Fresh from buying out its Chinese joint venture partner and boosting technical capacity, blow molding machinery maker Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH plans to expand its operation in the country and focus more intently on exporting.
Kautex will be increasing capacity and the range of machines produced at its plant in Shunde, in China's southern Guangdong Province, said David McIver, general manager for Shunde Kautex Plastics Technology Co. Ltd. As a first step, the company will boost capacity to make 60-70 machines per year.
He said the company also wants to become self-sufficient in most of the components for production there, because quality and delivery time for locally made components sometimes can be a challenge in China, he said.
Production will remain in Shunde, McIver said during an interview at the Chinaplas 2005 show, held June 21-24 in Guangzhou.
Kautex has operated the plant since 1994, and in early 2004 bought out the 37 percent stake owned by its joint venture partner, Chen Hsong Machinery Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong.
The company bought out Chen Hsong because it did not want to transfer its latest technology to a joint venture, and because Kautex's parent at the time, Swiss-based SIG Holding Ltd., was trying to sell Kautex - and selling a joint venture can be difficult, McIver said.
Private equity firm Adcuram Beteiligungs AG of Munich, Germany, bought Kautex in May 2004, and said last year that it planned to re-enter the consumer packaging market.
Bonn, Germany-based Kautex makes extrusion blow molding equipment for products ranging from auto parts and other industrial applications to packaging.
Kautex makes its KCC line of machines in China. Since McIver arrived in February 2004, Kautex has been upgrading operations to ``prepare the machines for the world market,'' he said.
Kautex got approval last year to put European Community labels on the KCC machines, meaning they meet European Union safety standards.
As part of that push into world markets, Kautex's Chinaplas exhibit included a four-layer co-extrusion blow molding machine made in China.
Currently about 70 percent of the machines from Shunde are sold into the Chinese market, and 30 percent are exported, but Kautex wants to boost exports to 50 percent of sales next year and 70 percent in 2007, McIver said.
``We have big expectations'' for the KCC machines in the European and U.S. markets, he said.
The company also is eyeing domestic Chinese growth. The local market is growing quickly, and unlike the industry in the West, is not mature, he said.
Blow molding in China is only about a dozen years old, and ranges from farmers operating a single machine as a side venture to multinationals with the latest technology, he said.