“In retrospect, it was a very good decision to move into China at such an early time,“ says Gerd Liebig, CEO of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Gruppe in Schwaig/Germany. "When the Chinese market started to boom during the 1980s, tried and tested machine concepts made in Germany were very sought after, especially by multinational car manufacturers and their suppliers – and this gave us a head start in the local market. That said, however, the competition poses a significant challenge. With a 50% share in the global market, China is not only the biggest buyer of injection moulding machines, but also their largest producer. In light of this constellation, we are very proud to have retained our position as the most important Chinese injection moulding manufacturer of European origin in China.“
Annual production capacity of 1,500 machines
At the beginning, the production area at Demag Ningbo measured 3,500 m². In 2015, with construction work on the new building completed, it had already grown to 26,705 m². The site can accommodate a production capacity of 1,500 hydraulic machines, which would represent a market share of 35% to 40%. At present, the annual capacity amounts to 500 Systec C hydraulic injection moulding machines with hybrid drives and clamping forces between 500 and 10,000 kN. The machine concept development is based on global Systec platforms in Germany. This is where control units and other safety-related parts are being shipped from. Stephan Greif, CEO of Demag Ningbo emphasizes the fact that, by now, almost 70 % of machine parts are manufactured on-site China. A network of seventeen sales and service outlets caters to almost all of China. About 3,000 machines delivered from Germany and about 9,000 installed machines from domestic production are serviced at customer sites on the Chinese mainland and in other Asian markets such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
All-electric machines, hybrid high-speed machines and multi-component machines from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Group enhance the Chinese Systec C machine family. Naturally, machines are still delivered to large OEMs from the automotive and electronics industry, with medical engineering, packaging and domestic appliances as major growth markets. Stephan Greif: “In the wake of growing urbanisation, the domestic demand for high-quality plastic products from the Chinese consumer goods segment has become one of the most important growth generators for the industry. We are currently experiencing a growing demand for high-performance injection moulding machines, as only these can meet the market’s evergrowing requirements for premium quality. The transition from low-level to high-level machinery has also boosted the demand for our automation solutions, which is due to the customers’ interest in compensating for the higher costs.“
Chinese-German cultural blend is a recipe for success
Things have changed dramatically since the early days of the Chinese boom. Now, it is not just German engineering that delivers the required expertise. At the university in Ningbo, a central injection moulding technology hub in China, the Chinese and Germans cooperate in a solid partnership that benefits both parties. Students and graduates are provided with practical insights, while Demag Plastics Group in Ningbo form close links with talented young experts. Greif sees a large part of this success in the Chinese market in the fact that almost all employees are recruited from the local region. “We are firmly rooted in this area. And the fact that our company experiences almost no fluctuation shows that there is a high level of appreciation. Demag Plastics Group in Ningbo is a model for Chinese-German teamwork. The recipe for success involves a perfect blend of both cultures. This is where the typical German love of precision, straightforwardness, discipline and creativity meets typical Chinese attributes such as dynamism, ambition, diligence and versatility.“
Chinaplas 2018: focus on automation
At Chinaplas 2018 in Shanghai, which has become established as the largest flagship fair for polymer engineering in the world, Demag Plastics Group will celebrate its 20th anniversary with many valued local customers to thank them for their business and trust and the outstanding experience of working with them. A host of product highlights, all in equipped with innovative automation solutions, will be presented at the Sumitomo (SHI) Demag stand no. 4.1J61. A high-speed, hybrid El-Exis SP 200/560 will be producing bottle caps. In addition to this, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag will show an all-automatic cap testing system that was developed in cooperation with ONLYTEC Testsystem. A Systec 100/420-310C will be used to demonstrate automated production of LSR lenses for the automotive industry in combination with a SEMPRO robot. Last, but not least a Systec 280/630-600C SP will be in-mould labelling PLA plates, assisted by a Ningbo Well-lih robot. The Ningbo Well-lih and GH Automation partner stands will also show Systec C machines in a live demonstration. The exhibits have been selected with care. In addition to multi-component technology, Greif considers automation solutions as the next major growth product for his company: “Together with our partners, we are ready for Made in China 2025‘“