Naples, Fla. — Top executives of four injection molding press manufacturers discussed the North American machinery market, the global economy, how to attract young people, and whether the important U.S. automotive industry is flattening out at the Executive Forum.
The five were: Paul Caprio, president of KraussMaffei Corp.; John Galt, CEO of Husky Injection Molding Systems Inc.; Tom Goeke, president and CEO of Milacron LLC; Friedrich Kanz, president of Arburg Inc.; and Mark Sankovitch, president and CEO of Engel North America.
U.S. shipments of injection molding machines topped the 4,000 mark in 2015. The panel's moderator, Plastics News publisher Brennan Lafferty, asked the machinery mavens if that will continue this year. The robust automotive sector has been the powerhouse lifting much of the machinery sector, as automakers sold 17.5 million light vehicles last year.
“Four thousand machines last year wouldn't be possible without a strong automotive industry,” Kanz said.
Caprio thinks the U.S. market could again be about 4,000 units in 2016 — but he said automotive is not the only reason KraussMaffei's sales have been strong.
“We're very optimistic,” he said. “Automotive has been the main driver for the past couple of years, but we see other segments growing, too” such as packaging and logistics. “So it's just not because of one leg, of automotive,” Caprio said.
Caprio said automotive accounts for more than half of KraussMaffei's sales. But he pointed out that, during times between car model-year changes — the changes that spur much capital investment — other sectors can adopt the company's innovations. For example, he said the company showed the cube-mold SpinForm process first to automotive. But the large-screen television industry adopted it first.
“Everyone can benefit from cost savings” by using new technology, Caprio said. “Part of our job is to educate people in what is successful in one area and what can we do to translate that to other end markets.”