Technological watch

In conversation with: Nigel Baker, ENGEL UK

ENGEL UK is one of the key player’s in the UK’s injection moulding supply market. The official UK subsidiary for the Austrian IMM brand is headed by MD Nigel Baker. Dave Gray caught up with Nigel to talk trends, taxes, and tradeshows! × Engel Engel's newly expanded site at St Valentin, Austria

Dave Gray: So Nigel, how's business at ENGEL UK'

Nigel Baker: We closed our financial year at the end of March, and it looks likewe're going to post a healthy result again. We've just finalised our accounts, andit looks like we’ll see a good result. We were particularly delighted by the technical market – that sector has made a big contribution to our financial result. Packaging has done very well too, and then we've got the medical sector, which continues to be a strong focus for us, especially in Ireland.

Automotive remains quiet, however we’re starting to see some promising signsof an upturn in that area.

Dave Gray: That’s really encouraging. So those are the markets that are doingwell, but what are customers looking for lately in terms of technology'

Nigel Baker: The biggest trend is technology geared towards the circular economy. Energy consumption is always the big driver. I think we can all agree that the running costs of a new moulding machine are very similar from one brand to another.

We've got some pretty smart patents in our machines that do give our customers an advantage. But the running cost comparisons become very similar from brand-to-brand. So we've been looking at technological differentiators that give us and give our customers a competitive edge. The IQ products that we've got patented give us that result.

Dave Gray: On the subject of sustainability, I gather you have a recyclatepackage available now. What does that include, and what are the benefits'

Nigel Baker: There are various options in this package. As an example, if a customer asked us to do a study on a particular material that they wanted to work with, we can send it to our recycling department in Austria where we'll do an analysis, and then we'll give a recommended machine configuration to process that material.

We've got some great add-ons to the machines, including degassing, which enable recycled materials to be handled effectively. And those, in combination with iQ weight control, are particularly effective for processing recyclate.

Dave Gray: According to HMRC, the Plastics Packaging Tax is on course to exceed its first year target, meaning that processors are paying the tax rather than incorporating recyclate. The fact remains, there’s a paucity of quality recyclate around. Do you expect your recyclate package to become more popular in the UK, given these conditions'

Nigel Baker: I think we will do. Food packaging is still the problem, because ofissues with contamination. But if customers can’t avoid the tax, for example forfood-contact packaging as I mentioned, we have ways to help them save to offset that added burden. So at Interplas we'll be showing a 280 tonne e-speed machines running 2.8 seconds with rPET, which is a material that has traditionally been difficult to process with a thin-wall section.

Dave Gray: That should be really popular! And you sold your first Wintec machine in the UK last last year. Are these growing in popularity in the west' What could be driving that trend'

Nigel Baker: Well as you know, Wintec is part of the ENGEL Group. We made a strategic decision to bring Wintec into Europe, as before that the brand was just for the Chinese market.

 So, the idea was to be able to offer European customers a lower specification, high-quality machine - made in China, but with the blueprint of the renowned technology that's been developed in Austria. The interest in these machines has been overwhelming, and we have a 650 tonne Wintec here in our Warwick demonstration room for anyone who wants to come and see for themselves the technology and build quality.

Dave Gray: And you’ve just flown back from JEC World in Paris, whereENGEL has been exhibiting. What makes ENGEL a successful player in a fieldof composites'

Nigel Baker: It’s the resource behind the innovation. ENGEL has invested heavily into R&D for composite technologies, because it’s an important area for us. So as a result of that, we've become a recognised technology leader in new formats, and composites is one that we've been heavily involved with for quite a number of years now.

Dave Gray: What else is ENGEL known for in the UK, besides mouldingmachines'

Nigel Baker: Well, we do have our automation arm as well. And we also have trusted mouldmakers that we work with too. So we can help build packages to help clients make their products in the most economical way. We also recently started acting as the UK agency for HB Therm, the Swiss temperature control manufacturer, so we really can help customers to build full solutions.

We’re also keen to do our bit for the future of the UK industry: we've just got budget approval for two more apprentices, so we’ll have four apprentices within our business. These individuals will be four of the next service engineers for the future of our industry.

Additionally, we’ve invested in some power analysers and we're, offering free energy checks on power consumption of older machinery. This is available to existing and new customers, and it gives them a great insight into what they can save by investing in new machinery – which is especially important in the current climate.

Dave Gray: And you’ve already touched on this, but what else will ENGEL be bringing to Interplas this year'

Nigel Baker: We feel it's really important to demonstrate to the market our service support offering. So we’ll have a customer service department expert corner, where we'll present all the aftersales products that we can offer our customers to give them added security in helping them get the best out of their machinery.

Dave Gray: Finally Nigel, where is ENGEL’s future investment going' What’sthe next big technology'

Nigel Baker: We’re still investing heavily in our version of Industry 4.0, which we call Inject 4.0. That includes the iQ products I've already spoken about. Our aftersales teams are now starting to offer expert view goggles to customers. So, if a customer needs some help in optimizing the machine or process set up, or even intervention/repair, they can put their expert view goggles on, and that customer becomes the eyes and ears for our service teams. So, they can then guide them step-by-step through the process. That’s all part of our continued investment in futuristic technologies and customer service.

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Publication date: 09/06/2023

European Plastic Product Manufacturer

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31