Mitsui Chemicals

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Mitsui Chemicals

R&D and production facility will drive Mitsui Prime Advanced Composites Europe’s growth in European automotive sector

Mitsui polypropylene compound production facility
Graphic representation of the new production facility in Geleen

In a drive to reduce harmful CO2 emissions by reducing vehicle weight, the automotive industry is making a move to lightweight polypropylene components. High-value polypropylene compounds bring innovation to the market by enabling vehicles to be lighter, with a consequent reduction in fuel consumption.

Path to NL

For Mitsui Chemicals, soon to open its new polypropylene (PP) compound production facility at Chemelot in Geleen, in the south of the Netherlands, the path to locating the Netherlands started back for some years ago. Initial contact was made with Hans Kuijpers in the Tokyo offices of the NFIA when Mitsui Chemicals attended a business seminar.

Mitsui Chemicals had been planning to expand its European operations with a new plant scheduled for 2019/20 and was beginning the process of evaluating various locations. The planned facility was designed to satisfy an increasing demand for PP compounds from OEM’s primarily in the automotive sector.

Key location factors

Dialogue continued, and after a while, Business Development Manager Marco van Putten entered into discussions with the Dutch government and the Province of Limburg but also continued to evaluate other potential European locations.

When questioned as to why the ultimate decision was made in favor of the Chemelot site, President of Mitsui Prime Advanced Composites Europe B.V., Toru Fukada listed several key factors. These included English language skills of the local population, stable labor relations in comparison with some neighboring countries, a qualified and available talent pool with knowledge of the chemical industry, excellent logistics and fairly-priced utilities. “We thought the Netherlands was the best location for us, based not only on economic factors but also in terms of the best available infrastructure”, he asserts.

Mitsui Production Facility Geleen
Graphic representation of the new production facility in Geleen

Speed-to-market

Toru Fukada highlights another crucial aspect – short time to production: “We were able to benefit from the umbrella permit covering the Chemelot area to obtain the approvals to locate our facility at Brightlands.” Logistics was another key aspect, confirms Toru Fukada: “Logistics is important for us. We have incoming materials from a global perspective, and so we receive raw materials worldwide and they usually transit through the ports of either Rotterdam or Antwerp. Our key customers are in the center of Europe, and the materials are brought here for processing before delivery, so we benefit from strong existing supply lines. We looked at Eastern Europe and Western Europe countries, and we finally selected the Netherlands for the reasons above.”

The ecosystem and infrastructure in the region enabled Mitsui Prime Advanced Composites Europe B.V. to get up and running as rapidly as possible, and the location is easily accessible to the majority of their European customers. Close connection to the customer base is a critical element of their business.

‘Plug-and-play’ R&D

“Through our R&D and sales office, we also collaborate with many of the companies located at the Brightlands campus. We plan to open our manufacturing facility in June 2020 with a total workforce of around 100 people based on 24/7 production and a complete staff,” explains Business Development Manager Van Putten. Plugging into the Brightlands network was a key attractor, as it featured all kinds of raw materials producers, plus the ability to co-work with students and independent facilities to find solutions and solve problems. “There are very many R&D people available, and it is easy to exchange knowledge very quickly due to short and direct communication lines and easy access,” Van Putten confirms.

Brightlands Centercourt building
Brightlands Centercourt building

“This is really different from other industrial areas in other countries, as we found out during our selection process. In Brightlands, there is a specific area allocated to R&D and this didn’t exist in the other locations”. Van Putten continues: “The Japanese really focus on bringing something new to the market, and that starts with research and development, to investigate the issues of the customer, develop a solution and commercialize those solutions. That’s how Mitsui Prime Advanced Composites Europe B.V. tackles this topic and, to my eyes, it’s a very sustainable path for growing business.”

Welcome support

Both men are unequivocal in their praise for the support they received from the Ministry of Economic Affairs,  the NFIA and the LIOF. “We were never left alone with a problem, and we always felt welcome here. It wasn’t just stated, it was in the culture of the people and we always received the support in such a way that we felt welcome,” concludes Toru Fukada.

The Mitsui Prime Advanced Composites Europe B.V. facility for the production polypropylene at Chemelot will produce around 30,000 tons of compound pellets.

Fast Facts
Location Geleen
Activities Research & Development, Manufacturing
Industry Chemicals
Country of Origin Japan
"We were never left alone with a problem, and we always felt welcome here. It wasn’t just stated, it was in the culture of the people and we always received the support in such a way that we felt welcome." Toru Fukada President of Mitsui Prime Advanced Composites Europe B.V.

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