Torrington, Conn. — Wittmann Battenfeld Inc. took a couple days, Oct. 5-6, for an open house and innovations workshop to showcase its growing campus, which includes a new material handling and auxiliaries factory as well as a simulated clean room in its main facility.
More than 300 guests looked over the latest injection molding machines, robots and auxiliary equipment for material conveying, blending, drying, granulating, heating and cooling. With the help of more than a dozen partners, the company also had eight running work cells and other demonstrations.
One of the themes was Industry 4.0.
“This is the next age coming on — you get machines talking to each other so you can be faster and smarter,” said David Preusse, president of Wittmann Battenfeld USA.
The company is developing what it calls Wittmann 4.0, technology that gets all machines to mechanically work together, develops integration among the machines, and integrates customers with processors via the web.
One of its newest innovations is the Condition Monitoring System, in which sensors placed throughout a machine can tell the operator the health of the equipment.
Georg Tinschert, CEO of Wittmann Battenfeld, said CMS monitoring on an injection molding machine can keep track of oil, humidity, particle level and vibration.
Another innovation is the Flowcon plus temperature control, which Wittmann Battenfeld will show at K 2016 in Germany later this month. It is a new way of controlling temperature and fluid flow, enabling a more precise part.
Wittmann Battenfeld also gave update on its sales and growth.
The company now has 160 U.S. employees, up from 138 in 2014. It has also added 41 sales agents and 12 independent service contractors.
North America is a major market for the company, which is based in Vienna, Austria, Wittmann Battenfeld had North American sales of about $112 million. That includes $70 million in the United States, $35 million in Mexico and $7 million in Canada, Preusse said.
He said the company has continued to invest in the North American operations, including the new 50,000-square-foot material handling and auxiliaries building, a large AXA machining center, welding station and large-scale painting room. The local factory now can produce more than 500 robots annually.
Wittmann bought the 50,000-square-foot building, which is located next to its main factory in Torrington, a year ago, and started production there in April.
“We wanted a material handling area where we could put up a full blown system and have all our auxiliary products,” Preusse said.
The company also is bolstering its tech center in South Elgin, Ill., keeping more robots on hand and boosting its inventory of parts. A tech center in Corona, Calif., opened last year as well, and the company is building its service network.
Last month, the company also set up its medical clean room simulation in its main building. It contains three machines and shows the various options that be used to create cells with molding machines and robotics. It also unveiled a remote control access setup that enables an operator to check and control the machines without entering the room.