The Austria-based ENGEL is a global market leader in plastics machinery with proven and innovative injection moulding machines from 280 kN to 55,000 kN clamping force, hydraulic, fully electric, horizontal and vertical solutions. From individual injection moulding machines to the highly integrated and automated production cells, ENGEL delivers tailored solutions for the injection moulding industry. With Asia contributing to over 20 per cent of the sales, India is emerging one of the leading markets for ENGEL.
According to Dr Christoph Steger, Chief Sales Officer (CSO), ENGEL Holding GmbH, India is already an important hub for the company for not just South Asia, but also for the Middle East and other areas in Africa. In this interaction, Dr Christoph Steger tracks the trends in injection moulding technology that are shaping the future of the industry.
Why is demand for automation on the rise in injection moulding machines?
A robot or a tailored automation solution is increasingly becoming a permanent fixture on injection moulding machines in Asia. This trend particularly reflects the rising demands on quality. The production of high-quality parts requires reproducible cycle times, which can only be achieved through automation. Besides, as an integrated part of the process, automation supports new processes, component functions and product qualities, thus substantially improving the competitiveness of plastics processors. The significance of automation will, accordingly, continue to increase in future.
Which are the factors contributing to the growth of ENGEL?
System solutions are a very important growth driver for ENGEL. The share of system solutions is steadily increasing worldwide. By system solution, we mean a production cell that includes process technology and automation in addition to the injection moulding machine, and may also integrate worksteps before and after injection moulding, such as quality control. We individually design the production cells according to our customers' requirements, which allows us to very thoroughly utilise quality and efficiency potentials.
The topic of simplicity is becoming more and more important in this. An automated and integrated process is considerably more complex than a simple injection moulding application. As a system provider, we are responsible for making a complex process as easy and safe to operate and control as an individual injection moulding machine. This aspect will continue to gain in significance as it becomes more and more difficult for businesses to find highly qualified personnel. The new technologies included in Industry 4.0 are proving themselves as enablers in this regard. For example, intelligent assistance systems are making it possible for the injection moulding machine to continuously analyse quality-relevant process parameters and to automatically readjust them in the running process. Industry 4.0 is quite clearly a further driver of growth and, at the same time, innovation.
The progressive substitution of material in high-tech applications, which among others includes automotive lightweight construction, is also contributing to our growth. Plastics and injection moulding are important for electromobility. On the topic of lightweight construction, we are still at the beginning and therefore seeing a correspondingly huge potential, especially for composite solutions.
Is rise in usage of liquid silicone rubber (LSR) a boon for injection moulding machines business?
Application of LSR is increasing across the industries due to its outstanding characteristics such as reliability across a wide range of temperatures and bio-compatibility. Medical technology is an important area that has been developing dynamically for some time and continues to do so.
The area of lighting is a new subject. From automotive lighting systems to building and street lighting, LSR is rapidly gaining significance in the production of high-quality LED lighting systems. Highly transparent LSR has a lower yellowness index than conventional lens materials, is UV-resistant and remains stable across an extremely wide temperature range of -20 to +150°C.
In addition, even complex lens geometries can be efficiently and reproducibly realised through injection moulding. ENGEL has a great deal of experience worldwide with LSR projects in various industries, and is therefore one of the preferred partners of the lighting industry
in the market introduction of the new lens material.
What kind of growth prospects do you see in Asia?
Market growth rates in Asia continue to be strong, especially supported by a trend towards higher requirements in terms of quality, performance and efficiency. In the 2017/18 fiscal year, the production plant in Shanghai alone sold about 20 percent more machines than in the preceding year. China represents a main focus in Asia, driven primarily by the automotive industry.
In future, we expect continued growth in Asia. Customised solutions remain our main growth drivers with China in particular growing at above-average rates. Besides, emerging trends such as electromobility are opening up new business opportunities. With sales of new electric vehicles (NEV) on the rise, the need for lightweight design is driving innovation in automobile manufacturing. The consumer electronics industry is also closely investigating composite materials with the goal of making their products lighter and thinner.
In addition to automotive, in Asia ENGEL has increased its sales in the medical area. Health care and diagnostics are the main growth drivers in the region.
How are plastic processors reacting to Industry 4.0? Are they becoming smarter? How is ENGEL tapping this trend?
Industry 4.0, the basis for the smart factory of the future, has arrived in many areas of the plastics processing industry. The trailblazers are large and in particular multinational companies whose digitalization strategy is beginning to show some success. In the meantime, even smaller companies are recognising the opportunities to increase competitiveness presented by Industry 4.0. We accompany our customers on their road to the smart factory, jointly developing solutions with them for the digitalization and networking of their processes, which are precisely tailored to the respective requirements. Industry 4.0 looks different for each business, and the modular approach of our inject
4.0 programme makes it especially easy even for small companies to launch into the area of Industry 4.0 with an efficient solution. Small, individual solutions already provide huge benefits.
How has been the performance of ENGEL in India?
The introduction of the Goods & Services Tax (GST), in July last year, has resulted in a big economic upswing in India. Investment is increasing, especially in the automotive industry and in the production of high-performance products in the area of technical moulding. In the first quarter of this year, ENGEL India recorded the highest volume of orders in the history of the subsidiary.
Are there any plans for more investment in India?
ENGEL India is already an important hub for not just South Asia, but also for the Middle East and wide areas of Africa. We will continue to consolidate and expand in India.
What excites you most about India?
Sheer size of the market and its continuing dynamic development make India an extremely promising market for us. Made in India is sustainably strengthening domestic production and the significance of India in the global perspective.
Cars and other goods from India are already being exported worldwide.