China’s manufacturing market becomes sophisticated

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The injection moulding machine market is seeing brisk business, with machine makers at the recently concluded Chinaplas show in Guangzhou boasting growth in their respective businesses. Meanwhile, the Chinese market has come of age, and is now upping its stakes in technical solutions, thus, requiring higher technology, as seen with the exhibits on display.

Processors sourcing equipment domestically

With technology improvements and more foreign machinery makers setting up in China, Chinese processors are turning to local machine suppliers for their requirements, according to the China Plastics Manufacturers Industry Association (CPMIA).

The processing sector saw a mild rebound of 6.2% last year, with China exporting US$58 billion worth of plastic Franz-Helmar products. Against this backdrop, domestic consumption of machinery grew by 15.5% in 2016, over 2015.

Along the same lines, in 2016, 85% of plastics processing machinery was sourced locally, compared with 82% in the previous year, while injection moulding machinery imports to China have declined from US$872 million to US$533 million in 2016. Japan still leads as the country where most machinery is imported from, followed by Germany, Taiwan, Italy and South Korea.

Export of Chinese machinery grew marginally by 7.5%, with Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Thailand as the top destinations.

In CPMIA’s list of top injection moulding machine makers, Chinese firm Haitian International still holds the reins; followed by Chen Hsong, Borche, Yizumi and FCS Group.

Machine makers report higher sales

Given its hold on the market, it’s little surprise that Haitian had a record revenue in 2016, growing by 10.4% to over RMB8.1 billion, with domestic sales up 14% year-on-year, compared to a 3% rise in export sales, said Helmar Franz, who is an Advisor to the firm.

Meanwhile, Haitian’s all-electric machines scored in 2016, with almost 1,900 all-electric Zhafir machines sold. Sales of large two-platen Jupiter models also increased, from 429 units in 2015 to 595 units last year. In terms of exports, the Southeast Asian market was in second place (29.7%), after Europe.

German injection moulding machine maker Arburg also had a record consolidated turnover of EUR630 million in 2016, its third in a row, said Allrounder-Golden-Electric Gerhard Böhm Managing Director Sales. In terms of exports, Asia, including China and India, accounted for 20% of group sales.

The sales of electric machines rose further to 27%, with Arburg’s new electric entry-level Golden Electric machine series, launched last year, having contributed to this, according to Böhm.

Arburg’s hybrid machines, which combine electric speed and precision with hydraulic power, accounted for 16% of the turnover. As for the Allrounder machines, with clamping forces of more than 250 tonnes, sales have increased steadily in recent years, to 24% of the total turnover last year. Turnkey systems took a share of 17% last year, with Arburg to further build up and expand the automation and turnkey solutions on the international front, added Böhm.

Austrian machinery company Engel has increased its annual revenue for the third time in a row, closing fiscal 2016/2017 at the end of March with sales of EUR1.36 billion, 8.6% up from the previous year. It generated sales of 20% from Asia, along with 55% from Europe, which is still its leading market, and 24% from the US.

“Around 90% of machines sold in Asia are produced at our plants in South Korea and Shanghai, that have a turnover of EUR265 million,” said Gero Willmeroth, Sales and Service President at Engel Machinery Shanghai, adding that the markets in Asia have played a big role in the success of Engel. “Asia grew faster than average in the last fiscal year, primarily due to China. On top of this, we are benefiting from the strong momentum in Southeast Asia,” he said. The company has realigned itself completely in Southeast Asia and established a regional hub in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, its Chinese subsidiary Wintec, which builds machines for standard applications, has experienced 50% growth, since its launch three years ago, said Mark Feng, President. The company sells 75% of its machinery locally with 25% exported. Its main export markets are Asia and Middle East, and main applications markets are automotive (75%), white goods (20%) and technical moulding (5%). Wintec’s plant in Changzhou was opened in 2014.

China not a market for cheap machinery any more

Zhao Tong, Managing Director of Arburg China, said the company’s presence in the Chinese market for 25 years, with subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai, has borne fruit. Arburg has focused on the high-end segment from the onset and this strategy has paid off, said Tong.

“Many of our customers have come to rely on Arburg’s comprehensive consulting, service and machine technology,” said Tong, adding that at Chinaplas the display focused on applications for medical technology, consumer industry and the aerospace sector with the entry-level electric and hydraulic machines from the Golden Electric and Golden Edition series, as well as the Freeformer for industrial additive manufacturing.

German machine maker Dr. Boy, through its Chinese representative Trillion Machinery, has been in China for four decades. Based on its experience, it has seen the market Wolfgang--Andy-Wong grow to a more sophisticated level, said Export Manager Wolfgang Schmidt. “China is no longer a market for low-cost production, but more for engineering solutions with higher quality. We have a huge installed base, with most being repeat orders,” said Schmidt, adding that business in South China, where most of the manufacturing is, is stronger than Central China.

It was showcasing the XS 25E, its most popular machine in China for producing technical and sophisticated parts for small-batch volumes. “It is easy to do product changeovers on this model.”

Equipped with a servo drive, the 25E eclipses conventional hydraulic drive systems in terms of efficiency, precision and stability, plus, despite the small footprint of 1.8 sq m, it offers sufficient space for large moulds with the free-standing clamping unit. In addition, with four of the seven possible screw diameters, substantially higher injection speeds can be achieved, said Schmidt.

At Trillion’s booth it displayed a 10-tonne XS model, producing a HDPE cable organiser in less than 5 seconds. The patented 8 mm-diameter micro-plasticising unit is said to guarantee short dwelling times in the machine, which is an advantage for gentle processing of temperature-sensitive materials.

Both exhibits were equipped with the multi-patented multi-language software control Procan Alpha, with 15” fulltouch display, 23 languages in total and a digital auxiliary function for the machine control in the language of use in the country.

Taiwanese machine maker FCS was displaying a HB-350RV two-platen two-component machine with a Kuka six-axis robot producing two-component parts for a car FCS-two-component sunroof application. The HB-R series, with clamping forces of up to 1,900 tonnes, was developed in 2012, and is said to be one of a few huge two-component machines in the world. It combines the two-platen and two-component structure, with horizontal rotary table, stack mould, and servo powersaving technology.

FCS also showed the 16-cavity FB-280RV model producing a two-component drinking water bottle cap. With the servomotor-controlled rotary table, rotary time is shortened by more than 50%, with a more stable speed and precise positioning, says FCS. The machine also has a double servopower system, which is certified as the first grade of national power saving standard (<0.40 kw/hour/kg).

In the dual moulding field, FCS says it has been ahead of the industry with its closedloop servopower, single-cylinder injection structure and rotary positioning clamping for accuracy, stable actuation and precise positioning.


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