Meeting the demands of a growing world

Seals in polymeric materials to food, beverage and pharmaceutical producers

An expanding global population and rising living standards are fueling demand in the process industries. Requirements for safety, quality and performance mean growth for Trelleborg.

From food to pharmaceuticals, chemicals to petrochemicals processing companies strive constantly to increase efficiency and reduce waste and maintenance costs while meeting ever more stringent environmental and product safety regulations. Though many industrial sectors were heavily impacted by the global downturn, the food, beverage and, pharmaceutical industries have been relatively unscathed. “The world population is growing, and more people have and more people have access to processed food and medicines, so this market is showing consistent growth,” says Ferdinand Schwabe, Food, Beverage & Pharmaceutical Segment Manager Europe, at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions. The company supplies a wide range of static, linear and rotary seals in polymeric materials to food, beverage and pharmaceutical producers globally.

 The need for hygienic design to ensure product safety while maintaining economic efficiency is affecting demand for Trelleborg’s products. For one thing, customers need materials and components that can handle higher temperatures. “Hygienic design is a big issue within the food and pharmaceutical industries,” Schwabe says. “This puts big demands on the seals. For example, manufacturers want to increase cleaning temperatures from 80°C to 140°C to make cleaning more effective. Our seals must handle these conditions.” These trends keep Trelleborg’s R&D departments busy, with customers calling for solutions that fulfill hygienic design requirements and meet food contact regulations. “Business is growing,” Schwabe says. His segment recently had its best month ever, and Schwabe says he expects the trend to continue. “A leading player like Trelleborg finds it easier than other companies to meet the costs of developing and testing the special compounds required to fulfill legal and quality management requirements.”

The chemicals industry, one of the largest sectors in the process industry, is a USD 3.7 trillion global enterprise that is continuing to grow. European and U.S. chemical companies remain the world’s largest producers, but China and India are the main growth markets, and Western companies are investing heavily there. Olivier Libes is the Marketing & Product Development Manager for Trelleborg in Clermont-Ferrand, France, which supplies many of the world’s major chemical producers with hoses. It recently opened an office in China west of Shanghai. This migration is not a case of outsourcing production but rather of moving to where demand is. “Western companies are establishing themselves in China, and they know what they want in terms of component quality and performance, so we are now there to provide them with our solutions.”

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