The HPM brand of U.S. injection molding machines is back at NPE — but now it's made in China.
A 220-metric-ton servo-hydraulic machine churned out clear plastic boxes at HPM North America Corp.'s NPE exhibit in Orlando.
It's the first HPM injection molding machine assembled in the Chinese parent company's factory in Foshan. The machine is manufactured based on American standards including dimensions and safety standards, said Richard Yan, CEO of Guangdong Yizumi Precision Machinery Co. Ltd.
About 15 percent of the components on the machine were sourced in the U.S., mostly electric control parts, he added.
The NPE2012 exhibition was the first step of what Yan called “active sales” of HPM injection presses, which will be in the range of 80-1,100 tonnes and will target such end applications as electrical appliances, packaging and consumer products.
“It's perfect timing,” Yan said, alluding to the healthy growth of the U.S. market indicated by the latest economic data. As the ancient Chinese saying goes, success is the right people at the right time in the right location. “From what we've seen at the show, there is a clear uptick in the market.”
The new HPM machine will offer strong price advantages. Yan said the prices will be “no higher than used machinery, which has seen a price hike due to short supply in this country.”
After acquiring HPM's intellectual property, brand and customer lists through an auction in March 2011, Yizumi established HPM North America Corp. in September 2011, and then acquired 100 percent of Bivouac Engineering and Service Co. in January. Bivouac owner and former HPM President William Flickinger was appointed president of HPM North America.
“He is now fully dedicated to bringing the HPM machines back,” Yan said.
The first and foremost task is to build a team, Yan noted. HPM NA now has eight technical staff in Marion, Ohio, all of them hired locally. Yan expects to expand the headcount to 12-15 by the end of the year, and the new additions will be local American employees as well.
“Our plan is to spend two years [from September 2011] to fully digest HPM technology and experience, and start making the full range of HPM machines in China.” That will include about eight models of die-casting machines and up to 12 models of injection molding machines.
But the company also does not rule out the possibility of starting assembly of the machines in the U.S., perhaps within three to four years, Yan said.
The localization effort will start in the third quarter, when the company will start modifying and customizing standard small presses (under 500 metric tons) at the Marion site.
The standard injection molding machines will be assembled and shipped from China.
With “urgent orders,” Yan said the company will ship “half-finished” machines from China and finish them in Marion. “We are already doing that with die-casting machines.” That will speed up the delivery time.
Many U.S. customers have deep feelings for the HPM brand, said Yan. One company that stopped by the booth to ask for parts and service said it is running a 1968 HPM press. “Some customers tell me that this is a brand they saw when they were still kids.”
Yizumi is determined to replicate the HPM model in other strategic markets. “HPM's demise to a large extent was due to its lack of global expansion. We are definitely embarking on a global strategy,” he said.
The company plans to launch a technical center in India, where Chinese presses are still subject to lofty anti-dumping tariffs.
Other target markets include Brazil and Turkey.
The aggressive global expansion is backed by Yizumi's progress in China. The company has already submitted its IPO application to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and started the review process.
“We are hopeful that we'll be able to launch the IPO this year, which will bring in capital that we'll use to expand.”
In the meantime, Yizumi is constructing two new factories, one in Foshan and another in Suzhou. The new Foshan facility is scheduled to start production in first-quarter 2013 and the Suzhou one by midyear.
Yizumi is also aiming to launch prototypes of all-electric and two-platen presses in China this year. But Yan commented that servo-hydraulic machines combine the advantages of energy savings, high precision and cost-effectiveness.
HPM NA will have two to three American agents join the sales effort after NPE.
“The market is happy to know HPM is back,” said Flickinger, “and customers are interested to see the new machine.”
The machine on display was headed for Marion and scheduled to stay there for a month. Afterward, the company will prepare service manuals, according to Flickinger. He said HPM is well-prepared for the full roll-out, including trained service staff and available parts.
Traditionally, HPM customers were located in the Midwest, South and Southwest. But with the new opportunity, the brand will reach farther in the U.S. and beyond.