Arburg's Juliane Hehl: Machine builders deliver solutions
Arburg GmbH + Co KG supersized its K 2022 presence with 12 machine exhibits at its booth, not to mention the circular economy forum. The company, which generated sales of 700 million euros ($701 million) in 2021 — close to levels reached before the pandemic — will have a wide array of machinery and a large team at the show to try to seal more deals.
"The world's leading trade show attracts visitors from many different countries, and we will have contact persons from the relevant subsidiaries and trading partners on hand for them," said Juliane Hehl, Arburg managing partner responsible for marketing and business development.
Arburg showedg off a recyclate package available for all Allrounder injection molding machines — even as a retrofit — as well as a new controller and digital marking technologies to identify, separate and recycle plastic.
The company's motto, "There is only a Plan A," encompassed K show themes of climate protection, digitalization and the circular economy, Hehl said, while also showing Arburg has a plan that addresses sustainability and efficiency issues with cutting-edge technology.
Hehl spoke with Plastics News via email about Arburg and K.
Q: Fakuma 2021 was a success in terms of everyone adapting to COVID protocols and it marked a return to major in-person plastics trade shows. What will make K 2022 a successful event for Arburg?
Hehl: As I've already said, it is important that K 2022 is held as an in-person event because the world's leading trade show traditionally indicates the direction in which the plastics industry is heading. And this is something you have to experience live and in color. Maintaining personal contacts is just as important. While the past two and a half years have shown that digitalization makes many things possible and may also make some things more efficient, it can in no way replace in-person events and face-to-face gatherings. Our Technology Days, which we successfully held in June this year, are a great example of this.
After producing step stools during machine demonstrations at recent shows, Arburg [produced] tool boxes with overmolded 3D films and hot-stamped lettering at K 2022 on a hybrid Allrounder 1120 H with 6,500 kN clamping force and size 7000 injection unit.
Q: What do you want potential customers to know about these capabilities and technologies?
Hehl: This application demonstrates what we are capable of in more ways than one. The exhibit and application offer impressive machine technology, automation, process technology, digitalization and sustainability — and at the same time we have a stylish and practical giveaway for visitors in the form of our Arburg tool case.
Q: Arburg business communications repeat the message that "There is only a Plan A." What does this mean to you?
Hehl: Our "There is only a Plan A" headline covers the key themes of K 2022 — climate protection, digitalization and the circular economy — and demonstrates that we have "Plan A" when it comes to the perfect combination of sustainability, efficiency and cutting-edge technology. This includes the reliable processing of recyclates, for example, as well as digital assistants and features for increasing production efficiency and implementing a functioning circular economy.
Q: The phrase reminds me of the title of the 2019 book, There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years by Mike Berners-Lee, which has since become a sustainability slogan. What is Arburg's Plan A?
Hehl: Yes, that's right. "There is only a Plan A" emphasizes, in reference to "There is no Planet B" — the slogan of the sustainability movement — that when it comes to sustainability, there can only be a "Plan A" and no "Plan B." Because we only have one world, and we all have to take responsibility for it.
With "Plan A," we want to show visitors to K 2022 that we have understood these connections, are tackling the issue strategically and operationally and are making our contribution as a machine manufacturer.
Q: What does the latest technology offer for injection molding with recyclates?
Hehl: We have the recyclate package, which is available for all Allrounder injection molding machines and can also be retrofitted. It combines modified plasticizing with software features to reliably process recyclates of all types that vary more in material quality and shape due to their nature.
The new aXw Control RecyclatePilot for the Gestica controller, which we will be presenting for the first time at K 2022, goes one step further and ensures a stable shot weight by means of adaptive process control.
Q: The circular economy remains in focus alongside digitalization and climate change. What kind of progress have you seen regarding the circular economy since 2019?
Hehl: The German-speaking machine and plant construction industry already showcased a lot of technology at K 2019, presenting itself as an enabler for sustainability and making it clear that we are not the problem; we are part of the solution. In recent years, we have worked hard to highlight technological opportunities and the resulting business models for a functioning circular economy and to get them off the ground. "R-Cycle" is a good example of this.
The aim is to develop a traceability standard for plastic packaging that records all information relevant to recycling from the production process in the form of a digital product passport, thereby enabling separation by type at the end of the product life cycle. Arburg has been involved here as the exclusive machine construction partner from the very beginning.
Q: And what about climate change? What is the role of machine manufacturers?
Hehl: The issues of sustainability, resource conservation and livelihoods are increasingly on people's minds, particularly in connection with plastics. One of the most important questions is how we can sustainably unite ecology, economy and social interaction now and in the future. Arburg has been dealing with these issues for a very long time — and not only in relation to its own production operations, but also with regard to its own products.
As a machine manufacturer, we are responsible for consuming as few resources as possible when manufacturing our machines. But we must also ensure that customers can use Arburg machines to implement processes that save on resources and offer solutions for the circular economy. The complex problem is that you always have to look at the entire value chain, because at the end of the day, the aim is to sustainably reduce our carbon footprint in the plastics processing industry and to enable plastic, a valuable material, to be fed back into the material cycle.