Engel Holding GmbH's North American operation has opened a 7,300-square-foot technical center to serve the western U.S. and portions of northern Mexico.
Engel is investing in the future, Peter Neumann, chief executive officer of Engel Holding in Schwertberg, Austria, told a gathering of about 90 people on March 17 in Corona. Engel displayed five injection molding presses during the open house.
Privately held Engel is spending about $1.5 million to establish and outfit the center, Stephan Braig, president and CEO of York, Pa.-based Engel North America, said in an interview. Engel committed $1.35 million in December to acquire the land and a 2-year-old building in an industrial park. The firm proceeded with internal improvements and received an occupancy permit from the city of Corona in early March.
At the site, Engel offers ready-to-deliver injection molding machines, equipment demonstrations, mold trials, customer training, service and maintenance capabilities and a spare parts inventory, the latter soon to be relocated about 22 miles from a Santa Ana facility that Engel has used for two decades.
Joachim Kragl, Engel North America processing technology manager, highlighted radio-frequency identification technology, nano- and micro-sized components and increasingly intelligent machine processes as subjects he anticipates will have near-term impacts on segments of the plastics industry.
A Go Green and Save presentation from Bruce R. Blau & Associates of Fresno, Calif., focused on energy-conservation issues and the potential for energy rebates and incentives. The Engel technical center brings in extensive amounts of daylight illumination through multiple windows and skylights.
Chris Kightlinger, Engel western regional and technical sales manager, handled onsite logistics to set up the new center. John Cartabiano is service manager. Four Engel service personnel and a parts manager also are involved.
Braig said Engel North America anticipates breaking ground in June for a new Querétaro, Mexico, sales, service and technical center. The facility will supplant an existing Mexico City operation, perhaps by the end of 2009.
In mid-2008, Engel consolidated its North American press manufacturing in York and discontinued machine production in Guelph, Ontario. While the Guelph site is available for disposition, current economic conditions hinder Engel sales efforts, Braig said.
As a result, Engel uses the Guelph location now as a technical center with support infrastructure, spare parts, service and training, Braig said. Engel will maintain those capabilities in a smaller nearby location after selling the Canadian property.
During the open house, Al Damico, executive vice president of the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., reviewed industry trends and gave an update on preparations for NPE2009, to be held June 22-26 in Chicago. Damico also noted California's No. 1 state ranking in the nation's plastics industry. Using latest-available 2007 annual statistics, he said the plastics industry in California employed 94,700, generated payroll of $3.7 billion and shipped products worth about $20.8 billion.
Engel also has been sponsoring Eco-Technology Symposiums to meet with molders alongside auxiliary equipment suppliers to discuss ways to use equipment to cut energy use and expenses.
We wanted to bring them ideas about energy-related savings and injection molding, Jim Moran, vice president of sales, said during a March 18 symposium in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Engel's electric molding equipment is getting increased attention in part because it offers 30-50 percent in energy savings, depending on the size of the press, Kragl noted.
At the symposium, Ted Rudy, president of Process Cooling Systems Inc., said his Leominster, Mass.-based company has been getting increased business from molders because it designs cooling systems that are specific to each facility's location. Some firms overspend on cooling because they try to make the same system work in both Mexico and Michigan.
Most companies don't take the local weather into account, he said.
The time of year also can make a difference in resin drying, said Dan O'Donnel, regional sales manager for Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH: Resin delivered in a sealed bag in the winter has a far lower moisture content than resin that sits in an open bag in the summer. Resin stored in silo has a different level of moisture-management issues.
Like Rudy, O'Donnel said there is no one answer to the type of drying system that a company may need. Kottingbrunn, Austria-based Wittmann created the Energy Rating Label to provide a standard usage cost for dryers to help processors decide what equipment to buy. It also is trying to establish an energy rating standard for use across the industry, O'Donnel said.
And it's not just a matter of new equipment, he said: There are real savings available by ensuring that existing equipment is in good shape. Just one pinhole leak in an air compressor line can cost $2,000 a year.