DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — Sipa SpA, the Italian manufacturer of PET blow molding systems, has doubled capacity at its Vittorio Veneto production site in a recent expansion project.
The company started full-scale production in September at a new 162,000-square-foot plant near Venice, to meet what it says is growing global demand for its equipment.
Sipa has seen an upsurge in sales from China, where this year it already has sold 27 of its flexible ECS FX machines, according to spokeswoman Roberta Gualtieri.
The sales came in two substantial orders, together worth $40 million, from different customers. One of the buyers will make PET bottles for mineral water and cola, and the second for tea and mineral water, she said in an interview at K'98 in Dusseldorf.
Sipa is considering investing in a machine assembly operation in China, she said.
Meanwhile, Sipa's expansion has meant a 50 percent increase in plant area devoted to machinery production. The facility makes ECS one-stage preform injection and stretch blow molding systems and two-stage PPS injection and SF blow molding machines.
The remaining space in the new plant is occupied by a spare-parts store, warehousing and a shipment area. About a third of Sipa's present work force of 600 works in the new plant.
The new facility also includes a remote-control overhead crane to handle machinery up to 70 tons.
Sipa opened an office in Beijing in September 1997.
``Sipa machines are producing square bottles for mineral water, round bottles for carbonated soft drinks and square and round heat-set bottles for filling at 89° C [192° F] with tea and juices,'' said Asian area sales manager Pietro Marcati. ``Overall demand for mineral water and other beverages has been much higher than supply.''
Sipa now employs a technical support team of 12 specially trained local engineers, now with a year of installation and start-up experience in China behind them, and has set up a 5,400-square-foot spare parts warehouse.
Sipa, reported annual sales of about $240 million. The company, which was established in 1986, has sold 580 systems so far, 55 percent of them integrated, one-step machines, Gualtieri said.
Mineral water has become a major growth market for Sipa. In the United States, the company recently installed three machines in California and Texas for a customer in the carbonated and still mineral-water market. Two of the lines can produce 16,000 1.5- and 0.5-liter bottles per hour. The third line makes larger-size bottles.
The Italian firm, which supplies top mineral-water producer Perrier Vittel, sold another machine to a client in Pakistan in October, and this month will install three more machines in Brazil.
The company chose K'98 to exhibit its new ECS HS, a high-speed integrated machine. The ECS HS 12/32 machine, operating at the Sipa booth, can turn out 0.5-liter PET bottles at a rate of 8,000 an hour, according to the firm.
``The ECS HS series allows speed production rates which have never before been achieved on an integrated machine,'' according to Sipa. ``The system optimizes the ratio between the number of injection cavities and the number of blowing cavities at a rate of 4-to-1 on the larger models, with the potential of achieving an output of 1,000 bottles per hour for each blowing cavity.''