Wentworth Mold Inc. has extended its Fast To Market service to include prototype tooling for extrusion blow molding and soon may be offering FTM from its expanding operations in Poland.
Wentworth of Hamilton, Ontario, launched FTM 18 months ago for PET preform molds, and extended it at the beginning of this year to cover injection stretch blow molds.
The firm said molds capable of running on a wide range of shuttle machines can be delivered inside a week for complex shapes, and three days for simple round or oval shapes.
FTM production is at Wentworth's main facility in Hamilton. But in an interview at K 2004 in Dusseldorf, key account manager for Western Europe Phil Presland said the FTM service may become available out of Wentworth's Polish operation in Poniatowa by the end of the year. The subsidiary already makes about 60 percent of Wentworth's blow molded products, and the percentage is likely to increase because of low labor costs, Presland said.
Wentworth sales and marketing Vice President Nick Lewis said the firm has to look hard at costs.
``Sometimes we are not in a competitive position to do the work in North America, so it goes to Poland,'' Lewis said. ``We needed to find a location to improve our margins.''
In September, Wentworth shut a mold shop in Kansas City, Mo., that it had acquired from Owens-Illinois Inc. several years ago. The plant employed 12, mostly making shuttle molds for O-I. The equipment was transferred to Poniatowa and will be up and running by year's end, Presland said.
Some 10-20 percent of Wentworth's capacity is being transferred to Poland in the short-term.
A new facility being built near Poniatowa will begin operating in mid-2005. The plant will manufacture molds for such packaging items as caps, as well as components for blow molds and possibly other molds. Wentworth also has a company in Bydzgoszcz, Poland, making technical injection molds.
``There are lots of things happening in the U.S., Graham Packaging's acquisition of Owens-Illinois for example,'' Lewis said. ``We do a lot of molds for O-I. They weren't investing. There was the drop in the dollar. In some markets, especially for simple shuttle molds, there are a lot of mom and pop shops, and they are driven by price.''
Lewis also stressed increased competition in PET molds, accounting for 70 percent of Wentworth Mold's sales.
With machine and mold maker Sidel under increasing pressure in its core PET mold market, it has become more competitive in the higher-margin molds business, Lewis said.
``But we are not giving up in our core markets,'' he said. The company has facilities in Hamilton and Barrie, Ontario; Vandalia, Ohio; and Milleville, N.J.
Lewis said Wentworth wants to move ahead with a technical sales office in Mexico.
In China, it hopes to have a technical sales office inside a year but doesn't plan to make molds there, he said.
``We'll let other people burn their fingers there first,'' he said. ``But if we go, we'll go on our own. We need reliable, competent, experienced people who can do business based on North American principles.''