Berstorff Corp., the U.S. unit of the German firm that makes compounding extruders and sheet lines, plans to beef up its U.S. content - and launch U.S. assembly - at its location in Florence, Ky.
``The economics is a part of it. We're selling more,'' Korbinian Kiesl, vice president of the U.S. operation, said in an interview at K 2004 in Dusseldorf.
Berstorff GmbH now ships major components already assembled to Florence from its headquarters plant in Hanover. Under the current arrangement, Kiesl said: ``The motor's coming from the U.S. The drive's coming from the U.S. The controls are coming from the U.S. The mechanical portions entirely for the extruder are manufactured in Germany.''
But that will change as more content is purchased from U.S. contractors. ``Instead of a share of 55-60 percent, or maybe 70 percent German, it's going to go down to approximately 25 percent of the total,'' Kiesl said.
Berstorff in Kentucky will continue to get the gearbox, barrel and screws from Germany.
``All the other portions like the frame, barrel covers, lubrication units for the oil, temperature control units for barrels will be done in the U.S. and sourced from local companies,'' Kiesl said. The firm will ``get bits and pieces from everywhere'' and do final assembly in Florence, which employs 35, he said.
The U.S. operation plans to hire seven new employees, including process engineers and service people.
Kiesl said Berstorff is doing well in the rebounding U.S. market. ``For us, the U.S. is back. That is a very important statement.''
North American firms already supply pelletizers for compounding and much of the downstream equipment for Berstorff sheet lines. The U.S.-assembly and sourcing change is coming to the twin-screw compounding extruders.
At K 2004, Berstorff introduced its lower-priced ZE Basic extruder. Standardization of subassemblies brings the cost down. Three barrel sections are available. The extruder comes with six screw diameters, from 26-77 millimeters, with standard screw speeds of 600, 900 and 1,200 rpm.
The ZE Basic fills out Berstorff's range of twin-screw extruders, which includes the high-performance ZE UTX and ZE UT units..
Manfred Reichel, president and chief executive officer, said Berstorff will sell the German-made ZE Basic around the world - including in China, through its sales offices there. That seems to be a contrarian strategy these days. At K, two competitors, Coperion Group and Century Inc., showed new low-cost compounding extruders manufactured in China.
Interviewed at K, Reichel said Berstorff will source a few noncritical components from China, such as a cooling bath used in strand pelletizing. But Reichel rejected the idea of making a high-quality compounding extruder built in China for export around the world.
``Basically the Chinese market is so different qualitywise. If you're manufacturing in China, it will be for the Chinese market,'' he said.
Like the ZE UTZ, the ZE Basic is equipped with the second-generation Process Control Advanced. Berstorff said the controller can run individual extruders, plus now it can control complete production lines such as thermoforming sheet lines. The panel combines keyboard and touch-screen access and is easy to use.
Also at K, Berstorff showed a ZE 60 UTX for running up to 880 pounds of PET material an hour without pre-drying. The main application is direct extrusion of thermoforming sheet, biaxially oriented PET film, fibers and pellets for injection molding.
The firm extended its Schaumex range of single-screw foam extruders with a new co-rotating twin-screw machine with a downstream melt cooler, to handle material at a lower throughput range of 440 pounds an hour. Like the conventional single-screw extruder, the new twin screw produces polyethylene foam tubes and profiles, expanded polypropylene, PE and polystyrene sheet, and expandable PP beads.