“Connectivity” was the theme of Wittmann Battenfeld Inc. at NPE2012, where officials said you now can be on the golf course and check your molding presses and auxiliary equipment — if you want to.
“He could be in his production shop. He could be looking at his plant in Puerto Rico from his plant in Chicago. He would be getting an alert. He can get information from a production cell, such as production monitoring. He can know if it's down,” said President David Preusse at the company's news conference April 4.
At the Orlando show, all six injection presses on display were fully connected with the company's auxiliary equipment, including material handling, blenders, dryers, granulators and temperature controllers. Everything was linked to the Web.
“This is a real technology. It's not just a trade show gimmick,” Preusse said. “We're using it today, with our customers. The fastest way to get a service tech in your plant, is in two minutes. Hook me up, let's go — I'm looking at the equipment. I'm troubleshooting. Or I'm optimizing it.”
Torrington, Conn.-based Wittmann Battenfeld, the North American unit of Kottingbrunn, Austria-based Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH, generates about $70 million in annual sales and is forecasting a 15 percent increase in North American sales this year. North American sales in 2010 rebounded strongly from the recession, and business continued to grow in 2011, by 28 percent, Preusse said.
“The U.S. is still quite strong,” he said. So far this year, the U.S. injection press market is tracking at about 3,000 units per year, he added.
Georg Tinschert, managing director and CEO of Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH, said strong sales of automation equipment have prompted the company to build a 50,500-square-foot robot factory in Nuremberg, Germany.
Earlier this year, Wittmann Battenfeld announced a 32,300-square-foot expansion of its headquarters plant in Kottingbrunn. Tinschert said the extra assembly space is needed to build the large-tonnage MacroPower machines, which top out at 1,200 tons of clamping force. The company will add two smaller sizes, MacroPowers of 400 and 500 tons, at the Plast 2012 trade show, set for May 8-12 in Milan, he said.
Tinschert said companywide sales hit about $330 million in 2011, about 20 percent more than 2010. He credited the new Power Series. This year, he predicts sales will increase by 5 percent.
“We had five or six months of backlog when we started 2012,” Tinschert said.
This year, he said, the company will fill out the Power Series and add a multicomponent molding feature to the EcoPower press. Engineers also are working to develop foaming technology — with a quality-surface finish — for larger injection molding machines, Tinschert said.
At NPE, Wittmann Battenfeld showed a number of technologies, including a wide-platen, 950-ton MacroPower press molding, then fully assembling, a five-part folding box.
A MicroPower press was micromolding a 28-pin connector.
Wittmann Battenfeld also demonstrated in-mold labeling, liquid injection molding, inline inspection and thermography.
At the April 4 news conference, Sonny Morneault, national sales manager for the U.S. operation, said Centrex Plastics LLC bought a 1,000-ton press at NPE. Hoffer Plastics Corp. bought four 240-ton presses. Wittmann Battenfeld sold two 300-ton presses to Laszeray Technology Inc., he said.