Demag Plastics Group's big new factory in China, where construction is just beginning, will ship all-electric IntElect injection presses to U.S. customers in 2008, the machinery maker's top executive said at Fakuma 2006.
DPG also plans to slowly phase out the HT line of toggle-clamp injection presses, assembled in DPG's factory in Strongsville, Ohio. The Strongsville factory will make only the Titan line of large and medium-size two-platen presses.
Klaus Erkes, DPG's president and chief executive officer, made the announcements Oct. 18 at the trade show in Friedrichshafen.
Erkes said DPG has a simpler machinery-brand lineup, with multishot technology now available on every type of DPG press. Multishot used to be a separate brand of machine. Erkes also promised a stronger focus on applications, with teams dedicated to key markets of packaging, electronics, automotive and medical.
DPG has factories in Schwaig and Wiehe, Germany; Strongsville; and the fast-growing countries of China and India. That makes the firm - a unit of Mannesmann Plastics Machinery GmbH - a good supplier for multinational customers, Erkes said.
``I think we are, among the machinery companies, the one which has really generated a global approach,'' he said.
Just before Fakuma, DPG announced the Strongsville factory plans to get into Titans with much larger clamping forces. By spring, the company will introduce a 3,300-ton Titan. In July of this year, DPG introduced a 2,200-ton Titan. Eventually, the Titan line will extend up to 4,400 tons.
At Fakuma, Erkes said Strongsville will be the only place to build the Titan press, for shipment around the world.
``If you have a machine like that, it has to be a global machine. The American market is too small for it, alone,'' he said.
Meanwhile, the decision to stop making the HT toggle press is big news in the United States. Officials in Strongsville said there is an installed base of some 8,000 HTs in North America.
Erkes, who is based in Schwaig, said the company will ``phase it out smoothly.'' But he said the HT is showing its age.
``This is a machine which now comes into its years, and for that reason, we slowly want to phase it out,'' he said. ``It's not what we want to concentrate on in the future - that is the Titan.''
DPG's president for North American operations, Brian Bishop, said the company still makes the HT presses, but other technologies, notably all-electric presses, will come to dominate the market for smaller injection molding machines.
Bishop, who attended the Fakuma show, said the Strongville plant also will continue to manufacture the Newbury line of vertical presses.
As previously reported, Demag Plastics Group is building a 100,000-square-foot injection molding machine factory in Ningbo, China. The expansion, which doubles the size of its existing factory, also in Ningbo, comes after DPG became sole owner of what was a joint venture with giant press maker Ningbo Haitian Group Co. Ltd. DPG bought the remaining 40 percent from Haitian last fall.
Earlier this year, DPG said the new factory would build the company's first all-electric press in China, as well as expanding its line of other types of presses. The reason is to reduce the price, because all-electrics shipped from Germany are too expensive to sell in China, the company said.
At Fakuma, Erkes said the new Ningbo plant will begin shipping presses to customers in China by the end of 2007. All-electrics exported to the United States will come in 2008, he said.
DPG now is concentrating exclusively on IntElect all-electric machines powered by direct-drive technology. Erkes said the company no longer makes IntElects with belt-and-ball-screw power. Those machines had been built in Strongsville.
``We have a direct-drive, only, as a world concept,'' he said.
Erkes said DPG's European customers will continue to receive all-electrics made in the Wiehe plant.
The decision to ship Chinese presses to the United States came because the U.S. market, served by many strong Japanese suppliers, is very price-sensitive, he said.
Erkes said the decisions on the HT and shipping China-built all-electrics to the United States were made well before the change in ownership of parent Mannesmann Plastics Machinery. In July, Madison Capital Partners, a Chicago investment group, bought MPM from New York buyout giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
He said Madison Capital has not made any major changes so far. MPM's other brands include Krauss-Maffei, Netstal and Berstorff.
``At the moment, we have the multibrand strategy. Nothing has changed. We [each] implement our own strategies,'' Erkes said.