Engel Holding GmbH, a Schwertberg-based maker of injection molding machines and robots, announced ``concrete plans'' to build a factory in China to make large-tonnage presses.
Engel leaders made the anouncement May 26 at a Schwertberg news conference, held to preview technology the company will show at this year's K 2004 show in Dusseldorf, Germany. Engel did not give a timeline or a location for the China plant, calling it a ``future-oriented project.''
Engel already has one Asian plant. Engel South Korea, in the city of Pyongtaek south of Seoul, began turning out small and medium-tonnage injection presses in 2001. In Asia, Engel will follow its regional strategy in Europe and North America by running two separate factories, one for smaller machines and another for large machines, according to Peter Neumann, chairman of the managing board of Engel Holding.
China's high growth and booming automotive sector - a prime market for big machines - influenced the firm's decision to invest in China, Neumann said.
``It's better to cover the big machines because this is the highest potential in China for us in the future,'' he said.
The South Korea plant probably will reach its peak capacity of 550 injection presses next year, Neumann said. Engel estimates the plant will build more than 440 of Engel's tie-barless Victory presses in the current 2004-05 business year. Last year the factory produced 346 machines.
To meet demand, Engel is boosting employment in Pyongtaek from 90 to 110.
When the South Korea operation reaches maximum capacity, Neumann said Engel will make up any excess demand by shipping machines from Austria. Plans call for the future China factory to make only large machines, he said, adding that smaller presses will continue to be made in South Korea.
South Korea is a good market for Engel because of the cell phone market, flat-screen televisions and consumer electronics, he said.
Plus, the South Korea plant ships machines to China and other Asian nations. Neumann said proximity to China was one reason Engel selected South Korea for its first plant in the region.
Engel has plenty of room to grow in Asia, which accounts for just 10 percent of its sales. At the last K show, in 2001, Asia accounted for 5 percent of sales.
Engel also announced technology news about the K show, including:
* A larger all-electric press called the E-Motion T, with tiebars. E-Motion T machines will come in clamping forces ranging from 60-385 tons.
Engel already offers E-Motion all-electric, tie-barless machines that top out at 200 tons. Adding tiebars allows Engel to offer bigger all-electrics.
* An Engel Victory Electric machine that is not an all-electric, but actually has a hybrid design, with a hydraulic clamping system and an all-electric injection unit.
* A K 2004 showing of a MacPET press for molding PET preforms, with a 96-cavity mold, Engel's largest size yet.
* A new line of MacPAC presses for molding packaging such as yogurt containers and margarine tubs. Neumann said Engel wants to get stronger in the packaging sector.