Friedrichshafen, Germany — Engel Holding GmbH generated record sales of 1.07 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in fiscal 2014-2015, and the company's top sales official is predicting a solid gain this year — although sales growth could even out in the coming years.
“The past two years were — from a global perspective — the best we have had for a long time,” said Christoph Steger, Engel's chief sales officer, said at Engel's Fakuma 2015 news conference Oct. 14 in Friedrichshafen.
“The growth of the industry in the last two years was enormous. But we expect this growth will slow in the next few years. We're not talking about stagnation — just slowing of the level of growth,” Steger said.
CEO Peter Neumann said robust demand for plastics processing machinery in recent years has led to some supply-chain problems and longer lead times for machine delivery.
Engel is showing lots of technology at Fakuma. But Neumann outlined how Engel — which already employs more than 5,000 people — is trying to train and attract new people. Engel is adding a childcare center at its headquarters in Schwertberg, Austria. That is part of a 9,300-square-meter expansion for more space for sales and service and an apprentice workshop.
Engel has 140 people in its apprenticeship program in Schwertberg. Neumann said 98 percent of the apprentices stay to work at Engel. Neumann called it “a major success factor for our company.”
Now the company is expanding its efforts beyond its home country of Austria.
Engel's subsidiary in Hagen, Germany, began its own training program in 2012.
Engel also built a new apprentice workshop at its plant in Shanghai, modeled after the one in Schwertberg. In the spring of 2014, the first 10 apprentices began training as technicians for computer numerically controlled machining.
“We have a program that is based on the role model of Austria,” Neumann said. The company is teaming with local schools.
On Sept. 1, Engel started a training program at its component factory in Kaplice, the Czech Republic.
Neumann said Engel's challenge to remain a leader in new technology, without becoming complacent as a big machinery maker, means the company will need a steady stream of new talent.
At Fakuma, Engel is showing its technology to keep injection molding machines operating at peak efficiency — even if conditions change.
Stefan Engleder, chief technology officer, said Engel has dubbed its smart factory concept inject 4.0 — a play on Industry 4.0. Inject 4.0 is based on smart machines, smart production with integrated data and smart services, including remote maintenance tools.