Business is brisk at Austrian robot maker Wittmann KunststoffgerÃ¤te GmbH's first factory in China, in Kunshan near Shanghai, according to a top official.
The plant, which started making robots in April, held a grand opening Oct. 17, said Jonathan Ching, managing director of Wittmann Robot (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.
``Our capacity is already fully booked for 2005. We have to increase our production capacity,'' Ching said Nov. 9 at the International Machinery, Materials & Mould Exhibition in Dongguan.
The 66,000-square-foot plant employs 80, building Wittmann's W711 and W710 robots. But Wittmann makes more than robots, as the Vienna, Austria-based company has expanded into auxiliary equipment. Ching said the plant also is making granulators and mold-temperature controllers and will begin producing dryers next year.
Wittmann is committed to making the same technological level of equipment in China as it does in its plants in Austria and the United States, Ching said. ``The mechanical level is exactly the same. The quality level's the same,'' he said as show visitors watched a servo-driven robot zoom back and forth.
The quality is the same, but manufacturing costs are not. ``By setting up a plant in China, our costs will be lower. We've targeted at 30-40 percent lower than the products produced in Europe and America,'' Ching said.
To reach that target, Wittmann will source more parts from China. Many components now come from other Wittmann operations.
Ching said most of Wittmann's customers in China are multinational companies that use world-class technology. However, domestic Chinese are becoming more interested in advanced robots, too.
Chinese plastics processors are no different than molders anywhere else - they want fast delivery and good support, Ching said. ``They want it tomorrow. So if we ship every time from Europe, we lose a lot of business,'' he said. ``So you build a plant here, and you can deliver fast, give better service and the customer will have more confidence than if you just have a sales and service office. They'll feel much more comfortable.''