Industrial sector raising the bar on sustainability and climate protec
Saving is always a good thing in and of itself, but now it’s the planet we need to save – by reducing CO2 emissions and non-recyclable waste. Which is why sustainability and climate protection rank alongside lightweight construction, AI and Industry 4.0 as core topics at HANNOVER MESSE 2020. Companies from all industries are now moving towards carbon-neutral production and circular economy business models.20 Feb 2020
The lead theme of HANNOVER MESSE 2020 is Industrial Transformation. It stands for transformation in more senses than just the ubiquitous one of digitalization, because many companies are also making major changes on the sustainability and climate protection front. Salzgitter, Jäger Gummi und Kunststoff, Arburg and Stüken are all cases in point. These companies will all be presenting their approaches to CO2 and waste reduction at the Engineered Parts & Solutions showcase.
Salzgitter: Recycling miracle steel and the SALCOS project
Steel is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to sustainability. Steel production is, it must be said, unavoidably energy-intensive. But it also has a number of characteristics that lend themselves particularly well to circular economy business models. It is strong and long-lasting and is 100 percent recyclable without any loss of quality. Some 50 percent of all crude steel produced in Germany today comes from recycled scrap steel. According to the German Steel Federation (WV Stahl), steel recycling saves more than 20 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in Germany every year. "When it comes to the sustainability performance of a given resource, you absolutely have to view the resource over its entire lifecycle," says Dr. Jens Traupe, the head of German steel producer Salzgitter AG's Environmental Protection and Energy Policy department. "In many environmental performance analyses, that's something that gets overlooked, unfortunately. Steel is actually the only industrial material that is endlessly recyclable." That is one of the key messages that Salzgitter AG will be seeking to get across at HANNOVER MESSE. Another sustainability-related focus of the Salzgitter Group's presence at HANNOVER MESSE will be SALCOS, a far-reaching project for decarbonization in primary steel production. The project is specific to Salzgitter's own plants, but in principle has applications in any steelworks. In simple terms, the focus of the project is on using hydrogen, rather than carbon, to drive off oxygen in iron direct reduction because this would lead to the formation of water, rather than carbon dioxide, as a by-product. The SALCOS project also envisages the use of green electricity, rather than carbon-containing energy sources, to generate the process heat necessary for the production and downstream processing of iron. SALCOS technologies thus have the potential to avoid up to 95 percent of the CO2 emissions generated by current steel production technologies. For the past five years, Salzgitter has been working with key stakeholders to put in place the political, social and commercial frameworks necessary for the implementation of the project and the commercially viable operation of SALCOS. There are no technological barriers in the way of implementation. This year, Salzgitter will once again be leveraging HANNOVER MESSE to garner German and international political support for SALCOS – and will presumably encounter a more receptive audience than ever before.
Jäger Gummi und Kunststoff: Always mindful of sustainability
Jäger Gummi und Kunststoff, a major supplier of technical components made of rubber and plastics, will be using its display in Hall 23 at HANNOVER MESSE to highlight what it is doing to help its customers meet their obligations under Germany's CSR reporting legislation. "Jäger keeps a close watch on economic, environmental and social sustainability criteria in its product development, production and procurement activities," said Dr. Andreas Jäger, CEO of Jäger Gummi und Kunststoff GmbH . The fact that rubber and plastics processing is inherently energy-intensive and emits relatively high levels of CO2 is not lost on him. "But, owing to their unique characteristics, our materials are indispensable to a whole range of technical applications," he said. With that in mind, his company uses intelligent product design to ensure that these materials are used sparingly. It is also working to minimize the energy inputs required for processing and reduce process waste. Jäger will be exhibiting an example of this at its stand – a new and less cost-intensive rubber-metal conveyor belt roller developed in response to a customer's request for cost savings. Jäger's experts took the customer's request as an opportunity to analyze the product requirements from an ecological standpoint and develop various environmentally optimized product designs. By intelligently substituting new materials for the ones previously used, Jäger's engineers were able to reduce the heating time required during production, thereby conserving energy and reducing CO2 emissions. "At Jäger, we do more than just supply parts and components. We analyze our customers' processes from start to finish and rethink existing challenges," Dr. Jäger said. "That translates into products that have longer service lives and require fewer material inputs as well as production processes that emit less CO2."
Arburg: A comprehensive program for resource efficiency and circular economy
Arburg, a leading manufacturer of injection molding machines for plastics processing, is a prime example of how sustainability and digitalization can feed off each other. "Lightweight construction offers significant potential for improved resource efficiency and carbon footprint reduction. Along with circular economy, these two key challenges – resource efficiency and CO2 reduction – are fundamental to our ‘arburgGREENworld' sustainability program," said Managing Director Gerhard Böhm. "Digitalization, the other megatrend of our age, is also a key enabler of sustainability. At HANNOVER MESSE, we will therefore be profiling our ‘arburgXworld' program, which encompasses all of our digital products and services."
With its twin focus on sustainability and digitalization, Arburg is able to provide answers to important and pressing questions relating to plastics processing and use. Its arburgGREENworld program is aimed at increasing customer-side production efficiency and comprises the four sub-programs: GREENmachine (efficient and resource-friendly injection molding machinery), GREENproduction (innovative methods and integrated processes for resource-friendly production), GREENservices (services, advice and know-how transfer) and GREENenvironment (Arburg's own internal processes for resource efficiency and circular economy). Under the GREENenvironment model, all of Arburg's machinery production is based at a single location – the town of Lossburg in Germany. Arburg thus has a very small carbon footprint compared with companies that have different location philosophies. Factors contributing to this include efficient logistics operations, a high proportion of in-house production, environmentally friendly processes and the use of natural resources and renewable energy.
Stüken: A deep-drawing technology that's easy on the environment
Stüken is used to leading the way. For example, as the world's leading provider of solutions for high-precision deep-drawn metal parts, it sets new standards in terms of quality and possibilities. "But that's not enough for us," said CEO Dr. Hubert Schmidt. "We have been active in the environmental protection space for a long time. Environmental considerations are a key factor in everything we do, and in every decision we make." The Rinteln, Germany-based company is committed to making optimal use of resources and minimizing material consumption in its deep drawing, stamping and forming operations. Deep drawing is especially important in this regard because it uses less raw material than other processes. Moreover, deep drawing does not use environmentally harmful substances like lead. "At Stüken, we are about more than just compliance with laws and standards," Schmidt explained. "All external partners operating in our plants and general sphere of influence are made aware of our environmental policy and are integrated into our environmental management systems. We partner with our customers and suppliers to explore measures and solutions for eco-friendly product design, disposal, packaging and transportation." The deep-drawing specialist makes sparing use of raw materials, water and energy and continuously monitors, analyzes and evaluates its products, processes and procedures. The company also finds alternatives to hazardous substances wherever possible, reduces its waste and wastewater output and optimizes its recycling. In addition, the company's R&D department is continually working on innovative ways to improve environmental performance. And it is getting results, as Schmidt explains: "We are trialing new types of materials that enable us to deliver the exacting strength and wear characteristics that our customers require of our deep-drawn parts, but without post-production heat treatment. That avoids the energy consumption associated with conventional hardening processes and thus completely eliminates the associated CO2 emissions."
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