ORLANDO, Fla.—Engel Holding GmbH, bursting at the seams at its large-tonnage plant in St. Valentin, Austria, will resume assembly of big injection molding machines at its Engel Machinery Inc. facility in York, Pa., CEO Stefan Engleder said at NPE2018.
Meanwhile, Engel is investing $450 million through 2020 in a move to increase productivity by 30 percent, Engleder said at the company's NPE2018 May 8 news conference. Engel needs to produce more machines and robots around the world, as lead times are getting stretched out thanks to economic growth.
Lead times can be 12-20 weeks for smaller-tonnage machines and up to six months for large presses, he said, adding "delivery times should fall by the end of the year" as investment kicks in.
NPE2018 also marks the kickoff of North American sales of general purpose Wintec injection presses, which are built in China. Those standard machines could be shipped "off the shelf" right away or would have lead times of only eight to 12 weeks.
At York, the goal is to ramp up U.S. assembly by the end of the year, he said. The York factory can assemble injection presses in clamping force from 400-4,000 tons.
Engel Machinery used to do complete press manufacturing, including machining, in York before suspending production in 2009, said Mark Sankovitch, president of the U.S. operation. The York operation moved the machining equipment out, so the plant will do final assembly with parts provided from other Engel facilities in Europe and Asia, officials said. The York building is equipped with large cranes and production ? bays.
Sankovitch said Engel is doubling the size of its spare parts operation in York.
Having large-tonnage presses completed in York will make it easier for North American customers to sign off on their machines, instead of traveling to Austria, Engleder said.
And the Americas are an important market, accounting for 26 percent of Engel's total sales of $1.84 billion in the recently completed 2017-2018 fiscal year—an 11 percent increase in group sales from the prior year, according to Christoph Steger, chief strategy officer.
Sankovitch said the North American market for machinery is solid, as U.S. consumer confidence is high and some manufacturing is returning to North American from Asia.
"Our customers are investing in the modernization of their machine inventory and in new technologies that provide them with a competitive edge," he said.
Engel employs 210 people in North America, about 25 percent more than a year ago, and the company wants to hire more in areas of service, application technology, automation and its business units of automotive, technical molding, teletronics, medical and packaging.
Engel generated 53 percent of its sales from Europe and 20 percent from Asia, Engleder said. The machinery maker, based in Schwertberg, Austria, employs 6,600 people around the world.
Of the $450 million investment, the biggest chunk—$194 million—is going to expand the St. Valentin big-press plant. A few weeks ago, construction began on a new administration center and more production area.
Engel also is expanding a production hall by 124,000 square feet, and building a larger customer technology center, among other investments.
Engel, a brand of premium machines, is now selling the simpler Wintec machines in North America (Canada, the U.S. and Mexico) and Brazil, as presses for general purpose molding. Engel and Wintec will have separate sales forces.
Machinery industry veteran Don Iven is director of sales. Paul Auinger is Wintec's president of the Americas.
Engel started Wintec in 2014, building the presses in a plant in Changzhou, China.
"There is a big general purpose market in North America, and they have a big demand for standard machines," Engleder said. But before, Engel would not meet that market, he said.
Wintec presses will have limited option packages to keep costs low and enable quick shipment.
"The machines are built for general molding, so there are no bells and whistles," Engleder said at the news conference. They will have the same quality as Engel, he said.
Engleder said the company is investing $13 million to double Wintec production capacity in China.
Engel also is making technology news at NPE2018.
For the first time in North America, Engel is showing its fully automated production cell for the DecoJect process, a technology that combines injection molding and in-mold graining. The process can be used to produce premium interior automotive components. On the show floor, an Engel Duo press with a clamping force of 1,000 metric tons is turning out interior upper door trim with various surface textures, molding on to DecoJect thin foils.
In medical molding, a clean room version of Engel's all-electric E-Motion injection molding machine is molding interdental brushes, used to clean between your teeth, in a single-shot process. For the teletronics area, a 35-metric-ton vertical injection molding machine is molding thermal switch housings. Over in packaging, an all-electric E-Cap press with a clamping force of 420 U.S. tons is equipped with a 96-cavity mold to turn out 26 millimeter beverage caps with tamper-evident bands.
Engel also is demonstrating its technical molding capabilities by producing LED automotive lenses from liquid silicone rubber on a 120-ton e-victory press.
Like other companies, Engel is highlighting Industry 4.0, or as Engel calls it, Inject 4.0. Engel already offers smart-factory features such as iQ software products which can detect, and instantly compensate for, process parameters, and flomo, an intelligent water manifold system for cooling and temperature control, allowing for fast mold changes.
Engleder said Industry 4.0 will move the trend forward.
"We will have driverless cars," he said, "and we will have self-optimizing injection molding machines."