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Reinvigorated, Milacron future looks big and bright

After a few challenging years including a trip through—into and out of—bankruptcy, a reinvigorated Milacron looks toward a bright future. The company showcased its product lines, including new products, at its Open House April 24 and 25, where the excitement and enthusiasm were palpable. The company’s investors, CCMP Capital Advisors LLC, are truly interested in the company’s growth and success, noted Dave Lawrence, president of Milacron’s Global Plastics Machinery and DME, in an interview at the Open House with PlasticsToday.

Clare Goldsberry

April 25, 2013

4 Min Read
Reinvigorated, Milacron future looks big and bright

   
Customers, potential customers, suppliers and the press attended the two-day open house that featured several new machines including a 1500-ton co-injection machine built for Bemis Manufacturing Company; a 55-ton micro-molding LSR machine (Alpha-S50iA) with a 16-mm injection unit and Milacron-designed screw and barrel running an “umbrella valve” with a 0.249g shot weight in a mold built by Roembke Mold & Engineering; and an extrusion focus on production of polyethylene pipe.

“PVC pipe is very strong in the U.S.,” said Mike Puhalla of Milacron’s extrusion division. “But we believe the future for HDPE pipe is good. HDPE pipe technology is already big in Europe. However, we have a lot of projects on the table and if they all come to fruition—replacing cast-iron and steel pipe—we’ll be the supplier of this technology in the U.S.”

Puhalla noted that while the HDPE pipe extrusion is a global platform, the equipment will come out of the Cincinnati facility. “We’ll serve the world from here,” he added. In June (June 20-21) Milacron will be running a high-speed HDPE line for gas pipe, and another for medical tubing, at an open house in Germany, to showcase this equipment.
   
Milacron’s K-Tec large-tonnage machines, while a mature product line, have a loyal customer base and proven technology, according to Andy Stirn, global all-electric product manager for Milacron. Made for one or two large-part molds (the press was running a 5-gallon bucket mold at the Open House) or large, high-cavitation molds, the K-Tec provides 50% energy savings and high throughput.

Servo motors are a popular option on presses at a time when energy savings are extremely important to processors, noted Ron Hertzer of Milacron’s servo division. “Eighty-eight percent of the machines up to 1000 tons that we sell have servos,” he stated. “Molders are really embracing servos for environmentally conscious reasons and energy savings. Variable-speed drive is key. For the most part, nearly all machines have gone the servo route.”

Uniloy North America was on hand with a structural foam molding machine that makes pallets and containers. The machine, which handles a 200-lb shot size, will be disassembled after the Open House and shipped to a customer in Russia.
 
Tom Goeke, Milacron’s CEO, commented to PlasticsToday on the company’s revitalization and its future with respect to the five divisions, including the recent acquisition of Mold-Masters. “What we want is a portfolio of broad-based solutions for our customers,” he said.

“There is no conflict within our customer base between DME and Mold-Masters, as each provides products and services that are specific to their customers’ requirements. There are 70,000 moldmakers worldwide, and we want to serve them. DME has never been restricted to who it sells to and neither will Mold-Masters. We won’t filter or screen that. They can deal with any machinery maker and do what it takes to meet the customers’ needs. Mold-Masters is transformative for us.”
   
Goeke made it clear that Mold-Masters and DME will continue maintain the identities that each company has developed, noting that “the rhythm is different” for a company like DME, which has an MRO catalog business, and a company like Mold-Masters, which is heavily into R&D and customizing products and developing technology. “If we would fuse them together, they would lose their rhythm.”
   
Dave Lawrence added that while DME is also in the hot runner business, they don’t “play in the same arena” as Mold-Masters. “Mold-Masters has things that they do well. DME has things that it does well, and we play in different markets,” Lawrence told PlasticsToday. “Globally, there are certain geographic markets that Mold-Masters serves well, such as China. DME serves India. Mold-Masters uses components that DME makes, and we see the businesses as complementary. Tom Goeke has made it clear that the acquisition of Mold-Masters is all about growth.”
   
Goeke also noted that each division has its own supply chain, and its individual identity and a different selling cycle. Machinery sales, for example, is a different selling cycle than aftermarket sales of parts. “Aftermarket is not an after thought, but an important component of Milacron’s business strategy.”
   
Dean Roberts, president American Aftermarket Services, noted where processors are concerned, “uptime is number one.” The goal for the American Aftermarket Services division is “having parts available and ensuring Milacron’s customers get the best service in the industry,” Roberts added. Milacron has 27,000 unique parts in inventory, and 80 people in the field in North America to service customers quickly.
   
The future of Milacron is offering solutions to OEMs, moldmakers and molders. “We want to provide a portfolio of solutions that gives them the greatest chance for success,” Goeke stated. “The future for Milacron is bright, our employees are excited, and our customers will benefit from the portfolio model we have created. Our future is driven by the customer.”

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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