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Hand-me-down processing equipment picks up when new is hard to come by

Today’s improved economy appears to have washed over to the used processing equipment market, where good demand is coming for both injection molding presses and extruders.
Belarus’ Racoon Plastic is using this tongue-in-cheek take-off of Stalinist posters from the 1930s to capture the attention of possible processing equipment sellers.

That was the consensus opinion of exhibitors at the recent ReSale 2007 show in Karlsruhe, Germany. “It appears that processors are unable to get new [injection molding] machines without a long wait so the used market is now being scoured for similar units,” says Renate Hänsel, owner of ISH R. Hänsel (Darmstadt, Germany), which refurbishes and distributes used Engel injection molding machines.
Many processors in Europe are looking for near-new equipment to fill the gap as demand increases, she says. Her problem is finding adequate, well-maintained machines to refurbish and sell. “We recently got two 400-tonne [clamping force] units built in 2001 and these were sold within eight days,” Hänsel says.
Heinz-Peter Häcker, managing director of Plast Consult (Tonisvorst, Germany), says his company is seeing interest among European investors for purchasing second-hand equipment for joint ventures they are starting in China. The Chinese partners provide manpower and the facilities while the European partners bring in European-made equipment. Although a new Chinese machine may cost the same as a well-maintained European used one, joint-venture partners often opt to bring in their own used units rather than buying new in Asia for quality reasons, he says.
Interestingly, Häcker perceives that the number of processing joint ventures between Western European partners with firms in Russia and the CIS countries has dropped significantly, attributable, he says, to Western Europeans’ disappointment with the unreliability of past partners.
However, Georgiy Astrouski, marketing manager with Racoon (sic) Plastics (Minsk, Belarus), a distributor of Western-made plastics processing machinery and extrusion tools, says demand in Russia and the CIS countries for used pipe and profile extruders remains high and stable while film and sheet equipment is growing. “Nobody in our markets wants to buy domestic processing equipment; locally made machinery has the image of poor quality,” says Astrouski.
For him the market tends to fluctuate as the political winds blow. “Three years ago we sold more than 100 processing lines to customers in Russia and the Ukraine. Last year we only had customers in Russia. The Ukraine was dead because of the political uncertainty there,” he says.
Manuel Carlos, president of On-Time (Marinha Grande, Portugal), a moldmaker as well as a rebuilder and distributor of used molds, says Latin American injection molders, especially in Mexico, Brazil, and Peru, have a big appetite for secondhand Western-made tools. Yet he believes the secondhand mold business in the future will be limited if Chinese moldmakers improve their quality and enhance their sales acumen, while maintaining their present price levels.
Automation is often a detriment to sales, says Jürgen Kinnart, director of Plastic-Maschinen Handelsgesellschaft (PMH; Hennef-Kurscheid, Germany), an exporter of used extrusion lines. “The simpler the better—and easier to sell—in many countries,” where labor costs are low, he says. Renate Hänsel agrees and says customers in, for example, Egypt are looking for old, well-maintained injection molding units with little or no automation, so local shopfloor crews can easily maintain and repair them.
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