By: Bill Bregar
June 18, 2014
TORRINGTON, CONN. — Wittmann Battenfeld Inc., the U.S. unit of the Austria-based machinery maker, sold 456 robots built in Torrington last year, shipped to the United States, Canada and Mexico, President David Preusse said at an open house June 5-6.
The company held the open house to show off its $3 million, 20,200-square-foot expansion to accommodate larger injection molding machines, with clamping forces up to 850 metric tons, and to house a growing business of turnkey systems — including the company’s injection molding machines, robots and auxiliary equipment.
National sales manager Sonny Morneault said the Torrington expansion can house 45 injection molding machines. The company has room for 15 presses at its Midwest technical center in Elgin, Ill.
Preusse likened Wittmann Battenfeld’s “one-stop shopping” to the Mayo Clinic, in a speech kicking of the open house. “There’s always an expert for whatever your issue is,” he said.
That has caused the company to add more employees in the United States, where Wittmann Battenfeld employs 130. Preusse said the company has invested about $1 million on the additional employees alone. The company has added 21 new offices in Torrington to handle the influx of new people.
North America accounts for nearly one-third of overall sales for the Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH, based in Kottingbrunn, Austria, according to General Manager Michael Wittmann. Companywide, the machinery maker employed 1,800 people and had sales of $365 million in 2013, he said.
Michael Wittmann said the company’s 2014 sales goal is $400 million.
Wittmann Battenfeld has several expansions going on around the world — adding some 140,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space in 2013 and 2014.
A year ago, Wittmann Battenfeld opened a 17,220-square-foot addition in Kottingbrunn with higher ceilings and larger cranes, to build much larger injection presses. The company, which had topped out at 1,100 tonnes, now can produce presses as large as 1,600 tonnes.
That has promoted officials to announce at Torrington open house, yet another expansion: 5,000 square feet more in Kottingbrunn to boost capacity to machine larger platens.
Georg Tinschert, managing director and CEO, said Wittmann Battenfeld has been able to machine platens for up to 1,000-metric ton injection presses. The company had to outsource sizes above that.
Groundbreaking will happen in July on the $6 million investment — much of it to add large new metalworking equipment to make platens for presses all the way up to 1,600 metric tons, Tinschert said in an interview in Torrington. The operation should begin cutting steel early next year.
“We will have an inline assembly line [for the platens],” Tinschert said. “That means we get in the castings. We have a large machining center, and we machine it, then put it in the paint booth. And then we do the pre-assembly and final assembly. And that will be all in one line, so they don’t have to carry the heavy pieces of steel long distances.”