Peter Mooney 

Back by popular demand --- The Updated PCRS Guide to North American Rotomolders

 

Elsewhere in this issue of the newsletter you have an excellent, candid and compelling analysis of the current and possible future state-of-play of the rotomolding machinery business submitted by Gareth McDowell (“The Evolution of Rotomolding Machinery Takes Time”). Some of his arguments are conventional whereas others are controversial. Ideally Gareth’s article will provoke equally thought-provoking letters to the editor, pointing to areas of agreement and disagreement.

 

One point which I would make is Gareth perhaps understates the part design freedom of contemporary rotomolders – certainly those in North America. Obviously the process is ideal for the production of seamless hollow parts. This is true, as he says, of tanks. However, he goes too far when he says, “Aren’t all hollow rotomolded articles imaginatively shaped tanks?” In his mind we’re still at the evolutionary stage of “the PE box”.

 

I have been conducting single- and multi-client market research programs covering the North American rotational business since 1995. These projects are generally light on the technical aspects and heavy on the economic/market aspects. I confess I simply know enough to be dangerous regarding the nuances of the modern rotomolding process.

 

Yet I have no doubt that most rotomolders in this region have acquired the expertise in machinery, molds and materials to produce parts of considerable sophistication. The era of tanks, toys and not much else is over.

 

I say this since I am currently engaged in a 3-month effort to update the “PCRS Guide to North American Rotomolders” which I prepared and published in 2011. This new directory follows the previous format of providing profiles of hundreds of U.S., Canadian and Mexican companies with rotomolding operations. In virtually every case I will have made telephone contact with officials to confirm the current nature of their operations. Each company profile will contain the following information:

 

  • location of the company headquarters and plants
  • company website and phone number
  • nature of the company operations (captive, custom or proprietary)
  • major market(s) addressed
  • recent annual sales
  • official to contact with email address

 

As I review the company websites and communicate with officials I’m constantly amazed at the wide range of parts and final products which the contemporary rotomolding process makes possible. Here’s a sampling:

 

  • aerospace parts
  • children’s slides
  • displays and exhibits
  • floor care equipment parts
  • gas station pump parts
  • MRI parts
  • musical equipment cases
  • outdoor lighting
  • skylights
  • spas and spa steps
  • spill pallets
  • spine boards
  • traffic doors

 

None of these applications are hollow or tank-like. They are curvi-linear. Note they could all be produced by means of heavy-gauge thermoforming. The fact that they’re not speaks to the cost-competitiveness of the rotomolding process – machinery, molds and materials. And many of these applications call for higher-performance properties than polyethylene can offer.

 

So are there rotomolders content to rely solely or largely on the production of kayaks, toys and tanks? Of course, because there is a market for these products, and rotomolders are ideally placed to satisfy those needs. Yet many regional rotomolders have ventured into applications where they must compete against blow molders (e.g., medical mannequins), injection molders (e.g., electronic and medical equipment enclosures), pipe extruders (e.g., pipe rotolining), and profile extruders (e.g., porch columns). Others have invested in alternative plastics processing capabilities (e.g., composite manufacturing) in order to complement their rotomolding operations.

 

My goal is to have this updated guide to North American rotomolders available by February 2017. If any regional rotomolder wishes to contact me to ensure their company is included, I would welcome hearing from them.

 

Dr. Peter J. Mooney

Plastics Custom Research Services

Email: plasres@AOL.com     Phone #: (336) 998-8004