Bayer MaterialScience has established its Global Footwear Competence Center (GFCC) in Shanghai, China, where it will spearhead the development of advanced materials and provide technical support to the global footwear industry.
Peter Vanacker, Head of the Polyurethanes Business Unit of Bayer MaterialScience, explained that this decision reflects the importance of China as a global footwear production powerhouse, and Bayer’s commitment to provide expert and customised technical support close to its customers.
"China accounts for more than 60 percent of global footwear production. In 2005, more than 7 billion pairs of shoes were made in China, which is more than one pair of shoes for every person on the planet," Vanacker said. "In addition, the footwear industry has to be very closely aligned with changing fashion and lifestyle requirements. This requires very short development and response times, and, therefore, we see the need to be located close to both our customers and the market."
The GFCC will function as a technical backbone for BaySystems - Bayer’s global polyurethanes systems house network. Through the GFCC, the BaySystems Footwear Business Development teams from around the world will be able to leverage on cutting edge polyurethane systems and processing technology to serve its global and local customers. The GFCC will focus on the development of new innovative technologies and advanced materials, as well as the continuous improvement of existing technologies.
"Efficiency is a key target for the footwear industry when it comes to investment costs, production costs and performance," said Dr. Thomas Braig, Regional Marketing Director for BaySystems Molded Parts & Elastomers. "With our polyurethane systems for footwear, we can contribute significantly to an efficient coverage of all major footwear segments: Safety, fashion and casual shoes, as well as active and sports shoes," he added.
The GFCC is situated within Bayer MaterialScience’s Polymer Research and Development Center located at the Jinqiao Industrial Processing Zone in Shanghai. It is equipped with the most advanced footwear-related facilities. These include injection-molding machines for both polyurethane and thermoplastic polyurethane applications, casting machines as well as a pre-polymer and polyol formulation pilot plant.
The GFCC expands on existing capabilities instituted at the company’s global headquarters in Germany. "Here in Shanghai, we will continue to build on Bayer MaterialScience’s existing expertise in polyurethane systems for footwear applications, and at the same time further push technology and material development," said Roy Lin, Head of Business Development for BaySystems Molded Parts & Elastomers, and Automotive Systems. "As part of our efforts to consistently be at the forefront of development, we will continue to invest in state-of-the-art instruments at the GFCC in Shanghai," Lin revealed.