Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the ASEANplas 99 trade show, held March 23-26 in Singapore.
Engel still planning South Korean plant
Engel Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH of Schwertberg, Austria, doesn't know when a proposed Pyongtaek, South Korea, production site might open, but the firm continues to develop a new tie-barless injection molding press line of 18-360 tons.
Engel announced the South Korea project in July 1997 and had expected to start operations by mid-1999. However, construction may not begin until the middle or end of 1999, with completion in one to two years.
``We have an office there,'' and ``we have employed a few more people,'' said Robert Bodingbauer, managing director of Engel Machinery Hong Kong Ltd.
Engel studied many countries for five years and selected South Korea as the ``strategically right place,'' he said. ``In four or five years, maybe we [also] will move to China.''
The Asian economic crisis prompted Engel to make investments in Austria and America first, Bodingbauer said.
``We have the Korean plant in our future,'' Bodingbauer said. ``We have to stay, and we have to improve our sales activities. We are riding it through and even trying to make a strategy to gain out of this downturn in the long term.''
Engel operates three plants in its home country of Austria and two in North America and sees the South Korean plant as a critical next step.
``Otherwise, you cannot cover this market appropriately,'' Bodingbauer said. ``This market is dominated by the Japanese manufacturers more than 90 percent.''
Husky hopes to boost Asian support system
Contingent on funding, Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. may upgrade its Asian demonstration and technical support capabilities.
``We want to construct our own facility in the Yokohama, Japan, area and do another facility in Shanghai, China,'' said Jeff MacDonald, the Hong Kong-based vice president of service and sales for Husky's Asia-Pacific operations. He oversees 83 people in 12 offices.
He expects a decision by the Aug. 1 start of Bolton, Ontario-based Husky's fiscal year.
Husky provides hot-runner support, mold demonstrations, preform work and spare parts at a Yokohama technical center, but ``the thing we have compromised on is the facility,'' he said. ``We want to do our own facility.''
Husky's proposed China site is near a center of Octeville, France-based Groupe Sidel. Often, customers pair Husky's PET preform injection presses with Sidel's PET blow molding machines.
``We are looking at smaller demonstration centers in Singapore and Australia,'' MacDonald said.
Asia's economic woes gave Husky ``a bit of a downturn last year,'' reflecting customer problems in MacDonald's wide-ranging territory, he said. But, there was ``nothing we lost out on.''