Freudenberg, Germany -- Polyurethane machinery firm Albrecht Baumer said 2013 had brought the company its highest ever turnover since it began 60-plus years ago.
The company’s sales director Harald Kullmann said: “The enormous growth in the plant business is definitely a result of the fact that more and more foam producers are reorganising their production from a short block to a much more effective long block production.
“Automation globally becomes more and more important for two reasons. One reason is the direct cost reduction effect due to a better utilisation of material and a reduction in labour costs.
The other reason can be found in the higher and constant quality demands on the end product, which can only be achieved through automation.”
He said the implications of automation was most significant in countries like China, North and Central Africa, India and parts of South America.
“In 2013, we realised that the niche market of the foam industry had been in opposition to some global economic trends. We made good business with countries and regions that have been weaker in most industries, such as Portugal, South America or North and Central Africa.
“This was related to our increased sales activities in those areas. As expected, our sales were strong in German-speaking countries, Eastern Europe and Asia.”
He said the EU and Eastern Europe upholstery industry was in decline during 2013 but that the decrease could be compensated by constantly growing volumes in the market of foam mattresses and the foam cutting units needed for this.
The company’s R&D focus in 2013 was on ‘heavy splitting’ and ‘automation’, which, said Kullmann, had driven the sales record and would continue in 2014.