DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — Leading rotary blow molding machine supplier Graham Engineering Corp. plans to establish a new base in Europe through a joint venture expected to be announced in less than three months.
Under the planned agreement, Graham of York, Pa., will expand its regional engineering service support and could introduce production of some of its machinery in mainland Europe, President Joe A. Spohr said at the K'98 show in Dusseldorf.
``Both of our product lines will be strengthened through acquisitions that we hope to be announcing very soon,'' Spohr said. ``We are close to agreement'' in the joint venture deal. ``It's got to be in two or three months' time.''
Spohr said Graham's European market focus will be concentrated on its accumulator-head extrusion blow molding line. At K'98 the firm also launched its proprietary GEC-4 four-station indexing wheel blow molding machine aimed at medium- to high-volume markets for containers as large as 2 liters. The model first was introduced in the United States at NPE 1997 in Chicago.
Graham's plans for Europe are part of its ``Graham 2001'' program aimed at expanding the company's product line through takeovers and innovation.
``We intend to aggressively build our accumulator-head line through a combination of continued acquisition and development,'' Spohr said.
He added that Graham means to follow a similar pattern in the shuttle markets.
``When you look at high-output, high-quality machinery, Europe and the U.S. really are the key markets,'' he said.
Graham already has a service base in Lancashire, England, but said it needs a mainland facility to serve the European market.
``Certainly, [we need] a strong service and customer support base, maybe some production, maybe some assembly, depending on the circumstances. It's the next step,'' Spohr said.
He also cited the importance of pursuing other markets, such as Latin America and Asia.
The GEC-4 rotary blow molding machine, which Graham claims is a superior alternative to shuttle or long-stroke machinery, can produce containers in as many as 16 cavities with only four parisons, at 4 inches center distance, compared with 16 parisons on other machines, Graham said.
The indexing wheels feature calibrated neck finishing, in-mold trimming, optional in-mold labeling and automatic orientation and take-off of bottles, feeding them to a filler, conveyor or leak tester, the company said.
Graham also presented a 10-pound-shot accumulator head that it said can maximize productivity through intuitive operation, consistent quality and quick changes of color, materials and tooling.
Shot capacities range from 7.7-55 pounds of high density polyethylene for 50- to 200-ton clamp units for the production of industrial and technical parts, the firm said.