In an announcement made just last Friday (Feb.6) at the Plastindia trade show, but one which participants said is many years in the making, Lohia Starlinger Ltd., the world leader in manufacturer of lines for woven plastic packaging, tape stretching, film coating and other extrusion-related applications, will by year’s end begin manufacturing two types of shuttle blowmolding machines currently manufactured by Techne at its headquarters in Bologna, Italy.
At the Plastindia trade show, Lohia Starlinger Ltd. announced they will begin manufacturing two types of shuttle blowmolding machines currently manufactured by Techne.
Raj Kumar Lohia, chairmen of the Kanpur, India-based Lohia Starlinger, said he has been keen to manufacture other types of plastics processing machinery for more than a decade. His focus had been on either blowmolding or thermoforming machinery, and in fact he had been in talks with Techne and some of its competitors, naming Bekum and Kautex, for years. But, he said, the Indian market until recently was not ready for high-end extrusion blowmolding (EBM) equipment. “That has changed,” he said, as companies such as P&G, Kraft and Unilever have entered and expanded their operations in the country.
Moreno Minghetti, CEO of Techne, said that he and Raj Kumar Lohia had been in contact since 1989, and both men said the alliance in the end took shape based on a common strategic mission as well as healthy doses of trust and friendship. Minghetti agreed that the influx of global brand owners had been the trigger both had needed, after years of discussion, to form the alliance. “To fill 40-60 million bottles per year (without slowing filling lines), you need bottles with top quality. No other manufacturer in India can supply such machines,” he said. “And we believe this need for quality (bottles) will grow.”
Specific to this alliance, Lohia Starlinger will late this year take over manufacture of Techne’s 4000 S/T 470 single- and double-shuttle EBM machine manufacture. Minghetti says these are Techne’s highest-volume machines in terms of number of machines made annually. The transition of manufacturing from Bologna to Kanpur will happen this year, with the EBMs made in India for domestic as well as global markets. They will be branded as Lohia Techne machines.
The alliance will benefit from the experience of Lohia employee P.C. Joshi, as he years ago also helped Japan’s Nissei ASB establish its facility in India for manufacture of injection blowmolding equipment. Lohia Techne also eventually will have capacity and knowledge of manufacturing of blow molds.
Raj Kumar Lohia added that these EBM machines, suitable for processing of polyolefin containers sized between 125ml and 5000ml, were the ones in Techne’s stable most suitable for sale in the same developing markets where Lohia’s machinery for woven plastics also sees heavy use.
Minghetti said Techne, founded in September 1985, has an installed base of more than 900 machines spread throughout the world, and that the firm had 2008 turnover of €31 million. Techne’s annual production is about 45 machines, he said, with the company focused exclusively on plastics packaging and not on any technical parts applications. Techne’s competitor Uniloy is the only other major EBM manufacturer with a manufacturing footprint in India; Uniloy began limited manufacturing there recently in the facility run by its sister firm, Ferromatik Milacron. “Even in India with Lohia, our machines won’t be low-cost machines, but a lower-cost, better machine than is now available (in developing markets),” said Minghetti. Raj Kumar Lohia stated frequently during the event announcing the alliance that his company had no interest in being a low-cost competitor, but would focus on manufacturing world-class machines. Neither man would say how much less expensive the machines made in India might be.
Minghetti reckons the market for EBM machines, which he described as “a very tough business,” is worth about €180 million/yr. “In Europe 15 years ago, there were 15 EBM manufacturers. Now there are five, and only three compete globally,” he said, referring to his company, Bekum and Kautex (Uniloy is headquartered in the U.S.). Techne holds a market-leading position in manufacture of lines for blowmolding of aseptically-filled plastic milk bottles, and said he anticipated this also to prove a growth market for India. —[email protected]