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Engel remains on expansion track

Friedrichshafen, Germany--Engel is poised to reach revenues of Euro 900 million for its current fiscal year despite an overall economic contraction in key markets like Europe and China. Peter Neumann, CEO of the global injection molding machine and automation supplier, told the assembled trade media in a press conference at Fakuma 2012 (Oct. 15-19; Friedrichshafen, Germany) that his firm's targeting of premium technology has allowed it to flourish while the broader economies in some of its biggest markets falter.

While headlines broadcast economic difficulties for Asia and Europe, Engel touts its investments in those very regions, inaugurating a doubling of its Shanghai facility earlier this year, and detailing its plans for a fourth subsidiary in Germany at Fakuma, with intentions for that site to be operation in January or February of next year.

Neumann explained how Engel has and will invest more than Euro 60 million in its global operations from 2011-2013, including Schwertberg (Euro 23 million); St. Valentin (Euro 15 million), Dietach (Euro 2 million), Shanghai (Euro 12 million), Korea (Euro 8 million), and Hagen (Euro 2 million).

China's thirst for machines sated
Neumann described China's recent retraction as a difficult situation, but noted it has mainly affected Chinese national molding companies who typically invest in lower-priced Chinese and Taiwanese injection molding technology, while its customer base, including multinational firms seeking full production cells, continues to expand.

Globally, Neumann said that the total sales of injection molding machines has dropped every year since 2010, falling from 95,000 in that year to a projected 90,000 in 2012. Looking forward, Engel is forecasting a further contraction of the global injection molding machine market, predicting worldwide sales of 80,000 in 2015, with Chinese market dropping from 59,500 in 2010 to 40,000 by 2015.

Austrian firm plants more German roots
Engel's willingness to set up a fourth subsidiary in Germany, despite looming pan-European economic issues, is a testament to the importance of the market for the Austrian firm. Neumann said that Germany is still Engel's largest market in Europe, with 20% of all Engel revenue generated in the country and 200 employees there.

Claus Wilde, who will head the new subsidiary located just outside Stuttgart in Wurmberg, said the newest Engel location in Germany is intended to serve the regions of Baden-Wurttemburg and Hessen. Wilde said the Stuttgart operation will host training session, works shops, and conferences, with plans in place for a medical conference next year.

The 700-sq-m technical center will be the largest of any Engel subsidiary, according to the company, with the ability to house six to seven full molding cells for training and tool trials.

A family affair
Neumann began his presentation with a description of the company's core values, and how they inform its growth, noting in particular the fact that it is a family owned business. Sharing the dais with Neumann was Stefan Engleder, Neumann's nephew and the newest member of the company's team of managing directors. "The next generation of the Engel family is now involved," Neumann said.

Engleder discussed automation developments at Engel, detailing the history of its viper line of linear robots, which initially launched at Fakuma 2009 with the viper 40. At this Fakuma, the company completes the line, with the introduction of the viper 120.

Engleder also spoke about Engel's easix line of 6-axis articulating arm robots, which launched at Fakuma 2011. The company invested Euro 1.3 million in its Dietach automation plant in a bid to reduce lead times for robot systems, with Engel noting that customers are increasingly interested in full cells.

Engleder said that within the large machine market, Engel holds a 50% share for its robots, with a 35% share in automation for small to mid-sized machines. Globally, the company said market share for the viper nearly doubled over the last four years, rising from 7% to 12%.

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