¦ New moulder sales picked up in 2010.
¦ Refurbished and rebuilt machines sold well in the recession and remain popular.
¦ Leadermac has launched its first model with HSK tooling.
¦ AMS’s Typhoon features UK technical input.
¦ Weinig has introduced an oscillating spindle option.
¦ SCM’s SETUP/2 system on its Superset moulder cuts tool change times.
¦ Kuper moulders from DaltonsWadkin are made in Taiwan to European Standards.

“Some of the fun is back in being on the road selling,” said Colin Simmons, SCM’s solid wood area sales manager.

He was referring to sales of planer/moulders and his perspective on the market was shared by other suppliers.

Moulders may not be flying off the shelf, he said, but market sentiment is better than 2009, with enquiries strongest in joinery.

“The key is customer confidence – if manufacturers have just a couple of weeks’ orders, they’ll think twice about a new moulder, if they’ve got several months’ they may consider it – and this does seem to have improved.”

According to Steve McGloin of Advanced Machinery Services (AMS), potential moulder customers continue to find business tight. “Merchants are still saying times are tough and joinery companies tell us their sales into construction still aren’t where they were three years ago, plus they’re facing rising cheap imports,” he said.

Against this backdrop, he added, AMS is not surprised its moulder rebuild service has done well. “We’re offering the benefits of new machines at 65% of the cost and our capacity is sold out to June,” said Mr McGloin.

DaltonsWadkin’s rebuild operation has also been busy through the downturn, focused principally on Wadkin moulders. “For instance, we’ve just completed refurbishment of a Wadkin 6-Head FBN moulder and a GA model with heavy-duty feed for a Scottish customer,” said director Francis Dalton.

That said, both AMS and DaltonsWadkin also report they’re getting interest and approaches for new moulders.

Weinig’s sales manager Malcolm Cuthbertson also described 2010 as a “lot better”. “After a strong first quarter, the second and third were quieter, but they were followed by a very good fourth,” he said. “Overall we’re up around 20%.”

Increased market share

Managing director Kevin Wright said the last 12 months had been “steady” at Leadermac UK, but that the company’s market share had increased and he pointed to a number of significant sales. These included a six-spindle Compact 631 model to London engineered flooring producer Ardern Hodges, a 60m/min, 310mm Speedmac 631 to James Donaldson’s Chorley site and a Compact 623 to Parker Kislingbury in Brill. “We also sold a 450x350mm capacity Planermac to Qatar Oil & Gas, possibly one of the largest five-spindle machines we’ve supplied,” said Mr Wright.

Leadermac, like other manufacturers, said that the stress from customers through the recession has been squarely on value for money, but interestingly several said recent market improvement has been strongest in bigger, high output machines.

“That’s possibly down to the fact that when the bigger companies need a new moulder to replace an old machine or meet demand, they have to buy one,” said Mr Simmons. “Smaller companies considering an entry level model can make do and mend with what they’ve got, be it an older moulder or classical machine.”

While moulder sales might have slowed during the downturn, one thing that clearly didn’t was product development, and now customer confidence is reviving, suppliers have a range of innovations to tempt them to sign on the dotted line.


The big news from AMS is, naturally, the Typhoon, which was unveiled at October’s W10 exhibition. This bruiser, which weighs in at 12,200kg, is made by Taiwanese producer Gau Jing, but Mr McGloin emphasised that it is “very much specified” to UK requirements.

“Design director Steve Foster and I were closely involved in the process and the machine contains a lot of our ideas,” he said.

The Typhoon on display at W10 was a six-head configuration with a 220hp motor and feed speeds up to 100m/min. What “stopped customers in their tracks”, said Mr McGloin, was its solidity and by the end of the show AMS had “six serious enquiries”.

“The weight and sheer build quality create a very stable working platform,” he said. “But with all its weight and power – and it has 200mm feed roll diameters against the usual 140mm – setting is still very easy, as is maintenance, with excellent access to the back of the machine.”

AMS backs the Typhoon with a comprehensive spare parts and maintenance service, with its 14 engineers fully trained up on the machine. It is offering the model in 60m/min-200m/min and four to 14-head variants, starting at £88,000, with options including ice-cooled beds and fences for running at high speeds. Further ahead the company may also take on other models from Gau Jing, which has over 100 installations across Europe.

“Currently the UK market is dominated by two big players,” said Mr McGloin. “Our aim is too offer a third alternative.”

AMS also represents Ledinek of Slovenia. Its machines are now available with feed speeds up to 800m/min and Mr McGloin believes a 1,000m/min capability “is not far away”. He doesn’t envisage this kind of machine being taken up in the UK or Ireland, but AMS has supplied six 200m/min models and sees prospects for selling more of this type.

Powermat range

Among latest developments from Weinig is a new 600mm working width variant in the Powermat range, equipped with quick-set HSK tooling. This compares with the previous maximum of 350mm and suits the model to complex contours and “creative machining”.

Another innovation, which can be fitted to a range of Weinig moulders, is an oscillating spindle that creates a random finish. It’s a £12,000 option which can also be retrofitted.

“This is for users who want a structured surface, such as character flooring producers,” said Mr Cuthbertson. “The previous approach was to use a large circumference embossing wheel, but that produces a repeat pattern. The oscillating spindle never repeats and can vary the depth as well as the pattern of the finish.”

Weinig is additionally offering energy saving ‘soft-start’ and ‘self-learning’ motors.

“Conventional motors pull a lot of power at start-up and can push you into expensive peak demand, while soft start evens the flow,” said Mr Cuthbertson. “The self-learning motor system responds to the weight of the cutter head, so more power is applied to the electrical braking for heavy tools and less for lighter, extending motor life and saving electricity.”


Among recent developments at SCM have been greater levels of automation and new control systems. For instance, the NTE version of the 6-12m/min Sintex features automatic CNC control of height and width settings. The £8,000-9,000 machine, which has 12mm moulding capacity for the left vertical spindle, is designed for smaller workshops and merchant mills and as a secondary moulder for bigger processors.

SCM has also introduced an NTE variant in its Compact range with a new design of pressure shoes, fences and exhaust hoods “for maximum machining precision”.

Meanwhile, besides HSK tooling, the top-end Superset NT range now includes an application to automate horizontal position of the feed wheels which, working with traditional and T-Set tools is claimed to offer HSK-level changeover speeds. It also now features the SETUP/2 system which, when tool diameter is changed, moves the shaft in respect to the feed system, chip breaker, pressure shoe and digital readout.

“That means just one alteration rather than the four or five you’d make conventionally, so tool changeover takes a third of the time,” said Mr Simmons.

Features highlighted by DaltonsWadkin on its latest range of Kuper planer moulders, which runs from 4-head models to “heavy-duty specifications incorporating up to 12 cutterheads”, include automatic jointers, PLC controls, automatic cutter head settings, and feed rates up to 200m/min.

“These machines are based on main frame and mechanical constituents from Taiwan, but use all German electrics, control systems and factory settings, so they meet European standards,” said director Francis Dalton. “Among latest orders is a new Kuper 6-Head SWT23XL for a customer in southern England, incorporating touch-screen controls, extra high-capacity motors, 7,200rpm spindle speeds and 2m straightening. We’ve also recently supplied a fencing company with a five-head SWT23XL with short infeed, touch-screen control and chrome beds.”

The big launch from Leadermac is uPower, its first model with HSK tool holder technology.

“We demonstrated this at W10, directly linking the control to our tool measuring stand so the tools were automatically positioned and set ready to run,” said Mr Wright.

Innovation ahead

Looking ahead, moulder suppliers are not expecting a return to pre-crunch business levels in the short term, but they promise still more innovation to continue to drive sales.

Significantly, next year Weinig is undertaking a strategic rebrand of its moulder range, dividing products between Powerline or Uniline stables. The idea, said Mr Cuthbertson, is to reflect the needs of different customer sectors and the company’s manufacturing strategy.

“In car-making terms, the Powerline range is Rolls Royce,” he said. “They’re all German-made and will be tailored to the precise requirements of the user, whether that’s processing large sections at very high speed, or making pencils!”

Uniline, he added, is finished and designed in Germany, but made in Weinig’s Chinese plant.

“These are the equivalent of a Ford; providing plenty of options, but essentially based on standard models priced at 30-40% less than current comparable Weinig machines,” said Mr Cuthbertson.

And, intriguingly, AMS is “working on a longer-term project to develop an entirely new concept”. “It’s a different idea that could change the whole philosophy of moulding,” said Mr McGloin. “Watch this space!”