Injection molding machinery manufacturer Engel has recorded strong growth in its latest financial year, seeing sales rebound from €358 million in the year ending March 2010 to €615 million in the year to March 2011. Business in big machines in China is helping fuel the growth, one reason the company is set to double its manufacturing capacity there.
One factor behind Engel's strong growth was a resurgent automotive industry, where processors were not only investing in replacement machinery but also in new processing innovations, according to Gerd Liebig, group marketing director and head of sales at Engel Austria (Schwertberg, Austria). "I estimate 10% of investment is in injection machines featuring new innovations," he said during an interview with PlasticsToday at the Chinaplas trade show in Guangzhou (May 17-20).
China is a key market for auto investment, with around 18 million vehicles sold in 2010 and further growth anticipated despite restrictions and financial burdens being placed on car ownership in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. "We expect growth rates of 10-15%/year, meaning several new assembly plants will be required every year," noted Gero Willmeroth, president, sales and service, at Engel Machinery (Shanghai) Co. The geographical trend in China's automotive industry is to go west, as evidenced by recent investments by Volvo and VW in Chengdu.
Another factor behind Engel's growth story in 2010 was inroads made by its two-platen Duo Pico machines in the 500-700-tonne clamping force range. "We've increased our market share in areas such as packaging, telecom, and flat screen TVs," said Liebig.
The third component of revenue growth at Engel has been investment in processing machinery by plastics processors in emerging markets outside of Asia. "We are seeing more business in Russia, Iran, and the Near East, and are working to increase our presence in these markets," said Liebig.
Engel is also monitoring gains made by servo-driven hydraulic machines in Asia, and offers this option on its Victory and Duo Pico machines. "The energy savings achievable are higher for small machines, at 50%, compared with the 30% obtainable for larger machines," said Liebig. "In our estimation, the global share of all-electrics has declined of late, although all-electrics are still preferred for high-performance and fast-cycle applications."
Engel has been manufacturing large machines (500-3200 tonnes) in Shanghai since the end of 2006 and in the year ending in March 2011, it built 100 machines, which was around double the level of 2009. Piling work commenced on the weekend before Chinaplas for a further doubling of capacity at the Shanghai plant, with the new production hall slated for opening in early 2012.
In South Korea, Engel recently started building vertical presses to cater to the burgeoning LED market.