York, Pa. — Engel Machinery Inc. is beefing up its service organization, doubling the spare parts inventory in York and expanding application engineering to meet solid North American sales growth — a region that generates about 25 percent of sales for its Austrian parent.
Wolfgang Degwerth said the move to make a "smart" Engel injection molding machine matches this strategy — and can help compensate for the major skills gap facing manufacturing.
"Everybody has the same problem, there are not enough skilled operators around. So make the machine smart enough that it's not necessary anymore to have smart and skilled operators," he said.
Degwerth outlined Engel's North American business and plans for the near-term future in an interview April 26 at the Engel Technology Symposium in York. He became vice president of sales and customer service for Engel North America in early 2015.
Engel's two-day Technology Symposium attracted 185 attendees to York, where they heard presentations the first day about medical molding, while the second day covered packaging.
Degwerth said that automotive remains Engel's largest market, generating more than 60 percent of business. But packaging and medical have been growing.
Degwerth knows first-hand about the importance of customer service — and the key that service technicians play in the capital machinery sector — from his years of experience. He joined parent company, Engel Holding GmbH in Schwertberg, Austria, in 2001 as vice president of the service division.
Engel North America currently has 65 service technicians covering the U.S. and Canada. The goal is 80 by the end of 2017. What is Degwerth's target for service techs by 2018? One hundred, or even more.
"Maybe with the background that I have, I see how important it is to have enough service capacity in the field," he said.