BAYTOWN, Texas—Bayer Material-Science is investing about $120 million to improve the infrastructure of its Baytown facility.
The investment includes environmental upgrades, reliability improvements and minor debottlenecking of its methylene diphenyl diisocyanate operation. It also will cover improved process technology, environmental upgrades, and energy efficiency and reliability enhancements that will increase productivity of its toluene diisocyanate segment, the company said.
Bayer MaterialScience said the project also calls for reliability upgrades and quality improvements for advanced optical polycarbonate applications such as automotive headlamp lenses, data storage, medical devices and shatter-resistant lenses.
The initiatives, a company spokesman said, “are designed to improve efficiency and reliability” within the plant, the firm's largest manufacturing facility in the U.S.
Work on the project has begun, he said, and will continue through 2012. The plant will remain open as improvements are made.
“Upgrades at Baytown will be ongoing to secure us as a premier manufacturer in the markets we serve,” the spokes-man said. “We are continually seeking ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our units through proactive measures.”
Bayer MaterialScience, which employs about 14,400 at 30 production plants globally, indicated additional investments could be made to improve the reliability of the plant's infrastructure.
If the markets the company serves continue to grow and drive demand upward, then the company will be in a position to make further investments, the spokesman said. “For now, we are focused on delivering on the full potential of our capabilities.”
MDI and TDI are versatile chemicals used to produce polyurethanes for products in a variety of industries, including automotive, construction, furniture, adhesives, coatings and sealants.
The Baytown plant, which currently is marking its 40th anniversary “is a first-rate manufacturing facility and these significant investments are our commitment to keeping it fit for the future,” said Tony Van Osselear, a member of the company's executive committee and head of industrial operations.
The upgrades are needed to ensure the facility can handle the growth the company is anticipating throughout North America, according to President and CEO Greg Babe. It recorded first quarter sales of about $3.1 billion, up from revenues of $2.9 billion in the like 2010 period.
Of the 2011 sales, Bayer Material-Science garnered about $700 million, a 17-percent jump from last year.
Germany-based Bayer MaterialSci-ence's priorities now and in the future are reliability and safety, said Rod Herrick, plant manager at the Baytown facility.
In 2010, he said, Baytown plant employees “achieved their safest record in the 40-year history of the plant. These investments are a tribute to them as well as to the ongoing performance of the site.”