Two reports address machinery suppliers
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. - Frost & Sullivan of Mountain View has issued two reports on plastics processing machinery. One is a study of how processing work moving offshore has affected companies that supply machines to the U.S. market. The other looks at partnerships between equipment makers and processors.
China has a huge labor-cost advantage, creating strong incentives to move plastics factories there. Research analyst Laurel Donoho said China's undervalued currency, the yuan, also has helped fuel the voracious U.S. appetite for Chinese-made goods.
``The net result of these trends has been a severe negative impact on the plastics processing machinery markets,'' Donoho said.
``While demand for plastics products is generally up, the effect of offshore competition has resulted in low to zero growth for North American manufacturers.''
Frost & Sullivan does have some good news: The U.S. economy improved substantially beginning in late 2003.
As their profit rebounds, U.S. manufacturers are optimistic and looking to increase capital budgets, according to the report.
Donoho is projecting that the North American plastics machinery market should grow 2-3 percent a year through 2010.
The report notes price erosion caused by intense competition among machine makers. However, Donoho said customers may not necessarily replace their machines in response to lower prices - meaning price cuts do not always translate into higher unit sales.
``Investment in machines is a major capital expenditure,'' Donoho said. ``The impact of this challenge depends on the manufacturer's efforts to offer other value-added features that may still warrant a higher-than-average price, and on the strengthening of economies that will support an upswing in capital spending.''
That theme ties into another recent Frost & Sullivan machinery report, by Donald Rosato, senior research analyst for the company's Technical Insights division. Rosato concludes that, although price still is a significant factor, processors are forging partnerships with machinery makers.
He also noted that U.S. processors want suppliers to target products for regional factories in China or Europe, and that machinery makers must maintain strong research and development programs.
Uniloy tech center opens in Michigan
TECUMSEH, MICH. - Uniloy Milacron, the blow molding machinery business of Milacron Inc., has opened a renovated, 75,000-square-foot technical service center in Tecumseh.
The center is devoted to the design and manufacturing of blow molds, as well as technical services and parts for the North American blow molding market.
About 150 people work in the Tecumseh building - all of Uniloy's mold sales and engineering staff, process engineers, and staff for research and development, parts and service. The building is only 15 miles from Uniloy's original headquarters in Manchester, Mich., so all existing personnel made the move, the company said.
Cincinnati-based Milacron announced in 2002 it would close down Uniloy manufacturing in Manchester and relocate to its main plant in Batavia, Ohio.
Robot sales strong in first half of 2004
ANN ARBOR, MICH. - I, Robot must be the hit movie for North American factory officials these days, as robot orders hit double-digit gains in the first half of 2004, the Robotics Industries Association said.
Through June, North American manufacturers ordered 7,852 robots, valued at $473.3 million. RIA said that is an increase of 12 percent in units and 6 percent in dollar value compared with the first half of 2003.
North American companies exported an additional 687 robots valued at $39.7 million outside of the region, a gain of 226 percent in units and 104 percent in dollars over the same period last year.
``The opening half of 2004 was very strong,'' said Donald Vincent, executive vice president of RIA, based in Ann Arbor, Mich. He cited the improving manufacturing economy, combined with pent-up demand for robots.
Vincent said RIA's conference in June showed that many small and medium-size companies are just beginning to look at how robots can help them.
Automotive factories account for about 65 percent of robot sales in North America. But that sector is down from 75 percent a year ago, showing that most of the gains are coming in nonautomotive markets.
``We're seeing very healthy gains in industries such as semiconductors and electronics, metals, plastics and rubber, food and consumer goods and life sciences and pharmaceuticals,'' Vincent said.
RAI estimates that about 140,000 industrial robots now are being used in the United States.
Stanelco lets Reiser use RF technology
FAREHAM, ENGLAND - Stanelco plc's radio-frequency technology will be used in Robert Reiser & Co.'s tray-lidding machines in North America.
Reiser has a nonexclusive license to use Stanelco's PeRFect welding technology in thermoforming and other packaging technologies.
Stanelco, based in Fareham, said it has perfected the process to weld amorphous PET to another APET structure, using radio frequency.
In tray-lidding and thermoforming machines, the technology can eliminate the need for a polyethylene laminate, according to Stanelco.
Reiser, based in Canton, Mass., makes equipment for food packaging and production.
Maag Pump Systems moves headquarters
OBERGLATT, SWITZERLAND - The headquarters of Maag Pump Systems Textron AG has moved from Zurich, Switzerland, to nearby Oberglatt.
Zurich had been Maag's home since Max Maag founded the company in 1913. The company made the move into the 17,160-square-foot building in August.
Maag Pump Systems makes gear pumps and filtration systems for polymer, extrusion, compounding and industrial markets worldwide.
Its U.S. headquarters is in Charlotte, N.C.
Moldflow produces record 4th quarter
WAYLAND, MASS. - Coming off a record fourth quarter, Moldflow Corp. reported $48.7 million in sales for the fiscal year ended June 30, a 33 percent increase over 2003.
Moldflow generated profit of $2.6 million. The Wayland company lost $118,000 in 2003.
The company makes mold-filling simulation software for computer-aided engineering, and software that links that data to the machine controller. The Nasdaq-traded firm entered the hot-runner temperature-controls business in January when it purchased American MSI Corp. of Moorpark, Calif.
Roland Thomas, Moldflow president and chief executive officer, reported worldwide growth, especially in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in Japan. Moldflow continued to see strong capital spending in several key end-user markets, including automotive and electronics.
Moldflow generated a record $15.2 million in fourth-quarter sales. In that period, the company completed the integration of American MSI and finished the reorganization of Moldflow's two business units, based along product lines.
In other news, Cascade Engineering Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich., has been a beta test site to use Moldflow's core deflection analysis, which helps link flow analysis with structural part analysis during molding simulation.
The software allows Cascade's engineering team to recognize potential problems before molding begins.