By: Bill Bregar
October 18, 2012
FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, GERMANY (Oct. 18, 2 p.m. ET) — Turnover at Austria-based machinery maker Engel Holding GmbH should reach at least 900 million euros (US$1.18 billion) this fiscal year, about 8 percent higher than 834 million euros in fiscal 2011-2012.
Engel President and CEO Peter Neumann gave his forecast and outlined Engel’s global strategy at a press conference Oct.17 at the Fakuma trade show. Engel’s fiscal year ends in March, so the first half ended Sept. 30, right before Fakuma.
At the show, Engel rolled out its new all-electric press, the e-mac, a compact machine with a fast injection speed for thin-wall molding. Engel’s show machine, equipped with a Viper 6 robot, molds wine bottle stoppers from polypropylene and liquid silicone rubber, in a multicomponent application.
Engel is closing in the 1 billion-euro turnover level. Neumann said company employees are proud of that landmark, which reflects that the maker of injection presses and robots is picking up market share and continuing to innovate.
Engel is investing 62 million euros in 2011 through 2013, including expansions at its headquarters plant in Schwertberg, Austria, its large-machine factory in Saint Valentin, Austria, and its plants in Shanghai, China, and Pyungtaek, South Korea, and its robot and automation factory in Hagen, Germany. Engel also improved production flow at its robot factory in Dietach, Austria, with a synchronized assembly line.
Stefan Engleder, head of technology and production, said all work steps happen in sync with the assembly line. The new “flow” production will reduce deliver times, and allow Dietach workers to respond quickly to order changes and special customer requests, he said.
Engel also is opening a technology in Stuttgart, Germany, for its fourth center in that key European country. The Stuttgart facility will be big enough to accommodate six or seven automated manufacturing cells, said Claus Wilde, head of the new subsidiary.
Neumann said German molders continue to buy complete production cells, more so than individual injection presses. He said the machinery business has improved in Europe, but the sector is still below the pre-recession level.
Neumann thinks that companywide, Engel can generate 8 percent annual growth rate over the long term. But he said he is cautious about making predictions, since in 2009, Engel had enjoyed a record first half before the Great Recession hammered down sales.
As to the next fiscal year, Engel officials said their crystal balls were cloudy. “We’ll be quite happy in the next fiscal year to be stable or even have a small decrease,” Neumann said. Engel is poised to grow faster than the competition because of its long-term focus on technology, he said.
After the press conference, head of sales Christian Pum clarified that forecast, noting it’s difficult to predict general economic conditions. Like other European machinery executives, Pum thinks sales will be flat to North America and western Europe, while stronger in developing countries of Asia.
“In Asia, there will be growth. So if we can compensate what we lose on volume in Europe and North America by our growth in Asia — because this year we’re doubling the capacity in China — this means at the end we should have double turnover in China. And Korea the same. And this would mean around 50 to 60 million euros,” Pum said. “And if this is enough, if the slowdown in the other markets will be lower than that, then we will have further growth.”
Neumann said the growth rate of China is slowing, and overall injection press sales are down. But high-tech machines are in demand. “Our relevant market is growing,” he said. “This decrease is purely focused on low-tech machines.” Engel is boosting production and improving customer service there.
“The quality and technology level in China is the same as in Europe,” Neumann said.
Neumann foresees a relatively flat market in North America, Europe, and Asian nations outside of China.
Engel leaders report that medical and packaging have generated press sales in the United States and Canada. But the explosive level of machinery sales to the important automotive market should cool off, they said.
Pum said Engel had record business in North America. “But nobody thinks this will continue. In automotive, there was really a backlog of no investments for a long time. And we fortunately got a lot of those projects. But this year we think there will be slowdown,” he said.
Engel employs 4,100 people and continues to hire, especially production and service positions in Asia, Neumann said.