Bolstered by record sales figures for 2012, reported Thorsten Kühmann, Managing Director VDMA, the industry has put 2009, year of crisis, well behind it and is now looking to pastures new. One of them is the Bluecompetence initiative. Hitherto, some 40 participants have been involved out of a total of 210 VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery members. For Thorsten Kühmann, this is by no means the end of the story. ”We expect that arounda third of the total number of 210 members will support Bluecompetence all the way up to K”. With this initiative the participating engineering companies are keen to demonstrate that they are bringing together all their combined know-how with the aim of focusing on how to overcome economic, ecological and social challenges. Kühmann went on: “Over the past 20 years, the sector has doubled its production capacity, while at the same time the machine-specific consumption of energy has fallen by a third”. According to a Euromap study, a further 20% of energy savings could be achieved by 2020.
On the occasion of Fakuma in the autumn of last year Ulrich Reifenhäuser, CEO at Reifenhäuser , stressed that, for him, promoting and getting the best out of employees forms a part of this. Dr Peter Neumann, CEO Engel, agreed; for him sustainability goes hand in hand with prosperity. Without prosperity there can be no sustainability. For this injection moulding machine manufacturer, innovative strength stems from highly qualified and motivated employees. Knowledge and training represent some of the company’s most vital resources.
Dr Karlheinz Bourdon, Vice President Technologies at KraussMaffei, welcomed the initiative. “With the new version of the Euromap 60 for machine specific energy measurement, we have a more practical solution for improving the measuring results. By differentiating between machine-/product-related energy measurement we can satisfy both political guidelines and our customers’ requirements,“ he concluded.
For Helmut Heinson, Managing Director at Arburg, saving energy in the plastics manufacturing process is key. “At our facility, we make use of renewable energies such as wind power, solar electricity, innovative heating and cooling systems and geothermal energy. The reason is simple. Whether in our own production processes or those at our customers‘, economical and high quality production automatically means less consumption of raw materials, less energy usage and less waste.”
As we approach the K-Fair the pace of activity will start to hot up. Each participating company will provide a success story to enable the industry to gauge how well companies are implementing the initiative. Ideally, this will generate a customer report detailing the extent to which the plant is sustainable. However, it may also be a description of their own activities.
Sustainability is, of course, not the be all and end all as far as member firms are concerned. Sales are. Here, things are looking up. Overall the VDMA members are reporting strong sales. An excellent 2008 was followed by a dip in 2009, with some companies reporting a 30% slump in sales. Others fared worse. 2011 surprised everyone, with results up even on 2008. The results for 2012 have been truly exceptional with sales amounting to a record €6bn, 6% up on 2011, and the best figures ever achieved.