Published On: Fri, Nov 4th, 2016

Sumitomo Demag increasing capacity for machines

A surge in incoming orders is leading Sumitomo Demag to increase capacity for injection moulding machine production in Germany.

The company, owned by Sumitomo Heavy Industries in Japan, is set to hit €236m (£213m) in 2016 sales and has a bulging order book worth €260m (£234m).

Injection Moulding Machine

Sumitomo Demag increasing capacity for machines

In 2017, sales are forecast to reach €260m (£234m) and incoming orders €270m (£243m), said Tetsuya Okamura, chief executive of Sumitomo Demag.

Okamura, who is returning to work at parent company SHI in January, said at Sumitomo Demag’s K 2016 news conference on 21 October that he was pleased the company is doing so well after eight years under SHI’s ownership.

“I’m very happy that Sumitomo Demag has become a very stable company and is on the right track for growth,” he said. His successor as chief executive Gerd Liebig, who is currently chief sales officer, has the right skills to manage the company’s further growth, he said.

The fast growth in orders in 2016 has come mainly from customers in the packaging sector, said Liebig. The order backlog is at historically high levels, he said, and the company is currently not competitive in terms of delivery times.

Sumitomo Demag is investing in new machining equipment at its facility in Schwaig, Germany. Andreas Schramm, chief technical officer, said the goal is to increase machine production capacity by 20% next year at Schwaig and its other German facility in Wiehe. The company has a third machine production facility in Ningbo, China.

In recent years, Sumitomo Demag has focused on growing its business in the packaging sector. Liebig explained the strategy was to give the company exposure to a sector that is less buffeted by economic recessions. While the company will continue to develop in markets where it has traditionally been strong, such as automotive, its forward plans involve growing promising areas.

In 2017-2020, the company is aiming to grow its sales in transplants, where customers in one region look to grow globally and move production to new facilities in other regions.

“So, the consequence is we need a strong after-sales network,” Liebig said.

The desire is to integrate Sumitomo Demag’s existing global sales network with an after-sales network that has previously been developed around agency partners in various countries.

The setting-up of subsidiaries is to facilitate an integrated network of service technicians and customer support around the world. It does not mean Sumitomo Demag is getting rid of its agency partners, Liebig said. The company is targeting national markets with annual demand for 300-plus machines to have a Sumitomo Demag subsidiary. Smaller markets will be served by agency partners.

The US and Southeast Asia are the next markets to receive Sumitomo Demag’s investment in after-sales. The company has a well-established subsidiary in Strongsville, Ohio, which will be strengthened in 2017 with the hiring of more service technicians.

At K 2016, Sumitomo Demag also showed a new approach in its technology development. It launched the second generation of its IntElect range of all-electric injection moulding machines, which were developed on a common platform in collaboration with Sumitomo Heavy Industries.

The group said the new IntElect is the first all-electric injection moulding machine with a standard platform worldwide and comes equipped with specific direct drives.

“The target is to utilize all benefits from the Sumitomo group,” Schramm said. It is the result of a huge amount of work from group teams in Japan and Germany, he said. “I think we can be proud of this development.”

The benefits of the shared platform approach include the ability for common purchasing across the group.

More than 55,000 electric machines from the Sumitomo Group (including Sumitomo machines made in Japan) are installed around the world, and this enables IntElect users to benefit from many years of expertise in the area of electric drives pooled in the group, said Sumitomo Demag.

At K 2016, the next generation of IntElect machinery was demonstrated with an IntElect 50-110 machine. It was producing a resealable dosing closure in a Borealis polypropylene with a melt flow index of 20. The mould from Horst Hähl Kunststoffspritzguss & Werkzeubau GmbH has two cavities to produce closures weighing 7.6 g with a diameter of only 38 mm, and thin walls ranging from 0.8 to 1.2 mm.

Adding to the processing difficulty is a complex membrane in the closure that requires a challenging moulding procedure, said Sumitomo Demag. For complete filling of the membrane closure during moulding, the machine must use a dynamic injection process, and it must run steadily and with complete precision to prevent overfilling.

Sumitomo Demag said: “This is where the machine’s highly dynamic direct drives and the ‘ActiveDynamics’ module come in, as they allow a safe and highly accurate switchover and maximum dynamics. This high-precision production process is supported by an ‘Active Lock’ adjustable non-return valve and ‘ActiveFlowBalance’ machine function.”

The latter function uses the expansion of the compressed plasticized material at the point of changeover from injection to holding pressure to top up the filling levels in the partially filled cavities, which happens as a result of their lower counter pressure. Balancing of pressure and cavity levels in this way means the cycle time is kept to 13 seconds.

The new IntElect is equipped with the company’s new NC5 Plus control with a capacitive touchscreen.