DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Oct. 31, 11:45 a.m. EST) — A European maker of PET preform molds plans to do battle with Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. on its native North American soil by opening a new U.S. plant.
Mold & Hotrunner Technology AG, known as MHT, will launch a PET preform plant early next year to serve North America, general sales manager Gerald Sack said Oct. 26 at K 2001 in Dusseldorf.
While the plant location and details still are being finalized, the company has a clear mission to become the second-largest North American producer of the molds, used widely in packaging applications.
“We will very soon be in America,” Sack said. “We plan to make a handsome investment. There is no real competition there for Husky to be a second supplier to the industry.”
MHT initially will launch sales and service at the new site and phase in tool conditioning and refurbishing before moving to full-scale manufacturing, Sack said. The entire process should take no more than one or two years, he said.
The much-smaller Husky competitor, based in Hochheim/Main, Germany, already has stirred Husky's pot by introducing a 144-cavity, high-output preform mold. That mold, which can be used with a 600-ton injection press, is the largest packaging mold in the world, Sack said.
MHT introduced the mold in May, Sack said. Swiss press supplier Netstal Maschinen AG worked with MHT on the mold and showcased it at the Netstal booth during K 2001.
In July, Husky introduced its own 144-cavity mold with similar specifications and also displayed it for the first time at the Dusseldorf plastics show.
“We are showing our mold at the K show, and we'll be off selling it after the show,” he said. “We pushed Husky, and they had to have their own.”
But Husky, based in Bolton, Ontario, would disagree with Sacks' assessment. The Canadian company already has sold its 144-cavity mold showcased at K 2001 and has several more in production, said Randy Yakimishyn, Husky PET sales manager for Index Systems.
The large mold is an alternative to Husky preform molds made with its Index System, which can build molds as large as 96 cavities, Yakimishyn said. While some customers will consider the 144-cavity mold for large jobs, the Index molds could offer better part quality and efficiency in some instances, he said.
“The 144-cavity [molds] are as big as you can get it,” Yakimishyn said. “We thoroughly investigated the engineering side of it before proceeding. It was all for the elimination of time by the customer.”
MHT, meanwhile, called its 144-cavity model the “holi” mold, which stands for high-output, low-investment. The molds can make as many as 52,000 parts per hour while operating on a low-tonnage press, Sack said.
The super-size molds eliminate the need for Husky's Index System as a means to produce high-volume molds for packaging, he said.
Those fighting words spring from MHT's genesis with Husky. The company, founded by former Husky employees in Weisbaden, Germany, was launched in December 1996 after Husky moved its 12-year-old preform operations from Germany to Luxembourg.
MHT has been growing about 30 percent a year, first opening at another nearby plant and then moving in September to Hochheim/Main. The new German plant, making preform molds and hot-runner systems, is 25 percent larger than the previous facility. MHT invested more than US$5 million in the mold operation, Sack said.
The company has grown in employees, from 11 when it started in late 1996 to about 90 today. Sack said sales will reach 30 million Deutchmarks (US$15 million) in 2001. The company already has offices in Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa and plans to open a sales and service facility in South America by 2003.
If MHT fulfills its promise of opening a PET preform plant in America, it will face a fairly sparce competitive landscape. In addition to Husky, one competitor is Vandalia, Ohio-based Electra Form Industries Inc., which is rebuilding its preform operations after being sold last year to Wentworth Technologies Ltd. of Mississauga, Ontario.
Electra Form has rebounded from its troubled past, when it entered liquidation proceedings, and is adding new business and technology, said General Manager Mark Burrows at K 2001.
Another potential competitor, Toronto-based Zygo Mould Ltd., closed its doors earlier this year.
Husky, though, presents a formidable challenge. The supplier recorded more than US$100 million in North American PET preform sales last year and was the top-selling independent company in tooling sales during 2000, according to a Plastics News ranking.
But taking some of that market share can be done, Sack said.
“We place ourselves in the top league of mold makers,” he said. “We have a good chance to be successful bringing our presence to North America as we already have in Europe.”