MOGADORE, Ohio—Omnova Solutions Inc.'s efforts to integrate its offerings with those of recently acquired Eliokem S.A.S. are proceeding at a quiet and steady clip.
The company's sprawling Mogadore facility, long a fixture in the Omnova operation, is among those in an expansion mode.
But the technology it's currently adding did not come from Eliokem; rather it was purchased from a company that was divesting the product line to move on with an acquisition it made, according to Alan Sampson, environment security manager for Omnova's Mogadore and Akron facilities.
The integration of some Eliokem products at the 15-building complex will begin in 2012. Until then the Mogadore operation will continue to focus on the new technology it gained along with the sectors in which it excels, production of styrene-butadiene latex and styrene-butadiene acrylonitrile, he said.
The company gradually has been merging its offerings with those of Eliokem—which it purchased for about $302 million in January to create a more diversified Performance Chemicals business, which it's now part of—to make it easier for customers to get what they need quickly.
For instance, it recently completed the addition of some Eliokem technology at its Chester, N.C., plant and is preparing to step into the next phase of the project, which calls for moving some new products to its facility in Massachusetts, a spokeswoman said.
Omnova chose North Carolina and Massachusetts for the expansions because it wanted supplies available from U.S. sources in both the South and North, she said.
The entire process of integrating technologies and personnel at plants in the U.S. probably will take some time to complete, company officials said.
A number of new acrylic, styrene-butadiene and nitrile chemistries and applications—including coating resins, elastomeric modifiers, antioxidants, specialty rubbers and reinforcing resins—have become part of Omnova's portfolio thanks to the acquisition. Also added were complementary products for oil field and specialty latex applications.
The firm is integrating some of Omnova's technology at Eliokem's facilities overseas. Greater access to new technologies and markets will improve both operations, according to Frank D. Nataro, business director of the Americas for Performing Chemicals, which the Eliokem business is now part of.
Before the acquisition, Eliokem had only its Akron plant in the U.S. and Omnova didn't have much of a production base overseas. That's changed dramatically, and Omnova has become a giant chemical producer worldwide.
During a recent tour of the Mogadore facility, however, it's hard to detect that changes have been made within the company and more are on the way. It's business as usual.
Among the few personnel who switched to the Mogadore site from the Akron plant is Doug Oblak, senior process engineer, who said that the merging of the two chemical makers has gone smoothly so far.
While the Mogadore complex has added new technology to its portfolio, the focal point of the operation is the production of latex products.
Omnova has been producing latex products there since 1952 when the site was part of GenCorp Inc. In 1999 the chemicals business became a stand-alone operation.
Two facilities at the complex primarily make latex for the paper, carpet, tire cord, taps, hygiene products, running track, and oil and gas industries, said Sampson.
“It's the single largest latex plant in the world, in terms of capacity,” he claimed. The first two buildings in the complex were built by India Rubber Co. in 1916. It sold them in 1928 to General Tire, which used them for warehousing until the early 1950s.
The Mogadore complex—which has 17 reactors, eight large ones and nine that are smaller, spread throughout two buildings—currently operates 24-5, Oblak said, and adds a day or two to boost production when necessary.
The remaining facilities on the 15-building site are used for loading, offices, product filtration, raw material storage and for other purposes.
Sampson said producing the specified material is both simple and complex. The solution is poured into a reactor where it's heated. It's fed into monomers, where it's agitated “until we get what the customer wants.”
Once the batch is finished, which can take from 10 to 18 hours, it is transferred to a degassing vessel and pressure is reduced below atmospheric levels.
Steam and nitrogen are added as the material agitates and volatile materials are removed and sent via pipes to a thermal incinerator, Sampson said, adding that “whatever the recipe calls for, that's what we mix.”
All materials are tested six or seven times during the manufacturing process. “We sample to verify the quality of the product and make sure we meet the customers' needs,” Sampson said.
Throughout the process, a central control room monitors the mixed materials as they go through the reactors giving technicians a broad overview of the process.
The emulsion polymer maker produces everything out in liquid form, which is piped to rail cars, trucks, large drums or other containers.
Omnova has six plants operating in the U.S. that produce latex products. In addition to the Akron and Mogadore facilities, the others are located in Wisconsin, South Carolina, Georgia and Massachusetts.
The capabilities within Omnova have grown considerably because of the transaction, giving it entry into several higher growth markets and expanding its offerings, company executives said.