by Liz White, editor
âLast year, 2009, was for me personally the most horrible business year we ever had ... [it was] just a nightmare.â â Frank Peters, KraussMaffei âAs you can see we have a nice growth, thanks to new and existing customers expanding their business and upgrades to latest technology.â â Laader Berg AS âWhere was growth good in 2009? Nowhere.â â Delmac SpA âWe have not seen the negative effects of the recession impact our business. Our sales grew by 10 percent last year and we are on track to grow 20-30 percent this year.â â Con- Tek Machine Inc.
No representative data can be given for geographic sales breakdown, âbecause of a total market shift within the last 16 months.ââ DESMA.Tec.
Last year was âa story of real success for CTM. We increased sales of Cannon metering units in the UK by nearly 100 percent by securing one single deal for 15 high-pressure machines.â â CTM UK.
This selection of comments from machinery suppliers to the PU sector for this yearâs feature indicates that even in the worst economic recession for years, not all of the sector has suffered.
So no consistent pattern emerges from the results this year, except to say that many companies must be nodding in agreement with Frank Peters, general manager of KraussMaffeiâs Reaction Process Machinery (RPM) division: it was a miserable year.
Top of this yearâs listing once again is Cannon Group with sales in 2009 of PU machinery estimated by UTI at $155 million (95 percent of the groupâs plastics division sales).
Second is KraussMaffei with sales of $120 million â but 2008âs figure of $160 million sales for the German companyâs Reaction Process Machinery (RPM) Division put it very close to Cannonâs position for 2008.
Missing this year are figures from Hennecke and Graco, who would perhaps be in third and fourth place respectively. Hennecke, now privately owned, does not give sales figures. (In 2007, it had sales of $115 million). Graco gave its sales in PU equipment last year as $90 million.
At a quick count, the total sales for the 22 companies who gave UTI figures for both this year and last year dropped by about 18 percent in 2009 over 2008.
This is less than the 28-percent sales drop for total polymer machinery shown in data from the VDMA, the Frankfurt-based German Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association, which also commented on better prospects for 2010, as machine order intake grew by 35 percent in the fourth quarter. Italian data showed a 24-percent decline in total polymer machinery sales, and VDMA counterpart Assocomaplast also expressed some confidence in growth for the first half of 2010.
This optimism ties in with comments from many of the PU suppliers. For example, Albrecht BÃ¤umer GmbH & Co. KG, which makes foam-conversion equipment, said 3 March that it has seen a âsignificant revivalâ in the foam industry and is forecasting a positive 2010.
Baumer had to lay off 38 people at the beginning of 2010, but Baumer president Helmut Kritzler said, âWe are well-positioned now for the future with a lean, more efficient and flexible working practices.â Sales director Harald Kullman said the high number of projects BÃ¤umer has underway shows optimism for the furniture, mattress and packing industry, and â... our customers are now considering capital expenditure again.â
Pricing a bone of contention
According to KraussMaffeiâs Peters, pricing is an issue in the machinery sector, with some tough competition. âWe need to bring pricing up again and earn money at the end of the day,â Peters commented.
At Hennecke, Winiarz said, âWe saw at the beginning of this crisis that machine prices went down, and that customer demands were changing.â Henneckeâs reaction was to develop âstandard products, more basic machines.â âBeing an independent company (Hennecke was part of Bayer AG until 2007) has meant decisions at Hennecke are really quick,â Winiarz said. âNow we are really a competitive company,â he said, commenting that, âCustomers really appreciate good machines at competitive prices. No one will buy a machine in the crisis if the price is too high.â
Some dramatic volume drops
UTI spoke to some major suppliers of equipment for the urethanes sector recently at the JEC Composites show, held in Paris, 13-15 April.
Frank Peters of KraussMaffei was open about the effects of the crisis on the Munich, Ger-many-based company: âKraussMaffei had to suffer and also the PU business had to suffer.â And he said that, unfortunately, KraussMaffei could not avoid restructuring. âThe volume drop was too dramatic.â âIn Munich and the US we laid people off,â Peters said, giving a figure for KraussMaffei in total of 200 of its own people and 400 from external contractors, leaving about 1900 employees for its three divisions, RPM, extrusion and injection moulding.
On a positive note, Peters said, that painful restructuring has made the company more efficient.
Now âwe are through the crisisâ and âdid not cut a single dime on R&D spending,â he added.
He stressed that KM has done âthe uncomfortable bits,â and restructured and said, âNext comes a lot of technical development.â At Cannon Group, business has been affected to a varying extent in different markets, said Alberto Zarantonello, general manager of the Cannon Afros division.
âAutomotive has been really slow, because our customary market niches really suffered an incredible downturn in overall sales volume.â Other markets have suffered much less. âRigid foam is not too bad,â and in flexible foam, the non-automotive side has not been too bad, Zarantonello said.
Impianti OMS SpA said in terms of turnover last year was, âone of our best years,â with a lot of good orders from China, and âOur structure in the US is paying a lot of dividends,â through its US distributor PPI, with the region forming 20 percent of OMSâs business, said Eraldo Greco, commercial director with the Italian machinery group.
In the economic crisis, German PU specialist Hennecke GmbH benefitted from having five major product lines, since at least two of these remained good in the recession â refrigeration and slabstock lines, said Jens Winiarz, sales engineer for composite spray moulding (CSM.
But the automotive sector, where CSM technology has a big market, did suffer, Winiarz said.
âOf course Hennecke has problems due to the crisis,â but it kept all its staff on. âWe shifted employees internally because of more orders for refrigerator plants than for other applications,â Winiarz said.
OMSâs Greco said, âWe know some of our competitors have suffered more than we haveâ and have laid people off.
In contrast, OMS hired a few people last year and now employs 120, he said.
China a saving grace
All the companies UTI spoke to noted the benefit of sales into Asia Pacific and China.
For example, at Cannon, Zarantonello said, âobviously where we suffered less was Asia Pacific, because [there] the downturn was much shorter ... and much lower in magnitude.â As a share of Cannonâs sales, Zarantonello said the Asia Pacific region would definitely be a much higher proportion in 2009 than it was in 2008. The market for refrigeration equipment in China has been good, as demand for domestic refrigerators remains high, he said.
Similarly, China is still a good market for KMâs RPM division, Peters emphasised, saying that, in China âwe have a very strong approach in automotive business and we also sold the first double belt machine (DBM) in China.â KM moved into double belt sandwich panel equipment over the last two years and has now sold three lines, said Peters.
KraussMaffei also âextended our manufacturing foot-print in China, both the wet and dry side,â he said.
Hennecke also, âsaw that China came out of the crisis pretty fast, faster than here in Europe,â Winiarz said, noting that investment decisions by customers in China and Asia were faster than in Europe: âWe sold some machines to Asia and China,â because of such fast decisions.â Hennecke also has a sales and manufacturing unit in Shanghai in China, but mixheads and spray equipment, which the group regards as its core expertise, will only be made in Germany. âOur mixheads give more than a million shots, thatâs standard,â Winiarz said.
For OMS, China made up more than 33-35 percent of its sales for 2009. Insulation has been a good business in China and last year OMS sold two panel lines for phenolic foam, as well as machines for automotive, for steering wheels and some door panel lines, Greco said.
In the US in 2009, Greco said OMS sold three laminators to make flex-faced roofing panels, to Firestone Building Products, with âone installed, one on its way on a ship and third one to be delivered by the end of this year.â Here he noted the US is more practical than in Europe, making just two sizes, 1200 x 1200 mm and 1200 by 2400 mm, while âin Europe every country makes a wide range of different sizes,â said Graco.
Automotive has been suffering
Discussing the automotive sector, Peters agreed that KraussMaffei has âbeen quite dependent on automotiveâ â with some 40 percent of its business in this sector in recent years. And he said that its activities such as those in DBM equipment were a way, âto get a bit more independent of the automotive sector.â OMS, in contrast, is not a major supplier to the auto sector, a position it is happy about currently, âbecause that is the industry has been suffering most maybe,â Greco said. âWe do some [automotive projects] but it is not our main business.â At Cannon, Zarantonello wryly noted that, âFortunately we are not only working in automotive.â He added that automotive represents perhaps 25-30 percent of the companyâs business in a normal year. But âIf you take 2009, then automotive is not 25-30 percent,â he said.
Hennecke also supplies into automotive, but has some customers producing parts for models such as the Audi R8, a sporty upper class car, and also for Bentley, Winiarz added. Such expensive models have not been affected by the recession, he indicated.
âFor those who make mass-production models, BMW 3 and 5 series, business did break down, and the Tier 1s, the suppliers who produce parts for those cars have problems,â he said.
Future prospects improving
Greco said for OMS, the order book is still good, it has no complaints.
But, he noted, âfrom November last year a slow-down in the order acquisition,â which has now changed to good signs, a restart of orders from everywhere, the US and China, with only north Europe, including the UK and Ireland, remaining depressed.
Last year OMS invested â¬900 000 in a fully automatic CNC line to make the metal slats used for continuous panel lines, said Greco.
OMS used to outsource these, and now makes them internally, for better control of costs and quality and delivery, Greco noted.
OMS also has a new automation, handling and cutting division, so it is able to serve other sectors â cutting and handling of EPS or mineral wool products, for example. âYou need that flexibility these days,â he said.
Hennecke also had a good start to 2010 in selling machines and âhopes that this level of orders will continue through the year. Of course we will not reach the numbers of 2006-7, but hope to return to a reasonable level of sales,â Winiarz said.
The automotive sector is still in disarray, so this is an issue, he said.
Winiarz also commented that many of Henneckeâs customers took the opportunity to develop products at Henneckeâs process laboratory last year. This centre was âcompletely booked out, by customers wanting to develop new products,â he said.
For Hennecke this lab is a tool to sell machines, but it has a side benefit: âWe see trends early, and can develop what customers want as they want it, in advance, rather than as an afterthought.
âFor us this is a good sign, that they donât stop, that they want to produce in different ways,â he added.
For Cannon, the US and European markets were quiet in 2009, but now they are recovering rapidly, Zarantonello said, although automotive is still a little weak.
Zarantonello noted that a focus for Cannon today is âto listen hard to customers and meet their needs for novel equipment. We have customers in Europe who want to make special products,â and that generally means âtailor- made machines. This is where we are focusing our activity.â That may involve small, very pricecompetitive machines for high-pressure dosing, and also very complex sophisticated machines, Zarantonello said, noting also that Cannon is no stranger to low-end equipment also.
Out of the crisis...
KraussMaffeiâs expertise lies also in extrusion and injection moulding. It is the âonly company with those three technologies under one roof,â said Peters, adding that it has âplayed on it in the past much too seldom.â âWe really learned out of the crisis the need to utilise our resources well and gain synergies from the three business units,â he said.
âWe have formed a common key account management for those divisions,â so customers have a single interface with KraussMaffei. âKey account managers for the Tier 1s, making complex automotive parts, really appreciate that single contact interface.â Notwithstanding the automotive crisis, Peters said KraussMaffeiâs approach means that âPU is a piece of the puzzle we can add to the approach that no one else can do. These are the projects where we can make money,â he said.
In its Skinform equipment, for example, combining injection moulding and thermoforming with PU skins for vehicle door panels, for example, âwe have now sold several nice lines,â Peters said.
Discussing the composites sector, Peters said KraussMaffei now has an LFI (long-fibre injection) mixhead which can go up to 2kg/s total output and 50-percent glass-fibre content.
Such high-output high-glass-fibre content, with very well controlled technology is in demand by customers, he said.
â¢ (There will be more on the composites business in a report from the JEC Composites show in Paris in April, in the next issue of the magazine.) And it is the same in CASE, with the highpressure approach from KraussMaffei, which offers âreally, really short cycle times, and the technology directly connects the IM process to the PU gasketting process.â Peters said, âa lowpressure system takes 5 minutes to react: we can handle the part after 45-60 seconds, this is revolutionary.â Other developments from KraussMaffei include its smallest ever mixhead which will go down to 2g/s delivery, rather than 5 g/s. âThis is really pushing the CASE approach a lot,â Peters said.
Also, Peters said, KraussMaffei has developed its own metering pump, âwhich we think gives much better performance, much longer lifetime, better lead times.â All this is evidence that, âWe really did something to prepare ourselves for when times get better, and we come out of the crisis.â Peters said.
âSo the RPM division is now a full-service operation, we have everything,â Peters said.
âThese are the areas where we really have something novel to offer that others canât.â
Something good out of difficult times
For Hennecke also, âAnother important point was that we developed new machines,â said Winiarz.
âWe have the new QFoam and QFoam XL,â and also redesigned the Topline machine to cover all uses. âSo the customer is able to buy a Topline for low production volumes and also a top-class Topline â in one model.â Hennecke is also aiming to sell to customers who are newcomers in the market, Winiarz said.
Like KM, Hennecke also, âtook the opportunity to use engineering and free capacity to develop new technology,â coming up with new foam mixheads, Winiarz said.
And Hennecke has also developed a high output MN14 CSM mixhead for spraying with fibres. The output rate for this is more than 1kg/s with chopped fibre, Winiarz said, calling this âa big development on the market.â Henneckeâs small spray mixheads are now being used to make dashboards for the BMW 5 GT model, using a BASF material, Winiarz noted. This combination is saving BMW up to 15 percent of raw materials per part, cutting costs considerably. BMW is âreally happy with that,â Winiarz said.
âRight now we are focussing on that market, spray technology for sprayed skin applications, also for other OEMs, who want to have a good haptic and surface on an IP dashboard.â The technology utilises âall the CSM benefits,â such as self-cleaning, stop-start use, a spray wand to spray round corners, Winiarz said, noting that start-stop use is not available from any competitors.
Recycling flex-faced panels.
At JEC, OMS was promoting its Ecofiller technology for recycling. This uses a HP metering unit which can be connected to virtually any machine by adapting/replacing the mixhead to introduce a third stream, said Greco.
It can be used for reinforcing or fire retardance, or for recycling PU waste from regrind, in a scrap stream, he said.
OMS initiated this development for commercial panel lines, especially flex-faced panels, he said, âbecause many companies want to re-use the scrap coming out of production in their process.
âWe have already sold and installed some of these,â said Greco, for Recticel in Belgium and Kingspan in Pembridge in the UK, and he said âinterest is still growing.â
Another OMS novelty is an LP dispensing unit for the marine industry for offshore pipe insulation, with a special mixhead to handle a polyol heavily filled with ceramic micro-spheres.
This allows the formulation to withstand the high pressures in deep-sea oil extraction, said Greco, noting that these pipes are huge â 20-m long by 1-m diameter. OMS has made several of these units for a project in Malaysia for Bredero Shaw.
Greco also referred to âa nice project on refrigerator lines in US and a panel line â a pentane conversion for a company that produces absorption-type refrigerators.
OMS also saw a couple of big orders in panel lines from Belgium, from Recticel and Unilin, as well as a couple of continuous panel lines for China.
In Italy, OMS had âa couple of nice orders, for continuous flat panel lines, including cutting and trimming, made by its new unit, OMS Automation.
In France, OMS has just set up new distribution structure, selling direct via a sales representative for the country, with the aim of being more proactive there, Greco said.
Growth regionally and by sector
Our survey asked suppliers what sectors they were seeing good growth in. Twelve companies cited the Middle East and Africa, and only five mentioned China, with South East Asia given by seven firms. Other citings were North America 7; C/E Europe 6; South America 6.
In terms of industrial sectors showing high growth, the numbers added up as follows: Building/Construction 17; Furniture/Bedding 14; General Industry 12; Automotive 10; and Appliance 4.
New PU machinery products
â¢ Albrecht BÃ¤umer describes its new OFS-H Twincut as a âhigh-performance machine which can be run either with a circulating or an oscillating knife.â Knife exchange takes only a few minutes.
The CNC-controlled 3-axis machine with touch panel combines the advantages of the two marketleading cutting systems, the company notes.
The OFS-H Twincut cuts upholstery parts and mattresses precisely with a speed of up to 40m/min using a circulating knife. For technical articles and automotive applications which require extreme accuracy the oscillating knife is used. Both cutting systems operate in one cutting unit.
BÃ¤umer said numerous options means the machine can be adapted to âmany individual customer requirements.â â¢ CTM Equipment has been developing new high-pressure low-output metering technology called Varithane. Uncertain market conditions delayed the launch, which CTM now expects to have mid to late 2010, in better market conditions.
â¢ AS Enterprises is launching a new carousel cutting machine for flexible foam. âWe have made a good effort to provide a feature-rich machine at a very competent price,â ceo Anurag Puri said.
The high-speed carousel-cutter includes a fully automatic grinding attachment, is operated by touch panel and has a digital indication of table speed and blade height. ASE says the cutting unit is aimed at customers with high-speed production units, having very large cutting needs. It is ideal for cutting low-density foams which are needed in thicknesses as low as 1.5mm, ASE said.
â¢ Cutting equipment supplier Wintech in Australia, will launch its improved DO2 (Dual Oscillating Blade) machine, with faster cutting and better dimensional accuracy, at the K2010 fair.
End of 2009 busy for CTM
During 2009, Barnsley, UK-based CTM Equipment Ltd saw Trelleborg successfully making the worldâs largest bend stiffeners using its bespoke design.
CTMâs 15-machine deal for Cannon in 2009 came about as a UK-based water boiler manufacturer switched from a centralised plant to 15 regional centres, each requiring a PU production cell.
Shane Wootton, managing director, said the latter part of 2009 was busy: CTM converted five CTM GSPU (glass syntactic PU) metering units â to PU elastomer for projects for the offshore sector.
CTM also moved to new, larger premises (pictured) in December 2009. Wootton noted that it has âexcellent bank backing (Lloyds Banking Group) who âprovided funding for the purchase of this new facility whilst maintaining levels of trading overdraft facilities.â
Cannonâs JL mixhead
For Cannon, its new mixhead, the JL, is now being made on a production scale. Z said this mixhead is a âreal revolution in this market,â because the mixing head technology is âcompletely different,â from the conventional approach in the PU industry. Cannon has a few customers for the JL mixhead who want to use it seriously. Z said its not only the mixhead that is important, but the sales of other equipment that are associated with selling a mixhead.
Plans for 2010
â¢ AS Enterprises is building a new 1800 m2 plant for making PU equipment in Haryana state, to add to its existing unit at Delhi, set up in1989.
â¢ AutoRIM aims to appoint a worldwide network of agents and distributors to bring its products to overseas markets. Working largely with Hennecke, AutoRIM wants to develop the market for discontinuous presses for interlocking cold rooms and structural insulated panels.
â¢ Polytec EMC said it intends to, âactivate the North American market.â
|Table 1: Ranking polyurethane machinery suppliers by sales 2009|
|Company||PU m/c sales 2009 (2008) $m||Total co sales 2009 (2008) $m||Staff in PU M/c 09(08)||Total staff 09(08)||PU only?||Main m/c activity||Other activities %|
|Cannon Group||155 (164)||248 (272)||500 (2008)||1000||N||Mainstream||Thermoforming|
|Krauss Maffei Technologies||120 (160)||1002||435||3800 (4000)||N||Mainstream||Injection moulding (60%) & extrusion m/c (30%)|
|Pu.Ma. Srl||60 (60)||130||Y||Mainstream|
|Frimo Lotte GmbH||30 (28)||160 (195)||260 (250)||1150 (1200)||N||Mainstream||Design|
|Impianti OMS SpA||28 (47)||110 (120)||N||Mainstream||Complete lines for sandwich panel mfre|
|Desma.Tec||26 (30)||42||200||200||N||Elastomer moulding||Other polymer proc equptâ¢|
|Toho Machinery Co Ltd||28 estâ¢||(28) 30||Y||Flex Mould/Elast.|
|Albrecht BÃ¤umer GmbH & Co. KG||22 (37)||49 (64)||160 (175)||280 (325)||N||Cutting/shaping Rubber/cork mc (5%)||cutting tools (9%)|
|Fecken Kirfel Gmb||H 22 (32)||24.5 (42)||8||5 160 (200)||N||Cutting/shaping||10% rubber/cork m/c|
|RIM Polymers Industries (Pte) Ltd||19.5 (20)||88 (120)||Y||Mainstream|
|Edge Sweets Co.||12 (20)||12 (20)||60||60 (75)||Y||Mainstream|
|Laader Berg AS||7.5||7.5 (6)||30||30||Y||Mainstream|
|Delmac SpA/Delmac Group||6 (15.2)||12 9 (19.5)||53 (52)||53 (75)||N||Rigid panel plant. Woodworking m/c 50%|
|Polytec EMC Engineering||5||16||18||Y||Elast.mix/dispense|
|Tec Mac Srl||3.3||3.5||10||15||N||Mainstream||Epoxy resin|
|Fill Gesellschaft mbH||3||60||15||42||5 N||Wood proc.||Foundry|
|Isotherm AG||2.5 (3.5)||4.5 (5)||15||15||Y||Mainstream|
|Polyurethane Process Ind. Llc||2 (1.2)||2||10||10||Y||Mainstream||US agent for OMS|
|StateMix||2 to 3||2 to 3||15||15||Y||Elast.mix/dispense|
|Ormamacchine SpA||1.5 (3.0)||20 (29.8)||20||160||N||Presses||Woodworking m/c (60%)|
|AutoRIM Ltd||1.44 (2.18)||1.53 (2.3)||9||9||N||Mainstream||UK and Ireland agent for Hennecke|
|CTM Equipment Ltd||1.341 (1.216)||1.94||8 (8)||9 (10)||N||Elast./Synt foam||UK agent for Cannon (40%) and Polytec EMC (5%)|
|GF Manufacturing Co. Ltd||1||2||40||130||N||Mainstream||Flex/rigid foam; moulds (70% sales)â¢|
|Sealant Equipment & Engineering Inc.||1 (0.75)||20||50||Elast.mix/dispense||2-part dispensers for all types of polymers|
|AS Enterprises||0.77 (0.88)||50||40||Mainstream|
|Maqui-Uretanos Lanuza SA de CV||0.2 (0.35)||0.25||8||8||Y||All LP m/c|
|ITWC Inc.||0.071 (1)||22.5 (30)||1 60 (66)||N||Elast.mix/dispense||Prepolymers|
|Companies that supplied info for 2009 but no sales figures|
|BaulÃ© SA||($10.6 07)||25 (30)||120 (130)||N||Elast. mix/dispense||Prepolymers/systems for cast elastomers|
|Con-Tek Machine Inc||27 (23)||27 (23||) Y||Rigid/RIM|
|Fincorp Engineering||($1.8m 07)||27 (23)||27 (23)||Y||Flex Foam/cut/shape|
|HYMA Foam Machinery A/S||Mainstream||Cutting equpt|
|Linden Industries Inc.||30||30||Y Mainstream||M/c for phenolic. EPS foam|
|Scheugenpflug AG||180||180||N||Dispensing/proc m/c||Mixhead & pump repair|
|Secmer SA||N||Cast Elast m/c||M/c for silicone||epoxy|
|Tecnoelastomeri Srl||($2.5m 07)||10||45||N||Elast mc||PU elast systems (65%) Mouldngs (10%)|
|Wintech Engineering||($7m 07)||20||N||Cutting/profiling m/c||M/c for phenolic foam||epoxy||liquid PVCâ¢|
|â¢ Baule also makes ribbon coating and amine handling equipment, carousel and flexible automatic cells.|
|â¢ Cannon also offers energy/ecology plants, industrial electronics, aluminium die-casting.|
|â¢ Desma.Tec also makes m/c for processing rubber and thermoplastics, and microinjection m/c, (20% of sales), with 10% of sales in automation/robotics and 10 percent in moulds.|
|â¢ Frimo: sales expected for 2010. Has a further $22.5 million sales in PU tooling & m/c.|
|â¢ GF also makes flexible foam for auto seat cushions, furniture, bedding, rigid/insulation foam, chemicals, moulds, CNC etc (70% sales).|
|â¢ Maqui Uretanos makes manual, semi-automatic, and automated low pressure PU machines for any use. Also repairs machinery.|
|â¢ Scheugenpflug supplies m/c for PU (30%), silicone (30%), epoxy (20%), adhesives, conductive pastes (20%). Stand-alone units to fully automated production lines. .|
|â¢ Secmer also specialises in m/c for products with very hard and heavy fillers.|
|â¢ Toho sales estimated for yr endng 31 Mar 2010.|