A new U.S. headquarters with space to run demonstration equipment is part of the plan for Kiefel Technologies Inc. and parent Bruckner Technology Holding GmbH to expand their North American presence.
The company was running medical blister packs on a KMD 78 B Speedformer to illustrate its forming, cutting and stacking attributes during its thermoforming workshop held Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
“It has such a fast cycle time that it more than pays for itself in no time,” said Steven Hoenig, president and CEO of Kiefel Technologies Inc. About 50 people attended the workshop.
Markus Zlotosch, vice president of packaging sales and service, noted that the project used nine-up tooling provided by Ontario Die Co. and was running at 40 cycles per minute, producing 21,600 pieces an hour. The result was a sixfold increase in output, competing with an undisclosed brand of machine that had been using three-up tooling at 20 cpm and making 3,600 pieces an hour.
“The trend in thermoforming is larger forming areas and faster cycle times,” said Thomas Huber, packaging sales director for Kiefel GmbH.
The company also showed the computer-aided-teaching system on its newest Speedformers. The CAT controller is simple to use, according to the company, with a checkoff-page system that does many of the calculations for the operator.
Kiefel moved 11 miles from Hampton, N.H., to the Portsmouth operation June 1 and now is situated with sister company Bruckner Inc., which moved from Greenville, S.C.
“Part of the reason was that we needed more office space, but we also wanted to make a platform for all the companies of Bruckner. It gives economy of scale and synergies,” Hoenig said.
“The U.S. market is very important. We see it trending back with more manufacturing coming to the U.S. again,” said Thomas Halletz, managing director of Kiefel GmbH.
Hoenig said Kiefel machines are particularly suited for the medical industry in that they can be inserted into a clean room because they run on clean, quiet servo motors. The machines also are used in automotive, packaging and refrigeration markets.
Thermoforming of auto interior parts is more common in Europe, according to Axel von Wiedersperg, managing director of Bruckner Technology Holding GmbH, but he sees the technology making headway in the U.S. market. He noted that more U.S. automotive companies seem to want a different look.
Kiefel also sells high-frequency and thermo-contact welding machines.
Von Wiedersperg said the new IV Express machine, which was introduced at Chinaplas, is receiving lots of interest, including in the U.S. market.
The Portsmouth operation now provides sales, service and support for North America. It employs 20 in an 18,000-square-foot facility.
Bruckner Group includes Kiefel; Bruckner, which serves the film and sheet industry; and PackSys Global, which offers equipment for laminates, plastic tubes, aluminum cans, decoration, metal caps and plastic closures. PackSys, which was acquired in January, is also planning to set up equipment in Portsmouth.
Von Wiedersperg said the parent is having a strong year, with sales of about 500 million euros ($690 million). That figure compares with 320 million euros ($441 million) last year.
Each of the companies in the group operate in strong, niche markets, he said. Bruckner plans to add one to three companies to its portfolio by 2015.