CHICAGO — So far, 2014 is going really well for machinery major KraussMaffei Group.
“We're as busy as we've ever been in making machinery, primarily on the injection molding side,” President Paul Caprio said Oct. 2 at the Global Plastics Summit in Chicago. The two-day event was hosted by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and the IHS consulting firm.
Caprio cited reshoring as a reason for his firm's high level of activity. “Reshoring is a reality in North America,” he said. “Wal-Mart is pulling everything back.”
Munich-based KraussMaffei recently delivered 25 new injection molding machines to a Chicago-area location so that a software company can make its own game controllers. “A year ago, that work would have been in China or Hong Kong,” Caprio said. “Now, companies are shipping closer to the customer so they can make changes sooner.”
Recent trends among KraussMaffei's customers, according to Caprio, are for improvements in surfaces, light-weighting, renewables and optics. Automation also is at an all-time high. “Companies don't want people near the machines,” he said.
Caprio added that there's a great need for increased technical education in the U.S.
“We don't have enough technical people,” he said. “We can't find service engineers. We all just steal from each other.”
“As a country, we're not prepared for this growth at our fingertips.”
KraussMaffei employs 4,000 worldwide — operating several plants in Europe as well as a plant in China and a North American site in Florence, Ky. — and posted sales of $1.4 billion in 2013. The firm is a leader in the injection molding market and also makes extrusion equipment.