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EUROMAP’s President, Luciano Anceschi (left) and Vice-President Dr Karlheinz Bourdon
EUROMAP’s President, Luciano Anceschi (left) and Vice-President Dr Karlheinz Bourdon

The interest in upscale products has never been bigger in China, where middle-class population has pushed up demand for quality products, and manufacturers see the need to upgrade their production technologies.

EUROMAP has reported a drop in machinery export to China last year, thought to be a result of European suppliers producing more machines in China and export to other countries from there.

However, it does not necessarily indicate a gloomy prospect, as China is now more into high quality technologies, such as those equipped with today’s must-have features – energy-saving, automation, clean and intelligent production.

The trend is expected to benefit high-end equipment suppliers, giving them new opportunities to introduce technologies, existing or new ones, which might not be Chinese customers’ priority in the past due to relatively high prices.

EUROMAP: China the growth driver

EUROMAP (European Plastics and Rubber Machinery) reported that exports from its member countries rose by 52% from €6.6 billion to €10 billion in the 10 years between 2005 and 2015, slightly below the global increase of 56%.

Exports to China decreased in 2015 as European manufacturers set up their own facilities in China to produce products targeting the low-end or medium-end segments.

In 2015, the EUROMAP countries as a whole accounted for 47% of world exports, while China's share rose to 15%. In the years 2016 to 2018, global sales of plastics and rubber machinery are expected to grow by an average of 3.4%, with China as the main growth driver.

"But the high-end machinery in China is still imported from the Europe. This situation is good for the European manufacturers, which means we still take the lead in the high-end market of China," said Dr Karlheinz Bourdon, Vice-President of EUROMAP.

Dr Bourdon, who is also Senior Vice President Integration of KraussMaffei Technologies, is integrating the company’s business units with the existing rubber machinery and related production businesses of its new owner ChemChina after the acquisition completed in April 2016.

He said export from China to other Asian countries benefit European companies, while there is a trend of producing upmarket goods in China – all these call for better machines and technologies.

The drop in export of machinery from Europe to China concerns mainly mid- to low-end products. There is a rising demand in the high-end market, where European companies producing in China saw continuous growth.”

Professor Helmar Franz, Director of the Board at Haitian International holds similar views and disagreed that demand in China has weakened under a slowed economy.

China is still a growing market, and crisis is only for outside suppliers,” he said. “Local market needs are being met by local suppliers. I’m positive with the China market. There is more consumption and local industries buy equipment locally. The mindset of exporting to China needs to change. Suppliers need to adopt.”

Production growth of plastics and rubber machines over the last 10 years grew by 83%, with China, USA and Europe being the driving forces of the industry, according to EUROMAP’s President, Luciano Anceschi, who is also managing Director of Tria, an Italian company specializing in design and manufacturing of rotary knife granulators and grinding systems.

As markets are shifting, classifications like “emerging” and “developed” countries are outdated, he said. Business is now shaped by individual companies, many of whom play on a global field and set their standards worldwide.

German technologies reach out to locals
Erge’s Purchasing Manager in China, Li Dingyang (middle), with Leader of Construction Andreas Kramer (left) and Leader of Sales, Tobias Schneider
From Germany, Erge Electric Heat Technology manufactures electrical heating elements and accessories for the plastic industry. It also makes tailored heaters according to customers’ requirements.

In 2006, the company set up its wholly-owned subsidiary in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province. Purchasing manager of Erge in China, Li Dingyang, (李丁阳 采购部经理), said European companies can better serve local customers if they have stronger presence in China.

Besides, the idea of having products of European quality standards at local price is appealing to customers.

China currently imports 80% of high-end components. There must be more local suppliers to meet the demand of high-end markets and replace the lower-end products. Customers would like to reach us easily when they come across problem of heating,” said Li.
Balint Sandor Takacs, Business Development Manager of Koch Technik Asia Pacific
A subsidiary of Koch Technik in Germany, Koch Technik Asia Pacific is responsible for marketing, sales and customer services for a range of technology, including mixing, dosing, conveying and drying.

Balint Sandor Takacs, Business Development Manager of Koch Technik Asia Pacific as well as Koch Machinery Equipment (Shenzhen) [科豪机械设备(深圳)有限公司 业务拓展经理 唐斌] said the company wants to provide a one-stop shop for its customers.

It is strengthening the sales network in the region, but not thinking of manufacturing in China because “components are very important”.

Our customers used to be mostly German automotive producers but there are more and more local Chinese customers now. They want to upgrade their product quality,” he said.

To meet the foreseeable needs of customers on smart production, the products of Koch are designed to be Industry 4.0-ready.
Thomas Malzahn, Sales / Marketing Manager of Entex (right) and Chester Du, General Manager of Entex in Shanghai
Entex Rust & Mitschke, which manufactures planetary roller extruder in Germany, is also eyeing the China market in transformation. It exhibits in CHINAPLAS every year to reach potential customers in different Chinese regions.

Clever customers would invest in German-made machines for long term benefits though more are buying locally,” said Thomas Malzahn, Sales / Marketing Manager, stressing the company will keep its production in Germany.

He regards China’s slowed economy as a normal cycle and is confident that the company’s sales offices and service support in the country can meet the needs of local customers.

Shrinking outlet stays high rank

China remains an important market to Italian exporters of plastics machinery even though it is not growing as fast as before, according to Mario Maggiani, General Manager of ASSOCOMAPLAST (Italian Plastics and Rubber Processing Machinery and Moulds Manufacturers’ Association).

China ranks fifth on the list of export destinations, having 4.24% share of total export in 2015. The value of machines and moulds sold to China amounted at 123,364, and the value for the first 6 months this year (2016) is67,346, more or less in line with the same period in previous year.

Mario Maggiani, General Manager of ASSOCOMAPLAST.“We can expect an increase of a few percentage points (for 2016),” said Maggiani. “Even China is not growing so fast, my personal impression is that the Chinese plastics sector is growing faster than China’s GDP. China is still an important market to Italian exporters of plastics machinery.”

According to the sector report summary 2015 released by ASSOCOMAPLAST in June, uncertainties remained in some key markets including China.

The report says China market’s growth in recent period has clearly slowed down and remains subject to “the scarcely foreseeable/quantifiable effects” of state economic measures.

Sales to China dropped by 5% in 2015, clearly affected by the slowdown in the local economy. Data from Chinese sources shows overall imports of plastics and rubber processing machinery has fallen by an even higher amount.

Statistics from Germany indicate greater decline in supplies to Chinese processors: approximately -17% with respect to 2014, according to the report. However, production by German manufacturers in Chinese territory has increased considerably.

In March this year, ASSOCOMAPLAST described China as “a shrinking outlet market” for Italian exporters and their German competitors.

Overall, imports of plastics and rubber processing machinery fell by 27% in September 2015 as a result of a general slowdown in the local economy and increased domestic production, it said.

Thriving regions

EU is still the main market for Italian exporters, especially Germany. Sales to the region contributed to 50% of total export in 2015, jumped 10% from the previous year.


The NAFTA countries registered a significant growth of 38% during the year, driven by the recovery of the US economy in general and by that of local manufacturing in particular.

Meanwhile, a 20% growth on order was recorded for Mexico and Canada, which are strongly linked to the US market. In the Far East, an average sales increase of 6% was achieved, thanks to double-digit growth in Japan, India, Indonesia and Thailand.

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