DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Nov. 7, 3:45 p.m. EST) — Mold-Masters Ltd. is expanding its German facility and revamping its Canadian technical center and its Web site.
The hot-runner producer plans to spend US$5 million to US$6 million to increase the size of its facility in Baden-Baden, Germany, by more than a third, President Jonathon Fischer said Oct. 30 at K 2001 in Dusseldorf.
Concurrently, the company is adding seven injection presses to its recently expanded technical center at its Georgetown, Ontario, headquarters. The presses, the largest with a clamping force of 500 tons, will be set up in separate customer bays serving different end markets.
The company plans to split its research and development group in Georgetown into project teams that work with specific customers in the elaborate test rooms, Fischer said. About 35 percent of Mold-Masters' customers serve the packaging industry, with another quarter of customers using automotive applications.
By splitting the teams by end market, the company will address different needs, he said. For instance, automotive customers put hot-runner reliability and durability as a top priority, while telecommunications customers might desire hot runners for smaller-cavitation systems and want such features as in-mold decorating or texturing, he said.
“We're becoming more customer-focused in our development,” Fischer said. “What we found is that our customers have different environments that vary by the type of market.”
The company increased the size of its Georgetown tech center by two-thirds last year, bringing the total space to 63,000 square feet.
The Baden-Baden expansion will follow a similar pattern in research and development. The company is adding two presses there, with clamping forces of 80 and 200 tons, and setting up simulated test rooms for customers in Europe. All the presses should be running both in Canada and Germany by the second quarter of 2002, Fischer said.
Manufacturing space in Baden-Baden will be increased by a third to 36,000 square feet. The plant currently has 130 employees and may add more people when the project is completed in December. The expansion, the third in Baden-Baden, started in June.
Fischer was in Germany in 1988 assisting with the launch of the Baden-Baden plant, when Mold-Masters spent US$13.5 million to open the facility. Since then, the company has launched plants around the globe, including facilities in Singapore and Sumare, Brazil. The Sumare plant will start manufacturing manifolds, hot half plates and other hot-runner components by year's end, Fischer said.
Europe has been an especially good market, with sales there growing 32 percent in Mold-Masters' fiscal 2001, which ended Oct. 31, Fischer said. The company expects growth in Europe to continue next year at a pace of 15-20 percent.
Mold-Masters' global strategy is one guiding several hot-runner makers, including D-M-E Co. and Gammaflux LP. Markets no longer are limited to North America, Gammaflux President David Hunting said at K. His company has a sales and service center in Ube, Japan, and is developing work in that region.
“We have to be in the Far East market and others,” said Hunting, who is based in Sterling, Va. “We need a presence there to serve the rest of Asia effectively.”
Besides the revamped technical centers, Mold-Masters has added new features to its interactive Web site, called Merlin. In August, the company launched a feature called InfoMessenger, allowing customers to gain instant access through electronic mail to information about orders, including financial status, scheduled delivery dates, production completion dates and shipment methods.
Mold-Masters would like to increase interest in online ordering, with a goal of attracting 30-50 percent of customers to its online system during the next several years. The Merlin site already is averaging about 400-500 hits a day, Fischer said.