Issue: Feb 2009


AI interview with William R. (Bill) Carteaux, president and CEO of SPI



by James Hilton

INTERVIEW - At a time when our industry really needs to meet face to face, discuss business issues, and consider the way forward, the triennial international plastics showcase, NPE2009, is where you will find tens of thousands of professionals in one place, representing the entire plastics value chain and its related industries. The show, produced by The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) will be held at Chicago’s McCormick Place between the 22nd and 26th of June.

Founded in 1937, SPI is the plastics industry trade association representing the third largest manufacturing industry in the United States. SPI's member companies represent the entire plastics industry supply chain, including processors, machinery and equipment manufacturers and raw materials suppliers. The U.S. plastics industry employs 1.1 million workers and provides nearly USD374 billion in annual shipments

At NPE2009 seven other conferences or events will take place. One of these is an SPI-organized educational program called “The Business of Plastics,” consisting of (at latest count) 90 presentations that address marketing, human capital management, finance, environmental issues, regulation, global economic trends, and other matters of strategic importance to business management

In addition there will be a number of co-located events produced by other organizations. One is the Society of Plastics Engineers’ ANTEC™ 2009, the world’s largest plastics technical conference, and another is Gardner Publications’ MoldMaking Expo™ 2009 show and conference. Plus, there will be the inaugural Time Compression Expo (TCE), targeted at rapid product development industry professionals to help them learn more about established and emerging processes and technologies in the areas of design, software, prototyping, tooling and direct manufacturing to help reduce time to market.

Still another co-located event at NPE2009 will be Coatings for Plastics, a conference produced by the Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology (FSCT) for professionals who specify and use coatings on plastics, as well as coating manufacturers and raw material suppliers.
Also co-located with NPE2009 will be a Latin American plastics conference, produced by B2B Portales, Inc.’s Tecnología del Plástico and Conversión magazines and conducted entirely in Spanish.

NPE2009 expects to attract around 2,000 companies that will exhibit at the show and will cover an area of a million square feet. More than a third of the exhibitors will be coming from outside the United States and around 75,000 plastics professionals from 120 countries are expected to attend. The other first for the show is that it will debut the International Plastics Design Competition for designers and manufacturers of components and finished products.

A highlight of NPE2009 is expected to be the Emerging Technologies Pavilion. The pavilion, with its Platinum sponsor DuPont, will be a new type of multi-exhibitor pavilion that will present the latest developments in four emerging technologies that are already helping to determine the future, not just of the plastics industry but of the world’s economy and environment, says SPI. These four areas include sustainability, bioplastics, nanotechnology, and energy—the last including conservation and alternate sources. The pavilion will have exhibits by companies, government agencies, and research consortia.

“The Emerging Technologies Pavilion will represent in concentrated form many developments that will be on display or in discussion throughout NPE2009 and about which many plastics professionals feel a pressing need to know. NPE2009 will be remembered for introductions of new bioplastic and nanocomposite materials, new ways for plastics to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and innovative approaches to the many issues summed up by the concept of sustainability,” said William R. (Bill) Carteaux, president and CEO of SPI.

Automotive Industries caught up with Bill Carteaux.

AI: What are the benefits of co-locating multiple events and conferences with NPE2009?

More and more trade shows are cooperating with other trade shows as well as conferences. The purpose of co-location is to give visitors more value in attending the event by offering them more to learn and discover. They pay the same transportation and hotel costs for a number of co-located events as they do for only one. In this time of a difficult economy, adding value to events is important.

AI: What are some of the synergies between the events?

There is enormous scope for synergy among the many co-located events at NPE2009. For starters, on our NPE website at www.npe.org we provide registered visitors with electronic planning tools to help each person right-size the show and make the most of his or her time in Chicago. And when they get to McCormick Place, they’ll be able to use special kiosks (or their laptops) to log in and update their booth-visit and event plans as they change.
To show how this electronic capability relates to your question about synergy, consider the options open to an NPE2009 visitor from the automotive industry. First, on the exhibit floor, there will be automotive-specific technologies on display in the booths of material and equipment suppliers, as well as component and subassembly designs submitted for the International Plastics Design Competition. Second, an entire session on innovations in automotive plastics will be included in the ANTEC technical conference. Third, there will be a session on automotive coatings in the Coatings for Plastics conference. And so on. Our planning tool enables the automotive visitor to assemble a multifaceted program, richer in content and scope than if he or she had gone to a single trade show alone.
At NPE2009 itself, SPI will carry this idea of synergy even further by providing information linking specific conference presentations to relevant exhibits on the show floor. In this way, there will be a marriage of the research or technical realm and the commercial realm.

AI: Do you think enthusiasm will be dampened by the economic slowdown? Or is the show even more relevant now to professionals in the plastics industry? If so, why?

Taking part in an event as rich in content and broad in scope as NPE2009 will be a necessary investment for companies that need solutions for coping with today’s rough times and emerging from them stronger and more competitive. Quite simply, we need an event like NPE2009 to bring the industry together and catalyze business.

AI: Tell us a little about the emerging technologies pavilion and what people can expect to see there.

SPI has dedicated a multi-exhibitor pavilion in the West Hall of McCormick Place for these emerging technologies. With DuPont as the exclusive Platinum sponsor and Dow as a Gold sponsor, the Emerging Technologies Pavilion will have four sectors, including Sustainability (anchored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), Bioplastics (the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Office of Technology Transfer), Energy (the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy), and Nanotechnology (the Center for Multifunctional Polymer Nanomaterials and Devices).
The Emerging Technologies Pavilion will present, in concentrated form, concepts and technologies certain to play dominant roles throughout NPE2009. While the automotive industry has cause to be interested in sustainability and bioplastics, let’s consider the other two sectors represented in the Pavilion, energy and nanotechnology.
The category of energy embraces both conservation and alternate energy systems. Conservation in the automotive industry means fuel savings through light-weighting, which is of course a key benefit of plastics automobile components. As for alternate energy sources, just consider the contributions of plastics toward development of new types of batteries for hybrid and plug-in vehicles.
Nanotechnology also has special relevance to automotive applications. The greater strength and stiffness of nanocomposites in comparison with standard plastics makes it possible to reduce vehicle weight by reducing the material content of a component without sacrificing performance.
AI: Tell us a little about this year’s theme for NPE2009 – It’s All About Business. Why is this relevant today and how is the theme going to impact the exhibition?

At a time of economic challenge like this one, when business activity has slowed in many sectors, NPE2009 will be a place where doing business is the order of the day. There is activity everywhere.

Where else can you encounter all of the people and resources important for seeing your company through these times and emerging competitive? NPE2009 means buying one airline ticket to see the entire supply chain. You can visit with supplier executives, R&D personnel, engineers, product managers, and marketing people from each company relevant to your business—then walk a short distance for comparison shopping.
Where else, too, will it be possible to discover the emergent technologies shaping tomorrow’s industry? There will be hundreds of conference sessions at NPE2009 to advance your company’s knowledge and your own professional career.

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