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OPEN HOUSE REPORT | COPERION EXTRUSION DAYS


recycling projects and for chemical recycling of waste plastics to fuel or feed- stocks. “We are seeing more and more of these projects where you are changing the materials – it’s partly lab scale but we are supplying some production machines to go on-line soon,” he says. Recycling falls under the


remit of Peter von Hoffmann, Coperion General Manager Business Unit Engineering Plastics and Special Applica- tions. “There is an evolution going on in recycling,” he says. “Companies first devel- oped a raw material system, then they bought machines and made pellets. But more and more of them are now looking at compounding to add value to their product. That is where the trend is going — from recycling to compounding. They need a twin screw compounder to do that. It’s more expensive than a single screw but if they want to incorporate fillers or fibres or are devola- tilising they need it.” Bartel says Coperion benefits from its global footprint and its broad equipment range, which means it is able to supply compounders regardless of their technology and


Above: More than 200 compounding customers attended the Coperion Extrusion Days in Stuttgart in November


volume requirements. The company’s top-of-range ZSK compounders are manufac- tured at its Stuttgart head- quarters, its entry-level CTE and mid-range STS models are manufactured at its facility at Nanjing in China (established in 2004). CTE machines are aimed


at emerging plastics markets where price is a key issue (they are not CE- marked so are not marketed in Europe where the entry level would be an STS model). “They give us a chance in areas such as Africa where customers are not so highly financed and cannot afford high level technology. If we had not started [the CTE] business we would have lost busi-


ness,” Bartel says. Bartel emphasises that


Above: Compounding World Editor-in-Chief Chris Smith takes a close-up look at one of the demonstration exhibits


20 COMPOUNDING WORLD | January 2019


the difference between the machines is in specification, not quality. Much of the manufacturing and inspec- tion equipment used in Nanjing, for example, is the same as that used in Stuttgart. An example is the company’s use of flash spectrophotometry to check the composition of incom- ing steels. “The CTE is still the most expensive machine made in China and we will never beat [local competi- tors] on price, only on technology. But we don’t need to be two or three times the price,” he says. Coperion also has screw element and machine assembly capacity at its Pitman facility in the US. The US operation was estab- lished as a global manufac- turing centre for screw elements up to 100mm in diameter but that strategy has changed a little with the recent introduction under the Trump administration of 25% tariffs on imported steel. “To make the screw elements in the US we have to ship the steel from Europe as we have not found suitable suppliers


there,” says von Hoffmann. The tariffs make the US location less attractive for export work so the facility is focusing more for the moment on production for the US market.


Lean manufacturing Aside from the high levels of investment in the plastics industry over the past decade, Bartel says that a significant part of Coperion’s recent business growth can be attributed to the adoption of the lean manufacturing and target-driven business strategies of its US parent Hillenbrand. It acquired the materials handling group K-Tron in 2010 and then compounding machinery maker Coperion in 2012, merging the two into a single group using the Coperion and Coperion K-Tron brands in 2013. Hillenbrand owns one of


the leading producers of funeral caskets in the US — Batesville — and has devel- oped its own lean manufac- turing system. This Hillenbrand Operating Model has been applied across the Coperion business. It draws heavily on automotive industry prac- tices and aims to improve efficiency, speed decision making, and develop the capabilities of employees. “We look to apply lean and to develop talent – we look at each individual and develop their skills to take them to the next level,” Bartel explains. “This has moved us from a good German machinery com- pany to a company that is data-driven. We make decisions on where to invest based on that data. We


www.compoundingworld.com


PHOTO: COPERION


PHOTO: COPERION


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