The Chinese [injection molding machines] are coming
4. November 2013
Consolidation in the injection molding machine market has seemingly diminished the press options available to North American molders, but for every supplier that goes away or joins up with a former competitor, a new supplier from the world’s most active machinery market, China, fills the void.
Tederic, founded in 2003 as is Hangzhou Tederic Machinery Co. Ltd., fits that bill. Richard Konnen, founder of Tederic North American Machinery Inc., based in Florida, told Plastics Technology that Tederic machines started arriving in the U.S. as far back as 2004, although about 80% of the nearly 70 installed machines have arrived from China in the past four years. His company began distributing the injection molding machines stateside in late 2006.
In October, Tederic North American Machinery announced a deal with Arthur Machinery-Florida to begin offering Tederic presses. Seven years on, Konnen is keeping at it, adding distributors like Arthur, despite challenges. “[North America] has been a tough market to break into,” Konnen admitted, “and the economy has not helped.”
The company is gaining traction however, and Konnen said he is currently looking for more space locally to stock machines, as well as provide a larger parts area and a training room. Arthur, Konnen noted, can “handle a few machines and has a nice classroom demonstration area.”
Half price, full technology?
As you might expect, price is a primary selling point for Tederic in North America, but Konnen said the machines have technology appeal as well. Particularly, Konnen said, the hybrid machines, which can be configured with servo/hydraulic pumps and servo/hydraulic pumps with servo-powered inject.
“There is a large emphasis on power savings with the hybrids,” Konnen said, noting that Tederic’s hybrids offer energy efficiency that is comparable to all electric ball screw servos, but with a better price point.
“When compared to Europe or Japanese machines,” Konnen said, “we can be as much as half the cost, and with the other Asian machines, we try to stay very competitive on price.”
Konnen said his company can provide any version of Tederic's machines. The main model is the Dream series, which combined the company’s Classic and M-Series into one model. The Dream series can be ordered with a standard pump, variable pump, or hybrid. Konnen said that in 2014, testing should be completed on Tederic’s two-platen machines, making them available for export. At this time, they are only sold to the Asian market.
Tederic says it has installed machines in 79 countries. The company operates a 150,000-sq-m plant in the Hangzhou Economic & Development Area, including production space of more than 90,000 sq m. Annual capacity is pegged at 4000 machines, with clamping forces from 60 to 4000 tons. The company also opened new manufacturing site in the Philippines.
A new wave?
Tederic is not alone in tapping the North American market. Over the past year, China’s Borche and Taiwan’s FCS have reached distribution agreements in North America, with more likely to follow. The China Plastics Machinery Industry Association has 360 members, including molding machine suppliers, while a search of Asian supplier site, Alibaba, for “injection molding machines” calls up over 13,735 products from 268 suppliers.
In a post entitled: “Success Hurts: China’s Building Boom Is Over, And Now Its Machinery Makers Can’t Compete On The Global Stage” Forbes contributor Donald Frazier, using construction equipment as an example, noted that slowing domestic markets have forced machine makers to seek business outside China, with mixed results:
Quickly losing business at home, they plotted aggressive campaigns to expand overseas. Now the verdict is in: Moving into foreign markets isn’t working. It hasn’t slowed the slide in their sales, profits or stock price.
Work once flowed en masse to China, now it’s coming back, along with Chinese made machines. Is the sudden influx of Chinese injection molding machines a sign that some of its domestic machine makers can now compete globally, or does it reflex a shrinking market at home?