Honing a healthy business sense in Asia

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Already having an advantage of being able to serve the growing Asian thermoplastic elastomer or TPE market, Kraiburg combines its extensive TPE portfolio with its healthy commitment to the people and environment, says Angelica Buan in this story.

Heart of the business

Germany-headquartered Kraiburg, a manufacturer of hydrogenated styrene block copolymers (HSBC)-based TPEs for the Asia Pacific market, prioritises its commitment to the people (customers and workers) and the environment, which it believes are the “heart of the business”.

Having said this, Kraiburg has been actively promoting its “green” initiative, called Caring You & Me, in its Malaysian plant operations, since its launch in April this year. The initiative embodies the firm’s commitment to a healthier and safer working environment.

“The Caring You & Me Concept is imbibing safety and sustainability from within the company to our suppliers and our customers,” Bridget Ngang Shue Hui, Product and Marketing Manager for Kraiburg, told PRA during the Indoplas show held in September in Jakarta, Indonesia, where the firm was an exhibitor.

The environment, health and safety (EHS) initiative complements the ISO14001:2004 environmental management certification it received in April. Kraiburg’s sustainability model is unique in that it involves all its employees, suppliers, and customers.

“The ISO14001:2004 certification will demonstrate Kraiburg’s continuous and strong commitment to uphold environmental issues and work towards improving the environment,” said Ngang.

She also added that it will enhance Kraiburg as a premium brand producer of TPE that is responsible and cares for the people, processes, resources and environment.

It also gives Kraiburg the competitive edge in its marketing efforts. “Our image has been enhanced in the eyes of customers, employees and shareholders,” Ngang expounded, adding that with the initiative, the company protects the personal health and safety of its workers with the rationale that healthy people, safe processes and equipment deliver a healthy business.

A safe workplace is subscribed by a set of health and safety guidelines that include prohibiting smoking; maintaining a speed limit (15 km/hour) within the work premises; and the use of personal protective equipment (PPP), such as gloves and helmets at the workplace, to cite a few examples.

“The company also conducts fire drills, and trainings for first aid and fire fighting,” said Ngang.

Furthermore, the EHS practice also involves choosing carefully the raw material suppliers Kraiburg works with. “We see to it that our suppliers are committed to quality and the environment,” said Ngang, adding that while Kraiburg is strict in implementing the initiative, it is consistent in protecting the environment.

According to the firm, the TPEs it produces are 100% recyclable, likewise, the uncured molecular chains of the TPEs enable them to be melted over again, returning them to the manufacturing process, thus, saving on natural resources. To top it off, the firm says it uses recyclable packaging for its products.

Growing in Asia

The global market for TPEs is forecast to grow to 5.1 million tonnes by 2018, with the Asia Pacific region accounting for an increased market share in the overall global demand, according to a Smithers Rapra report. In the region, the UK research company says that China is the largest consumer of TPEs and the reigning applications for TPEs include the automotive and electrical appliances sector, especially in the soft-touch features for grips and surfaces. Other countries increasing their TPE usage are India, Thailand, and Indonesia.

To capture this market share, Kraiburg offers a wide range of formulations for various applications. At the Indoplas, it showcased the flexibility of its TPE custom-engineered compounds for the automotive, consumer and medical sectors.


Ngang, who said that it is the second time Kraiburg has participated in an industry event in Indonesia, appraised the potential of the Indonesian market. This was echoed by Roland Ritter, Director Asia Pacific, who was quoted saying that the Asia Pacific region continues to be fast developing, and Indonesia’s strategic location and a dynamic population of 240 million makes it one of the fastest growing Asian economies, after China and India.

To respond to the huge market demand in the regional market, Kraiburg has set up offices in strategic Asian locations.

“We have a growing presence within the Asia Pacific region and other than Shanghai and the Hong Kong sales offices, we have opened new offices in Shenyang and Wuhan in China. We are also in India, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam and will be going to Indonesia and Sri Lanka. This will allow us to respond more quickly and fulfill the huge market demand in the Asia Pacific market,” according to Ngang.

As for production, Kraiburg has a plant in Selangor, Malaysia, which it opened in 2008. In 2012, it added a new line to increase the production volume to support the Asia Pacific market demand.

Outside of Asia, its other production facilities are located in Germany and the US, and it has a sales network that covers France, Italy, Poland, Spain, Brazil and Mexico.


Formula for competitiveness

Kraiburg says that continuous improvement in its production and systems is firing up its edge in the Asian market.

“We actively promote growth and evolve our production site in order to be irreplaceable and customer-oriented,” said Ritter.

Addressing customers’ needs mean employing effective strategies that will benefit them. “Our quick and reliable supply chain logistics ensure on-time delivery for customer satisfaction. We maximise cost efficiency by maintaining manufacturing costs and production efficiency with low scrap rates. So the savings are then passed on to our customers,” he explained.

Ritter also stresses that R&D plays a crucial role in maintaining the competitive edge in the market.

“We offer tailor-made product services as well as specific solutions and this will not be possible without R&D. The key in a growing market is to have localised development. We have increased our headcount for R&D in Malaysia to handle Asian product development, and technical consultancy for product development.”

Besides that, the R&D team in Malaysia has developed seven new products for the Asian market, each possessing different hardnesses to cater to different industry requirements.

These are:

  • AD/PA/AP series for applications with excellent adhesion to PA
  • FC/AP series, which are natural-coloured and translucent solutions for food contact applications
  • GP/AP series for technical applications with excellent adhesion to PP
  • FC/AD/PE series for food contact applications requiring adhesion to LDPE, LLPE and HDPE
  • FR/AP series for applications requiring high flame retardant properties
  • SCR series for applications requiring a high degree of scratch resistance
  • UV/AP series for automotive exterior components requiring high UV resistance

Versatility in “black and white”


Quite literally, the versatility of Kraiburg’s Thermolast compounds is demonstrated in enhancing the material properties of the pen and pencil products manufactured by Stabilo International, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of writing instruments, which is part of the Schwan-Stabilo Group. The material Stabilo uses for its pen and pencil products allows for non-slip grip surfaces, which are pleasant to the touch.

Incidentally, the two companies have struck a common ground. In utilising the food contact-safe, PVC and latex-free, and recyclable Thermolast in its writing tool products, Stabilo shares Kraiburg’s commitment to sustainability and environmental awareness in manufacturing and developing products.


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