Düsseldorf, Germany — Sales this year at Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery GmbH should be 286 million euros, about 9 percent down from 295 million euros in 2018, CEO Gerd Liebig said at the company's Oct. 17 news conference.
Liebig said that decline is not that bad, given economic uncertainty caused by Brexit, new European regulations for stricter automotive emissions and mandating tethered caps on bottles, and trade wars and tariffs. One reason: Sumitomo Demag had a big backlog going into 2019.
"I'm quite happy that we're managing the crisis. So far, so good. So this means we did not decrease our capacity. We are not in short-term work. We are not firing people. Because we are really optimistic, due to our strategic focus that when the market will recover, we need the capacity to increase our production volume," Liebig said.
That focus is on all-electric machines, medical and packaging, he said. The month after K 2019, Sumitomo Demag will begin to produce the all-electric IntElect injection presses at its plant in Chiba, Japan, where Liebig said the company plans to make about 100 to 200 IntElect machines a year.
The main all-electric press production site is Wiehe, Germany.
Liebig said the European economy is feeling the impact of Brexit, as customers don't feel secure enough to invest until the issue plays out.
The European automotive sector is at a very low level of capital investment, but Liebig thinks that market could improve slightly as automakers meet the emission laws and automakers get clarity on the actual future of electric and self-driving cars.
The tethered cap law seems to have caused a negative impact on packaging from February through June, but now that market appears to be back to normal, he said.
The down year comes after significant sales increases the last several years. Now, Liebig said, Sumitomo Demag needs to become more flexible to be able to meet future economic challenges.
Liebig introduced several new executives at Sumitomo Demag. In January, Shoichi Ohira joined the management board of Sumitomo Demag Plastics Machinery as chief operating officer. He had been production manager based at the company's plant in Japan. Liebig said one of Ohira's focuses will be on growing the all-electric machine business.
Thorsten Thümen is the general manager of plastic processing technology. Thümen, who has experience in crew design and injection molding technology, will lead efforts at Industry 4.0 products, as well as training customers in that area.
Siegfried Köhler is the new director of corporate sales. He will lead global sales and integrate automation with injection molding for customers, including strengthening business with original equipment manufacturers in automotive, medical and packaging.