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July 25, 2002

5 Min Read
Industry Watch

INJECTION MOLDING SHIPMENTS BY MACHINE SIZE (WITHOUT EXPORTS)Industry_Watch_chart.gif

This table, showing molding machine shipments broken down by size for the full year 2001, displays the overall continuing decline in machine sales. New Van Dorn CEO Bill Carteaux does take solace in Q4 numbers, however, which showed a slight increase from Q3 that he hopes is pointing toward brighter days.

Newly appointed CEO fuides machinery maker into future
Given the reins of an injection molding machine manufacturer after two straight years of overall declines in industry press orders, Bill Carteaux, Van Dorn Demag's newly appointed CEO, admits he and his company face some tumultuous times, but he also feels Van Dorn has taken steps to weather this storm. Carteaux specifically cites the continued rollout of new products, including the introduction this year of the two-platen vertical Praxis press and the 50- and 80-ton additions to the all-electric IntElect line. He also says Van Dorn's commitment to customer service has been key, as well as the company's future role in Mannesmann Plastics Machinery (MPM), saying that collaboration among fellow group members is forthcoming.

In October, a deal between MPM's owner, Siemens AG, and Apax Partners & Co. fell through, clouding the future of the machinery-manufacturing conglomerate. New acquisition rumors have surfaced since, and many involve a new ownership group splitting up MPM's members (Van Dorn Demag, Demag Ergotech, Krauss-Maffei, Billion, and Netstal), applying the logic that the sum of the individual parts is greater than the whole. Those speculations haven't come to fruition, and Carteaux says, under the leadership of new MPM CEO Pepyn Dinandt, who was appointed in February, the MPM group will not be splitting up any time soon.

"I personally am very excited about the opportunities and the potential that exist," Carteaux says. "There are no plans and no intentions of spinning off any of the parts of MPM at this point in time. We are going to continue to be the largest manufacturer of injection molding machines in the world, and I think what you're probably going to see is more synergy between the companies than you've ever seen in the past."

Carteaux declined to elaborate further but says, "Those are some of the things that we'll be talking about in the not-too-distant future."

In terms of the here and now, Carteaux said overall machinery figures remain somewhat bleak, but that signs of recovery are on the horizon.

"We've seen a slight uptick," Carteaux says. "Our intake the last couple of months has been better than it had been, but we're by no stretch of the imagination out of the woods yet. I still see some difficult months ahead with some of the indicators that are happening now. I'm not as pessimistic as some of our competitors are, but I think that we're several months away from anything major."

As usual, Carteaux says auto manufacturers will drive any meaningful upswing in press orders. "The big wildcard to me still rests with automotive," he says, "and we have not seen the automotive market for injection molding machines come back to any great extent this year."

Carteaux, who replaces Jerry Pryor, was an internal hire for the position. He joined Van Dorn in 1998 and spent the last four years as its vice president of marketing and sales. Prior to that, he spent eight years with vertical machine manufacturer Autojectors. For the last four years of that span he served as Autojectors' president.


Short Shots
Honda has fortified its manufacturing commitment to North America by announcing expansion plans for its Alabama and Canadian facilities. Overall, Honda said it will increase North American production from 1.22 million to 1.4 million units by late 2004. This represents a total capital investment in North America of more than $7 billion. As part of the expansion, Honda's Lincoln, AL plant will add a 150,000-unit production line at a cost of $425 million. Honda of Canada will up its production of the Civic and the Acura EL to 195,000 units by 2003.

Trend Technologies Inc. (San Jose, CA) has ended a string of expansions by announcing a closure. Trend's Albuquerque, NM facility ceased operations at the end of July. Work was shuffled internally, with the bulk reassigned to Trend's Longmont, CO facility. Remaining work went to Guadalajara, Mexico and Asia.

Contract manufacturer Xpectra Corp. (Niwot, CO) added 215,000 sq ft of production space by acquiring molding facilities in Tijuana and Juarez from Mulay Plastics Inc. (Carol Stream, IL). The deal brings 104 presses ranging in size from 28 to 2000 tons, as well as pad printing, hot stamping, sonic welding, and light assembly services.

United Plastics Group Inc. (Westmont, IL) targeted China's "Silicon Valley" for its latest expansion. The new 23,000-sq-ft facility in Suzhou, China is reportedly colocated with 100 other manufacturers in an industrial park near Shanghai. The plant will run 20 presses ranging from 30 to 650 tons.

The capital spending crunch felt stateside is being experienced by European plastics companies as well, according to a newly released report from Euromap. Machinery figures gathered from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K. revealed a 2.4 percent drop in plastics and rubber machinery sales in 2001, which equates to slightly more than 9 billion euros. Exports showed slightly more promise, with their value rising 6 percent from 6.49 billion euros in 2000 to 6.89 billion euros in 2001. Analysts quoted in the report said they do not expect a significant upturn until the second half of 2002 or, more likely, early in 2003. 

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