By Matthew Spieler
KENNESAW, GA.—In an effort to help the company continue to optimize its production capabilities across its North American facilities, Invista’s Performance Surfaces & Materials business unit announced a $20 million investment. The majority of the money will be used to enhance Invista’s Camden, S.C., plant, which produces, among other things, the supplier’s branded Antron Lumena solution-dyed nylon with Tru-Blend fiber technology.
This investment comes on the heels of more than $14 million in capital projects recently installed at Invista’s Kingston, Ontario, Canada, facility for its industrial yarn research and development and manufacturing capabilities.
“We are on an aggressive path to create new opportunities and serve our customers more efficiently,” noted Dan Haycook, executive vice president, “and our Antron business is especially part of this strategy.”
The Camden investment, he added, will enhance Invista’s overall flexibility and make improvements to better service customers. For instance, plans are under way to double the volume of Antron Lumena solution-dyed nylon with TruBlend fiber technology as well as produce a new line of 895 denier Antron Lumena solution-dyed nylon products for the commercial business.
Invista is adding and modifying equipment that will allow it to do such things as switch colors faster. “Today, especially in the commercial market,” Haycook explained, “lead times are very important and this will allow us to be more flexible to meet our customers’ needs.”
Given the increased capabilities for carpet fiber production at Camden, and the focus on industrial yarn development at Kingston, there will be a strategic reduction of carpet fiber production for Invista’s Surfaces business in Kingston during the coming years.
Haycook said Kingston remains as Invista’s flagship manufacturing facility for the industrial fibers business, such as for air bags for the auto industry, and is “among one of the largest sites in the 20 countries in which we operate.” He added the carpet fiber production at Kingston is a small part of the facility’s operations, and by consolidating it at Camden, both plants will be running more efficiently.
“It will help our supply chain as a whole,” Haycook explained, “since most of the carpet mills are in the Southeast. The travel times will be faster and it will help us eliminate inefficient warehousing.”
Mark Ahrens, senior sales director for Antron, said the investment in equipment and technology will also allow the company to expand what it can do with its 895 Lumena yarns and other fibers “coming down the pipeline,” such as incorporating the same recycling technologies it utilizes in the branded Lumena with TruBlend, which currently contains a total of 30% pre- and post-consumer recycled content. “Sustainability is a big part of who we are and, especially in the commercial market, recycled content is very important when designing green buildings.”
He added it was this concept of “always seeking ways” to expand the use of recycled content when Invista first developed the TruBlend technology. “We did it in a way that allows us to change the content as needed.”
Ahrens said making the facility closer to its customers is another key area in making product more environmentally friendly as proximity of materials can aid in obtaining LEED points.
David Duncan, president of the Performance Surfaces & Materials business, said the company continues “to forge ahead in efforts to provide differentiated product offerings to the market. These investments reinforce our continued commitment to deliver value to our customers through innovative products and global brands they recognize and trust.”
Haycook said the latest round of improvements are expected to begin in January and completed in the first part of 2014. When finished, the company is expecting to add approximately 50 jobs to the Camden facility. Because the Kingston plant is undergoing both improvements to its industrial fibers operations while eliminating the small amount of flooring yarns made there, he noted, “It’s too premature to speculate the exact number” of jobs that will be either added or reduced.
While the investment is primarily geared toward the commercial side of the flooring industry, Haycook said Invista’s residential business will receive some ancillary benefits. “We’ve been making investments in our residential business with the likes of TruSoft and Solarmax, for example, but by virtue of upgrading at Camden, which, like the commercial business, is close to where the residential manufacturing industry is located, there will be the ability to concentrate our knowledge and expertise.
“Camden will now be essentially focused on the flooring industry so this will be a great opportunity for our residential and commercial teams to more easily share ideas,” he concluded.