DuPont expects to conduct maintenance on lines that produce its Tyvek fabric which is used to make protective garments. DuPont makes the material at its site in Contern, Luxembourg, and at its Spruance complex in Richmond, Virginia state, US.
CEO Ed Breen said the maintenance involves more than one line, although he did not specify how many. He made the comments during an earnings conference call.
DuPont is going to rotate the lines through the maintenance, Breen added. Each line undergoing maintenance will be down for two to three weeks. Dupont has been running its Tyvek lines at high rates to meet increased demand for protective personal equipment (PPE) caused by the coronavirus, Breen explained. The work had paid off, and DuPont was able to double the production rate of Tyvek garments to 30m/month. To increase garment output, DuPont diverted fabric from another business unit which uses the fabric to make building wrap for construction projects. “We got those up and running at way higher rates than what we had been running them at before because of the pandemic,” Breen said. A couple of the Tyvek lines are extremely old, he said.
DuPont did not specify how the maintenance will affect Tyvek garment production, but it will limit supply. In Q3, Tyvek garments will be down from the second quarter but up from Q3 2019, according to the company. DuPont did not specify whether Tyvek revenue would fall quarter on quarter or if earnings would fall quarter on quarter.
During the second quarter, sales of the garments rose by more than 60% year on year. Looking ahead, DuPont expects to resume working on an expansion project that will add a third line to its Tyvek plant in Luxembourg. The government in Luxembourg ordered DuPont to halt work at the project because of the pandemic, Breen said. It should be back online in a year-and-a-half. Tyvek is made out of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) fibres.