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3/13/2015 | 2 MINUTE READ

Truckload of Machinery Stolen on Way to NPE

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Two molding machines, a mold, and a robot highjacked 10 days before the show.

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As a major exhibitor at NPE2015, Wittmann Battenfeld might dream of stealing the show, but what happened this week is not what the company had in mind.


The company sent 15 tractor-trailer loads of machinery and equipment to the huge plastics show, which opens in less than two weeks in Orlando, Fla. Unfortunately, one of the trucks didn’t make it. It was parked in a staging area within locked security fencing in Daytona. When the driver came to the yard in the morning of March 12, he found someone had broken through the fencing and stolen the truck and trailer. On board were two injection molding machines, an all-electric EcoPower 300 and a brand-new SmartPower servo-electric press, intended to debut at NPE. Also in the trailer were a mold, a new W82 Pro Series robot, and some display stands.


The thieves dropped the trailer some distance from where it was stolen. Unfortunately, they left it on a soft sand bank beside the road. The trailer heaved forward, and the massive weight of the 300-ton molding machine pitched the trailer over onto its side, damaging the machines.


With only 10 days before the show opens on March 23, and only six days before Wittmann Battenfeld’s molding equipment is “boxed in” by other machines in the West Show Hall, the company had little time to react. Within 8 hr, the company had made complete arrangements to ship another 300-ton EcoPower machine from the company’s South Elgin, Ill., Tech Center; an EcoPower 55-ton machine from the company’s headquarters in Torrington, Conn., to substitute for the damaged SmartPower press; and a new robot and display stands. All this equipment was made ready to ship the day after the theft.


Dave Preusse, president of Wittmann Battenfeld, Inc., said, “The show must go on! I’m proud of how effectively our team can act and react under pressure.” He said the tractor trailer had been recovered, and one working theory was that, since it’s Bike Week in Daytona Beach, the thieves might have hoped the truck was loaded with motorcycles. “When they found it loaded with molding machines instead, they had no idea what to do with them,” said Preusse.


He said the show mold that was on the trailer was in good shape, but it was unfortunate that the firm didn’t have another SmartPower machine available for the introduction of the series at the show, though the replacement EcoPower machine could run the same demonstration intended for the damaged press. No other changes in the company’s six molding cells would be required by the highjacking.