Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH (Booth S42000) is re-entering the large-machine market and introducing its next generation of all-electrics. The company is unveiling a series of robots, equipment and manufacturing cells at NPE2009 to take advantage of its year-old acquisition of Battenfeld's press-making operations.
Kottingbrunn, Austria-based Wittmann Battenfeld presented several firsts at the show, including a new software controller, a dual-arm telescopic robot for the stack mold market and manufacturing cells that team Battenfeld molding machines directly with Wittmann robots and equipment to make production systems for areas like in-mold labeling.
Beyond the NPE product introductions, though, company officials said at a June 23 news conference at the show that they plan to re-enter the large-machine market by March with presses up to 1,600 tons, with a first showing at K 2010. Wittmann also will unveil all-electrics with clamping forces of 55-300 tons later this year.
The new version of the EM all-electric will be made without components from competitor Ferromatik Milacron Maschinenbau GmbH of Malterdingen, Germany, severing a relationship the companies had shared since 2004..
Company officials unveiled a series of investments, even as they said the downturn has forced them to cut staff from 1,600 to 1,350 employees.
General Manager Michael Wittmann said the firm plans to expand its Hungarian plant, open a new technical center and parts facility in Meinerzhagen, Germany, and set up offices in Romania and the Czech Republic.
The overall market for injection machines has shrunk from 90,000 worldwide in 2007 to an expected 45,000 this year, while the worldwide robot market dropped from just under 14,000 in 2007 to just over 10,000 in 2008, company officials said in a presentation.
But they estimated Wittmann Battenfeld has been able to increase its market share slightly in molding machines, and to about 19 percent in the worldwide robot market, which was 15 percent previously.
Company officials also said they are beginning to see signs of an uptick in business, but caution it will not mean a return to times before the economic crisis.
We think, yes, we have hit the bottom, but you have to expect for the next three years the volumes won't go back to what we had in 2007 and 2008, said Georg Tinschert, president and CEO of Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH. We expect the markets will be 20-30 percent lower, even when it's coming back to normal.
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