.  Vehicle sales have increased steadily from the 2009 low of 9.5 million to 16 million in 2013. 

A survey of INDA members at the end of 2013 suggested that the main nonwoven growth drivers would be:
·         New product development (71%)
·         Stronger domestic sales (47%)
·         Increased process efficiency (35%)
·         Increased exports (35%)
·         Mergers and acquisitions. (12%)

Russia, India, Argentina and Turkey were currently growing less than expected.

A huge boom in chemicals was underway in the US due to the renewed availability of gas and oil.  $91bn  investment was underway in 130+ new plants including much foreign direct investment.  Labour force increases of a million would result by 2020 and petrochemicals would again be exported to the EU and Asia.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Vision 2014: INDA Report

David Rousse, President of INDA saw the increases in US gas and oil production attracting foreign investment, especially in petrochemical industries.  The result would be high availability of ethylene and propylene and low PP and PE prices.  This would favour spunbond nonwoven production.  Other positive factors would be the increasing importance of “quality of life” issues leading to higher demand for cleaner air and water (filters), convenience products, sustainable goods, and improved healthcare where nonwovens had a role to play in reducing infections in general and from superbugs in particular.

Between 1987 and 2012, US Durable nonwovens had grown at 7.4% p.a., faster than Disposables (3.8%) and now amounted to one-third of the tonnage sold in the USA.  Growth from 2012 through 2017 would be 4.3% for disposables and 6% for durables.  US Production capacity was now 2.1 million tonnes, comprising 0.75 million tonnes of spunlaid and 0.7 million tonnes of dry-laid, the latter being mainly needlepunched/stitchbonded.  Dry laid capacity was now growing at 3.4% p.a. (up from 2.9%) compared with 3.9% for spunlaid (down from 5.3%).

The visible “game changers” were similar to last year’s:
  • ·         China’s relaxation of the 1 child policy would create a demand for diapering for 9.5million extra babies per year.  Demand for cleaner air and water would result in a rapidly growing demand for filtration products. China’s nonwoven capacity exceeds the USA and will pass through 3 million tonnes p.a. in 2017 according to ANFA.  (According to CNITA it reached 3.12 million tonnes in 2012!)
  • ·         The US Patient Protection and Care Act will encourage hospitals to use more disposables to reduce the frequency of hospital acquired infections.  Medical nonwovens amount to 9.4% of the total or 177,000 tonnes in 2012.
  • ·         Fracking  to extract shale gas had reduced US gas prices to a third of the EU’s and a fifth of Asia’s.  The lower ethane and energy costs would increase the competitiveness of US spunbond nonwovens.
  • ·         US Oil production is up 60% since 2008 due to shale oil extraction.  Major refinery investments will be coming on line between 2016 and 2020.
  • ·         The “Boomer Echo” – when the baby-boomers children have children – will increase the US birth rate, despite the fact that the marriage rate is low.  This is no more than a delay in reproducing.  The so-called Millenials (78 million of them) have a more cautious approach to starting a family, but 70% say they want to get married and 74% want to have children.  The Echo should start in a few years from now.
  • ·         The EPA Wiper Rule should result in an 6.1% p.a. growth in industrial wipes, with nonwovens being the main benefactor.  The current US nonwoven market for industrial wipes is 37600 tonnes/a and worth $600million.