Although the North American machinery market has been weak for nearly two years, Arburg GmbH & Co. officials still consider it critical to their plans.
``Our [German] market is best, but America is No. 2 and very important for the future,'' Michael Grandt, managing director of sales and controlling, said at the Newington headquarters of its American subsidiary, Arburg Inc.
The Lossburg, Germany-based company held a two-day customer show in Newington to highlight its modular drive and multicomponent molding capabilities. The show will be held at two other U.S. sites - Oct. 3 at the Arburg technology center in Westminster, Calif.; and Oct. 24 in the EPM-tech center in Batavia, Ill.
Arburg had a record year in 2000 and at the same time modernized its plant and boosted the size of its German complex to more than 1.4 million square feet. The company listed overall sales as 356 million euros ($348 million) in 2000, but that dropped to 325 million euros ($319 million) in 2001.
Grandt said overall sales, which consist of 60 percent exports, are being affected by the U.S. economy and may be down again by about 5 percent by the end of the year.
``If the economy is not working well in the U.S., it affects Europe and Asia,'' he said, adding that it is a difficult environment worldwide.
The company displayed a variety of machines, from its standard AllRounder with hydraulic drives, to its Alldrive machine, which has servo-electric drives to run the three main axes, but secondary drives can be either hydraulic or electric. The Allrounder 720 S, with a clamping force of 350 tons, was used for multicomponent injection molding.
``Arburg is well-known as far as small machines - up to 80 tons - but we feel that we've been able to change that in the last two to three years,'' Grandt said. ``Arburg is not a supplier of little, tiny machines, but of small to midsize machines.''
He noted that four to five years ago, the midrange machines accounted for maybe 10 percent of sales, but now Grandt says it is more like 25-30 percent.
Herbert Kraibuhler, managing director of technology and engineering at the German parent, said he is seeing a trend of customers wanting Arburg to put together complete systems, with machines, robots and the latest technology.