Blown film extruder maker Kiefel AG plans to expand capacity in Germany to cope with growing machinery demand stemming partly from its takeover by Bruckner Maschinenbau GmbH in January.
Freilassing, Germany-based Kiefel intends to construct a 13,000-square-foot building to expand assembly at its extruder plant in Worms. The space should be ready by early next year if city leaders approve the expansion, said Edgar Gandelheidt, chief executive officer of subsidiary Kiefel Extrusion GmbH.
Two years ago, a space shortage at its tight urban site combined with growing business to force Kiefel to erect a tent outside its Worms assembly building. At one point, machinery was shifted in and out daily to allow production to continue. Often the squeeze was exacerbated by customers unprepared for deliveries, said worldwide sales director Kurt Freye.
``We had to add a clause to our contracts that actually says if a customer is not ready to accept a machine on the promised shipment date that he needs to pay the storage cost for it,'' Freye said during a recent tour of the Worms facility.
Kiefel has seen sales of its modular Kirion extruder range grow since the machines were introduced to the market in 2001. Since 2004, its number of orders for the machines has exceeded 40 annually. In 2006, Kiefel Extrusion enjoyed a record for Kirion with nearly 50 units sold, mainly to the Middle East, the United States and Europe, Freye said.
The acquisition of Kiefel by film stretching line supplier Bruckner of Siegsdorf, Germany, is helping to boost Kiefel's output.
``It's already decided that extruders for Bruckner will in the future be built by us, increasing again our economy of scale situation,'' Gandelheidt said at a news conference last month in Deidesheim, Germany.
He stressed that Bruckner has no plans to merge Kiefel Extrusion with its cast and sheet extrusion machine manufacturer, Bruckner Formtec GmbH of Siegsdorf. But the companies will work together closely, sharing Kiefel parts and technology to improve the entire group's cast extrusion lines, said Gandelheidt, who recently took on the added post of Formtec chairman.
The new cooperation is helping the two subsidiaries provide the market with a wider range of products, Gandelheidt said.
Sharing Bruckner's ``brainpower'' has enabled Kiefel and Bruckner to work together on extruder design and share the parent's expertise in film stretching, he added. Meanwhile, Kiefel is reporting success for its machine direction orientation technology for monoaxial stretching of blown and cast films, introduced in April 2006.
``The sales of the MDO lines have developed surprisingly,'' said MDO project manager Eberhard Wenger. ``We have been able to reach the turnover targets foreseen for 2006 with orders from Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.''
Four MDO lines, all for blown film, have sold so far for twist film and food packaging applications, he said. Kiefel has been running, on average, two MDO trials a week at its laboratory.
Wenger stressed the benefits of using MDO to improve barrier film properties. Cost savings can result by decreasing the thickness of the ethylene vinyl alcohol layer while delivering the same barrier property and improving transparency and stiffness of the barrier film, Wenger said.
Kiefel also highlighted its newly developed Perfect Cool and ECP (Enhanced Cooling Package) cooling systems, which it claims are superior to conventional blown film extrusion dual air rings.
``In 18 months of production, we have sold 22 units globally, among them already several repeat orders,'' said Kiefel extrusion business unit manager Sascha Skora.
The majority of orders for its latest cooling systems have been from the Middle East - with 12 going to Saudi Arabia and three to the United Arab Emirates, while another three were sold in Spain and two each in the United States and China, he said. Cool Perfect is designed for 200-millimeter-wide extrusion lines, with ECP aimed at smaller bags, especially heavy-duty shipping sacks.
Kiefel is promising innovation at the K 2007 trade show in Dusseldorf, Germany, in October, when it will unveil a brand-new blown film line. Through special interior cooling and further development of the proven blown film die head and screw designs, the firm has achieved productivity data ``that put everything up to now in the shade,'' said Gandelheidt, who did not disclose details.
Other features of the Kiefel booth at K will include a Kirion three-layer blown film line in action, with a winder of the firm's own design and production, as well as its new cooling systems.