Image By: Plastics News, Caroline Seidel Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH (Hall 14/A16, A18) executives Olaf Weiland, left, and Andreas Lichtenauer with the firm's new KBB extrusion blow molding machine
DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — Bonn, Germany-based Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH (Hall 14/A16, A18) has a well-established position in the automotive segment of the blow molding machinery market. With the launch of the KBB series of fast-cycling extrusion blow molding machines at K 2013, it hopes to expand its position in consumer packaging applications.
The KBB series is Kautex's first move into all-electric processing technology and to mark the occasion, a KBB60 machine was unveiled on the company's stand Oct. 16 by Olaf Weiland, chairman and CEO, and Andreas Lichtenauer, managing partner.
At the K 2007 show, Kautex highlighted a hydraulic machine for consumer packaging, and at K 2010 it showed a machine as part of an integrated production line.
"With the unveiling of the KBB, we are taking the next step," Weiland said of its K 2013 exhibit.
Speaking afterwards, Weiland discussed the company's strategy.
"We will put a lot of energy into improving our visibility in the packaging market. Our visibility in the automotive market is at a high level. It keeps the company running at quite a pace because the ever-growing demand technologically and economically from the automotive industry is driving us and we don't foresee any change in our strategy with regard to that.
"It's not a change, but a continuation in what we have done over the last six years to improve our footprint in the packaging market. This [the KBB machine series launch] is a symbol of that."
Weiland said that at K 2010 Kautex showed its understanding of the packaging market when it demonstrated a full production line, including traceability of bottles, integrated automation and other features.
He contrasted the more fragmented nature of the extrusion blow molding market against the injection blow molding market for PET packaging.
"In PET, everyone is working in an integrated fashion, especially in the beverage industry. But in extrusion blow molding, it has not yet come so far. If you go round the booths of extrusion blow molding machine manufacturers, everyone seems pretty much focused on their own piece of the cake.
"But I think we have to work in partnerships and offer complete solutions to our customers," Weiland said.
Kautex's sales have grown by 75 percent in the past six years. Weiland said one reason for this success is "a very good culture" in the company.
Since February, a group of 45 Kautex managers, including Weiland and Lichtenauer, have owned a majority — 50.1 percent — share in the equity of the company.
That resulted from a deal in which Berlin-based investment company Capiton AG purchased Steadfast Capital Markets Group's stake in the company.
Looking further back, Munich-based Adcuram Industriekapital bought Kautex Maschinenbau from SIG Group in 2004. When Steadfast bought out Adcuram's share in 2007, five of Kautex's managers owned 23 percent of the equity.
Now that ownership has broadened out to 45 managers, including ones working in the United States and China, which benefits the company, Weiland said.
"You have to make it clear to people again and again that what counts is the overall development of the company. I think owning a share of the company makes it very clear that it is the total development that counts," he said.
The new KBB all-electric series is available in feed strokes from 400-1,000 millimeters and closing forces from 10-40 metric tons.
The company claims a 25 percent reduction in the dry cycling time. That is achieved by accelerating transport movements in the machine as well as the opening and closing movement of the mold.
The traversing time for 770mm from the head to the calibration position is 0.6 seconds, according to Kautex.
The KBB machine series has other advantages, the firm said: reduced energy consumption; energy recovery; minimized stop periods, including a 15-minute mold changeover time involving two people; extended maintenance intervals; a new-generation control system; and a reduced footprint.
Speaking about Kautex's move into the all-electric field, Weiland said: "Some Italian competitors have been very active in this field for a number of years. Our company was, for several reasons, somewhat hesitant.
"At first sight, you could say we are somewhat late in presenting an all-electric machine in the market. But if you look at the history, we did something like this 12 years ago [when Kautex was part of SIG Group], but it did not mature. We learned a lot from that and we learned also from the experiences customers have had with competitive products," Weiland said.
Other new products on the Kautex stand include: BC Connect, which allows operators to monitor machines remotely using a personal computer, tablet or smartphone; and "virtual machines," which enable training through simulation software where the control and operating interfaces correspond to the real machine.