At a time of global economic uncertainty, Netherlands-based Dunlop Conveyor Belting is bucking the trend by making the biggest single investment in its history.
The new investments, totalling some €6.4 million euros, are designed to increase current capacity as well as adding a brand new product to its already comprehensive range of rubber multi-ply belting.
The first phase, costing some €2.5 million, is the addition of a new, 12m long 'double-daylight' press, which will produce rolls of up to 4m in diameter (20 tonnes) at a width of up to 1,400mm.
Director of production, Michiel Eijpe, says that the press will be at least twice as efficient as current presses.
"We urgently need to improve our capacity to keep up with customer demand, particularly our ability to make more 800-1,400mm wide belts. Increasing capacity also means that we can further reduce lead times for our customers, which will give us yet another edge over our competitors," says Eijpe.
The second part of the programme is an investment of €3.9 million to build a new, 100m long production hall on the existing site. Here it is planned to install a steelcord production line that will be linked to their newest press, which itself was only installed in 2009.
The new production line will be used to produce steelcord belting for the first time ever in Holland.
Although actual production is not expected to begin before September, 2012, sales and marketing director Andries Smilda already has eyes on winning new market share.
"This will create a whole new dimension to our sales efforts. A great many of our customers use steelcord as well as rubber multi-ply belting so we have a ready-made target market to attack".
Until now supplies of steelcord belting for existing customers have largely been produced by Fenner USA.
"Although the quality is excellent, the limitation on sales is mostly due to the shipping costs from North America, which puts us at an immediate price disadvantage. With our own steelcord production located in Europe we will be able to be much more aggressive and responsive," explains Smilda.
At the same time, Dunlop continues to expand its network of Dunlop service centres, which provide a 24/7/365 belt-fitting service. Having already successfully established centres in Holland, Spain, Poland, Morocco and two (Bergamo and Sicily) in Italy, Dunlop has recently opened another service centre in Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
Although Tenerife may at first sound like an unusual location for a conveyor belt business, the local market is surprisingly big, says Dunlop.
Dunlop Service Canary (through its acquisition of a long-standing vulcanising company) has established itself as a major player throughout Tenerife itself; Lanzarote, La Gomera and Fuerteventura. There is also a strong connection between the islands and countries on the west coast of Africa.