Smith steps down as Daramic president. Moorehead takes over


Pete Smith, the president of Daramic, the battery separator manufacturer, has stepped down following a reshuffle announced on January 6.

Bryan Moorehead, vice president and managing director of the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa for more than two years, takes over. Moorehead previously spent eight years as a vice president of global operations with Celgard, a subsidiary like Daramic of Polypore.

Smith had been president of energy storage, transportation and industrial at Daramic, which was bought by the Japanese Asehi Kasei group, since October 2013.

This move surprised us,” said one commentator, “as Pete combined an unusual commercial flair — he had a masters in business administration — and a deep technological understanding with a doctorate and 10 patents to boot.”

The appointment came shortly after the company announced a new manufacturing plant in Gujarat, India, which will produce separators for all kinds of lead acid batteries.

We have a long-term commitment to India and south Asia,” incoming president Bryan Moorehead, said. “Our new plant will play a strategic role in our plans to meet the rapidly growing demand for high quality lead acid battery separators in the region. The investment increases our global production capacity, while providing flexibility to more efficiently and effectively meet the needs of our customers around the globe.”

The Gujarat plant marks the first major PE separator supplier to open a dedicated manufacturing facility in India.

Local production allows us to significantly shorten lead times, improve supply chain efficiency and develop industry-leading products that meet local customer needs,” said Ahila Krishnamoorthy, managing director of the south Asia region.

Part of our approach to what we intend to do in Asia,” said Krishnamoorthy,” is to add what in India is called ‘Kosuru’ — that extra bit that keeps customers coming back for more.”

The Gujarat plant will be Daramic’s sixth manufacturing site in Asia, bringing the number of global facilities to 10. The company did not want to discuss how much investment had been made but spokesperson Dawn Heng said local demand was a major factor in the plant’s creation.

There is a special application in India — the inverter — which has maintained an 8% growth in the last decade,” said Heng. “Previous practice was to use either automotive or industrial products which are standard in other regions, while there was no specific R&D or production in India.

With our local end-to-end production and local R&D centre in India, we can really deliver the ad hoc products for local customer needs and support their innovation and growth.”

Daramic says it is the world’s largest manufacturer of lead acid battery separators, and its sister companies within the Asahi Kasei group make separators for lithium-ion batteries.

By leveraging that capability, we are able to deliver full solutions to automotive applications from basic SLI to start-stop to hybrid and electric vehicles,” said Heng. “There is a huge number of after-market vehicles – more than 1.1 billion – equipped with lead-acid batteries and they will continue to need the same technology. We are also seeing innovations in lead-acid in new applications such as start-stop to expand its scope. We still see a bright future for lead-acid.

Daramic expects to launch a new product on to the market — probably before year-end — but did not give details.