A global footprint and a diverse product line developed by acquisition as well as by research and development are driving strong sales worldwide for Wittmann Battenfeld Inc. and its Vienna-based parent, Wittmann Kunststoffgerate GmbH, according to General Manager Michael Wittmann.
Wittmann was interviewed at the Torrington facility July 29 along with David Preusse, president of Wittmann Battenfeld Inc., and Matt McCabe, international key account manager for Wittmann Battenfeld.
“Automotive has been surprisingly strong,” Wittmann said.
The company communicated with automotive firms to see how new equipment might fit into their budgets and found the firms to be very cautious, he said. However, those companies, along with firms in other industries, are buying equipment.
“We believe we have a complete product line with a lot of potential,” he added.
Wittmann said annual sales overall are on track to reach about $350 million. He noted that sales are not confined to just one industry or one region.
The company has 31 locations worldwide, including nine manufacturing sites. Wittmann has been adding staff, about 250 people in the last year, and now has a total of 1,600 employees.
Preusse said sales at the Torrington site are up 35 percent and employment is up 20 percent in the past year, to 125 workers. The company has been adding regional managers and service people.
Michael Wittmann was president of Wittmann USA from 1995 to 2002 and is quite familiar with the U.S. subsidiary. He seemed pleased with its progress.
“The U.S. market size has not changed, but we've gained market share,” he said.
The Torrington facility is expecting to generate sales of more than $45 million this year, according to Preusse, up from $36 million last year.
The company has broadened its product line over the years, allowing Wittmann to offer molding machines, robots, materials-handling systems and other auxiliary equipment.
“During the recession automotive was very slow, but there seems to be a vibrant packaging market. A lot of caps and closures did not use robots, but now they do — a new market has opened up,” Preusse said.
“We've seen more use of Web-based services. They can go online with a molding machine, a robot or a material-handling system and do real-time troubleshooting over the Web,” Preusse noted.
Wittmann can service its equipment immediately using a secure Internet-based system, he added.
The Torrington facility is looking to increase efficiency and boost sales, according to Preusse.
Back in April, the site instituted lean manufacturing and a 5S workplace-organization program. In a streamlining effort, Wittmann is analyzing ways to cut paper use, reduce waste and handle orders and information more quickly.