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Chinaplas: Engel doubles down on Shanghai production

Less than four years after opening the facility, Engel has doubled the size and capacity of its injection molding machine manufacturing plant near Shanghai. On Friday, April 20, the Schwertberg, Austria based supplier of injection molding and automation technology welcomed vendors and customers to an inauguration celebration, loading several buses at the Chinaplas 2012 event for the drive to its newly expanded facility in the Xinzhuang Industrial Park outside Shanghai.

Less than four years after opening the facility, Engel has doubled the size and capacity of its injection molding machine manufacturing plant near Shanghai. On Friday, April 20, the Schwertberg, Austria based supplier of injection molding and automation technology welcomed vendors and customers to an inauguration celebration, loading several buses at the Chinaplas 2012 event for the drive to its newly expanded facility in the Xinzhuang Industrial Park outside Shanghai. At the site, Engel rolled out the red carpet for its guests, literally, and asked the hundreds of visitors to sign a commemorative poster flanked by traditional Chinese floral arrangements.

Engel Shanghai exterior
Engel rolled out the red carpet for visitors to its Engel Shanghai expansion inauguration.

Inside the newly completed bay, huge overhead cranes were obscured by a theatrical lighting system installed around a purpose-built stage for the evening's ceremonies, which included speeches from a number of Engel executives, including CEO Peter Neumann, as well as a representative of the Xinzhuang Industrial Park. The presentations were simultaneously translated into Mandarin by two on-stage emcees. White satin covered tables and chairs filled the production hall, with catered food and drinks on either side. A camera suspended from a boom, swept over the assembled crowd, broadcasting live video images that were projected unto two large screens on either side of the stage.

Neumann concluded the speeches for the evening, calling the project "Engel Shanghai II : the sequel." Engel's Asian operations began in 1986, with the formation of the Engel trading company in Hong Kong. The company initially broke ground on the Shanghai plant in May 2005, completing Engel Shanghai I by the end of 2006.

Record year

The pomp and circumstance were understandable given Engel's recent run of success, with Neumann telling filled hall the company set a new record for revenue for the financial year 2011-2012, pulling in $1.1 billion when the fiscal year ended in March. At the end of 2010, less then four years after the company began production in China, it decided regional business growth was high enough to expand its facility, utilizing all of its allotted land in the industrial park.

Gero Willmeroth, president of sales and service at Engel Machinery (Shanghai) Co. Ltd., told PlasticsToday that the expansion doubles the existing footprint, plus a little more, boosting office and manufacturing space. Covering 18,000 sq m, the site currently employs 210, but that figure will reach 300 once everything is completely online, according to Willmeroth.

Engel CEO Peter Neumann
Engel CEO Peter Neumann told the filled hall that his company completed a record year, hitting $1.1 billion in turnover.
Prior to the expansion, Engel Shanghai had the capacity for around 100-120 machines/yr, depending on size and technology requirements. After the expansion, that figure jumps to 250, with the ability to manufacture machines ranging in tonnage from 350 to 3200 tonnes, including 2-K machines.

"This expansion will give us the opportunity to grow market share and shorten lead times," Neumann said, adding that the fastest growing machinery segment in China is for the kind of higher technology presses supplied by Engel.

Gerd Liebig, group marketing director for Engel, told PlasticsToday that while the overall market for injection molding machines in China is shrinking from its recent peak of 60,000, with perhaps 50,000 to be sold in 2012, the demand for higher technology machines is on the rise and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, even as the overall market settles into a more sustainable annual range around 35,000. Liebig said this is particularly true considering that the average lifespan for the typical Chinese-made machine is around 3-8 years.

Expert corners

At Chinaplas 2012 Engel presented technology displays for what it called five leading edge topics, with experts from Engel China and Engel Austria on site to speak with show visitors about the technologies. Displays covered lightweight construction, automation, LSR processing, process monitoring and glazing, working with polycarbonate supplier Bayer MaterialScience on the last display.

Automotive components were molded on an duo 5550/700 pico injection molding machine made in Shanghai. The production cell also featured a viper 40 linear robot, as well as ecodrive energy saving servohydraulics and flomo cooling water distribution system. A tiebar-less Engel victory 330/120 machine with a viper 12 robot molded mobile phones covers in a tool from Beijing based Nolato. An Engel e-max 310/100 molded protective caps for hypodermic syringes. The 48-cavity mold for this application being supplied by Engel system partner Kebo (Neuhausen, Switzerland). In another hall, the company debuted its Green Cap closure molding joint venture with Plastisud (read more here).

Xinzhuang Industrial Park that Engel calls home in Shanghai was established in August 1995, covering a total area of 17.88 sq km. Among the 360-plus tenants, 267 are foreign and 35 are Fortune 500. Engel also has manufacturing sites at its Austrian headquarters and in South Korea, with machine assembly in York, PA.

Engel's Chinaplas 2012 booth
Engel's Chinaplas booth offered live molding displays of electronic, medical and automotive applications.
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