Capping success

Andreas Leitner, sales director Middle East for Engel, shares his outlook for the regional bottling market

Andreas Leitner, sales director Middle East for Engel, describes the region’s order situation as “very good”. “In the field of closures and packaging we expect a growth above 10% and in the fields of technical moulding and medical above 5%,” he said.
“Due to some large events taking place in the next few years such as Expo 2020 in Dubai and the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar, we are seeing exceptional growth, especially in those two countries. For Qatar, this means that local production has started in many cases, which did not exist before. Together with two different customers, Engel is already working on projects which are directly linked to the new stadiums which are currently built for the football World Cup.”
In the United Arab Emirates, Engel is continuing to expand capacity to cope with these large events, he added.
“What is particularly pleasing is the fact that sustainability is playing a very important role in all these investments and is one of the main reasons behind customers’ decisions to purchase,” he said “Our product portfolio and our energyefficient drive solutions, in particular, mean we are really meeting requirements very effectively here.”
He also pointed to how geopolitical changes are affecting logistics. “As transport routes have been cut off, it is no longer possible to supply just-in-time deliveries from one region to another,” he said. “This has brought about new plastics processing businesses and therefore new customers, especially in the smaller countries.”

preferred partner
In the Middle East, Engel is among the most preferred plastics processing industry partners, according to Leitner. “In the United Arab Emirates, for example, all the well-known bottlers and bottle cap producers are using Engel e-cap injection moulding machines,” he said.
“The Engel e-speed machine has become established in the region successfully too. One special highlight is a project involving the manufacture of airline cups that we completed in the United Arab Emirates last year. On an Engel e-speed 500 with a 12-cavity mould, we achieved a cycle time of under 3 seconds including part removal and stacking thanks to an ultra-fast injection time of 0.12 seconds. This means the Engel e-speed is very clearly setting new standards. This particular manufacturing cell is already the third manufacturing cell for airline cup production that we’ve supplied to the United Arab Emirates.
“The Engel e-speed hybrid machine, which has an electric clamping unit, was developed specifically for demanding thinwall applications with high productivity and high energy-efficiency requirements. It therefore meets the requirements of airline suppliers perfectly, who are having to make their products lighter and lighter because of fuel consumption.”
In the caps and closures field Leitner points to a “clear trend towards all-electric machines, as energy efficiency is becoming extremely important”. “With subsidies being reduced in Saudi Arabia, electricity is going to become considerably more expensive in the next few years,” he said.
“From a technology viewpoint, it is above all the low melt flow rate required to achieve the specified cap characteristics that define the high demands put on the injection moulding machine. Thanks to its direct drive unit, the all-electric Engel e-cap injection moulding machines achieve the precision and performance needed for this applications. Beyond that, its increased ejection and clamping force help it attain very short cycle times. With cycle times of under three seconds and injection speeds of up to 460mm per second, the Engel e-cap is designed for highest output performance and has set new standards for the entire industry in process stability and efficiency.”
Leitner also stressed how the all-electric Engel e-motion injection moulding machine turns thin-walled containers that meet high-tech requirements into “low-cost products”.
“Engel packaging turnkey solutions help processing companies to conserve energy and raw materials, and to integrate various process steps by incorporating techniques
such as in-mould labelling,” he said. “Engel works with system partners who are also leaders in their respective fields here, including Swiss IML expert Beck Automation, Otto Hofstetter, which is also Swiss and a leading producer of moulds for thin-wall applications, and automation specialist Campetella with its headquarters in Italy.”
Engel’s R&D, meanwhile, is being directed in areas including “intelligent packaging”, such as “packaging with a barrier layer that extends the shelf life of food, packaging with a colour indicator that tells the customer how fresh the product is, or a container with a lid that has a spoon made and attached during the injection moulding process”.

Customer proximity
In the Middle East, Engel’s strengths include “its customer proximity and consulting”, he added. “The more complex an application, the more important it is that we work very closely with the customer from very early on in the project – and not everything can be discussed by phone or e-mail,” he said.
“Engel has strengthened its sales and service teams in every region of the earth in the last few years and can be at customer premises quickly, regardless of where they are in the world. Many suppliers, Asian competitors especially, are not able to do that – in either sales advice or servicing. To us, servicing not only includes the classic areas like maintenance and troubleshooting, but also continuous process optimisation using optimisation tools, retrofitting and also advice when a manufacturing cell has to be adapted to new requirements.
“Engel sees itself as an important partner to its customers for the entire service life of their injection moulding machines, robots, and system solutions. In addition, we offer a high degree of system solution expertise. Efficiency and quality potentials can only be leveraged to the maximum if all the components of a manufacturing cell, including the injection moulding machine, automation, mould, process technology and peripheral units are perfectly coordinated with each other from the beginning. If Engel supplies a turnkey production line as a general contractor, we are responsible for the entire line, including the components that we have assembled in cooperation with partners. This too is a competitive advantage that is not easy to replicate.”
System solution competency is increasingly important in the region given a trend towards greater automation, he added. Dubai Technopark, for example, is preferring investors focusing on high technology applications with highly automated production plants, Leitner said.
He further pointed to Engel’s partner network as an important factor in the Middle East market. “We work closely with large raw material producers who are based in the Middle East and looking to increase their production capacity,” he said. “We form strong technology-sharing relationships, organise joint workshops, and Engel machines are used in raw material producers’ technology centres as well. Among other things, we work together on new material qualities, which can bring about completely new products in some cases and by doing so open up new growth opportunities for plastics processing businesses.”

High efficiency
In terms of technology, Engel e-cap machines outperform their rivals by requiring “significantly less energy and cooling water, are very clean, and make a sustainable contribution to protecting the environment”, said Leitner.
“In addition to their all-electric drive technology, Engel e-cap machines also boast other features that contribute to their particularly high efficiency levels,” he said.
“These include a powerful, premium-quality injection unit, increased ejection force, and a reinforced, faster clamping drive unit. Thanks to their powerful direct drive units, Engel e-cap machines are able to process even non-free-flowing types of HDPE with the greatest precision and therefore guarantee extremely low unit costs even in the manufacture of lightweight closures.”
The Engel e-cap machine takes its highperformance genes from the proven Engel e-motion series, he added. In 1998, Engel became one of the first European injection moulding machine manufacturers to launch an all-electric machine onto the market and has continued to develop and update the Engel e-motion series for high-performance applications ever since. In 2010, Engel presented a high-speed all-electric machine tailored to the requirements of the caps and closures industry based on this mature technology in the Engel e-cap.
Engel has set a goal of being “the world market leader in creating customer benefit in injection moulding solutions”, Leitner said. “Therefore, Engel has made constant progress developing from an injection moulding machine manufacturer into a system solution supplier,” he said. “Maximum performance levels can only be combined with extremely low unit costs if the injection moulding machine, process technology, mould, and automation are perfectly coordinated with each other from the beginning.
“Engel is also excellently equipped for the packaging industry from a machine technology point of view. We believe that all-electric injection moulding machines are becoming more popular in the packaging industry, especially among customers who want to supply caps, closures, and thin-wall packaging.
“The problem with all-electric machines is that you often have to choose between maximum injection pressure and maximum injection speed. The machine is not able to produce both simultaneously. Our aim, however, was to guarantee maximum performance throughout the process. If we say that a machine has a maximum injection speed of 450mm/sec and a maximum injection pressure of 1,600 bar, it has to be able to achieve both of those at the same time.
“It took quite a lot of time and effort to get there, but today we can say that we are leading the way as far as getting all-electric machines with clamping forces of over 250 tonnes to produce high performance levels throughout the process is concerned. We have our noses in front with regard to both performance and energy consumption at the moment.”

Comments are closed