Following a record turnover in the 2011/2012 financial year, ENGEL has been able to continue this trend and again increase its turnover by a good ten percent in the first half of this financial year (by 30 September 2012). This growth is primarily down to an increasing demand for injection moulding machines with medium and large clamping forces, and more and more businesses wanting to purchase system solutions which are both economically efficient and sustainable from one source. ENGEL also has reason to be optimistic for the second half of the year.
"Things have continued to progress positively during the first half of the financial year 2012/2013," Dr Peter Neumann, ENGEL Holding's CEO, told at the Fakuma trade fair in Friedrichshafen mid of October. "Thanks to constant investment in our company's capacity and various locations, and our dedication to aligning our products, technologies, and system solutions to the trends and sectors of different markets around the world, ENGEL is extremely well equipped to overcome the challenges that lie ahead as well."
It is becoming more and more necessary to tailor injection moulding machines and system solutions to usage requirements precisely, and to ensure that they are outstanding in terms of performance and efficiency at the same time. Sustainable and energy-efficient concepts are therefore becoming more important across the globe and are now a major driving force behind upgrades and new products. ENGEL has always taken every aspect of this issue into consideration and makes sure that both its hydraulic and its electric injection moulding machines are as efficient as possible.
All-electric machines that meet a wide variety of requirements
At Fakuma, ENGEL is presenting the ENGEL e-mac series, a new range which has been specifically tailored to meet the needs of the teletronics and technical moulding sectors. "The demand for compact all-electric injection moulding machines for components which need to have very precise dimensions is increasing," stressed Christian Pum, ENGEL AUSTRIA's Sales Director. Equipped with the CC 200 control unit, which has been used in many other ENGEL injection moulding machines in the past and proven to be reliable for a long period of time now, the ENGEL e-mac machines offer complete modularity and automation technology integration. Thanks to their remarkably compact design, these machines will also save customers production floor space and lower their operating costs. The servo drives are operated by a modern axis system solution involving a stabilised intermediate circuit. The braking energy is recovered and fed directly back into the grid, guaranteeing an unusually high level of energy efficiency.
At the moment, the ENGEL e-mac is available with clamping forces of 50, 75, and 100 tonnes, while an 180-tonne version is in the pipeline. Examples of items machines in the new range can be used to manufacture include plugs, terminals, mobile phone components, optical lenses, and mechanical assembly precision parts such as nozzles and cogs.
The new ENGEL e-mac machines supplement the machines in the tried and tested ENGEL e-motion range, which are used primarily in the field of medical technology and for fast-cycle and multi-component processes. To enable the e-motion machines to satisfy the needs of plastics processors even more effectively in the future too, and to put ENGEL in an even better position to meet the growing demand for medium clamping force machines, ENGEL extended this range in time for the trade fair as well. The e-motion can now be purchased in five different sizes, with clamping forces of 55, 110, 160, 220, and 280 tonnes available.
Overall, there has been a major rise in the proportion of all-electric injection moulding machines in Europe. 25% of all small and medium-sized machines sold across the continent are now all-electric.
Ultimately, the energy efficiency and sustainability of a machine always depends on its use, however, along with selection of the technologies, products, and drive concepts best suited to this use. An electric machine is not the best solution in every case, and for this reason, ENGEL still puts as much effort into continuing the development of its hydraulic injection moulding machines too. ENGEL injection moulding machines fitted with the servohydraulic ENGEL ecodrive system therefore now achieve energy consumption figures that can compete with those of comparable all-electric machines. Ecodrive machines consume between 30 and 70% less energy, depending on their type and use.
System concept often crucial to sale
The trend towards larger injection moulding machines is, among other things, the consequence of constantly growing cost pressure in all areas of the plastics processing industry, which has in turn led to larger moulds with more cavities. In addition, automation and process integration is increasing all over the world. "The fact that we supply injection moulding machines and automation from the same place plays a key role in many customers' decision to buy," said Mr Pum. "Efficiency is only exploited to its full potential when all the components of a manufacturing cell work together in complete harmony."
The challenge for system providers is to make manufacturing cells easier to use despite machines and processes becoming more complex, and at the same time ensure that individual components and systems as a whole function as well as they possibly can. ENGEL overcomes this challenge by using intelligent control units and analysis systems, and by fully integrating the robots into the CC 200 control units used in its injection moulding machines.
High-technology and innovation are global growth generators
"It's mainly innovation-driven markets such as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and markets in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia which keep the demand for injection moulding solutions stable," said Mr Neumann. In Southeast Asia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam are the growth engines, while China remains ENGEL's largest Asian market overall. China's deceleration in economic growth has hit local manufacturers more than anyone else, because the demand there for simple injection moulding machines has dropped. On the other hand, the country's market for quality and high-technology products has continued to grow. "In China in particular, the number of manufacturing cells has increased significantly," stressed Mr Neumann. "Our customers are starting to expect more and more automation and injection moulding machine system integration, and the trend is moving towards application-based system solutions."
Thanks to decentralised manufacturing in China and Korea, ENGEL is able to build machines to suit application- and state-specific requirements, and still have them ready quickly. In April this year, ENGEL's production plant for large-scale machines was opened in Shanghai, having undergone some major expansion work. The production plant in Pyeongtaek City in South Korea for small and medium-sized machines is also being extended considerably. The work there is expected to be finished by the spring of 2013.
There have been very positive developments for ENGEL in North and South America too. While the car industry is causing growth in Brazil and Mexico, the packaging and medical sectors provide additional growth impulses in the USA and Canada.
Germany remains ENGEL's most important market throughout the world, accounting for a quarter of the company’s turnover. Mr Pum said, "The German market is heavily driven by technology and characterised by a high degree of automation and process integration. This is essential for very close cooperation between plastics processors and system suppliers." To be even closer to its customers in Germany in the future, ENGEL is building a fourth site near Stuttgart for the German market. The ENGEL Deutschland Technologieforum Stuttgart is expected to open in January 2013.