New York auto show postponed (Updated March 11, 1:34 p.m.)
The annual New York auto show will be pushed back to August from April because of the coronavirus, organizers said late March 10.
The annual auto show, staged by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, is among the major events to be canceled or postponed as health experts and government officials scramble worldwide to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Press previews will be staged Aug. 26 and 27, followed by public days on Aug. 28 through Sept. 6, organizers said.
"We are taking this extraordinary step to help protect our attendees, exhibitors, and all participants from the coronavirus," Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, said in a statement.
Show coordinators previously said they had installed 70 hand-sanitizing stations throughout the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s west side, where companies planned to showcase more than 50 new models.
Because the New York area is a major source of new-vehicle sales, notably for luxury brands, dealers were anxious to preserve the fate of an event that dates back to 1900 after the cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show, which was called off late last month for the first time since the World War II era.
But the preemptive measures that organizers planned weren't enough because of heightened concerns about the virus known as COVID-19.
The National Guard is being sent to the New York City suburb of New Rochelle to help close large, public gathering spaces to slow down the spread of the outbreak, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference March 10. He referred to the one-mile square area being set up as a containment zone.
The New York show was scheduled to open to the media on April 8 and 9 and then to the public starting April 10.
The show has, in past years, drawn more than a million visitors and is a boon to the city's hospitality industry. It typically draws more than 5,000 reporters.
Other auto shows globally have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, including those in Beijing and Sao Paulo.
Some auto makers separatel have canceled other media events set for coming weeks, citing the epidemic.
- Automotive News
ASTM International cancels meetings in Boston, Prague (updated March 10, 4:33 p.m.)
Because of concerns for the safety of ASTM International members and staff in light of the coronavirus outbreak, the organization has canceled standards development meetings scheduled for Boston March 29-April 3 and for Prague April 27-30.
ASTM made the cancelation based on several factors, including:
- Continued review of information and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other government bodies;
- Input from ASTM members whose members are increasingly concerned about travel; and
- Watching the expanding trajectory of the virus.
ASTM said staff will contact committee leaders to plan alternatives for conducting committee business.
Member input and other relevant criteria will help with assessing the status of meetings scheduled for May 10-15 and June 28-July 3, according to ASTM.
Elkem closes offices after COVID-19 case confirmed (updated March 10, 1:06 p.m.)
Elkem S.A., on March 6, temporarily closed its head office in Oslo, Norway, due to a confirmed case of the coronavirus.
Operations, the company in a statement, are not impacted by the closure.
The individual diagnosed with coronavirus was reported to be in good health, and has been quarantined after dialogue with medical personnel, the Norway-based silicones supplier said.
In a statement, Elkem said the office would be cleaned professionally as a precautionary measure.
European Rubber Journal has not confirmed if the Elkem office has re-opened.
- European Rubber Journal
Donations continue (updated March 5, 5:45 p.m.)
To help battle a further spread of the disease, Lanxess A.G. has joined other global materials suppliers in donating products that will help with emergency response.
Cologne, Germany-based Lanxess, donated 1 ton of Rely+On Virkon, a powder disinfectant that can be diluted into 100,000 liters of solution, officials said. They added that the disinfectant has proven effective against coronavirus.
The donated disinfectant was made at a Lanxess plant in Sudbury, England, and arrived at Chinese hospitals on Feb. 16.
"Lanxess feels deeply connected to the people in China, not least because of our 1,200 employees and eight production sites in the country," Michael Schefer, head of Material Protection Products, said in a news release. "With our disinfectant Rely+On Virkon we can effectively help to contain the epidemic."
Rely+On Virkon is diluted for application and sprayed on hard surfaces and equipment. Officials said it can help to reduce the risk of contamination of surfaces, door handles, tables or chairs during disinfection measures in hospitals, public transport terminals, airports, shopping malls and similar places.
A Lanxess spokesperson wrote in an email that the firm's local headquarters in Shanghai and production sites throughout the country had been temporarily closed, but they had restarted production as of March 3. The spokesperson added that Lanxess will share an update on the operational effects of the coronavirus during its year-end 2019 earnings announcement on March 11.
Plastics-related products made by Lanxess include specialty nylon resins, PBT, polyurethanes, composites and plastic additives.
- Frank Esposito, Plastics News
NR prices remain low despite demand for medical gloves (updated 12:20 p.m.)
Natural rubber prices remain low despite the demand for medical gloves caused by the global outbreak of the coronavirus, according to an industry source who asked to remain anonymous.
“Natural rubber gloves saw a huge boost in 1988 because of HIV,” the source said. “But today, if you walk into a doctor’s office, you see mostly nitrile gloves instead of natural rubber, because of allergies.”
Natural rubber supplies also remain relatively strong for the moment, despite the widespread cancellation of container shipments. Only those shipments scheduled from ports such as the Port of Pusan, in South Korea, have been affected so far, according to the source.
Also, rubber traders strive to have at least 30 days’ inventory on hand, the source said.
Technically Specified Rubber 20 futures stood at about $1 on the Singapore Commodity Exchange March 4, down from about $1.06 on Feb. 21.
- Miles Moore, Rubber & Plastics News
Auto makers, UAW ban nonessential air travel (updated March 5, 10:40 a.m.)
Ford Motor Co. told employees March 4 that it's banning all nonessential domestic and international air travel at least until March 27 as cases of the coronavirus spread around the world.
The auto maker had prohibited travel to and from China, but is extending the ban to all flights within the U.S. and internationally. A spokesman, citing the health and safety of Ford's employees, said there may be some exceptions, but they would likely be rare.
The spokesman said the company will reevaluate the date of the ban on a weekly basis and could extend it if necessary.
General Motors Co. on March 3 said it has no restrictions on domestic travel for employees, but it banned employees from traveling to China, Japan, South Korea and Italy last week. Senior leaders must approve all other international travel, a spokesman said.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it implemented a restriction on nonessential travel last week.
Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers union's International Executive Board on March 3 voted to implement an air travel ban on domestic and international flights.
"This is a precautionary action not meant to elicit concern, but to help in dealing with the spread of this epidemic," UAW President Rory Gamble said in a statement.
The union did not give a timeframe on the ban, but noted the IEB will review and monitor the policy as the epidemic subsides.
Tire Cologne event dates unchanged (updated March 3, 7:02 p.m.)
Preparations for the 2020 Tire Cologne trade show are continuing as planned, show organizer Koelnmesse G.m.b.H. said this week in response to queries about the potential threat posed by the coronavirus that’s widespread in Asia and starting to appear in Europe.
The 2020 Tire Cologne is scheduled for June 9-12 at the Cologne Fair Grounds.
Koelnmesse said it “will evaluate the recommendations of the responsible authorities regarding major events and, as before, we will make our decisions after careful consideration.”
Koelnmesse’s message comes a day after the organizers of the annual Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, canceled that event just two days before it was scheduled to open.
The trade fair group said it will provide information “about sensible prophylactic measures on site. We are increasingly offering disinfectants, which are considered to be the most effective means against transmission.”
Highly frequented areas will be cleaned with increased frequency, Koelnmesse said, adding that “qualified” doctors and paramedics on the fairgrounds are prepared for possible suspicious cases and available to answer any questions visitors may have once on site.
“Should a suspicious case arise during the event, all spatial and organizational precautions are taken on the trade fair grounds to ensure immediate remedial actions,” the enterprise said.
- Tire Business Report
WPC canceled (updated March 3, 11:09 a.m.)
Organizers of the World Petrochemicals Conference said March 1 that the event, scheduled for March 24-27 in New Orleans, will not take place "in light of developing circumstances."
"Our decision was made following recent guidance from health officials and in light of the rapid growth in global cases of COVID-19, as well as increasing travel restrictions and other circumstances," organizers said. "With delegates from 47 countries due to gather for WPC 2020 later this month, we wanted to provide as much notice as possible."
The next WPC is set for March 2021 in New Orleans.
Adhesive & Sealant Conference to go on as planned (updated Feb. 28, 1:43 p.m.)
Organizers of the 2020 World Adhesive & Sealant Conference said the event will continue as planned April 20-22, despite the coronavirus outbreak.
The situation will be closely monitored in the coming weeks, organizers said, noting that any updates about the show will be included on the conference website.
More than 500 have registered for the Chicago event, and roughly 90 percent of those individuals are from North American regions that have experienced minimal impact from the coronavirus outbreak or have not been affected by travel restrictions.
Geneva auto show canceled (updated Feb. 28, 10:48 a.m.)
The organizers of the Geneva auto show said the event has been canceled after Swiss government banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
"We regret to announce the 2020 Geneva motor show will be canceled. This is force majeure," a spokesman for the Palexpo show venue said on Friday.
Organizers said the show will not be held at a later date.
"The show cannot be postponed. It's not possible. It's too big. It's not feasible," the spokesman said.
Earlier on Friday Swiss Federal Health Minister Alain Berset said that events involving more than 1,000 people were prohibited with immediate effect.
"In view of the current situation and the spread of the coronavirus, the Federal Council has categorized the situation in Switzerland as 'special' in terms of the Epidemics Act," a statement read.
"Large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people are to be banned. The ban comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until March 15."
The Geneva show was due to start on Tuesday with a media day for new product debuts.
- Nick Gibbs, Automotive News
ARM postpones Italy tour (updated Feb. 28, 9:26 a.m.)
The Association of Rotational Molders will postpone its Italian tour of rotomolders, originally scheduled for March 29-April 3, and a collaborative meeting with IT-RO, the Italian rotomolding organization due to the coronavirus outbreak.
ARM said in a statement that it expects to postpone the meeting until 2021 or 2022.
“We are working with the venues in Italy and those we have booked for our next spring meeting to determine when we will reschedule … and will make an announcement in the coming weeks,” ARM said. “We plan to take advantage of the additional time to make the meeting even more worthwhile.
Geneva auto show expects attendance dip (updated Feb. 27, 5:39 p.m.)
Auto makers are cutting back on the number of staff attending the Geneva auto show next week as health concerns mount over the spread of coronavirus across Europe.
Toyota on Feb. 27 said it is reducing its attendance to include "business critical" staff. Only senior executives and public relations staff with pan-European responsibilities will attend, while staff who represent only national markets will stay behind, it said.
Volkswagen Group will have a reduced presence at the show, and only essential personnel will attend, a spokesman told Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Rubber & Plastics News.
Chinese auto maker Aiways said it has been unable to ship the U6ion electric crossover coupe concept to Geneva in time for its planned press conference at the show.
Aiways said the production-ready European version of its U5 electric crossover will be at the show. European deliveries of the U5 are planned to start in August.
The CEOs of Ferrari and brake maker Brembo will not attend planned press events at the show, with Brembo citing the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, where 12 people have died from the virus.
Brembo, which is based in Lombardy, the worst affected area in Italy, postponed a press breakfast. Brembo's stand in Geneva will be managed by U.S. and Swiss company representatives, the company said.
A Ferrari spokesman said the company's planned press conference at the show on March 3 would be attended by its three chiefs of marketing, design and technology, and not by CEO Louis Camilleri.
Infotainment and audio specialist Harman, owned by Korea’s Samsung, said it is pulling out of the show. Harman usually shares a stand with Rinspeed at the event.
Palexpo, the show's organizer, is waiting for guidance from the canton of Geneva on whether public events should be canceled.
"We will follow that recommendation. We are at the end of the chain," a spokesperson told Automotive News Europe.
Swiss health authorities said Feb. 27 that the country is at yellow alert, which means life can mostly go on as normal. But officials warned the status could go to red, which signifies a pandemic.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Switzerland has risen to four, officials said on Thursday. One person was tested positive for the virus in Geneva and another two cases were confirmed in a couple in the southeastern Alpine canton of Grisons.
- Automotive News
JEC reverses itself, postpones 2020 event (updated Feb. 27, 10:08 a.m)
Just a day after organizers of JEC said the Paris composites event would go on as scheduled, it reversed that decision. The show is postponed it until May 12-14. It had been set for March 3-5.
"The recent spread of the coronavirus in new countries last week, and especially countries playing an important role in the composite materials industry such as China, South Korea and Italy, has obliged the JEC World organization team and key stakeholders of the industry to reassess the current situation," the organizers said in a written statement.
"Increased travel restrictions from authorities, but also at corporate level, both from exhibiting and visiting companies, have drastically reduced the potential attendance to the show."
Auto industry seeing new impacts from virus
The global auto industry is beginning to see impacts from the coronavirus that is now hitting manufacturing regions beyond Asia.
MTA S.p.A., an Italian injection molder of connectors and other electronic parts for the auto industry, announced it was forced to close its main production center in Codogno, 37 miles southeast of Milan, Feb. 24 to follow regulations put in place by the Italian Minister of Health.
Codogno became the center of a coronavirus outbreak responsible for 12 deaths and more than 370 confirmed cases of the virus, Automotive News reported.
Italian authorities ordered factories in Codogno and nine nearby towns to suspend non-essential activities to help prevent the spread of the virus. People are not allowed to enter or leave the towns, but Automotive News reported Fiat Chrysler is working with authorities to access needed products.
Italy-based materials supplier RadiciGroup said all of its production and sales are “operating regularly.”
“Despite the exceptional situation caused by the spreading of the coronavirus, our staff are working as a team harder than ever to guarantee and optimize the carrying on of our business activities,” RadiciGroup said in a news release. “We have adopted the precautions prescribed by the competent authorities, in coordination with the doctors in charge and the individuals responsible for the prevention and protection services at our sites, to safeguard their health without interrupting work activities.”
Analysts with LMC Automotive expects if the virus spreads further it would be a “reasonable assumption,” that “there would be a continuous significant economic cost to containment measures as locations are quarantined, travel disrupted, economic activity curtailed … industrial production halted, supply chains disrupted, and confidence undermined.”
LMC estimated the loss to the volume of light vehicles produced and sold would be about 3-4 million units.
Cooper Standard Automotive said in its 2019 fourth quarter report that it already is putting the impact of the coronavirus in its 2020 earnings guidance.
“From a big picture point of view, we're nowhere near back to normal as it relates to our plants and our customers’ plants,” Jeffrey Edwards, chairman and CEO of Cooper Standard said in a Feb. 24 conference call. “I just saw an announcement this morning of a couple customers that delayed startup until March 10. It's a very fluid situation.”
Cooper Standard is fortunate to have an “incredible” Chinese management team in place in the country, Edwards added.
“They're doing a great job for us in terms of the supply chain being cut off from certain parts of the country,” he said. “It affects everyone and our team is doing a marvelous job working 24/7 to support whatever our customers are requiring us to do. So far so good.”
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to restart a European plant, an FCA spokesman confirmed to Plastics News, after it halted production due to “an interruption of critical supplies,” related to coronavirus, according to the automaker’s 2019 annual report.
“The Chinese automobile market has also begun to experience reduced demand,” the report said. “The ultimate severity of the coronavirus outbreak is uncertain at this time and therefore we cannot predict the impact it may have on our end markets and our operations; however, the effect on our results could be material and adverse.”
“FCA continues to monitor its global supply chain in relation to the coronavirus outbreak and is working with our supplier partners to ensure the safety of all personnel and to facilitate on-time deliveries,” FCA Spokesman Michael Palese told Plastics News in an emailed statement. “At this time, there is no immediate impact on FCA manufacturing operations.”
At Toyota Motor Corp., production in Japan has “operated normally,” and the automaker expects normal operation through March 2 and will “continue to base our decisions on the guidance we receive from the authorities,” said spokesman Victor Vanov.
“Toyota makes decisions based on the safety and security of our employees and stakeholders and in consideration of those currently dealing with this outbreak,” Vanov said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to take action in a timely manner.”
Vanov also said the automaker’s employees in Japan have been asked cancel all non-urgent business travel, both domestic and international and is prioritizing safety “when considering our inventory situation and making decisions on operations.”
Coronavirus takes toll on Tire Tech Expo (updated Feb. 26, 11:23 a.m.)
The spread of COVID-19 has cast a shadow over the 20th annual Tire Tech Expo, which runs Feb. 25-27 in Hanover.
On the opening day, the expo halls were markedly quieter than at last year's show, with some major exhibitors reporting declines of 70-90 percent in the number of visitors to their stands.
Outbreaks of the virus in South Kroea, Iran and Italy compounded absences at this year's expo, which had already braced for a decline in Chinese visitors. Concern regarding the virus' spread has prompted many multinational companies, including ExxonMobil, to impose blanket bans on travel fore employees.
The impact of coronavirus was less obvious in the Tire Tech conference rooms, including for a nearly full opening session, which was led Tire Tech CEO Tony Robinson.
"I normally open our conference by thanking people for coming from all over the world, but inevitably, this year we have lost some of our friends," Robinson, of UKI Media, said. "Personally, I don't think any of us really knows what the coronavirus really means and what it might be able to do. But it has meant that people have not been able to travel, not least from China."
- Patrick Raleigh, European Rubber Journal
DuPont donating protective gear to medical workers (updated Feb. 26, 9:26 a.m.)
DuPont Co.’s China response team said it has coordinated with the Chinese government and health agencies to get needed protective equipment to health care workers. It also increased production of protective garments in manufacturing plants outside of China.
“We will continue to work with our entire supply chain as well as the direct responding agencies to coordinate the most efficient ways to get the needed protection to China health care workers and public servants,” it said in a Feb. 6 release.
"DuPont is donating three types of personal protective garments to the most affected areas through the China Red Cross Foundation, to protect health care workers and front-line personnel," the Wilmington, Del.-based company said. "DuPont is also contributing probiotic products to help regulate and improve immunity. These donated materials will be allocated by the China Red Cross Foundation to the most needed areas.”
Medical suppliers prepare for coronavirus
As federal officials warned of the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., suppliers to the medical and health care industries said they were ramping up production.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a news briefing Feb. 25 that it is is preparing for pandemic response plans if needed.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease at the CDC said health officials don’t know how large the spread of the disease to the U.S. might be, but that “disruption to everyday life may be severe.”
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” she said. “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.” she said.
Plastics suppliers such as PolymaxTPE of Waukegon, Ill., and a manufacturer of thermoplastic elastomers, had already said its sister company in China was producing specialized TPE used in aspirators.
Berry Global Group Inc. had already ramped up production of nonwoven health care products in response to the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, “prioritizing production of nonwoven health care products.”
“With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus in China, we continue to stay abreast of challenges which may affect our supply chain,” Amy Waterman, a spokesperson for Berry Global told Plastics News in an emailed statement Feb. 25. “We will continue to communicate with customers and suppliers to identify and resolve any delays during this time.”
Flexible packaging specialist Sealed Air Corp. said it is implementing precautionary measures to ensure the well being of its employees, including suspending business travel to and from affected countries.
“Sealed Air has business continuity plans in place to minimize potential impacts on its operations and customer service,” Pam Davis, a spokesperson for Sealed Air said in an emailed statement to Plastics News. “The company will continue to monitor the situation and assess the need for further measures based on recommendations by relevant authorities and business needs.
“At Sealed Air, the safety and welfare of employees and their families is our top priority. The company is closely monitoring the development of the COVID-19 outbreak,” the statement said.
Expo Plasticos and Residuos Expo is a go
The organizers of Mexico’s second largest plastics industry trade show said the event will go ahead March 11-13 despite the health threat posed by the COVID-19 virus in different parts of the world.
The virus inevitably will cause a drop in the export of supplies across the world, Jorge Arizmendi, managing director of Expo Plasticos and Residuos Expo, said Feb. 25 at an event presentation ceremony.
“For this reason, the solutions on display at Expo Plasticos will provide an important alternative to preventing a scarcity of machinery, auxiliary equipment, raw materials and pigments required by manufacturing companies’ operations,” he said.
As of Feb. 25, Mexico’s health authorities said they had no reports of an infection in Mexico.
Shipping delays to Europe (updated Feb. 25, 1:13 p.m.)
Italy has been seeing an impact of the coronavirus beyond a rise in cases in the Milan region.
Amaplast, the Italian plastics and rubber processing machinery and molds manufacturers' association, said companies have seen delays in shipments and delivery of machinery because of the halt in production in China."
In addition, some companies that, for a number of years, have been operating manufacturing units or trading offices in China, have been forced to temporarily close their premises, due to the block on business activities, and also as a result of the interruption of the components supply chain and distribution channels," Amaplast said in a news release issued Feb. 24. "However, at present there are reports of a progressive, though slow, return to normal operations, with the reopening of company premises."
China is an important export market for Italian manufacturers of machinery, equipment and molds for plastics and rubber processing and delays in new orders and investment decisions could cause financial stress for some companies, Amaplast said in the release.
JEC confirms it will go on as planned
Organizers of JEC World said Feb. 24 that its global event for composites makers will take place as scheduled for March 3-5 in Paris.
"The safety and health of our exhibitors, visitors, partners and staff is our number one priority," JEC World said in a news release. "Regarding the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID19, JEC Group is carefully following the World Health Organization's recommendations, (European Union) and French Health Authorities recommendations and protocols."
Coronavirus impacting global supply network
As the coronavirus outbreak that began in China spreads globally, plastics manufacturers on multiple continents also are responding and preparing for more impacts on the industry from a virus now infecting more than 79,000 people globally, and killing in excess of 2,600.
Italy now has the highest number of reported cases of the virus outside of Asia, at 200, with five people dead. South Korea has the biggest outbreak outside of China, with more than 800 reported cases.
Rodolfo Comerio S.r.l., a plastics and rubber machinery company, is limiting access to its base site near Milan.
“In light of the current health situation in Italy,” the company said in a Feb. 24 news release, “we are acting with the local health authorities so that all our partners are guaranteed the maximum security and the necessary information to avoid any risk of contagion from coronavirus.
“Outbreaks have not been recorded in our area, the activities in Rodolfo Comerio are proceeding regularly and safety protocols prohibiting non-authorized personnel from entering the company have been implemented,” the release said.
MIDO, the annual global eyewear industry tradeshow held in Milan announced its board decided to postpone its 2020 50-year anniversary event scheduled for Feb. 29 through March 2.
"We took this decision out of respect for the current alarming situation and for our exhibitors and visitors," Giovanni Vitaloni, President of MIDO said in a news release issued Feb. 22. "We are aware that this decision will require industry professionals, exhibitors, buyers, press members, opticians and everyone working for MIDO, including our staff, to re-schedule their attendance, with a significant impact on all internal organizations. … But we cannot honestly think of celebrating our 50 years when the world—and our country now in particular—is experiencing such an international crisis."
MIDO's organizers postponed the event to a date "still to be decided," between the end of May to mid-June, the release said.
On Feb. 24, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 1,000 points, or 3.3 percent, while the S&P 500 also fell 3.3 percent and the Nasdaq fell 3.7 percent.
And beyond the stock market, petrochemical demand could fall by between 2.4 million and 4 million metric tons because of the virus, according to Bill Hyde, senior director of olefins and elastomers at Houston-based analytics firm IHS Markit.
The overall Chinese economy will be significantly impacted by the virus, Hyde said.
"Our best estimate right now is that Chinese GDP growth will be reduced by around 0.4 percent this year to about 5.4 percent," he said. "A more aggressive scenario could result in GDP growth below 5 percent in 2020."
Patrick Dempsey, president and CEO of Connecticut-based Barnes Group Inc., said in its fourth quarter conference call Feb. 21 that Asia accounts for about 10 percent of Barnes' total sales, mainly from molds and automotive hot runners, and special nitrogen gas springs.
"Our primary concern remains with the safety and welfare of our associates around the world," he said.
Dempsey said Barnes temporarily suspended employee travel in and out of China. Plants remain closed after the extended Chinese New Year holiday, but are "slowly coming back online."
"At this point we are monitoring the situation closely," he said.
The industry also is responding to a growing need for plastic medical supplies for containment and treatment of the coronavirus.
Nantong Polymax, a sister company of PolymaxTPE of Waukegon, Ill., and a manufacturer of thermoplastic elastomers located about 500 miles from the center of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, said in a Feb. 24 release that the Chinese government requested it remain open to produce a critical component called P3838, which is molded into diaphragms needed for sputum aspirators, suction machines used to clear out a patients' airways.
"Nantong Polymax has been allowed to keep a portion of their facility open, operating with a small shift of employees to run limited production," the release said.
"Understanding the severity of the situation, not only in China but across the world, we are happy to be able to do our part to fight the virus," Tom Castile, vice president of sales at PolymaxTPE, said in a statement
The virus' impact on transportation in China has caused negative growth in global crude oil demand in the first quarter of 2020, according to Hyde.