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Engel says sales up 10 percent, ‘good mood’ in global industry

By Audrey LaForest | PLASTICS NEWS

Engel Austria GmbH, one of the world's largest makers of injection molding machines, is expecting sales of approximately 1.5 billion euros for fiscal 2017, a 10 percent increase from 2016.

Company executives released the numbers at an Oct. 18 news conference at the Fakuma trade show in Germany, where they also announced a new Engel Composite Systems business unit.

Engel cited Industry 4.0 and demand for integrated systems solutions as drivers of growth and expansion across its production facilities.

"I don't see one big thing; I see 20 new things," said Christoph Steger, chief strategy officer of the Engel Group.

By 2020, Engel will have invested 375 million euros in its production facilities worldwide, including the expansion of a large machine plant in St. Valentin, Austria -- its largest ongoing construction project to date.

CEO Stefan Engleder expects that investment will be even higher as work continues to get underway.

"There's a good mood in the industry," he said.

Engleder alluded to a potential increase in Engel's machinery prices, but he could not provide an exact number for how much prices might go up.

Europe represents Engel's largest market, at 55 percent, with the company increasing sales by 50 percent in Germany alone.

"Germany continues to be the most technologically advanced market and the greatest driver of innovation," Steger said. "In addition, German companies are continuing to advance their global expansion."

Engel employs more than 300 in Germany and has invested roughly 5 million euros at its northernmost German location in Hannover, which houses its interactive technology center. The center accommodates large injection molding machines with clamping forces up to roughly 700 metric tons.

Worldwide, Industry 4.0 has been one of the strongest growth drivers, the company said.

"More and more, we are accompanying our customers throughout the entire lifecycle of injection molding machines and production cells," Engleder said.

Engel plans to increase its workforce by about 8 percent, employing a total of 6,400 worldwide by March, the company said.

The company said its new composite systems unit would build on the work of its existing Center for Lightweight Composites at its plant in St. Valentin.

That center has proven out the use of fiber-reinforced plastics for new applications and continues to develop new technology, but the new Engel Composites Systems business group will support customers in actual end-product planning and the production launch phase, covering all countries.

Matthias Mayr is the head of Engel Composite Systems.

Steger said increased demand for integrated lightweight parts and systems requires a separation of the actual project work from development work.

"With this, we are ensuring that we can continue to advance with intensity and development of new production processes while also continuing to represent a wide range of technologies," Steger said.

The center handles all composite technologies, including high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) and sheet molding compound (SMC), as well as reactive technologies like in-situ polymerization.

It will also cover the processing of semifinished thermoplastic products such as thermoplastic fabrics and tapes.


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