SCHWAIG, GERMANY — Demag Ergotech GmbH plans to expand its Wiehe, Germany, plant to produce as many as 2,500 smaller injection machines a year by 2003.
This year, Demag Ergotech Wiehe GmbH is at full capacity and expects orders of 1,500 presses worth 150 deutsche marks ($83 million), said Helmar Franz, its managing director.
The plant specializes in manufacturing injection presses from 25-110 tons of clamping force.
As recently as 1989, the former East German plant made only 700 units a year, largely for customers in the old Soviet Union and Communist bloc nations. Today the plant claims a 23 percent share of the German market for small machines, and a 14 percent share of the European market, Franz said in a pre-K'98 news conference at Demag Ergotech's Schwaig headquarters.
``Up to the year 2000, we have set ourselves targets of 20 percent in Europe and 25 percent in Germany. That's why we are preparing to manufacture more,'' Franz said June 17.
Franz admitted Demag Ergotech Wiehe has set ambitious objectives but said he was confident those goals would be met because of its ``reliable, convincing and low-cost products, profitable manufacturing'' and a worldwide sales team.
The Wiehe plant is due to expand its range of smaller modular Ergotech machines this year and next.
Later this year, it will enter one of the market's most competitive areas with the launch of a fully hydraulic 60-ton press, Franz said. In 1999, Wiehe's range will be lowered to add a new, 15-ton press to its range of seven sizes.
Wiehe, which employs 390, was transformed after Mannesmann Demag AG acquired the old East German operation in 1991. Parent company Mannesmann Plastics Machinery AG of Munich, Germany, has invested DM80 million ($33 million) in the operations to date, Franz said.
The latest Demag Ergotech expansion will see the addition of a new machine center for press base plates and other cast parts and a second machine finishing line, which will be housed in a new building.
Franz said that the first assembly line will concentrate on bigger machines while the second line will handle the smaller range.
Work on the expansion will begin in 2000, and is essential because the Wiehe plant has reached capacity, he said. The plant may exceed its forecast of 1,500 units for 1998, and expects to make a total of 1,850 presses annually by 2000, he said.
Demag Ergotech has benefited from strong economic growth in Germany, particularly in the area of injection presses with clamping forces of less than 100 tons. Total German market volume in 1998 is expected to top 4,000 presses, according to Ergotech marketing manager Gerd Liebig.
Ergotech plans to show the largest multicomponent press produced at Wiehe — a 110-ton machine — among others at its booth at K'98 in Dusseldorf, Germany, in October.
Meanwhile, Demag Ergotech has launched a new series of high-speed presses ranging from 125-330 tons to mold thin-wall components and packaging.
The Ergotech Rapid machines feature fast mold-closing movement, a frequency-controlled electric screw drive for high melting capacity with low energy consumption, and high injection capacity. The separate machine and screw drives allow more careful plastification, said the company.
Ergotech's machine range offers five different clamping force versions of 125, 150, 200, 250 and 330 tons.
The company is targeting the machines for polyethylene or polypropylene cups and flower pots, food containers such as margarine tubs, polystyrene items like slide frames, compact disc and floppy disk covers, and electronic parts like mobile telephone and electronic equipment casings.