Demag Plastics Group has named a new management team for its injection press joint venture in China with Ningbo Haitian Group Co. Ltd. - as the German machinery company continues to study the future of the operation.
Demag Plastics Group, based in Schwaig, Germany, also announced it will merge what used to be separate operating sales networks of Demag Ergotech China and the Chinese joint venture, a plant in Ningbo called Demag Haitian Plastics Machinery Ltd.
The Demag Haitian joint venture has made about 1,000 injection molding machines since its founding in 1998. DPG officials made it clear they want to maintain some type of China press manufacturing - whether tied in with Haitian, or on their own.
``A production location in China is of strategic importance for Demag Plastics Group and continues to be a vital part of its established, global production alliance,'' said a news release issued Aug. 4.
But does that mean DPG is committed to the ``production location'' teaming with Haitian? That question, and the future of the relationship, is under review, according to Gerd Liebig, DPG chief strategic and marketing officer.
Liebig, in a telephone interview from Germany, said DPG officials will give the management changes and creation of a single sales network time to work and increase sales of the joint venture. If those moves fail to produce results, Liebig said DPG could make a change.
The news release said DPG is ``reviewing various options'' to improve its market position in China, in addition to the announced changes.
Haitian officials at the company's headquarters in Ningbo did not respond to e-mailed questions seeking comment.
Questions about the future of Demag Haitian Plastics Machinery surfaced at the Chinaplas trade show in June. A Plastics News story from Chinaplas, quoting a German official of Demag Plastics Group, reported that DPG was looking at a range of options for its joint venture with Haitian, from severing ties to strengthening the partnership.
Plastics machinery executives worldwide are watching closely, since Demag Haitian marked a major, early collaboration between a Chinese plastics machinery maker and one from Germany, a powerhouse country for industrial equipment. DPG owns 60 percent of Demag Haitian.
A trade press report from Europe suggested that DPG's German management is unhappy Haitian has set up a sales and service office in Italy to cover Europe, where it used to sell only through an agent. The story said some of the Chinese company's presses sold in Europe use Demag technology - raising the specter of the hot-button intellectual property issue.
But Liebig emphatically said that is not true.
In the management changes, the new chief executive officer of Demag Haitian Plastics Machinery is Gerhard Massfelder. A 16-year DPG veteran, he most recently was managing director of DPG's subsidiary in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, heading sales and service in Southeast Asia and Australia. Massfelder also served as corporate sales manager in Schwaig for more than 10 years.
Sales at Demag Haitian will be handled by Stephan Greif, managing director of the Shanghai-based sales company, Demag Ergotech China.