Established in 1988, Gunther UK has been supplying precision products from a portfolio of high quality manufacturers ever since, becoming one of the leading hot runner suppliers in the UK and Ireland. Sales Director Reiner Heendeniya joined the company shortly after it was founded, and has now been with the company for over 27 years. He is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…
What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Gunther respond?
Setting aside the hot topic of recyclable and bio-degradable plastics I believe we will continue to face major challenges from low cost economies for injection mould tools. To combat this, we should look at how we can produce high quality moulds that cycle faster and are more energy efficient than those from abroad, i.e. improve productivity. Gunther are already leading the way in energy efficient hot runner systems with our thick-film BlueFlow® nozzles which use approximately half the energy of many of our competitors. This thick-film heater technology was developed in-house at Gunther over a number of years and is part of the Gunther philosophy of innovation and continuous product development.
Conformal cooling is another hot topic currently as companies try to increase productivity with faster cycle times. Over the years mould cooling has possibly been overlooked at times but by having optimum cooling you can be assured of achieving the best possible cycle time (average saving around 30%). The knock-on effect of faster moulds of course is also reduced energy costs, I see this as a definite growth area for the future.
Micro moulding is a sector where the industry can specialise and grow in the UK and Ireland, moulds for very small technical parts need specialist and innovative solutions for tooling and gating and Gunther have already directly valve gated parts as small as 0.004g which is in the realms of micro injection moulding. Specialist areas like this are where toolmakers and moulders can capitalise by offering the expertise and experience which newer markets may not possess.
Digitization is of course already a fast developing technology and new software options will continue to develop to stabilise, monitor and analyse machine performance. There are a number of different options already available on the market such as data monitoring and pressure sensors and our newer temperature controllers will have software that can interface with these.
How has Gunther developed during your tenure?
Although he retired in 2003, my father started the business in 1988 as the first UK/Ireland representative for a small hot runner company, Guenther Heisskanaltechnik, who then only offered systems in 5 Volts and had perhaps 30 employees. Gunther Germany now have no low voltage systems, employ approximately 240 people, have representation in over 40 countries and are one of the key manufacturers worldwide. During the worldwide financial problems in 2008 I decided to increase our product portfolio and have since added three other high-quality German manufacturers who sit comfortably alongside the marketing of hot runner systems. We now offer standard and special mould components from KNARR, conformal cooling, including the variothermal process, from CONTURA and fully machined bolsters from FERROFACTA. This product range means we can now offer a true one-stop-shop for injection mould tooling.
What do you credit as the key to your success?
Relationships without a doubt, I like to think of customers more as partners and strongly believe that all parties working together is the key to any successful injection moulding project. Many of our relationships have lasted a very long time and the first toolmaker we supplied 30 years ago is still a customer to this day which is something I am proud of. I have also learnt that expert technological solutions and high quality often beat a cheap price.
What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
We had our best ever year in 2007 so the above mention financial crash of 2008 was certainly a challenge for all of us, thankfully we were able to ride the storm and continue to grow the UK business.
What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an Apprentice joining now?
It was such a long time ago that I can’t remember though some of it must have stuck with me! For anyone entering the industry now I would say you need a broad but in-depth scope of knowledge and understanding across different disciplines, learn from each experience (good or bad) and be nice to people on your way up as you might meet them on your way down!
What hidden talents do you have?
I had deluded aspirations to play professional cricket as a youngster, then I discovered girls and pubs…