K2013: Reifenhäuser steps up R&D with EUR20 m investment

German extrusion machine maker Reifenhäuser is investing EUR20 million in R&D to expand its capabilities at its Troisdorf site by about 30%. The technology centre will be expanded to 5,000 sq m, in time for the K2013 exhibition in October, said Ulrich Reifenhäuser, the company's Managing Director, at a pre-K preview in July. He also said that 10% of its sales went towards R&D.

With this expansion, the family-owned company bundles all its R&D activities for extruders, blown film lines, cast film lines, WPC lines, and nonwoven lines in two laboratory buildings at the Troisdorf site. A total of ten high-tech production lines with more than 50 extruders and an annual capacity of 60,000 tonnes will be available exclusively for R&D. Reifenhäuser also offers its developers, customers and partners two laboratories fully equipped for analyses and materials testing. Reifenhäuser said the R&D is the only way to be a leader in technology. "We have created ideal conditions for R&D at our Troisdorf site. Our technology centres are the largest in the world for this industry." As such, the firm has to keep up with its technology leadership and it will introduce some of the latest equipment at the upcoming K show, including the Evolution Ultra Flat system for flattening blown films; a Smart air management system and a new gearbox system, produced jointly with the biggest German motor company. Not to be outdone is a new extruder, being kept tightly under wraps. "It will feature an Energizer screw that will avoid useless energy input, increase output by 20% and reduce melt temperature by as much as 20°C, without compromising melt quality or output,” revealed Reifenhäuser.

On the business front, it garnered EUR450 million sales last year, which "was successful, with good returns made against a shaky environment," said CEO Bernd Reifenhäuser. "We have had growth in China and Asia over the last three years, with good order income in South America; and business is picking up in the US," he said. However, Bernd noted that sales this year are not expected to hit the high notes of 2011/2012.

Noting that the purchase of extrusion firm Kiefel was a "tremendous success story", Bernd didn't discount any further purchases, adding, "We have to think of a long term strategy. It is important to have the right structure and right capital and a clear path is organic growth and through acquisitions. Yes, we are looking for partners/mergers that have the right fit/synergy with the company. We have the financial muscle to acquire so will look at the right acquisitions."


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