The unprecedented realignment of plastics assets in North America continued yesterday as Dow Chemical announced the creation of a new business group called Dow Portfolio Optimization. Each product assigned to the group has been earmarked for strategic evaluation, indicating a possible divestiture. All product lines in the group are plastics or polymers, including the engineering plastic polycarbonate.
“Within any organization, systematic portfolio management is fundamental to a company’s evolution and sits right at the heart of long-term shareholder value creation,” says Dow CEO Andrew N. Liveris. “Our newly created portfolio brings this highly important activity squarely into the spotlight, ensuring we drive it forward with discipline, with diligence and with due speed.”
George Biltz, who currently heads the company’s Specialty Plastics and Elastomers portfolio, has been appointed business group president of the new portfolio, which includes Saran Films, synthetic rubber, polycarbonate, compounds and blends and specialty polymers. More product lines may be added later.
Dow and Chevron Phillips earlier spun their polystyrene businesses into a joint venture called Americas Styrenics. The biggest move was GE’s sale of its engineering plastics business to Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corp. The volatility of plastics prices coupled with high oil prices have made many plastics operations unwanted baggage for many publicly held companies.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.