The drop in oil prices in general has been bad news for the plastics recycling industry. The same can be said for the companies selling equipment into that sector.
That leaves Taiwan's Polystar Machinery Co. Ltd. trying to focus on a bright spot, in-house recycling equipment for companies to recycle their own scrap.
“The recycling business is not very good this year because of the drop in oil prices, but the in-house recycling market is still very prominent because every plastics producer needs an in-house recycling machine to recover their own waste,” said Sales Manager Jack Lin at K 2016 in Düsseldorf.
Even with the tough conditions, the Tainan, Taiwan-based company has broken ground on a new $9m (€8.1m) factory in Tainan that will boost capacity by about 50% and modernize manufacturing. It plans to complete the new 107,000 square foot facility in 2018.
At K, the company showed its line of machines dubbed Repro-Flex, which Lin said integrates the cutting, extrusion and pelletizing features more tightly to simplify operations. It's slogan for the show is “Recycling Made Simple.”
“Over the past 30 years, we've tried to do all this different kind of engineering to really improve the machine,” Lin said. “At some point, we were making it too complicated.
“Starting from 2012, our sales people have been talking a lot to the customers, [asking] what are the features that are extra, what are the features they need that are missing,” he said. “They want something simple and easy to maintain to teach their operators.”
As an example, he said, its machines are designed with both automated and manual modes and what the company said is a simple control system. It also said it improved its manuals for maintenance, spare parts and operations.
K 2016 was the company's second time exhibiting at the German show.
The company started in the late 1980s but mostly manufactured machinery under contract for European firms that put their own brand names on them, until starting the Polystar brand in 2012.
Today, about 90% of its roughly $20m (€18m) in sales are under its own brand, Lin said.
Since the company first started almost 30 years ago, it's made more than 2,000 recycling machines that have been sold in more than 100 countries.
The main markets for the firm are Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey and Southeast Asia. But Lin said it believes, after exhibiting at its first K show in 2013, that there are opportunities among cost-conscious firms in Western Europe.
“A lot of European machinery manufacturers are going to the top of the pyramid, they are making equipment a little too expensive,” Lin said. “I think they are missing that a lot of European bag makers or packaging makers are looking for simple, not very complicated equipment to do a simple job.
“A lot of them came to us at the last K fair,” he said. “We found out that many companies are looking for a simpler solution.”