It's a bit of a man-bites-dog story for the injection press industry - a large Chinese manufacturer of molding machines plans to start assembling presses in the United States.
Chinese press manufacturer Haitian Machinery Co. Ltd. said July 29 it has opened a warehousing and demonstration facility in Itasca, Ill., outside Chicago, where it said it also will be able to assemble machines.
The company does no assembly at the 29,000-square-foot facility now, but will as soon as volumes pick up and it is able to hire and train workers, said Kingsley Qin, president and chief executive officer of Haitian's North American division.
Beyond the Itasca plant, Haitian plans to build a larger, dedicated assembly plant in North America when annual sales volumes reach about 200 presses. By comparison, the firm has sold about 40 presses in North America so far this year, he said.
That dedicated assembly plant could go in the Midwest or in Canada, he said.
Qin said it is tough to put a timetable on the decisions.
``The business model is very difficult to project until the economy picks up,'' he said. ``It depends on the team. The most difficult task is getting the right people.''
Haitian is relatively new to North America - it opened a technical center in Mississauga, Ontario, in 2001, and has sold only about 100 machines total in the United States and Canada, he said. But worldwide, the firm sold 11,000 injection presses last year, with about two-thirds in the Pacific Rim, Qin said.
Haitian said it will sell its general-purpose machines, with clamping forces of 65-4,000 tons, in Itasca and will start introducing various high-speed, two-shot, two-platen or electric machines.
While the company employs 2,000 in China, and has operations in Italy and Brazil, Qin said Haitian needs North American assembly to support the market. He said the cost difference for the skilled labor Haitian needs is not large enough to continue exporting from China to North America.
He said the company plans to grow the Ontario facility as well.