Engel: Back on growth course
On 22 June 2021, Engel gave an optimistic outlook for the current fiscal year. "Our order books are as full as they last were in 2018", said CEO Dr. Stefan Engleder. "We have genuinely sky-rocketed out of the crisis." At the same time, new challenges await the injection moulding machine manufacturer and system solution provider from Austria, above all the current supply bottlenecks in raw materials and components. "We have evolved during the crisis," said Engleder. "We will master the challenges that lie ahead well."
According to the company, the change came about in November 2020. Even demand from the automotive industry picked up again after two very difficult years. As a result, the 2020/2021 fiscal year came to a conciliatory end. With 6,400 employees around the world, the Engel Group generated EUR 1.1 billion in sales revenues. Although sales revenues again fell compared to the previous year with a minus of 15 %, Engel is expecting growth again for the current fiscal year. "If the upward trend consolidates, growth in the order of up to 20 % is realistic," said CSO Dr. Christoph Steger.
The regional distribution of sales at the end of the 2020/2021 fiscal year reflects the impact of the crisis. Europe contributed 45 % of Group sales revenues, well below the previous year's share of 54 %. The Americas accounted for 30 % – compared to 25 % the year before – and Asia for 23 %, compared to 20 % the year before. "The Americas and Asia – and China in particular – were the first to see the economy pick up again, and strongly," said Steger. "But meanwhile, Europe is also clearly back on track."
There were also shifts in the distribution of sales by business line. The Technical Moulding Division in particular saw significant growth. Technical Moulding includes the domestic products, sports, games and leisure segments, which experienced increased demand worldwide during the Corona pandemic. There was also further growth in the Medical business unit. Plastic products are making an important contribution to the fight against the pandemic. Engel has processed Covid-19-related orders with higher priority since the beginning of the pandemic.
"Plastics are and will remain the material of the future – this is reflected in the strong and, above all, fast-growing demand," said Steger. Although the strong order situation gives rise to optimism, there is still a degree of uncertainty that makes planning difficult. "We have to be prepared for markets becoming more volatile and demanding more flexibility from us." "We have geared up for crises," said Stefan Engleder. "Our global production network, and the stronger focus on decentralised expertise in sales, service and processing engineering help us to act in a versatile way."
The Corona pandemic has not been defeated, the Engel Managing Directors emphasised. Lockdowns in individual countries, and travel restrictions with quarantine rules are still making daily business difficult. But the biggest challenge at the moment is delivery bottlenecks in raw materials and components. "The supply situation will see us face a couple of challenges in the next few months", said Engleder. Although Engel is able to ensure global delivery capability thanks to its international network of plants and the dual-sourcing strategy established several years ago, the cost gap is continuing to widen. The markets are overheated, and rising inflation is aggravating this effect", said Engleder. "This will also have an impact on prices in machine manufacturing."
The innovation and growth drivers currently include three major topics in particular: sustainability, digitalisation and the transformation of the automobile. All three areas are closely interlinked. "Sustainability only works with digitalisation" was the core message of this year's Engel live e-symposium, which was held from 22 – 24 June 2021. "Digitalisation helps us to leverage the full potential of the injection moulding machine, and to make production more efficient and sustainable by doing so," said Stefan Engleder. "If we genuinely make use of digitalisation, the CO2 reduction targets set by politicians will suddenly no longer seem impossible." With innovative products and technologies, Engel makes an important contribution towards building up a circular economy for plastics, and this in turn plays an essential role in improving sustainability in the plastics industry.
Sustainable mobility, in turn, is the driver for transformation in the automotive industry. Regardless of which alternative drive technology prevails in the long term, the proportion of plastics in automobiles will continue to rise. Lightweight remains a key prerequisite for sustainable mobility and requires innovative injection moulding solutions, said the company.
Innovative strength is an important basis for success, especially in challenging times, and the springboard when the economy picks up again. "We have continued to pursue our development goals with undiminished vigour over the past year and a half," said Engleder. Each year, Engel invests EUR 70 million in research and development. In the inventor rankings published annually by the Austrian Patent Office, Engel is consistently among the top ten companies with the most patent applications. In the latest report for 2020, Engel ranks fourth. "Our products, technologies and solutions, put us in an excellent position to optimally meet our customers' current and future requirements," said Engleder. "Together, we will master the challenges that lie ahead well."