More importantly, the results are helping Solutia provide better service to its customers.
"Our debottlenecking program at the Belgium and Massachusetts plants, first and foremost, have earned us very positive feedback from our customers on our on time delivery performance over the past several months," said Raoul Van Den Bossche, head of Solutia's LGI manufacturing operations. "In a tight supply market, we know our customers value this type of process improvement for their benefit. We are meeting or exceeding our customer First Promise Delivery goal of 95 percent."
Over the past five years, the LGI business has increased its overall capacity by about 20 percent through a prudent program of reinvestment at its existing facilities.
Solutia's ongoing debottlenecking program is aimed at achieving an additional 15 percent capacity increase in sheet polyvinyl butyral (PVB) through cost-effective line speed improvements. These improvements also offer Solutia greater product manufacturing flexibility to meet unexpected customer needs and increasing global demand. Solutia plans future debottlenecking efforts at the remainder of its LGI manufacturing sites over the next few years.
"Laminated glass is a strong, growing market segment," said Mitch Pulwer, Global Business Director, LGI, "and Solutia has the expertise to meet both the current and emerging needs of customers. We will continue to make incremental capital investments to achieve capacity improvements, and at the same time take costs out."
Pulwer added, "Taking costs out of the 'system' will remain a part of our lives. Becoming more productive in our plants has helped significantly. However, to attain reasonable reinvestment economics to fund major new capacity increases and new product development, price increases may be necessary in the future. Under our current pricing structure we risk missing many wonderful opportunities as a result of an inability to sustain reasonable reinvestment."
Over the past few years, Solutia has offered a number of new interlayer products under its Vanceva(TM) brand name, which complements its well- respected Saflex(R) brand of interlayers for laminated glass. In addition, Solutia has pioneered interlayers for emerging markets, such as hurricane- and blast-resistant architectural glazing, and the adoption of laminated glass for the side, rear and roof positions on automobiles.