Belisce, Croatia--ThyssenKrupp Elastomertechnik (TKE) has sold its 500th tyre curing press from its factory in Belisce, Croatia. The company held a ceremony at the plant to mark the event. (see photo)
ThyssenKrupp said the press was destined for Goodyear's Fulda factory in Germany, one of an order of 115 presses ordered by Goodyear central purchasing in 2004.
The Belisce factory employs 335 people, and now makes all of TKE's tyre curing presses, as well as ancillary equipment for many ThyssenKrupp product lines. The company's curing press business has recovered strongly since the Belisce plant opened in 1998. Gunter Simon, member of the TKE board, said the company is very happy with the choice of Belisce in the Eastern Croatian region of Slavonia. The company is expanding the plant as fast as it can, but, according to Simon, the Belisce plant is approaching the optimum size. He said the ideal size of this kind of operation i around 400 people. Above that and the management process becomes more complex, he said.
Because the curing press business has improved so quickly following the decision to move manufacturing out of Germany and into Croatia, Simon said, that has slowed the process of transferring other tasks out to Croatia.
TKE divides its operations into three broad catogories. The critical components such as mixer rotors, extruder heads and hard facing are done in Germany, while most of the mid-technology equipment is built in Belisce. This includes machine frames for tyre building machines, extruder screws, curing presses, chutes and suchlike. The remaining ancillary equipment is outsourced, said Simon.
A natural progression, said Simon would be to move some curing press manufacture to China or India, and use the spare capacity in Belisce to take someof the less complicated but critical functions away from Germany. Nevertheless, said Simon, â€œyou should not underestimate the transfer process. It is far from easyâ€