Neunkirchen, Austria-based PET Technologies GmbH will exhibit at NPE for the first time as the manufacturer of blow molding machines and blow molds begins its foray into North America.
The company's equipment has been installed in 45 countries since it was founded in 1999 but the effort to broaden sales to the United States and Canada is just beginning with the development of the APF-Max 8 — a stretch blow molding machine with 4-, 6- and 8-cavity configurations and output up to 14,000 bottles per hour.
The APF-Max 8 can blow containers from 200 milliliters to 3 liters for the beverage, health care, cosmetic, dairy, beer and other markets.
"This machine was our response specifically to U.S. market demands coming from custom blow molding companies that need flexible changeover of neck and preform sizes and sometimes bigger capacities and higher speeds than we had before," Export Director Vladimir Tsallagov said in a phone interview.
The all-electric machine is versatile and offers a wide range of neck sizes from 18 mm to 48 mm.
"The No. 1 benefit is flexibility with changeovers for the necks," Tsallagov added.
Customers also can start with four cavities and go up to six and then eight as their production needs grow.
"It's upgraded on the same platform, which is a very interesting option. I've seen a lot of interest from U.S. customers for this," Tsallagov said.
To reduce energy use, the APF-Max 8 has a short-wave near infrared heating system.
"Our company decided to follow that trend used by just a couple European manufacturers to save on energy consumption and provide a better quality container," Tsallagov said. "For example, in the eight-cavity version, which can produce 14,000 bottles per hour, the total installed power on the machine is 140 kilowatts, which is very minimal."
The APF-Max 8 has a compact design — about the size of a large pickup truck — and is self-contained except for the preform feeding system, according to Paul Birkelbach, director of global projects for Sopro Machinery, which is the exclusive distributor of PET Technologies products in the U.S. and Canada.
"You can move this machine around pretty easily and all the doors open in such a way that you have access to every part with ease. They don't open on a standard hinge. They almost open like an aircraft door," Birkelbach said in a phone interview. "The beauty of that is the maintenance crew isn't contorting themselves to get to a piece. It's very accessible."
However, NPE visitors to Booth S10057 won't be able to see that for themselves. The APF-Max 8 won't be at the show because the first machine was sold to a customer in the Ukraine and the next one in production is headed to Russia.
While PET Technologies machines are designed by Austrian engineers, all the parts are produced and assembled in Chernihiv, Ukraine, where the company has a new facility and access to a lower-cost work force.
"The price sets it apart from the rest of the market. It's very competitive," Birkelbach said, adding that the APF-Max 8 cost can be 30-40 percent less than similar blow molding machines.
The machine arrives in two modular pieces that fit together. Sopro will stock all critical parts in the United States.
At NPE2018, PET Technologies will exhibit an automatic stretch blow molding machine called the APF-3002, which has an output of 3,000 PET bottles an hour from two cavities and is capable of producing original shapes and designs.
"It's one of the first machines they developed. There's a lot of them in the field. It's a perfect machine for a small producer, such as a water-filling business that has maybe one preform and two sizes as opposed to 10 different bottles," Birkelbach said.