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Sustainability |

installation, but at life cycle costs. If an ultra-modern plant has comparatively low running costs because it uses much less energy than conventional machinery, for example, and if that plant will operate reliably for decades, in the end that is better than buying a cheap alternative,” Zimmermann says. If you consider sustainability to mean taking a long

term view of production quality and efficiency, then sustainability has been part of the machinery industry for decades, says Michael Baumeister, COO of technol- ogy and logistics at film equipment producer Brückner. “Our customers all over the world have always expected us to supply them with technologies that deliver maximum product qualities at minimum production costs. And keeping costs down can only mean one thing: using raw materials and energy as sparingly as possible. Nowadays that is called conserving resources and being energy efficient,” he explains. “In the last 20 years, we at Brückner have cut our

energy consumption per kilogram of plastic by 30 to 40%. I am quite sure there is further potential for saving, but not on the scale we achieved in the last few decades. We are getting close to the physical limits. Producing and converting plastics does require energy. We cannot change that,” he says.

The value of retrofitting Energy efficiency innovations introduced on Brückner production systems in recent years include its energy monitoring system, which provides a continuous flow of data on the energy consumption of each element in the machine. Devices such as this can be integrated into new production systems but, more importantly in terms of immediate savings, can also be retrofitted to existing plant. “I do see potential for saving energy by upgrading. Apart from acquiring highly efficient new plant, our customers can modernise their existing machinery, some of which is over 20 years old, by retrofitting new units that are more energy-efficient,” says Baumeister. Interest in upgrading existing equipment is also identified as a key trend by Thomas Willemsen, after sales business director at pelletis- ing systems manufacturer Automa- tik Plastics Machinery, part of the Swiss Maag Group. “Drying granulate takes a lot of energy. We have

developed a new dryer that can generate energy savings of between 45 and 70%. This unit is of course built into all the new systems we supply, but we also offer it as an upgrade. Customers work out for them- selves when such an upgrade will pay for itself. In countries where electricity is expensive, that is often as little as two years or less,” he says. While cost of energy is a key factor in such decisions, it is not the only one. “It is basically also a question of attitude. Sometimes there is simply no desire for change. But there are also countries where electricity is cheap but where they, nevertheless, urgently need to do something to stop wasting resources and polluting the environment, by recycling some of their plastics waste, for example” he says.

Handling energy As a manufacturer of equipment for heating, cooling and drying plastics, materials handling systems maker Motan Colortronic is in the front line when it comes to improving energy efficiency. “Material drying and injection moulding are examples of processes that use a lot of energy. The processing of plastics typically generates a lot of waste heat. What we have to do is to keep a process in thermal equilibrium,” says Ulrich Eberhardt, CEO of Motan Holding.

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Left: Training is key to optimis- ing equipment performance

Centre: Rainer Zimmermann, AZO – Ulti- mately this is about gaining a competitive edge

Lower left: Michael Baumeister, Brückner – Keeping cost down means using materials and energy sparingly

September 2013 | INJECTION WORLD 51

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