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Guangzhou, China - Jonathan Ching, managing director of Wittmann Battenfeld (Shanghai), told PlasticsToday that the company's Kunshan plant has a planned expansion for electric IMM production in 2014."China is a huge manufacturing market and we want to be close to our customers," Ching said at Chinaplas 2013. "In my personal opinion, it's still growing here."Asia represents about 15% of Wittmann Battenfeld global business revenue, and the company said that number is increasing yearly.

Heather Caliendo

May 28, 2013

4 Min Read
Chinaplas: Wittmann Battenfeld plans expansion for electric IMM production at its Kunshan, China factory

Guangzhou, China - Jonathan Ching, managing director of Wittmann Battenfeld (Shanghai), told PlasticsToday that the company's Kunshan plant has a planned expansion for electric IMM production in 2014.

"China is a huge manufacturing market and we want to be close to our customers," Ching said at Chinaplas 2013. "In my personal opinion, it's still growing here."

Asia represents about 15% of Wittmann Battenfeld global business revenue, and the company said that number is increasing yearly.

Wittmann Battenfeld China has seven sales and service offices, with the latest office expansion in Changchun and Chengdu. Wittmann Robot (Kunshan) Co. Ltd., is located outside of Shanghai and is the only location for Wittmann Battenfeld manufacturing of all product lines for robots and auxiliaries. 

photo_7.JPGWhen Wittmann opened up the Kunshan facility in 2005, about 90% of products were exported, and now about 80% of products manufactured by the company in China, remain in the Asia-Pacific market.

Matthew McCabe, international key account manager for Wittmann, said that local customers are requesting more high-end quality machines. The company is the only equipment manufacturer on the market that self manufactures and supplies all primary and auxiliary injection molding products (injection molding machines, robots, automation, material handling systems, dryers, blenders, mold temperature controllers and granulators) for the injection molder.

He said that Wittmann Battenfeld China has seen an increased interest for the supply of turnkey injection molding production cells and greenfield manufacturing development.

"Automation development, beyond standard pick and place robots, is seen as a high growth potential and requirement as customers look to increase process repeatability, increase quality, take on more complex global projects, etc.," he said.

Labor cost rising, as are requests for automation

China's labor cost continues to rise. In fact, a recent study from the consulting firm AlixPartners, estimates by 2015 the cost of outsourcing manufacturing to China will be equal to the cost of manufacturing in the U.S.

"The labor costs are increasing rapidly, which is actually increasing demand for automation," Ching said. "Instead of hiring more people and taking the time to train, people are turning to machines."

Market segments

The major China markets for the company are electronics and automotive, with automotive in particular, growing fairly fast.

"In China, wages and disposable income continue to increase, which means people are purchasing cars," Ching said. "If you drive on the streets here, you'll see all type of cars. For the younger generation, it has become not a luxury but a basic need."

The company also has foresees large growth potential in medical and packaging.

IP issues not a concern

If you walked the halls of Chinaplas, you'll come across similar looking machines to Wittmann, with the company's standard coloring and outward design. But just because a company can copy the outside, doesn't mean they know what's inside. 

"It's a key common theme at Chinaplas that you will see local copies," Ching said. "But there are years of research withphoto1.JPG our machines, so just because they copy the outside, they don't know what's inside and the know how that is prevalent with our products."

As far as any competition concern from those machines, Ching said there isn't any. He said customers are getting smarter and they can tell the difference between a much cheaper machine that can't do the job as opposed to an established, high-end machine, with an international brand name.

Product offerings

With regards to product offerings, McCabe said that no matter the location of Wittmann Battenfeld manufacturing or product lines, all Wittmann Battenfeld divisions produce absolutely identical products.

At this year's Chinaplas, Wittmann Battenfeld showcased two machines from the PowerSeries. On display was an all-electric machine from the EcoPower series and a MicroPower designed for high-precision injection molding of micro and nano parts. The company said that both machine models are high in demand among Asian manufacturers due to their precision combined with energy- and cost-efficiency.

In addition, the company presented a wide range of robots and peripheral appliances at the Chinaplas as stand-alone solutions, the products on displayed came from the production plant in Kunshan.

In the automation sector, robots from the W808, W818 and W828 series were showcased. 

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