KraussMaffei Group is investing $81 million in major projects this year, including IT infrastructure and software and expansions at its facilities around the world.
The German machinery maker did not provide specifics but said May 7 during a late afternoon news conference that the total investment will strengthen KraussMaffei's position as a technology leader.
The figure marks an 81 percent jump in investments compared with $44.8 million in 2017.
"We will invest into new facilities, in all our major existing facilities over in Germany and in China, and we will continue to expand our facilities here in the U.S. to be able to serve our customers around the globe," CEO Frank Stieler said, adding that machine infrastructure upgrades will start at its Hanover and Munich facilities.
Other key investment areas include ongoing research and development for Industry 4.0 and digitalization.
Stieler said business is robust, with 2017 marking its eighth year of record sales. Last year, sales grew 8 percent compared with 2016 to approximately $1.66 billion. Orders increased by 6 percent over 2016 to about $1.71 billion.
"For the first time in many years, we now have owners who do believe that growth is positive and we should invest in this growth," Stieler said. "That is what you will see when you follow the company moving forward."
The Munich-based company is owned by China National Chemical Corp. KraussMaffei's U.S. subsidiary, Krauss-Maffei Corp., is in Florence, Ky.
North America has become the largest single market for the KraussMaffei Group, with about $500 million in sales for 2017, the company said.
"There is no single market that is selling more machines than we do in North America," Stieler said.
The highest growth for the company comes from China, where for injection molding machines, specifically, growth has been nearly 100 percent year over year, he added.
Stieler also provided an update on its machinery leasing program. The company first announced the leasing option last October during a press conference at the Fakuma trade fair in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
The broad leasing plan is for its KraussMaffei and Netstal injection molding machines with clamping forces up to 300 metric tons. The company launched the program in Germany at the beginning of 2018.
"We are going through an internal phase of validating and gaining experience with this," Stieler said, adding that one of its findings has been a "surprised customer base."
"For many years, [leasing] was on their wish list and they couldn't get it," he explained. "Now all of a sudden they can get it and are rethinking their business assumptions and redefining their best interests just because it does have a substantial impact."
As for the United States and other countries, Stieler said KraussMaffei is still working with banks and leasing firms due to regulations for leasing agreements specific to each region.