U.S. plastics machinery giant Milacron Inc. is expanding its manufacturing capabilities in India and broadening the product lines it makes in that fast-growing market.
The Cincinnati-based firm will increase production space at its Ahmedabad, India, plant by about 25 percent by year's end, in part to accommodate the output of its first Indian-made blow molding machines, according to Jay Woerner, chairman of Ferromatik Milacron India Ltd.
In a Feb. 13 interview at Plastindia, Woerner said FMI will add room at the 150,000-square-foot factory for assembly and painting, while also creating a dedicated space for blow molding machinery manufacturing. At the exhibition in New Delhi, the company rolled out its first locally made Shuttle series of extrusion blow molding machines, aimed at high-speed packaging applications such as 3- and 5-liter bottles. The units include Uniloy Milacron-designed multiparison heads and involved the transfer of technology from Italy, according to Woerner.
Ahmedabad-based Ferromatik Milacron India - formerly known as Cincinnati Milacron Ltd. - also has introduced a locally made VersaPET stretch blow molding machine, though it did not display that model at Plastindia. Umesh Pareek, general manager of international sales, said production of the model began early in 2006 and the machine is the first of its kind to feature electric clamping technology.
Pareek said FMI already has sold two of the machines and plans to expand the finished-bottle size range beyond current 2-liter containers. Woerner added that Milacron's Indian engineers, with technical support from Europe, completely redesigned the line, which originated at the former Uniloy facilities in Manchester, Mich.
Woerner - who last December agreed to spend three weeks of every month this year in Asia - said FMI's $25 million in annual sales now makes it India's leading plastics machinery producer, both in sales value and volume. The company made 400 machines in India last year and is exporting 30 percent of its output, or $7.5 million worth of equipment, mostly to growing markets in the Middle East and Africa. FMI now employs 280 people and has sold more than 2,500 machines since beginning operation in the fall of 1995.
Milacron's 20-month-old joint venture in China, meanwhile, focuses on making larger-sized injection presses, while the Indian operation is concentrating mostly on medium-sized and smaller units. Still, FMI is busy expanding the size ranges of the models it can make on the subcontinent.
Woerner said FMI currently is selling mostly 550- and 715-ton models of its Maxima two-platen injection machines but is prepared to fulfill orders for models up to 1,760 tons from India. He said the firm has the facilities to build Maxima presses up to 2,970 tons in India, but that would require additional technology and component sourcing arrangements.
He pointed to the Magna T Toggle line as an example of a product that Milacron is converting to a truly global model. The firm also is standardizing the injection units used on both its Hydron hydraulic and Magna Toggle versions, with about 90 percent of those models due to be using the same technology by year's end.
Finally, Woerner noted that both India and China support Milacron's other manufacturing operations.
``We also supply machine components to our sister companies in the U.S. and Germany, and this will only grow,'' he added.
Milacron Inc. reported fourth-quarter 2005 profit of $5.7 million vs. a loss of $1.9 million the year before. 2005 sales totaled $217 million. In its machinery technologies-North America segment, the company said sales were up due to higher demand for injection press orders. The segment includes blow molding and extrusion machinery supplied from North America as well as India and China.