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Engel shows strength in numbers and all-electric initiatives

May 25, 2006

3 Min Read
Engel shows strength in numbers and all-electric initiatives

Injection molding machine manufacturer Engel (Schwertberg, Austria) counts itself in the group of strong firms with a steady future, said Peter Neumann, CEO of Engel Holding, the firm''s family-owned controlling company, during discussions at the company''s recent technology symposium at its large press factory in St. Valentin, Austria, which drew some 2000 international visitors. "These tough times are a chance for the strong to come to the fore," Neumann said, noting that his firm''s drop in fiscal year (FY) ''05/''06 sales was small enough, in relation to its competitors, that the firm was able to increase its market share. "We''ve been able to finance our growth out of our own pocket," he noted.

Engel''s fiscal year ended March 31, with sales of 2725 machines for a ledger posting of €545.9 million, a 6.9% drop from the previous FY but still earning Engel global leadership in sales for injection molding machinery. Engel North America accounted for about 23% of sales, with Neumann pointing to increased sales there of larger machines for automotive applications.

Engel late this year will begin manufacturing large machines in Shanghai, China too, and expects with that plant to grab a larger share of the burgeoning Chinese automotive market, with Neumann noting that the reduction in transport and production costs for these large machines will be significant. The manufacturer scored a recent coup when Stephan Greif, a longtime Asia hand and the sales manager in China for competitor Demag Plastics Group, moved to take a similar position for Engel in China. Sales of machines made at Engel''s Korean facility (manufactured to 400-tonne clamp force) jumped 50% to €31 million. Georg Tinschert, president of Engel Austria, added that increasing numbers of Korean and Asian processors setting up operations in Eastern Europe, often for transplanted Asian car manufacturing, have provided Engel with a significant sales boost. Other investments include a planned new technical center in Schwertberg; a recently opened 180-cu-m cleanroom there for testing and improving the cleanroom suitability of molding machines; and a new office in Poland.

Tinschert said Engel''s range of all-electric molding machines now accounts for 10% of sales (about 200 units sold in FY ''05/''06), a figure he said could climb to 15% by year''s end. Engel now offers all-electric machines with clamp forces from 55 to 280 tonnes, but Hans Wobbe, chief technology officer at Engel, said he expects the firm to have a 500-tonne model ready by the K show in October 2007. These larger machines are necessary to process applications such as large LCD screens, which the firm is already researching, he said.

Wobbe also introduced the firm''s E-Motion Combi range of machinery, for multi-component/material processing and available for now in three sizes: 55-, 100-, and 150-tonnes. Neumann adds that the firm has already sold its first three-component all-electric press to a German automotive parts supplier. Wobbe said prices for Engel''s all-electric presses have dropped about 25% since October 2004 and are now about 10% higher than comparable hydraulic machines. He said the goal in the next two years is to make them cost equivalent, adding, "The future is electric."-Matt Defosse; [email protected]

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