Shanghai — Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH has named a new CEO for its China subsidiary.
Geoffrey Chan will oversee the sales and service business of Kautex blow molding machines made in China, while Managing Director Guoliang Du will be in charge of production and technology.
"The demand in China for industry and consumer packaging as well as automotive solutions continues," Chan said, adding that Kautex has increased the sale of its extrusion blow molding machines in the region by more than 30 percent since 2015.
The announcement follows a Chinaplas 2018 display in Shanghai where the Bonn, Germany-based company highlighted its ability to make lightweight three-layer bottles and an "antiterrorism" LPG bottle, as it prepares to open an upgraded lab in the country this year.
Kautex said business is booming in Asia, with sales hitting 50.2 million euros ($60.4 million) last year, up 51 percent from the year before.
To better serve Asian customers, Kautex said it will open a "Teknikum," or training and customer product development testing lab with one of its KCC10 machines, at its factory in Shunde, Guangdong province, later this year.
"Customers in China will thus be able to benefit from the same Kautex service available from Bonn in the future," the company said.
Kautex plans to open another Teknikum in the United States next year.
At Chinaplas, the company showed off a small-footprint KCC10 MK3 machine making three-layer bottles that use MuCell technology to put a layer of foamed material between two outer layers of polyethylene. The foam layer cuts bottle weight by 10 percent, Kautex said.
MuCell can be used for all packaging applications that have continuous extrusion, the company said.
The third-generation KCC10 machines can also be used in automotive applications, Kautex said.
Kautex is also installing one of its KBS20 machines in a Tianjin factory to blow liquefied petroleum pressure gas (LPG) bottles, which are then reinforced with wound fiberglass.
The bottles, in four sizes from 18.5 liters to 35.5 liters, are lighter and safer than the familiar metal LPG bottles seen throughout China, the company said.
Kautex said the bottles will burn without exploding and pass the bullet test, which a metal scuba tank (spoiler alert!) famously failed at the climax of the 1975 movie Jaws.
"You can shoot it with a bullet and it will not explode," said Dimitri Zhang, chief representative of Kautex's Shanghai office.
"This is our antiterrorism product," he added.
Also at its booth, Kautex demonstrated its latest virtual machines, which simulate processes on Kautex KBS, KBB and KCC machines.
The company was candid about a slowdown in purchases of Kautex machines by the Chinese automotive industry, as hybrid and electric cars become more popular. Extrusion machines are extensively used to blow-mold ducts and tubing for internal combustion engines.
But sales to Middle Kingdom packagers are picking up, the company said.
This is Kautex's first Chinaplas since Vienna-based Plastech Beteiligungs GmbH bought the 79.4 percent share in Kautex previously held by Berlin investment company Capiton AG.
"We are looking for businesses that we can assist with expanding into China and Asia," said Paul Neumann, partner at Vienna-based Plastech.
The acquisition was announced Jan. 18.
Kautex has been doing business in China since 1994. It opened the Shunde factory in 2013.
Worldwide, Kautex generated sales of 140 million euros in 2017 ($168 million), up 18 percent from the year before.