Birch Chemicals: Company at three major events
Birch Chemicals, a specialist in the manufacture of microfine calcium oxide desiccants and calcium hydroxide curing agents, announced that it will have a presence at three major events in its sector later this year.
The company, whose products are used mainly in the rubber, plastics and powder coatings industries, will be at the International Rubber Conference 2019 (3 – 5 September 2019 in London, UK), at RubberTech China 2019 (18 – 20 September 2019 in Shanghai, China), and at the International Elastomer Conference (8 – 10 October 2019 in Cleveland, OH, USA).
According to Birch Chemicals, the company is best known for its Innovox range and has two centuries of history yet is also at the cutting edge of its sector. As Steve Foster, Managing Director of Birch Chemicals explained, the raw material for Innovox is lime and it is here that past and present meet. “We are part of the Singleton Birch group, the UK’s leading independent supplier of lime products which was founded in 1815,” he said. “Singleton Birch still operates from the North Lincolnshire site where company founder William Singleton Birch first leased land to set-up a quarry. At Birch Chemicals, we operate from the same site, using lime from the Singleton Birch quarry which is then micronized and classified. We are the only company in this market who manufacture our own lime. This gives our customers a high level of quality assurance, consistency, control and traceability.”
“We know from previous conferences that this is the sort of key information that people want to talk to us about and we’re really pleased to have the opportunity to share our story in London, China and the USA later this year at the International Rubber Conference, RubberTech China and the International Elastomer Conference,” said Foster. These attributes are vital for Birch Chemicals products’ various applications, such as EPDM rubber products, which are used in sectors including automotive manufacture.
As well as the Innovox desiccant range, Birch Chemicals also manufactures Innovoh cure activator for FKM rubbers, which is said to give best in class performance for dispersion and cross-link density. Its Masterox range of plastic desiccants is used in thin film and other plastics applications, including recycling. The shared site operation also reduces lead times from raw material production to finished product packaging, ensuring consistently high-quality products, said the manufactuer.
“Birch Chemicals really owes its existence to the historic lime business,” said Foster. “Back in 2000, Singleton Birch began supplying quicklime to a company called Innovo when it was formed in Surrey. Singleton Birch then acquired Innovo in 2009 after it relocated from Surrey to Singleton Birch’s North Lincolnshire site. We then took the decision to change the name to Birch Chemicals last year to reflect our continued growth and plans for expansion but also to connect more clearly to the original lime business.”
The Innovox product name was retained under this umbrella with new branding introduced for its packaging earlier this summer. Foster said: “Our product is very well regarded and as Innovo, we had an excellent reputation for customer service to match this. As Birch Chemicals, we continually strive to enhance this reputation with both distribution partners and end users as we continue to develop cutting-edge solutions for our customers. We therefore work very hard to make sure what goes into these solutions delivers the high-quality result that the company is known for. With our new packaging, we were also able to demonstrate that we care just as much about what the product goes into as what goes into the product.”
According to the company, the new packaging also incorporates Birch Chemicals’ latest development in bag construction. The improved design is easier to open, reduces the risk of downstream contamination in processes and provides guaranteed product protection. Once opened, the bags are simply folded down and closed to protect any remaining product. The company has also worked with packaging supplier Kite to reduce its plastic usage by 6.8 t every year. Kite is aiming to reduce the amount plastic used by itself and its customers by 120 t by the end of 2019. It teamed-up with Birch Chemicals to carry out a stretch wrap audit on site with one of Kite’s Load Retention Specialists. The result was the implementation of a brand new stronger, more efficient and thinner film applied in conjunction with one of Kite’s Robopac wrapping machines. This will save the equivalent of 566,667 plastic bottles in packaging and reduce CO2 emissions by the equivalent of taking seven family-sized diesel cars off the road.
“We invested 600 k last year in new laboratories to support the work of a specialist R+D team on the development of Birch Chemicals products,” said Foster. “This has attracted a lot of interest and in the spring, we welcomed representatives from leading worldwide sector supplier and one of Birch Chemicals distribution partners, Safic-Alcan, for a tour of these facilities. It was an opportunity for them to learn more about how we are continuing to innovate and grow to maintain the enviable reputation we have today and for the future. They were also able to see the historic foundation on which the business is built with Singleton Birch recently celebrating its 200-year anniversary. This understanding helps us strengthen the excellent relationships we have with our distribution partners and expand to gain new customers.”
Rapid growth has already seen Birch Chemicals’ turnover increase significantly from 2012 to 2018 with ambitions to boost this further over the coming years. Its product ranges are sold worldwide, mainly through a distribution network, and are at the premium end of the market, said the company. Birch Chemicals therefore has very good logistics connections for ease of global distribution.
Foster said: “An example of this is the car manufacturing industry and interestingly, this is where past and present once again collide. This is because Singleton Birch’s largest shareholder is a charitable trust, the three main beneficiaries of which are the NSPCC, RSPCA and Barnardo’s. The trust is named after Katherine Martin, the wife of founder William Singleton Birch’s grandson, Lionel Martin. Lionel used the family business to help him fund his passion for cars and went on to found the Aston Martin car company which still bears his name today. Now we at Birch Chemicals are supplying our product to car manufacturers which I think is something Lionel would be proud of.”