DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Nov. 21, 1:25 p.m. EST) — Italian thermoforming machinery builder Rigo SAS, which recently agreed to a manufacturing alliance with U.S. supplier Sencorp Systems Inc., now has signed a technology and distribution deal with European equipment major Kiefel GmbH.
Rigo of Milan, Italy, which has made a name as the leading European manufacturer of deep-draw formers for making refrigerator liners, will halt production of its standard range of machines at its Italian plant in Castelnovetto.
The deal involves the transfer of technology to, and sharing of, Rigo's longtime experience in supplying the large appliance sector with Kiefel equipment, which already makes some machinery for that market at its plant in Freilassing, Germany.
In addition, Rigo will take over distribution of Kiefel's thermoforming equipment, chiefly aimed at the packaging area, said Kiefel marketing manager Reinhold Plot.
“Under the cooperation agreement, we get some technical information from Rigo, which has great experience in this field. It is always in our interests to cooperate in this technology.
“Also, Rigo has excellent agents working in some markets such as China, Brazil and Italy. We are not so successful in these countries,” Plot said.
Rigo will focus on the design and manufacture of custom-built specialty thermoformers, and on spare parts and service to existing customers, said Giorgio De Nichilo, the Italian firm's managing director.
His innovative company has developed high-output in-line thermoforming machines with features such as the capacity to produce two double liners from only one mold. Rigo has what it claims is the fastest forming machines in the world, according to De Nichilo, who has 40 years' experience in the thermoforming field.
But, he recognized, in an increasingly global and more competitive market, a smaller company such as Rigo does not have the scale to survive alone.
“If you want to be the world leader, you need to have the strength and power. With sales below 50 billion lira [$23 million] no one has the strength to work in the world market. ... Kiefel has the strength and the German reputation,” De Nichilo said in an interview at K 2001 in Dusseldorf.
Kiefel will integrate the Rigo technology and know-how at its main German machinery plant at Freilassing.
The deal has no immediate bearing on the North American operations of Kiefel Technologies Inc. in Hampton, N.H., since that facility builds machines aimed at the automotive components sector, Plot said.
“Our plant in the U.S. is not at present big enough to build other machinery for refrigerator liner production,” he said. He admitted that although Kiefel does not currently have plans to expand there, longer term it is interested in supplying the domestic appliance market in the region.
Plot said Rigo has a good working relationship with General Electric Co.'s appliance unit in both the United States and in Mexico.
De Nichilo said the new deal will not affect the company's earlier agree-ment with Hyannis, Mass.-based Sencorp.