Florence, KY – Construction is underway on major upgrades to KraussMaffei Corporation’s 30,000-square-foot Innovation Center located at the company’s North American Headquarters in northern Kentucky. Traditionally equipped to run only compounding and limited pipe extrusion trials, a significant capital investment has been made in adding injection molding, sheet, profile and enhanced extrusion capabilities for the compounding, pipe, and profile markets. Polyurethane reaction processing will be coming soon.
KraussMaffei retools in US with investment from parent ownership
“We were excited last week to partner with a key customer on the development of their new material and processes for pipe, sheet and injection applications, all in one week, and all in our state-of-the-art Innovation Center,” said Nolan Strall, VP of Operations & Aftermarket. “It’s an incredible service we’re able to offer in Florence and one we continue to invest in, so we can continue to offer our collaborative support to our customers and the plastics industry at large.”
Moving into 2021 and beyond, KraussMaffei is planning to expand their offerings in the Innovation Center to include short-production runs to help customers stabilize their difficult processes using KraussMaffei’s industry-leading Extrusion and Injection Molding Equipment and in-house Plastics Processing experts. Innovation Center Manager Mark Berens commented that the facility is staffed by three dedicated and highly trained process engineers with experience in sheet, pipe, adhesives, liquid dispersion, batch to continuous, and general compounding.
“The investment in 2020 was really to build on the tremendous amount of technical expertise we have in our staff by equipping the facility to handle pellet-to-part testing in all our main equipment areas,” Berens said.
The investment in team members is planned to continue into 2021, as KMC plans to add an additional Processing Engineer. In addition, KMC plans to further enhance their already robust Co-op Partnership with the University of Cincinnati by extending the Co-op program to include Operations and Logistics, which is led by Engineering Manager, Lauren Schmidt. Brian Bishop, who joined KraussMaffei Corporation in February of 2020 as VP of New Machines Sales said the company was “excited to begin using the new facility to host virtual webinars for extrusion, injection molding, reaction process equipment and automation as well as in-person events once considered safe from a health perspective.”
The facility overhaul extends beyond the Innovation Center to the company’s Logistics Operations as well, which has been reorganized to serve as the central spare parts hub for the Americas and is scheduled to obtain Free Trade Zone status in Q2 2021, allowing the deferment of import duties.
“Having the right spare parts, at the right time, is paramount to our customers’ success,” Strall said. “This investment will allow us to become more agile in terms of quickly delivering on spare part requests from our customers, as well as proactively stocking more volume of the right parts in our region, based on our customers’ installation park and the age of the equipment they have.”
This data-driven spare parts approach is part of a larger global initiative at KraussMaffei Group in Munich, which will systematically link all their Regional Parts Hubs and ultimately give all customers “access” to their global spare parts inventory.
The investment plan stems from the company’s ownership, ChemChina, who acquired KraussMaffei Group in 2016 and whose resources and strategy are only now beginning to reach their full impact, most recently funding state-of-the-art new facilities in Munich (set to open 2023) and Hannover (set to open 2022). In addition, KraussMaffei opened a brand new manufacturing site in China during 2020, which will focus on delivering new products for the China and APAC markets across the company’s entire product portfolio.
Facilities investments are only one part of the company’s fundamental global restructuring, which is placing an emphasis on the streamlining of operations, increasing efficiency globally and putting a renewed focus on the company’s service business at the forefront of their strategic plan.
“The initial customer and internal feedback I received from when I joined KMC in early 2020 was that our service organization has been entrenched in a reactive mindset for some time and not innovating or investing to keep pace with the market and customer demands,” said Strall.
To address those issues, the company has embarked on an aggressive recruiting campaign for service engineers, started to reinvest in their Service Desk support, and has created a new dedicated IM Training Lab in the Florence, Kentucky, Innovation Center.
“Our service engineers are the life blood of our business, as well as our customers’ life lines in their time of need. The investment we’ve made in people, and the dedicated IM Training Lab, are both critical pieces of our service growth strategy,” states Strall.
Aeric Bouza, who has been with the company for 23 years and recently was promoted to the role of Customer Care Director, commented, “We have four team members, Jamie Montgomery (Injection Molding-South), Billie Jackson (Extrusion), Ramon Montemayor (High Performance & Automation) and Dan Montgomery (Injection Molding – North) who we’ve promoted to Customer Care Manager roles, and they each have field service and spare parts staff reporting to them. Customers are starting to see their customer care manager as the fastest and most effective way to get a problem fixed.”
Aeric is part of the new service leadership team at KraussMaffei Corporation, which is focused on growing a world class and innovative service organization, along with staying closely aligned with our sales team and key customers. To complement their investment in people, KraussMaffei is also launching their new suite of Digital Service Offerings. The digital products include solutions for augmented reality support, known as smartAssist; real-time process and operational monitoring, known as socialProduction; and DataXplorer, which gives customers the ability to capture algorithmic level data in order to analyze and optimize plastics processing parameters and machine performance.
In March 2021, KraussMaffei Corporation will announce the addition of Sven Skowronek, a 15-year KraussMaffei veteran returning to the company in the role of Director of Aftermarket Solutions. A fixture in the injection molding industry for over 24 years, he will be initially responsible for the development/localization of KraussMaffei Munich and Hannover-based plastics training programs to the US, along with the creation of a commercial training program for KraussMaffei customers. This training program will be based out of the Innovation Center and will further cement KraussMaffei Corporation in Florence, Kentucky, as an industry Center of Competence for plastics manufacturing.
Skowronek’s strategic role will be the oversight of commissioning activity for North America, including all large tonnage equipment and complex retrofits, rebuilds and plant relocations. Skowronek was previously responsible for the service of all KM products at KraussMaffei Mexico and most recently came from a Tier 1 Automotive Supplier where he held key roles in Technical Management and Technical Development.
“A strong service organization is critical to attracting and retaining customers, and I’m excited to leverage my management experience from my past to contribute to the great things going on at Krauss Maffei Corporation,” Skowronek said.
Strall concluded by saying, “We couldn’t be more excited to have Sven back with us at KraussMaffei. His industry and technical knowledge, along with his leadership and strategic vision, are a perfect fit for where the service and operations culture of KraussMaffei Corporation is headed, and his contribution and presence will be immediately felt by our customers.”