The share of sales for hydraulic machines dropped from 65 percent to 57 percent in 2016. This is not surprising against a background of increasing electric machine sales, and also because there had been exceptionally strong 2015 hydraulic growth due to some large orders from regular customers.
Sales in turnkey production systems accounted for a 17 percent share, up by 2 percentage points.
Arburg considers machine with clamping forces of 250 metric tons and above as “large” machines, and Hehl announced that the share of turnover in these larger machines rose from 21 percent to 24 percent in 2016.
“This proves that we have taken the right path by extending our clamping force to 650 tonnes,” he said, referring to the Allrounder 1120H machine launched at K 2016, which has been confirmed by positive customer feedback.
Gaub added that Arburg has supplied three to four “O-series” Allrounder 1120H machines to customers located “not too far from Arburg,” to assist in the machine's further development. Full commercial availability should start in Q1 2018, “after showing the machine at Fakuma 2017 [in October]”, he said.
Arburg's new Gestica control system, operated by gestures as with smart phones and tablets, will be introduced in stages over the next three years on various Arburg molding machines and models, Gaub said.
Gestica was first introduced on the Arburg Plastic Freeformer (APF) additive manufacturing machines, with the A1120 H being the first Arburg injection molding machine to use a Gestica, replacing the well-established Selogica system.
Gaub advised however that Gestica has really been conceived for use on high performance machines, “so it is an open question whether relatively standard Golden Electric machines need something so sophisticated.” High-tech multi-component machines need Gestica more, Gaub said. But Selogica will continue for quite some time, as it will take a long time to substitute it, and “customers have to decide how long they want Selogica.”
Sales director Gerhard Böhm was not prepared to reveal how many APF machines have been supplied since their launch at K 2013, simply saying “there is a sufficient quantity in the market, with a lot in use for prototyping, and medical applications becoming increasingly interesting.” Gaub added “some large customers have a strategy over a number of years to introduce the APF for processes where injection molding is not possible, as well as for product individualization.”
Following a 6.1 percent increase in 2015, the number of Arburg employees grew a further 5 percent to 2,700 in 2016, including 160 apprentices and student trainees. Although the number remained static at 2,200 at the Lossburg headquarters, Arburg has nevertheless added a 500-place multi‑story staff parking lot at the site.
Investment in Lossburg in 2016 amounted to 19.3 million euros ($20.7 million), said by Böhm to be a usual annual amount for Arburg. It covers production and logistics, but excludes the cost of the parking structure, Hehl pointed out.
Work is due to start soon on a new 13,700-square-meter floor-space, multi-story building for customer training and seminars. Hehl said this has been designed with similar architectural features as the customer center. It should be ready for use within two-and-a-half to three years.