Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc.(NAT), which produces and markets CRAiLAR, a natural fibre made from flax and other bast fibres, announced key developments this week toward advancing its first full phase of production in order to supply its CRAiLAR fibre to global partners.
In 2011, the company embarked on a yearlong effort to optimize production of its CRAiLAR technology. The company says the resulting process improvements effectively reduce the enzymatic process time by 40%, thereby significantly reducing the overall CRAiLAR fibre cycle time.
The reduction in process time significantly increases production capacity in each planned manufacturing facility. More critically, the CRAiLAR optimization allowed NAT to evaluate third-party manufacturing partners for that process, which will further increase overall production volume and accelerate growth of its flagship product, CRAiLAR Flax fibre.
"This milestone is the culmination of the last year's efforts of our innovations team, led by Jason Finnis, our CIO," said Ken Barker, CEO of NAT.
"Intended as a strategic initiative that would maximize the volume capability of our first facility this year, it's now apparent that the improvements in efficiency and resultant economics of our CRAiLAR process allows us to consider third party manufacturing as a critical option in our expansion plans."
CRAiLAR enzymatic process
As a result of this optimized process, Tintoria Piana entered into an agreement to execute the CRAiLAR enzymatic process exclusively for NAT, augmenting the company's plans for manufacturing capacity.
The agreement calls for Tintoria to commence production in Q2 2012. Tintoria's history in textiles dates to 1582 in Biella, Italy. The privately held, family-owned business has dyed fibre for the traditional apparel business for more than 60 years, and operates principally out of Cartersville, Georgia in North America.
"This move would be consistent with most other branded global industries, where outsourced manufacturing allows for faster expansion of the technology proposition and resulting brand message for our partners, while significantly reducing the capital requirements to scale up to meet demand," Barker added.
New facility in Pamplico, SC
Additionally, NAT plans to open a facility in the 143,500 square foot Delta Mills Cypress plant on Old River Road in Pamplico, South Carolina. An initial USD $8 million investment that will create 25 jobs is expected as part of the Company's establishment of production facilities there. Flax, grown as a winter crop in Florence and surrounding counties, will be processed out of NAT's new facility in Pamplico, S.C.
"We are constantly working to bring investments and jobs to all areas of our state, but it's always exciting to see a company invest in one of South Carolina's rural areas. We celebrate Naturally Advanced Technologies decision to locate in Pamplico and create 25 new jobs," said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
NAT's 2011 business activities included purchasing agreements with HanesBrands, Georgia-Pacific and Brilliant Global Knitwear, along with development agreements with Levi Strauss & Co., Cintas, Carhartt, Ashland, Westex, and Target. The first commercial result, with Hanes, received recognition this month.
"We are proud to see our investments and hard work beginning to pay off in the form of the production of CRAiLAR for commercial use. We're particularly excited that Hanesbrands, our first production partner for CRAiLAR, is being recognized this month for its sustainability efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and that it cited the use of our flax fibre in its EcoSmart socks, which will be available at retail in April."
"We thank the State of South Carolina, Florence County, and all those who helped to establish the Company's presence in South Carolina," said Barker.
"The establishment of our first full-scale production facility, alongside our new partnership in neighboring Georgia through Tintoria, gives us a foothold in one of the most important agricultural and manufacturing regions in North America. We look forward to further establishing our commercial, agricultural and civic partnerships there."
Author: Billy Hunter