Agri-Industrial Plastics Co. has announced the acquisition of an 80,000-square-foot facility that will support a major expansion of the company’s non-automotive fuel tank business.
Strong growth for fuel tanks in the lawn and garden, ATV, snowmobile and marine markets has prompted Agri-Industrial, based in Fairfield, Iowa, to boost fuel tank capacity by 40 percent with the purchase of two new Kautex multilayer blow molding machines while also acquiring a new facility located adjacent to the Fairfield blow molding operation.
“This investment in a new location further solidifies our commitment to the non-automotive fuel tank business and enables us to meet increasing customer demand,” said Mick Stielow, director of sales and marketing. In response to the strong growth, the company has also expanded its workforce, adding 15 full-time machine operators over the last six months. Plans call for the hiring of 15-20 new workers over the next year.
The purchase of the new facility allows Agri-Industrial to gain needed warehouse space along with additional property for future greenfield expansion, according to Stielow. The company has already purchased two new six-layer continuous co-extrusion blow molding machines from Bonn, Germany-based Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH. The new multilayer machines — the fourth and fifth units purchased from Kautex in seven years — increase Agri-Industrial’s fuel tank production capacity by 40 percent to meet the growing U.S. demand in the lawn and garden, ATV, snowmobile and marine markets. One of the machines is already being assembled at the company’s original 186,000-square-foot plant in Fairfield and both are expected to be ready for production in first quarter 2013.
The Kautex KBS241 and KBS61 Smart machines come with six-layer heads, multilayer extrusion systems, six-axis parison transfer robots, and Blow Command 4 microprocessor controls. The KBS241 has a throughput rate of 1984 lb per hour while the KBS61 Smart boasts a throughput of 1653 lb/hr.
Manufacturers of small-engine fuel tanks made of HDPE have increasingly turned to multilayer technology, which has been recognized as the most effective barrier solution for meeting stringent permeation requirements set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to Agri-Industrial. The company began production of non-automotive multilayer fuel tanks in 2005.
“Our investments to date further reinforce our view that multilayer technology is the superior approach in meeting today’s stringent evaporative emission standards,” said Stielow. “It’s a proven technology that is cost competitive, is consistent in meeting emission standards, and has processing and quality benefits.”
Agri-Industrial manufactures HDPE fuel tanks ranging from 1 to 50 gallons. The HDPE fuel tank is composed of two virgin layers, two adhesive layers, an EVOH barrier layer and a regrind layer. Permeation levels for the multilayer tanks far exceed the current EPA standard, which limits fuel vapor emissions to 1.5 g/m2/day with CE10 fuel at 28 C.
These multilayer fuel tanks are produced for ATVs, snowmobiles, golf carts, PWC and a variety of lawn and garden applications including riding mowers, tractors and other commercial equipment.