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Industry News, PMR Insights

PMR Turning the Tides – Canadian Catalytic Converter Innovation

Published in: Canadian Auto Recyclers Magazine 2017, page 102 – January 2017

Twenty years ago, no one would have predicted that there would be more catalytic converter scrap entering Canada than leaving. But for PMR, a Montreal-based converter processing facility, that has always been the plan.

“When we started the business, 20 years ago it was our dream to be processing the kind of volume we do today,” says Pierre Marchand, co-owner and one of the business’s founders.

There are roughly 25,000 scrap converters available for recycling in Canada each week. PMR presently imports on average an additional 13,500 weekly – or 53% more – from the USA alone. 

In a market where converters are hard to come by, PMR’s imports keep reaching new heights.

How Does a Canadian Company Acquire Such a Significant Market Share?

“Although the USA represents a good portion of our total volume, we are strong in the Canadian market,” says Marchand. “We also receive material regularly from Australia, Southeast Asia, Middle Eastern countries, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean.”

According to Marchand, the recipe for PMR’s success in catalytic converter innovation is Canadian ingenuity, hard work, transparency, and great customer service.

Innovating the Industry

When catalytic converter processors required a minimum of 1,000 converters – or 2,000 lbs of ceramic substrate – for toll refining, recyclers’ options were limited. And with final settlement rates of four to six weeks, recyclers were missing out on market opportunities and had to wait to reinvest their capital.

PMR knew industry standards had to change. “Our competition said it couldn’t be done,” says Christian Thibault, CEO and President of PMR. “We took that as a challenge and made it happen.”

To advance catalytic converter innovation, PMR developed machinery built to crush and sample smaller lots, creating the first-ever minimum lot requirement of only 150 units – or 200 lbs of ceramic. With state-of-the-art laboratory technology, recyclers have access to the true value of their material in less than 15 days. 

“We had to develop a way to efficiently and accurately decan and sample smaller lots. The technology didn’t exist, so we made it ourselves,” Thibault continues. “We have learned what works through a process of trial and error. We have it right now, and we are continuing to make new innovations.”

Dealing Direct

PMR has given scrapyards the opportunity to deal directly with a refinery rather than rely on core buyers to estimate what their converters are worth. Recyclers can send off their material with confidence and benefit from its true value, all while capitalizing on market trends. 

“We believe our ability to work with yards directly not only gives PMR a bigger market share in Canada but also helps us become a major global competitor in the autocatalyst recovery market,” says Thibault.

Foil-Type Converters & O2 Sensors

PMR is now the only North American facility that can offer assayed results on ceramic, foil, and 02 Sensors all under one roof. With the goal of pivoting away from industry settlement rates of 3 to 6 months for this material type, PMR set a new standard by developing a system that offers final payment in half the time on minimum loads of 500 lbs.

“We found ourselves in the same place looking for faster settlements on smaller lots with both foil converters and 02 Sensors. So after looking at all our options, we did what we have always done. Solve the problem ourselves,” says Thibault. “Not only did we find a way to process smaller lots faster but also found a way to capture all of the wash coats.”

Free Knowledge in Catalytic Converter Innovation

For many years now, the value of catalytic converters has been a closely guarded secret. There are arguments on all sides as to why this has been, but it has only served to keep recyclers from fully taking advantage of the value of their materials.

Converter Catalog

For 15 years, PMR has been building its own database of catalytic converters based on separate assays. They believe that information is the key to success, and for all their suppliers, PMR offers a master catalog with more than 22,000 assayed converters. PMR’s suppliers have access to their catalog and price list for free, helping them deepen their knowledge of converter pricing and sharpen their acquisition skills.

Photo Grading for Catalytic Converter Value

“We believe that by offering real information about converters to our clients, we are building a relationship based on trust and transparency,” says Marchand. “We have now gone one step further. Our latest mobile application allows our suppliers to take a picture of 1 or even 100 converters with the program, send it to us, and get a real-time grading of the material!”  

Now any scrapyard can purchase converters or take them into inventory with a high degree of confidence and market security. The system is capable of giving a yard a clear picture of its converter inventory against the market in real time or with a hedged metal price.

Video Grading Technology

The last part of the catalytic converter innovation puzzle comes together with video grading made available to each supplier.  

“We felt that it made sense for our customers to see each converter be brought into stock with a video recording. This assures security of a load and provides the opportunity for distance learning,” comments Thibault. “There are so many ways of grading material, and we want to make sure that our clients are the most educated in the business.”

Canadians Do It Better

It’s clear why many American businesses are sending their converters north. PMR is a clear leader in catalytic converter innovation, with its unparalleled services, offering faster and better returns than even the toughest US competitors. Now it’s time for Canadian yards to ask themselves the question: Why not sell directly to a Canadian company that doesn’t just compete in the American market, but has a dominant share? 

PMR believes that the right way to do business is to help all recyclers maintain and grow their business operations. Here are 4 expert tips to help you with the processing industry. 

For more PMR updates, visit PMR’s Resource Center.

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