The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has not deterred leading players in the plastics industry as they continue to innovate while adjusting to the challenges of doing business. In the case of ENGEL (www.engelglobal.com), the move towards digitalisation is taken as a big step forward. According to Dr. Stefan Engleder, CEO of ENGEL AUSTRIA: “Due to Covid-19, digitalisation has made big steps forward. Our customers are increasingly investing in digital solutions like our condition monitoring. We also see a big trend in digital services and therefore focus on their continuous development.” One example of this digital service is the new performance.boost, which optimises ongoing production processes. This helps ENGEL to accompany its customers throughout the entire product life cycle, from the design phase through the production phase to recycling at the end of life.
Dr. Stefan Engleder, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), ENGEL AUSTRIA
The weak economic climate was originally triggered by production declines in the automotive industry. Since spring this year, it has been intensified by Covid-19. “We are preparing for the fact that the boom in the plastics industry will be interrupted for a certain time. In the long term, however, the industry will retain its importance and will grow again. Growth is driven by three main factors: the transformation of the automobile, the circular economy and digitalisation. We set our R&D priorities accordingly. Even in times of crisis, ENGEL invests 70 million Euro per year in research and development to further strengthen and expand ENGEL's leading position,” Dr. Engleder states.
ENGEL customers operate in the fields of automotive, technical moulding, teletronics, medical and packaging. For the development of new products and solutions, ENGEL considers all of these five business units. When it comes to industry specific trends, the transformation of the automotive industry demands for completely new technologies. As Dr. Engleder explains: “For example, autonomous driving involves higher-quality surfaces that combine increasing numbers of functions. The growing sector of electric mobility asks for highly efficient composites technologies and for electronic components such as connectors and seals.”
ENGEL responds to demand for digitalisation
The establishment of a circular economy is another driver of innovation. Many of ENGEL technologies enable the use of recycled material for applications that were previously unthinkable. “In addition we support cooperation between companies along the value chain so that recycling is taken into consideration already in the product development stage. Again, digitalisation plays an important role here,” according to Dr. Engleder.
Dr. Engleder also stressed that ENGEL is in the process of completing its 2020 investment programme which was the largest in the company’s history. For a total of more than 375 million Euro, production plants worldwide have been modernised and expanded where necessary. The large-scale machine plant in Shanghai was the first to be completed in autumn 2017. Construction work at the large-scale machine plant in St. Valentin, Austria, will be completed in spring 2021. Thus, all ENGEL locations are well-prepared to meet future challenges. Apart from machinery and buildings, ENGEL is expanding its worldwide sales and service network. A new subsidiary in Japan was founded at the beginning of 2020.
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