Engel reaps reward from investment injection
By David Eldridge, European Plastics News
Posted 15 June 2012
Investment in new capacity, new machines and a number of key R&D projects helped Engel, the injection moulding machine group, raise turnover by a third in the last financial year.
Engel’s sales in 2011/2012 were a record €834m (£676m), an increase of 33% on 2010/2011's numbers and 133% up on the €358m (£290m) it posted during the recession in 2009/2010.
The Austrian group announced the results at its triennial symposium, held in Linz and St Valentin, where it launched several new machines and technologies, including a new concept using in-situ polymerisation to produce composite parts.
Asia has been a high-growth market for the company and it is aiming to increase sales in the region from €125m (£101m) in 2010/2011 to €200m (£162m) in 2015. Engel’s investments have led to capacity increases at its plants in Shanghai, China and Pyungtaek, South Korea.
Other investments in Europe have included €2m (£1.62m) at its Hagen facility in Germany to support rising orders for its robots. This year, the company will also open a “technological forum” at a new location in Stuttgart, Germany, where systems and technologies can be demonstrated to customers.
Details of the group's trading and developments were revealed at the two-day symposium, attended by 2,500 people from around the world – including an 85-strong delegation from the Engel Moulders Group in the UK, led by Engel UK boss Graham Herlihy.
Engel's chief executive Peter Neumann contrasted the group’s current high sales with the pessimistic atmosphere of three years ago. In the first three months (April-June) of the current financial year, turnover had continued to grow, he said.
However, Neumann expressed concern about the continuing economic impact in Europe caused by problems in the financial sector. “Have we learnt anything from the crisis? I personally doubt that, at least in the financial system,” he said.
He was critical of the banking sector’s move away from its traditional role of financing trade and investment, noting that Engel uses its own funds to support investments in production capacity and new technologies.
“Engel is a family business and has always been conservative in its financing,” he added.
The fourth generation is now represented by Stefan Engleder, great-grandson of the founder Ludwig Engel, and his brother-in-law Christoph Steger.
Engleder heads the Engel robotics plant in Dietach, Austria, and Steger became head of Engel’s packaging business unit at the beginning of 2011.
Investment in R&D has included the formation of a technology centre for development of lightweight composites, which is based at the St Valentin plant, where Engel makes its large machine series.
Neumann said a team of 14 people from different departments were working together at the centre. He said it was important for the process of innovation to bring these people together in one unified centre, rather than working in their own departments.
The centre will work on composite applications for the automotive sector, said Neumann.
Peter Egger, head of the lightweight technology centre, presented some of the composite production technologies Engel is developing. At the K 2010 show, the company demonstrated its use of pre-impregnated organosheet in the injection moulding process. Engel is now developing this further with a prototype process that uses in-situ polymerisation, dry carbon fibre fabrics and injection moulding.
Egger said Engel’s target is to develop “one shot, one part” production of composite parts.
The prototype process was shown in the symposium exhibition, making inserts for brake pedals on an e-victory 310H/310V/120 combi injection moulding machine.
In the process, a fibre pre-mould is created, which is insert-placed into the mould. This is impregnated with caprolactam by a newly developed, servo-electrically driven, high-pressure RTM injection unit. In the reactive process the caprolactam is polymerised into polyamide 6 in the heated mould.
Engel developed the in situ polymerisation technology in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT in Pfinztal, Germany.
Engel also launched new machines at the symposium. The company showed the large-scale, electric e-duo machine for the first time, plus a new duo pico machine.
It also launched a new all-electric model, the 'e mac', which has been designed as a compact range for precision moulders.
Additional reporting by PRW's Hamish Champ
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