(March 2, 2009) — Thank you for your Perspective in the Dec. 1 issue [Tough times for machinery, Page 7]. You hit the nail right on the head with the lack of clarity in our business. It applies not only to our machinery builders' market, but also to our supplies.
Steel and particularly aluminum have seen considerable price fluctuations that make it very difficult to have the once-a-year customary price adjustment that gave our industry a certain reliable rhythm.
I would like to point out that the picture also has some bright spots that you hinted at, but didn't expand on. A year and a half ago, before the crisis began (though as we just learned, the recession started a year ago), Addex made the decision to move away from the complete blown film line business which had become so crowded during the strong dollar days with technologically strong German firms able to sell to customers that never before were able to afford them. So Addex decided to concentrate on what had assured our growth over the years: improving new and existing blown film lines our key improvements being automatic and manual film-thickness variation controls.
Due to the increase in raw material prices, which even with the present decline are still considerably higher than 10 years ago, controlling the variation in film thickness has become a major source of cost savings.
A short example: On a typical blown film line that produces 5 million pounds annually, a 50 percent reduction of a plus-or-minus 10 percent film-thickness variation (accomplishable with many automatic systems) results in a 5 percent material savings of 250,000 pounds a year.
No wonder that our best sellers today, in dollars, are the automatic gauge controls; and in number of units, the manual gauge controls.
Rick von Kraus