Having a machine stamped Made in Germany will help China's Haitian International Holdings Ltd. sell its injection molding presses in Europe, where companies still tend to be skeptical about a Chinese press supplier, said Executive Director Helmar Franz.
The firm's German-made all-electric Mercury press attracted lots of new booth visitors during its K-show rollout in November, said Franz. Haitian's Zhafir subsidiary builds the Mercury at its factory in Ebermannsdorf, Germany. That plant also builds the Venus all-electric press.
Europe is still the market for the high-tech, for the real innovations, he said at news conference during K 2010 in Dusseldorf. It's a big engineering powerhouse, and for the customer as well.
At the same time, Franz said Ningbo-based Haitian is committed to building trust in Chinese-made plastics machinery. We want to convince. We want to create trust. We want to communicate, he said.
The company has positioned its Mercury as a high-speed, high-technology press, Franz said at a news conference. One of the first Mercury presses, with 150 metric tons of clamping force, has been molding thin-wall polypropylene cups since September at a French packaging company, he said.
Engineers from both Germany and China developed Mercury. And Franz said the main reason Haitian set up Zhafir in Germany was its proximity to a suitable supply base.
Why we are making it in Germany is because high-tech machines also need high-tech suppliers. We need sensors. We need motors. We need drives. We need all this stuff, he said. And in China you still cannot find them. It's much easier to make it in Europe.
Haitian also is building a factory in Vietnam, which will begin making injection presses in the first half of this year.
Franz explained the motivation behind a global manufacturing strategy: Everybody goes outside [their home countries] to make up their deficiencies. Why do Germans and Europeans go to China to manufacture? It's because their deficiency is cost.
Why do we go to Germany to manufacture? Because our deficiency is technology. It's very easy, but it's the same target. You want to address your customer better. You want to understand what are their needs, what is their philosophy. And so you go to that market and manufacture there, he said.
The Zhafir Mercury sports several innovations. The side walls of the machine become tie bars, allowing for a mold area that is 70 percent larger. A simplified toggle mechanism uses just two levers with a central direct-drive servo unit. Braking energy is recirculated back into the machine.
Haitian is selling Mercury presses in clamping forces of 55, 100 and 150 metric tons.
Mercury also separates plastification and injection. The plastification unit, powered by a high-torque motor, is set at an angle on top of the injection unit. Injection is controlled by a central spindle, driven by a servomotor.
Keba AG of Austria supplies the controller.
At K, Haitian also displayed the Mars/eco, an economic version of its energy-efficient Mars series, as well as the new Pallas, a faster, more-precise version of the Mars.
Franz said Mars is Haitian's top seller, with more than 30,000 machines in the market and accounting for 65 percent of total company sales.
The [financial] crisis didn't hit this machine series. The people keep on buying Mars machines because they address the needs of our customers, he said.
Franz said the low-priced Mars press has a place in the European and U.S. markets, by giving molders there a less-expensive option to help them compete against China. Labor costs are going up in China, and energy can be costly there. Going to China to manufacture is, maybe, difficult. So why not stay here? he said.
China and India are huge consumer-products markets. Franz also said that, even though North America and Europe are coming off periods of weak sales, Haitian considers them very important strategically, because the research and product development centers of global companies are there. We need to be a partner to this design group, he said.
Financially, Haitian has rebounded sharply from the recession, beginning in 2009. The company's first-half 2010 sales of 3.23 billion yuan ($474 million) set a record, as Franz said Haitian produced about 15,000 injection molding machines during those six months.
Since [March 2009], every consecutive month was better than the previous month, he said.