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Demand for machines hinders delivery times

Issue: December 2017

Apologies to Bob Dylan, but the delivery times, they are a-changin’.

The plastics industry is going strong and machinery makers are running flat-out to fill orders. But some European machinery makers at the Fakuma show in Germany in October reported that they are falling behind. Machine delivery times are getting longer for all sizes and configurations.

Ron Shinn

“The supplier market is overheated,” said Stefan Engleder, CEO of the Engel Group, during a press conference at Fakuma. “Delivery time depends on the type and complexity of the machine.  It is currently 12 to 16 weeks for delivery of small machines and eight or nine months for bigger machines. This is the current trend in the industry.”

Engleder also said prices are rising but declined to estimate a percentage.

Sumitomo Demag, KraussMaffei Group, Arburg and Wittmann Battenfeld all reported strong or record-breaking sales and heavy investment in new production capacity to keep up with demand.
Sonny Morneault, VP of U.S. sales for Wittmann Battenfeld USA, said during an interview at Fakuma that his company has seen global and domestic demand increasing and a potential delivery slowdown coming, so it increased its inventory in Torrington, Conn.

“We increased our number of stock machines in the U.S. by 150 percent,” Morneault said. “We spread our increase over our full product line. Of course, we can never have every flavor, like verticals or two-shot specialty machines, and we have seen our lead times increased from a few weeks to several weeks, depending on the type and size of the machine.”
Some other things that caught my attention at Fakuma:

Buy or lease?

KraussMaffei and Netstal are testing leasing programs for injection molding machines.  Currently available only in Germany, they may be expanded to other regions later.

Four-year leasing packages include service by factory technicians and insurance for mechanical problems caused by operators, lack of lubricants and other breakdowns. At the end of the lease, the processor can buy the machine or send it back.

What does KraussMaffei expect to do with the used machines? “Our analysis is that there is a huge market for secondhand machines,” said Hans Golz, president of the injection molding business unit.

Self-driving presses

We dream about true lights-out manufacturing or remote management of manufacturing machines, but Heinz Gaub, Arburg’s managing director of technology and engineering, said that assistance systems will play an important role in injection molding in the future.

“Thanks to assistance systems, the operator no longer [will have] an active role,” Gaub said. “The machine is monitored by itself and makes suggestions to the operator for optimization.”

He likened this development to the car of the future. “You won’t drive a car, the car drives you more reliably, more safely, more rapidly and certainly more comfortably.”

An MES for all

Do you think your company is too small to benefit from a manufacturing execution system (MES)? Are they too expensive?

KraussMaffei introduced its MaXecution, an MES tailored for small to mid-sized molders (see Product Innovation, Page 49). It is preconfigured to easily connect to KraussMaffei molding machines but also can be used with other brands. It comes in three versions.

KraussMaffei said by using MaXecution, you can skip the costly 30 days to 50 days of labor for the set-up and implementation that’s needed with an off-the-shelf MES product. KraussMaffei’s plug-and-play system already is optimized for an injection molding business. Golz said even the basic version will increase plant efficiency by 3 percent to 5 percent.

This is a good example of a machinery manufacturer developing products that go far beyond traditional offerings. Processors who take advantage of products like these will be more efficient and more profitable.

Ron Shinn, editor



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