LOSSBURG, GERMANY (March 15, 11:45 a.m. ET) — Injection machinery producer Arburg GmbH + Co. KG expects to post 2011 turnover of 460 million euros ($601 million), up 22 percent over 2010.
Managing partner Michael Hehl called the numbers “a record result for Arburg” when he presented the results on the first morning of Arburg's annual Technology Days open house on March 14. The previous record had been turnover of 409 million euros in 2007.
The result is close to the overall average growth of 23 percent announced recently by VDMA, the German Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association.
Arburg sales director Helmut Heinson stressed that with price increases having accounted for no more than 3-4 percent, the growth in turnover has been in volume and not price inflation.
Incoming orders, however, fell 2 percent by value in 2011, amounting to around 320 million euros ($418 million) in terms of pure injection molding machine orders received at the Lossburg headquarters, as opposed to complete “project” production system solutions and orders taken by Arburg's foreign subsidiaries.
Heinson commented: “We got onto a different track in [the fourth quarter of 2011] as the market calmed down. This has had a healing affect on delivery times, so they have got back to normal in 2012, which means four to five weeks for standard machines, 10-12 weeks for others, depending on the amount of engineering needed.”
The pattern in incoming orders shows electric-drive Alldrive machines as having grown from a 16 percent to 17 percent share of the total, Hidrive hybrid drive machines also growing their share 1 percent to 14 percent. The hydraulic drive Golden Edition machine share has dropped however from 22 percent to 19 percent.
Heinson says it is still too earlier for the new Edrive series, introduced in 2011, to show through strongly in orders, “but this will change a lot in 2012, as the real pushing of the Edrive only really started in 2012.”
Heinson added that Arburg wants to grow its project business — selling complete turnkey production cell systems.
Project sales presently account for around 12 percent of Arburg's turnover in Germany, less so in other countries. With trained system staff now available in some foreign subsidiaries, the project business will be driven particularly hard in France, Spain and the Czech Republic, as well as in Poland and the United Kingdom.
“We want to do more of the project business worldwide too, also in China” Heinson said, “It is not a top priority in China, but will become one. Delivery of a machine with a robot is now common for China, but it is not classified as a project for Arburg. But in the past it used to be just a molding machine.”
Looking at other countries, and commenting on the financial crisis in southern European countries, Heinson said: “We normally used to sell two machines per year in Greece, but we did not sell any machines there in 2011. On the other hand, Turkey is very interesting, due to high growth and moving away from the traditional dependency on imports of cheap machines by switching to quality products [machines] made in Europe.”
There has been no obvious change for Arburg in the Italian market and business has been “satisfactory” in Spain and Portugal in 2011, with “stabilization having taken place at a high level.”
China, and Asia more generally, does present some headaches for Arburg however. There are two issues here, price and delivery times. Here, Heinson said, “the Japanese are at our price level, sometimes slightly lower. So we are not cheap. On the other hand, we suffer from seven weeks transport time from Europe to the region.”
Heinson added, “We will not seek to change our price level, as we remain with our commitment to production only in Lossburg. We need therefore to continue with our success in finding suitable customers in China [at our price levels]. But we need to look at some logistic and organizational possibilities in order get a grip on delivery times for the region. This would be a way to optimize our business [in the region].”
Overall, Arburg has been increasing its export sales share, up from around 50 percent in the past, already at 70 percent today and increasing further.
Technical director Herbert Kraibühler does not expect production to increase significantly in the next five years, as the production plant is fully utilized and “it cannot be easily expanded, due to our vertical integration philosophy.
“It would therefore not be a matter of just adding one more production hall, but much more than that,” Kraibühler said.
See www.europeanplasticsnews.com for a complete version of this story.