DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Dec. 12, 3:10 p.m. EST) — Demag Ergotech GmbH hopes to bring some bliss to the world — and generate some business in a difficult market — by selling an injection press by that name from India.
Santosh, which means bliss, is the name of the newest press from Demag and its Indian partner, Larsen & Toubro Ltd.
Naming a press is serious business in India. At K 2001, company official N.S. Sivaraman said santosh is one of the few words that carries the same meaning across all of 44 languages in the multiethnic country.
Demag, based in Schwaig, Germany, plans to sell Santosh presses over its global distribution network. Demag especially wants to improve its sales in South America, Africa and the Middle East.
“We will compete with Japanese and high-end Taiwanese machines in the worldwide market,” said Sivaraman, chief executive officer of the 50-50 joint venture, L&T-Demag Plastics Machinery Pvt. Ltd. Production should begin in Chennai, India, in early 2002 on the line of toggle-clamp presses, which range in clamping force from 66-385 tons.
The goal for the Santosh line is to become a lower-cost machine with a limited number of options, according to Helmar Franz, executive managing director of Demag Ergotech. The company decided not to follow the popular strategy of modular production, building one common machine base and then mixing and matching option packages.
“Modularity costs money,” Franz said Oct. 26 at K 2001 in Dusseldorf.
Larsen & Toubro is a major industrial conglomerate founded by two Danish engineers in 1938 in Mumbai. Today, the company employs 25,000 and generates sales of $1.7 billion from a diverse mix of businesses, including factory engineering, construction, cement, information technology and computer software.
The relationship between Demag Ergotech's and Larsen & Toubro dates to 1992. The Indian company licensed Demag's D range of machines, which Demag no longer makes in Germany. They formed the L&T Demag joint venture in January 2001.
Sivaraman said L&T-Demag is the largest Indian producer of injection presses in clamping forces under 450 tons. The partner companies plan to expand production capacity in Chennai beyond the current 125 presses a year.
In other K show news, Demag Ergotech introduced its hybrid El-Exis E press, which uses both hydraulic and electric power. The company also unveiled its own microcellular foam molding process, dubbed Ergocell, and announced an agreement with the supplier of the similar MuCell process.
At K, an Ergotech press demonstrated Ergocell to mold an ABS battery-compartment cover.
Ergocell splits the plasticizing, gas mixing and injection into separate functions. Using a conventional horizontal injection cylinder and screw and a nonreturn valve, Ergocell blends in liquid carbon dioxide with the already homogenized melt, downstream of the plasticizing unit. The tiny foam cells can reduce material use by 40 percent. Also, since the gas reduces the resin's viscosity, parts can be run with lower injection pressure on machines with lower clamping force, Demag Ergotech said.
Here's how it works: A foaming module, connected to the injection cylinder on the nozzle end, includes a rotary mixer, an injection module and another nonreturn valve. The advancing screw forces the melt through the mixer and into the injection module. The mixer distributes liquid carbon dioxide into the melt.
For injection, a vertically positioned plunger holds, under pressure, a predefined volume of material delivered from the mixer. Upon closing of the nonreturn valve and opening of the shut-off nozzle, the plunger forces the melt/gas mixture into the cavity at high speed.
The foaming unit can be fitted to all Ergotech machines. It runs through the standard controller, the Ergocontrol.
At K, Demag Ergotech also announced an agreement with Trexel Inc. of Woburn, Mass., which supplies the microcellular MuCell process. Under the deal, Ergocell users are granted a license from Trexel at reduced royalties, giving them full immunity from any patent infringement action for Ergocell. Also, Demag now will offer injection presses with a MuCell option.
“Demag is in a position to offer both,” Franz said.
Meanwhile, Demag Ergotech continues to push into e-commerce. Gerd Liebig, marketing manager, announced some changes. Initially, the company was selling Ergotech Viva machines, in Europe only, via the Germany-based Portax.com. But since Portax has exited e-commerce, Demag now is taking a two-track approach to sell machines worldwide.
Buyers now can get quotes for Demag Ergotech equipment through Omnexus.com, the online plastics marketplace started in mid-2000 by several major resin suppliers. In October, Omnexus launched an online resource to comparison-shop for injection presses.
Customers can not actually purchase a machine on Omnexus. That function will be handled by Demag Ergotech beginning in early 2002, over its own site, www.demag-ergotech.com, Liebig said. The company also will sell spare parts and screws online.
Liebig said Demag Ergotech has sold 15 injection presses over the Internet since January 2001.
Whether by e-commerce or traditional shoe-leather sales, machinery makers are struggling right now. Franz said Demag Ergotech is no exception. In 2000, the firm enjoyed a record for new orders — $275 million for 2,550 presses. Sales were $265 million.
Not this year. Through the first nine months of 2001, sales declined 9 percent to 187 million euros ($168 million) compared to the same period of 2000. Orders plunged 23 percent to 173 million euros ($155 million).
Globally, the hardest-hit region is the U.S. market, which Franz said has dropped 55 percent. But he said all major markets are down by double digits. For example, after a strong 2000, European press demand should fall by nearly 20 percent in 2001.
Attendance was down some 12 percent at K 2001, but Franz said key decision-makers did come to the show. “We feel the attitude of people visiting our stand is very good,” he said.