SpecialChem S.A., an Internet-based consultancy focusing on specialty chemicals and plastics, has announced the launch of the new Omnexus on-line platform dedicated to innovation and solutions through plastics and elastomers. The portal provides a continuous feed of reports on industry trends, a “polymer selector” to help engineers pick the right material for their projects, and industrial design support from a network of experts.

“Today, manufacturing industries are under strong pressure from low-cost producers based in emerging countries,” says Christophe Cabarry, founder and COO of SpecialChem. “We have been talking to many industrials recently, and their best way to fight cost competition is to innovate and reduce time to market. With Omnexus, we will provide industrial designers and engineers working in plastics and elastomers with technical services to create innovative products and implement better solutions, much faster.”

SpecialChem acquired Omnexus in December 2003 and has been canvassing the industry since then in preparation for improving, expanding, and relaunching the portal. The services offered through Omnexus are open to all designers and engineers involved in material selection and product design.

SpecialChem says that Omnexus should be especially helpful to those involved in high-tech industries such as automotive, electronics, packaging, appliances, medical, telecom, and audio/video. Membership to the Omnexus community is free of charge and gives access to all innovations and services.

“The new Omnexus is also an excellent way for suppliers serving the plastics and elastomers industry to promote new products and technologies,” Cabarry says. He adds that the port can “accelerate the introduction of their innovations, push complex solutions instead of raw materials, find new customers, or detect emerging market trends.”

SpecialChem, headquartered in Paris, supports a global community of more than 75,000 already registered industry professionals with efficient e-tools such as on-line databases and Web seminars. Through its network of industry experts, the company provides suppliers with marketing and business development services that are based on speed, targeting, global reach, and low-intensity use of resources.

Even if the weather isn’t exceptionally hot, a convention on Amelia Island, off the eastern coast of Florida, sounds quite appealing. And that’s the site of the American Mold Builders Association‘s annual convention, which will be held March 18-23 at the Amelia Island Plantation. The theme for the conference is “Creating the Competitive Edge,” with the goal of helping mold shops recognize their niches, develop strategies to be more competitive, learn better business practices, and updates themselves on the latest technologies.

Speakers include Craig Fitzgerald of Plante & Moran, who will address such issues as rates of return for lower-tier suppliers and the appeal of certain business models; returning speaker Steve LeFever, who will discuss succession planning; attorney Mark S. Mahoney, who will talk about preventing small problems from becoming legal nightmares; and Hommer Tool’s Jim Hommer, who will outline the ABCs of outsourcing. Hommer will focus on how partnering with other companies can help reduce both costs to manufacture and lead times.

AMBA’s annual convention will be further enhanced by speakers from System 3R, Pleasant Precision, and D-M-E.

Following the conclusion of three-year inaugural technical partnership, a further three-year extension has been agreed upon by the British metrology firm Renishaw plc and Mercedes-Ilmor Ltd., supplier of championship-winning race engines to Mercedes-Benz.

The renewed partnership aims to continue the achievements of the earlier agreement signed in November 1999 by Renishaw and Ilmor Engineering Ltd. Despite a change of Ilmor’s ownership in December 2002, when Mercedes-Benz took a majority stake in the company, the newly renamed Mercedes-Ilmor has decided to maintain the partnership with Renishaw because of its positive contribution to its manufacturing operations.

“Working with Renishaw enables us to get the best from our machining operations,” says plant manager Adam Labudek. “Its products allow Mercedes-Ilmor to achieve the shortest possible lead times while ensuring the highest levels of component quality.”

Under the terms of the new partnership agreement, Renishaw will continue as Mercedes-Ilmor’s sole supplier of probing systems and machine tool performance testing products, with an increased focus on the field-testing of Renishaw’s metrology products at Mercedes-Ilmor’s main manufacturing site in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, UK.