After 80 years in the business, those responsible at Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH know that good, old-fashioned word of mouth is often the best way to reach more customers.
To this end, the German machine builder has teamed up with Currier Plastics Inc. to show how to improve the productivity of manufacturers who want to save time and resources with more sustainable packaging.
Currier, a custom blow molder in Auburn, NY, brought its newly acquired KBB60D machine to the Kautex booth W1551. For the first time since 2006, Kautex is showing one of its extrusion blow molding machines in action.
After less than 10 minutes for a mold change, the all-electric machine produced cylindrical 24-milliliter shampoo bottles for the hotel industry in a 2×12-cavity configuration. With a cycle time of 6.1 seconds, it produces around 14,000 bottles per hour.
“We put everything together for the customer in order to achieve maximum efficiency,” says Dietmar Michels, Product Manager at Kautex. “That not only means a machine that moves quickly, but also has a quick tool change system and requires less maintenance time – no maintenance at all – because it is self-lubricating. We are pretty sure that it is the fastest machine at the fair. “
The KBB machines also meet the latest hygiene requirements for cosmetic and food products.
In addition, Kautex has developed virtual machines for training employees, which, according to Christian Kirchbaumer, Team Leader Communication and Marketing, is a first for the company and the industry. The technology simulates work situations with a real control panel and interface, but without risking damage to the equipment. Virtual machines also eliminate material costs and machine downtime in production.
“No other competitor in our arena does something like that,” said Kirchbaumer.
Looking ahead, Kautex officials planned to announce at the NPE that the US subsidiary from North Branch, NJ, was moving to a larger technical center in Newark, where customers could view machines or perform material and form tests on them. The facility will open in the second half of 2015.
Kautex also has a new product development facility in Bonn, Germany, where the company is preparing for the upcoming demand for composite pressure vessels. The decision is based on a container project for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for Supreme Industries Ltd. in India.
“We created a complete factory including product design,” says Andreas Lichtenauer, managing partner at Kautex. “The customer had a vision that this would be a successful product in India as there are many fatal accidents due to steel container explosions. That was one of the drivers for him. “
In the event of a fire, the steel containers with liquefied gas explode quickly, while the plastic containers melt and then burn the liquefied gas. Lichtenauer said the new packaging technology not only makes the containers safer, but also lightweight, non-corrosive and translucent so users can see how full they are.
The new Supreme factory went into production last year, but due to regulations in India, the company is exporting the composite LPG bottles to a dealer in South Korea, Lichtenauer said. Nevertheless, Kautex is receiving more inquiries about composite ships from Southeast Asia, India, South America and Africa.
“In the USA this container is mainly used for grilling, but in other countries people cook, heat and do everything with it. The demand is much higher, ”said Lichtenauer.
Another ongoing project for Kautex concerns compressed natural gas containers (CNG) for commercial vehicles.
“We believe that it will also be of interest to North America, where there are successes with shale gas,” said Lichtenaurer. “We are also developing a project to store hydrogen in a similar container at an even higher pressure. That is still in the test phase. “
Kautex is already a leader in the manufacture of plastic fuel tanks for the automotive industry. Almost all US cars have these tanks and Kautex has at least 85 percent of the market share, Lichtenauer said.
The company is also working on an industrial packaging machine – single and double station – for the production of single and multi-layer drums; a fully electric machine for the production of canisters; and a new compact suction blow molding machine.
The company shares its booth with Meccanplastica srl, which operates its new Jet120 injection blow molding machine, but also manufactures stretch blow molding machines, and Includis Inc., a software company whose systems monitor machine production, processes and energy consumption.
Kautex is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. In addition to the packaging industry, customers include automobile manufacturers and suppliers. The company’s turnover amounts to 100 million euros (109 million US dollars) per year.