Latin America Reports

Hempel Opens Argentine Plant for Region

By Charles Thurston, Latin America Correspondent | March 19, 2012

New facility will deliver more than 10 million liters of paint and coatings per year.

Hempel has opened its first Latin American marine and protective coatings factory in Buenos Aires with plans to supply much of the region with its production, according to Lars Johansen, the company’s group vice president for the Americas, at Conroe, Texas, near Houston. The $17 million factory will ramp up production this year to 155 liters of paint per man hour from its planned staffing level of 30, or to 10.5 million liters per year, expected by year’s end.

While much of the paint and coatings for the Latin American market came from Singapore, the Copenhagen-based company also operates a factory in Houston, which has supplied Mexico and the Central American sub-region.

“We’ll be better placed to serve existing and new customers in the region, as well as develop and customize products faster,” said Johansen.

While there is a free trade agreement in place in the Southern Cone of Latin America, Mercosur, Brazil still has domestic content rules in place for bidders seeking government contracts. “You’ve got to have a presence in Brazil to really attack the market there,” said Johansen, who declined to say whether the company has future plans to add capacity in Brazil.

Consultancy ABP Offshore notes that it has worked with Hempel to plan for capacity in Brazil, stating, “ABP Offshore contributed in the study of the logistics set-up for Hempel Tintas do Brasil Ltda. in their return to the Brazilian market. Evaluations regarding the usage of bonded warehousing as well as cost calculations for third-party warehousing at the start-up phase were an essential part of the study to lay the base for Hempel to take further decisions on where to start operations in the Brazilian market.”

The company indicated that the Argentine plant features conical dissolvers that enable flexible production runs down to 20 to 30 percent of maximum capacity. To control the speed at which the powder is fed into the machine from the bags, a sonic system monitors the frequency generated from the dissolving process and adjusts the powder feed accordingly. To reduce emissions from the cleaning process, all the tanks are linked to a closed circuit cleaning system, which is sealed during the cleaning process.”

The company also notes that it is “especially known for [its] proven performance with [its] epoxy urethane exterior system and [its] lining systems for molten sulphur and plastic pellets.”
Apart from Argentina, Hempel serves the region with offices and warehouses in Ecuador, Chile and Mexico. In Canada, the company has offices in Surry, British Colombia; St. Albert, Alberta; and Montreal.

Hempel serves the energy, maritime, mining and rail markets among others, with projects including oil production rigs, windmills and pipelines. Hempel claims a 30 percent share of the global market for container coatings. Among notable Hempel customers in the region are YPF; Total; Chevron; Minera Alumbrera; Pascua Lama; TGN (Transportadora Gas del Norte); TGS (Transportadora Gas del Sur); Grupo Maruba; Antares Naviera; Ultrapetrol; Astillero Rio Santiago; Tandanor and IMPSA.

Related Market & Technology: