This year, blow moulding machine manufacturer Kautex Maschinenbau is celebrating various anniversaries.
The most important, however, is its founding, 85 years ago in Bonn, Germany by plastics pioneer Reinhold Hagen. Over the years, the company has grown; pulling ahead through investments in R&D and bringing new technologies to the market.
The company is also a resilient one, having, in the course of its existence, learned to adapt to changing conditions in the industry and the shifting public perception of plastics around the world.
Specifically, the collapse of the automotive industry and the resulting drop in the number of new orders and the ongoing negativity surrounding plastics and, in particular, plastics pollution, has led to a number of strategic adjustments, the company said. For 2020, these measures mean, on the one hand, a further organisational restructuring and shifting of focus to packaging solutions, as well as, on the other, an increase in the R&D efforts directed at such topics such as sustainability, recycling and digitalisation.
Next to the digitalisation of production and service processes, new sustainable developments include new technologies that drastically reduce energy and material consumption, for example in the case of colour or material changes, in order to prevent waste.
The company has also been working to optimise the processing of recycled plastics - a ‘core task for the plastics processing sector’, according to managing partner Andreas Lichtenauer. “We deliberately promote plastics recycling and the optimisation of material supply loops."
In addition, Kautex is also working on further improving the carbon footprint of blow moulding production processes. 2020 will also see additional, double-digit million Euro investments being made in the packaging, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare packaging business segments by the majority shareholder. This sector has demonstrated strong growth over the past few months, helping to compensate the disappointing performance of the automotive business.
The measures further include the reallocation of human resources from the automotive division to these businesses, while the reduction in staff levels announced in 2019 should be completed by the end of the year. Despite the current downfall in the automotive sector, Kautex expects that demand in the automotive market will recover over time. The company will, therefore, remain committed to developing composite applications in this business as well.
The new CEO, Thomas Hartkämper has also announced additional decisions affecting staffing, in connection with the recent ‘large number of initiatives’ launched within the company.
“We have created and approved the strategic road map for the future and informed the worldwide Kautex organization about it. We have delegated responsibilities to exceptional talents from within our own ranks and will bring in external experts to join our global team, to further strengthen it," he clarified.
The first results of the measures were seen at K 2019, where, alongside other innovations, the company presented a new generation of extrusion heads, developed in-house. These new heads speed-up colour and material change-overs considerably, and significantly increase melt quality and material-flow rates. The company's patented RapidXchange technology is the benchmark for weight reduction and recycled material usage worldwide.