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Vanderbilt to consolidate, shift production to Kentucky

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NORWALK, Conn.—Vanderbilt Chemicals, L.L.C.—a wholly owned subsidiary of R.T. Vanderbilt Holding Co. Inc.—will consolidate its commercial production of chemicals to its newly upgraded plant in Murray, Ky.

Vanderbilt is in the process of completing a $30 million expansion at its Murray facility, which was built in 1969. The expansion increases capacity by 50 percent with four of its nine production lines now being fully automated. The company said its current capacity is 12,500 metric tons a year.

The company also will transfer its displaced volume from its chemicals plant in Bethel, Conn., to Murray by the end of 2014. This will include production of specialty chemical lubricant additives for oils, fluids and greases in addition to additives for rubber and plastics, paints and coatings.

The move will reduce jobs at the Bethel plant. Talks are ongoing between Vanderbilt and the union at the Bethel factory.

"We do value our work force," said Vanderbilt President Ken Kelly. "If there are opportunities at the Murray facility or here in our Norwalk offices, those individuals will certainly be given due consideration."

Hugh Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt Holding Co. chairman and CEO, said in a statement that the decision to consolidate the commercial production was difficult. He said it will allow the company to compete more effectively in a competitive manufacturing environment.

The company will continue to maintain a pilot plant and research and development laboratory in Bethel to support the chemicals business.

"We're going to keep all of the permitting for the plant so if we see an uptick in demand, we'll be able to bring that facility back up quickly," Kelly said. "It will also provide, because the chemistry of the two plants is similar, some reassurance to our customers that we do have another production site."

Kelly said the expansion in Murray utilizes a Distributed Control System designed and programmed by Yokogawa.

The DCS will manage hundreds of automated smart valves, which will result in tight control over all processes of manufacturing, the firm said.

Vanderbilt produces dithiocarbamate chemicals used as accelerators in the rubber industry, antioxidants in adhesives, friction modifiers and extreme pressure additives in the lubricant area.

"The R&D is a critical part of our development process," Kelly said. "It's going to continue to be an area of investment and be part of our active growth plans. A lot of the processes that we do all go through the pilot works."