Underlining its commitment to supporting its growing Irish customer base, injection moulding specialist Sumitomo (SHI) Demag has opened a service and support office in Limerick, Ireland. Senior support engineer Kris Thacker (pictured) recently relocated to head up the new office, providing customers in Northern and Southern Ireland with on-the-ground preventative and reactive machine maintenance and troubleshooting support.
With a large proportion of customers in precision markets, such as medical and electronic components and packaging, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag recognised the need to provide access to high-level, in-country technical support for its installed base of predominantly all-electric machines.
According to Polymer Technology Ireland, the polymer sector currently comprises 230 enterprises employing 7,000 people. With major R&D and manufacturing hubs in Athlone, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Dublin, Cork and Waterford, and annual exports exceeding €1.62 billion, the Covid-19 pandemic is anticipated to further strengthen Ireland’s medical polymer value chain, suggests Sumitomo (SHI) Demag UK Managing Director Nigel Flowers.
Nigel comments: “The polymer knowledge pool and maturity of the market in Ireland means it is well placed to take advantage of future economic opportunities. Being part of the Eurozone will clearly be an export advantage. Additionally, Ireland has attracted a large number of multinational organisations in recent years, especially clusters of US pharma, technology and electronic firms with their EMEA operations located here. Continuing investment shows no sign of slowing.”
Establishing an Irish office is also part of a post-Brexit insulation strategy that will moderate any potential concerns Irish moulders may have about dealing with a UK machinery supplier. A permanent in-country service and support base will, for example, facilitate timely spare parts sourcing and trading in euros without incurring hefty exchange fees.
Having long served the Irish market, at the end of 2018 Sumitomo (SHI) Demag appointed material handling and dosing specialist TSM Control Systems as its machine sales agent. Since then, the partnership has made significant inroads into the injection moulding market – which purchases approximately 200 machines every year, of which 60% are all electric models.
“The dominance of medical plastic injection moulding in the Irish market means there is high demand for cleanroom specification, all electric machines. TSM has an excellent reputation in Ireland for sales and commissioning, but we recognised the need to underpin that with advanced technical support and a very swift turnaround on parts. The appointment of Kris to head up our new service and support office guarantees a more timely response,” explains Nigel.
Stephen Glancy at TSM also anticipates that the effect of Brexit on the polymer processing sector will be far less damaging than for other sectors. “We firmly believe that Ireland’s talent base and supportive infrastructure will continue to make Ireland very attractive to inward investment, especially in medical and biotechology R&D,” comments Stephen.
Sumitomo (SHI) Demag has also committed further investment in the Applied Polymer Technologies (APT) centre to support Irish plastic processors with their research, product development, tool testing and validation projects. A new cleanroom IntElect is now installed. Available to Northern and Republic-based polymer manufacturers and innovators to perform trials and de-risk projects, the centre also serves as a hand-on customer training and demonstration facility.
“Until now, our Irish customers have had to travel to the UK for mould trials, training and machinery demonstrations. With the APT centre and a dedicated service and support office, they can now access everything they need locally. Given the current travel restrictions, this will continue to be hugely beneficial and more responsive and resource efficient,” adds Kris.