Transparency was a big theme at this week’s annual Technology Days open house at injection molding machine manufacturer Arburg (Lossburg, Germany). The event served as the company’s official opening of its new customer center, which houses, behind 10-meter-high floor-to-ceiling glass windows, more than 30 machines from across the company’s range of machines. “We make our work and our products clear for all to see—for customers, employees, visitors, local residents and even tourists,” stated Michael Hehl, executive partner and spokesman for the family-owned company’s board of directors.
Molders at the Arburg open house dig into a buffet…
…before prying into the details of the firm’s new Hidrive machine range.
The center also includes a Class 7 cleanroom, a room for powder (metal or ceramic) injection molding tests, a separate room for “production technology,” Arburg’s service which helps processors run their facilities more efficiently, and a number of meeting rooms.
The company’s executives also made clear that the current financial maelstrom has caused the company pain, but not injury. Hehl emphasized that the investment in the center and in new machine technology should be interpreted as a sign of the company’s strength. “We’ve been reinvesting our profits into the company for many years, so this down period won’t cripple us,” he said during a meeting Wednesday evening.
The company has been affected by the global downturn, with its 2008 results not yet finalized but expected to hit about €350 million, some 14% shy of the previous year’s record revenue. The first two months of 2009 saw a much more pronounced drop-off, with sales falling more than 50% compared to the same period in 2008, said Helmut Heinson, managing director, sales, at the company. Heinson said the drop in orders and sales has been global, and in fact almost exactly the same as the percentage drop in revenue for Arburg in every region of the world. The company reckons it has gained market share domestically and held its share in other markets.
For molders, the event was their first chance to see the company’s new Allrounder Hidrive hybrid machines, with two of these, a 470H (100 tonnes’ clamp force) and a 570H (200 tonnes’ clamp force), in operation during the event. Hidrive, says Herbert Kraibühler, the company’s managing director for technology, is Arburg’s new take on hybrid electrically/hydraulically powered machines, calling it an “energy-optimized, high-end machine” for single-material applications. The machine pairs a servo-electric clamping unit, as already used in the company’s Allrounder A series of presses, with a hydraulic injection unit, as established on the firm’s Allrounder S advance machines.
The injection unit, complemented by a hydraulic accumulator, means these machines can generate the sort of injection speeds necessary for thin-walled packaging and other applications, but with less energy required than if the machine was entirely electric, says Kraibühler. The accumulator is regulated so that only the necessary pressure required for actual demand is generated. On the electrically powered side of the machine, braking energy from the servomotors is recovered and fed back into the machine’s mains. He says the Hidrive range will be priced about 25% less than the firm’s Alldrive all-electric machines; Hidrives are available with a limited number of options and, as previously noted, only are available with a single injection unit. “With energy savings, high injection speed, and a low price, we think we’ve got a winner,” he stated.
The Hidrive range includes, at present, five machines with clamp forces ranging between 60 and 320 tonnes, with injection shot weight ranging between 97 g of PS on the smallest unit with the smallest screw (of three screw sizes offered per model) up to 1286 g for the largest model with the largest screw.
In other machine technology news, the company expanded its all-electric Alldrive machine range on both ends. New are the Allrounder 270 A, the smallest machine in the range at 35 tonnes of clamp force, and the 720 A sized at 320 tonnes. Arburg officials said the company’s share of sales traced to all-electric machines rose last year from 12% to 17%. —[email protected]