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Chemtools Giant Grease Reactors

Chemtool Inc. announced last month that it has installed the worlds largest grease kettle, a reactor with capacity of 130,000 pounds, at its Crystal Lake, Ill. facility. The company plans to build a new plant with 10 more of the giant reactors as part of its strategy to capture half of North Americas grease market.

The giant reactor was engineered by Chemtool President James Athans and Maintenance Manager Dan Marciniec, and constructed by the company. The new kettle can make 130,000 pounds (58,500 kg.) of grease in about one and a half days, half the time required with a standard-sized reactor. The new equipment does not require additional manpower, so the company can spread personnel, overhead, testing and other costs over greater volumes.

Chemtool completed installation of the reactor in June, and had successfully produced test batches of 95,000 and 105,000 pounds by early July. The Crystal Lake reactor, however, is only a test for a new plant the company wants to build. Officials are considering several possible sites in northern Illinois, and will set a schedule for opening the plant after a location is selected. With 10 of the giant reactors, the new facility will have capacity to make 50 million pounds of grease per year.

Cross Installs Packaging Line

Cross Oil Refining & Marketing has installed the first four-head completely automated pail filling line in the United States at its Smackover, Ark. plant, a $750,000 investment. Built specifically for Cross by Ambrose Engineering, the line can fill more than 20 five-gallon pails per minute, or 10,000 pails per shift.

The line features automatic de-nesting of stacked pails, indexed in-feed to the four-head filling station, two-speed filling with special anti-splash heads, automatic lid placement and automated sealing. From the lid sealer, pails are automatically stacked and palletized and then fed to an automatic stretch wrap machine.

Robert Mancil, head of Cross Packaging operations, designed and has overseen installation of the system. Mancil said the system is designed to produce more filled pails in a single shift than the company could previously produce on two shifts. Mancil oversaw recent upgrades on the Cross quart motor oil line at the Smackover plant, where another round of tank farm expansion is currently underway. The companys Kansas City plant has also been expanded, with two filling lines now operating there.

U.S. Lube Sales Rose in First Quarter

First-quarter lubricant sales volumes in the United States rose 2.2 percent compared to the same period of 2005, according to the latest figures from the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. The Quarterly Index of Lubricant Sales, released last month, showed increased demand for automotive lubes, greases and process oils.

Grease sales took the largest proportionate jump, with first-quarter demand rising 16.8 percent from the first three months of 2005. Sales of process oils increased 7.8 percent, while automotive lubricants inched up 2.2 percent.

The lone negative was industrial lubricants, not including process oils, where demand slid 3.2 percent.

Despite the improvement, overall sales volumes were still down 6.5 percent from the first quarter of 2002, the index year for the survey. Grease sales have fallen 13 percent over that span, while demand for industrial lubes and process oils are off by 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively. The automotive segment has declined 3.4 percent.

Axel Acquires Christol Grease

Axel Christiernsson International AB last month acquired Christol Grease SAS from Shell. Located in Niort, France, Christol specializes in development and manufacture of industrial and food grade greases, sold under private label. The company has 26 employees and supplies more than 3,000 metric tons of grease annually to French customers.

Axel, headquartered in Nol, Sweden, is a leading European grease supplier. The company announced that Herve Grignou will remain as president of Christol Grease, and the share purchase agreement will have no impact on Christol Grease staff. Terms were not disclosed.

Croda to Buy Uniqema …

Croda International Plc. agreed to buy ICI Groups oleochemical subsidiary, Uniqema, for 410 million (U.S. $758 million) in cash and assumption of debt, the companies announced at the end of June. The sale is expected to close during the third quarter of this year.

Uniqema, based in Gouda, Netherlands, works primarily with oleochemicals and their derivatives, making products for surfactants and other applications for the personal care, cleaning and healthcare industries. In the lubricants industry it supplies surfactants and specialty base stocks made from oleo-chemicals and synthetic chemicals, along with specialty products such as compressor oils and refrigerator lubricants sold under the Emkarate brand.

Uniqema reported sales of 631 million last year, compared to London-based Crodas sales of 306 million. Uniqema has 14 factories around the world and employs 2,600 people.

… While Uniqema Buys Icematic

In July, Uniqema announced its purchase of BPs Icematic line of polyol ester and alkyl benzene refrigeration lubricants. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed; it transfers formulas and related intellectual property along with rights to the Icematic brand name.

The Icematic line was part of the Castrol family of BPs industrial lubricants business. BP said it made the sale to focus on markets where it has competitive advantages. BP will continue to market polyol ester and alkyl benzene refrigeration lubes to marine customers, and to sell refrigeration lubes made from mineral oils, polyalphaolefins and polyalkylene glycols to the industrial market.

Saskalta Rises on Wolverine Site

A Canadian start-up is planning to join the ranks of North Americas rerefiners. Saskalta Corp. is building a used oil processing plant at the former site of Wolverine Resources, which went out of business six years ago.

Cofounder Greg Wilkie, who will become president and CEO, said it is an opportune time to enter the base oil market, given the surge in prices and strong demand. Saskalta officials said the new plant in Humbolt, Saskatchewan, will open in February. It is designed for a capacity of 400 barrels per day of base oil. The plant will make three products: a mid-grade and a light-viscosity base oil and a small amount of asphalt.

Graco Gobbles Lubriquip

Lubrication systems giant Graco Inc. has purchased Lubriquip Inc. from Idex Corp. Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but Idex said it expects to report after-tax gain on the sale of about $16 to $17 million.

Lubriquip, based in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, will become part of Minneapolis-based Gracos Lubrication Equipment Division. Reporting 2005 revenues of about $30 million, Lubriquip makes centralized and automated oil and grease lubrication systems, force-feed lubricators, metering devices, and related electronic controls and accessories. It has about 130 employees in Ohio and Madison, Wisc.

Graco, whose 2005 sales totaled $732 million, acquired Liquid Control Corp. and several of its affiliates, including Profill Corp. and Decker Industries, in January 2005. In February 2005 it bought dispenser equipment manufacturers Gusmer Corp. and Gusmer Europe S.L. And last October, Graco bought PBL Industries, a maker of fuel and oil transfer pumps.

SKFs Lube Business Grows

SKF agreed to pay 22.9 million (U.S. $28.8 million) for the lubrication systems business of John Crane Safematic Oy, part of the Speciality Engineering Div. of Smiths Group plc. The lube systems business is headquartered and manufactures in Muurame, Finland, and has sales offices in Sweden, Germany, the United States and Brazil.

The John Crane lubrication systems business reported sales in 2005 of 25 million and has 127 employees. SKF, based in Goteborg, Sweden, is a leading global supplier of products and services in the business of rolling bearings and seals. The John Crane business will become part of SKFs lubrication systems business, which was launched in July 2004 when SKF acquired the German firm Willy Vogel AG, a leading manufacturer of centralized lubrication systems.

Castrol Industrial Invests

Castrol Industrial North America, part of BP, announced last month that it has completed a major reorganization of and investment in its U.S. and Canadian business. The company will now focus on the automotive, metals, machinery manufacture, aerospace, mining, cement, and engineered wood industries. It will supply these industries through a reorganized 35-distributor network as well as through direct sales.

Castrol Industrial, based in Naperville, Ill., said its sales grew 7 percent in 2005, and it projects continuing growth with sales of about $200 million in the U.S. and Canada this year.

The companys recent investments include hiring 15 new employees in technology, sales and application engineering roles in 2006; a $1.5 million investment in its Warminster, Pa., plant, to expand capacity and modernize; investment in a device that allows realtime monitoring of metalworking fluids condition; and online ordering and technical support for distributors and large direct accounts, to be in place next month.

Briefly Noted

Management consulting and market research firm Kline & Co. has expanded into southern Asia with the opening of a new office in New Delhi, India. Ali Khan, a 10-year Kline veteran, will serve as director of Kline India.

Solvay will build a new PTFE micronized powder plant in Changshu, China, to meet growing local demand and demand from Solvays global clients with local prodiction facilities. Marketed under the brand Polymist, Solvays PTFE (polytetrafluoroethyl-ene) is used in high performance lubricants, cosmetics, high gloss inks, heat resistant materials and other applications.

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings selected Houghton Fluidcare, a division of Houghton International, to provide a comprehensive chemical management program to reduce industrial fluids usage and associated costs. Under the three-year agreement, Houghton Fluidcare will manage all chemicals used at American Axle facilities in Michigan and Mexico.

Last month Valvoline announced its purchase of Buis Oil, a local Valvoline distributor based in Noblesville, Ind. Terms were not disclosed. Buis was a Valvoline distributor for over 20 years, and is now directly owned by the Ashland division and is operated as a direct-market operation.

Faces in the News

Chemtura Corp. has appointed Gary P. Yeaw as executive vice president, human resources and communications. Yeaw joins Chemtura from American Standard Companies in New Jersey. My goal, said Yeaw, is to make Chemtura the employer of choice for career professionals within the chemical industry and a company with a reputation for having great talent at every level.

Polaris Laboratories has added Brett E. Minges to its national sales staff as vice president of sales. Minges background in fluid analysis includes positions as a partner in Lubricon, national account manager for Fleetguard, and marketing manager for Ferodo America. He will be responsible for managing the companys field sales staff and for maintaining key private label partners.

Acme-Hardesty has named Ira Katuran director of sourcing, with responsibility for building relationships with the companys key suppliers and improving its strategic sourcing capabilities. Katuran was president of Nupro Industries, parent company of Neatsfoot Oil Refineries and Advance Technologies, and before that was with Inolex Chemical Co. and Arkema. Joseph McKenna has been named Southeast regional manager for Acme-Hardesty. Joining the company from Cognis, McKenna will serve customers in nine southeastern states. Acme-Hardesty supplies vegetable and animal-fat based oleo-chemicals, derivatives, specialties and industrial process chemicals.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers has named Mark Tomlinson executive director and general manager, replacing Nancy Berg, who has resigned after 24 years with SME to pursue a business helping non-profits focus strategically and become more competitive. Tomlinson joined SME in 2003 as director of membership.

Ronald Epstein has been promoted to sales director at Halocarbon Products Corp. Epstein is responsible for global sales and marketing of the companys three product lines – fluorochemicals, oils, greases and waxes, and inhalation anesthetics – and for expanding Halocarbons customer base in China, Japan and India. Epstein has been with the company for 10 years.

CMS Workshop Coming in October

The 10th Annual Chemical Management Services Workshop is planned for Oct. 25-27 in San Francisco. The Workshop will include case studies and expert speakers on how to establish a CMS program; solutions to common challenges in implementing a CMS program; and emerging international trends in chemical management. Presented by the Chemical Strategies Partnership and the CMS Forum, the Workshop is intended for purchasing professionals, operation managers, EH&S managers, and facility managers wanting to cut chemical costs, reduce waste and improve performance. Information is available at www.chemical strategies.org

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