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VDMA: For manufacturers sustainability does not only mean energy efficiency

Blue Competence starts with plastics and rubber machinery

Frankfurt, 17 October 2012 – This year's Fakuma, to be held in Friedrichshafen from 16 to 20 October 2012, will for the first time see plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers appearing under the banner of the VDMA's Blue Competence sustainability initiative. Nearly 40 member companies of the VDMA association are already partners in this initiative, and many of them will also be exhibiting at Fakuma. "As plant and machinery manufacturers, we have a responsibility to enable converters to use energy and raw materials efficiently, creating the technological basis for sustainable finished products," said Ulrich Reifenhäuser, Chairman of the Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association, at the industry launch of Blue Competence.

Plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers have a long tradition of living up to this responsibility. Their involvement in Blue Competence is a clear indication of this. "The industry's production efficiency has doubled in the last 20 years, while at the same time machine-related energy consumption has fallen by one third. As a EUROMAP study shows, the energy efficiency forecasts are also indicative of the way ahead: there is the potential for a further 20 per cent saving in machine-related energy consumption by the year 2020," explained Thorsten Kühmann, the Association's Managing Director. At today's Blue Competence press event at the Friedrichshafen Exhibition Centre, experts from VDMA member companies will discuss the main elements of their approach to sustainability:

Energy measurement standards for transparency

New European legislation and the clearly formulated requirements of our customers make it essential that the energy consumption of plastics and rubber machinery should be transparent and hence open to comparison. In the area of injection moulding machines, the new version of EUROMAP 60 on machinerelated energy measurement, which is due to appear at the end of this year, will offer a more workable solution for improving measurement results. "The ability to distinguish between machine-related and product-related energy measurement will enable us to meet both political targets and customer demands," said Dr. Karlheinz Bourdon, Vice President Technologies of KraussMaffei Technologies GmbH, Munich. Apart from the continuous further development of machine technology, KraussMaffei sees enormous potential in particular in integrated processes for the cost-effective and resource-efficient manufacture of plastics components with high-grade premium surfaces, for example. "This is confirmed by the high level of demand for our one-shot processes such as ColorForm, SkinForm or CoverForm – processes with which we have set benchmarks in the industry," Dr. Bourdon added.

Sustainability begins with machinery manufacture

But for many plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers, sustainability begins well before converters put their plant and machinery into operation. For the company ARBURG GmbH & Co KG in Lossburg, for example, the focus is not only on economic machinery technology but also on sustainable production that conserves resources. "Our production site uses renewable energies such as wind power, solar energy, innovative heating and cooling systems and geothermics. For both our own production processes and those of our customers, economic, high-quality production automatically means using fewer raw materials as well as less energy and generating less waste," stressed Helmut Heinson, ARBURG's Managing Director.

Recycling for more efficient use of resources

With resources becoming increasingly scarce and more expensive, both plastics recycling and alternative materials are also gaining in importance. Ulrich Reifenhäuser, managing partner of REIFENHÄUSER GMBH & Co. KG, Troisdorf, illustrates this by using the example of wood plastic composites:
"Adding up to 80 per cent wood flour in the manufacturing process saves expensive plastics raw materials when making WPC products. What is more, WPC products can be recycled several times over without loss of quality – thanks to the technologies behind them."

Sustainability must pay

For Dr. Peter Neumann, Chairman of the Board of ENGEL AUSTRIA GmbH in Schwertberg (Austria), sustainability is quite clearly a matter of efficient management: "Sustainability also means cost-effectiveness. If we are to make a contribution to improving the quality of life by showing social and ecological responsibility, as businessmen our primary responsibility is to safeguard the future of our manufacturing sites. We will only succeed in doing that by remaining competitive in the long term. And that in turn means developing solutions that meet the technological requirements in the best possible way, that are ecologically and socially acceptable and at the same time also make financial sense for our customers. The use of all-electric injection moulding machines for high-performance applications in the packaging industry, for example, can significantly cut energy consumption and at the same time reduce unit costs." This injection moulding machinery manufacturer draws its capacity for innovation from its highly skilled workforce. Knowledge and training are therefore among the company's most important resources. "For years now, ENGEL has actively encouraged cooperation with schools and universities. The company has, for example, played a key role in establishing the chair of plastics engineering at Linz University."

You can find our latest film on Blue Competence: "Less Energy – More Effect:

Energy Efficiency of Plastics and Rubber Machinery" on the VDMA TV Webbox


VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery
Thorsten Kühmann
Lyoner Str. 18, D-60528 Frankfurt/Main
Tel. + 49 69 6603 1831, Fax + 49 69 6603 2831