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Starting last November, according to Wittmann Battenfeld's David Preusse, an unanticipated expansion in business began that has since snowballed into an "overwhelming" recovery. President of Wittmann Battenfeld Inc. (Torrington, CT), the North American arm of the Austrian supplier of injection molding machines, automation, and auxiliaries, Preusse said that in the U.S., the company currently has an $11 million backlog in its robot segment alone, with the current bookings level 97% higher than last year.

Tony Deligio

October 21, 2010

2 Min Read
Wittmann Battenfeld reports strong recovery in sales, demand

Starting last November, according to Wittmann Battenfeld's David Preusse, an unanticipated expansion in business began that has since snowballed into an "overwhelming" recovery. President of Wittmann Battenfeld Inc. (Torrington, CT), the North American arm of the Austrian supplier of injection molding machines, automation, and auxiliaries, Preusse said that in the U.S., the company currently has an $11 million backlog in its robot segment alone, with the current bookings level 97% higher than last year.

"That doesn't necessarily get us back to the peak level we saw in 2007," Preusse said, speaking from his company's recently completed technology open house, "but at this rate we should surpass that in the robot sector." Preusse said that his company has also seen a 67% increase in bookings through October, compared to the same time period last year.

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David Preusse, Georg Tinschert, Wittmann Battenfeld.

David Preusse (left) and Georg Tinschert of Wittmann Battenfeld at the company's recent U.S. open house.

"Last November we saw the uptick start and like everyone we had no clue," Preusse said. "There was no forecast for it, not with our customers or anywhere, and the business continued to roll. It's a good problem from where we were last year." In response to the rise in business, Preusse said Wittmann Battenfeld U.S.A. has rehired staff that had been let go in the downturn, with its U.S. staff up 23% from last year. Preusse also said that the recovery isn't isolated to Wittmmann Battenfeld or North America. "It's not just a Wittmann thing," Preusse said. "We have world-class supply chains, and they're also having issues."

A member of the Society of Plastics Industry's (SPI), Committee on Equipment Statistics, Preusse said key machinery statistics, including the number of injection molding machines sold through the first half of 2010, were tracking at levels double 2009's. Part of that is due to pent-up demand, with many converters having put off equipment purchases during the downturn. Preusse said that the auction market that had hampered new machinery sales has dried up in some key areas, forcing shoppers to buy new, now and going forward. "I'm staffing for growth, I'm investing in it," Preusse said, adding that his company spent the first quarter working to build up inventory. "Unfortunately, the sales have continued to outpace our capacity to fill our shelves." —Tony Deligio

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