Technological watch

Arburg’s anniversary days celebrate the past and look forward to the future

2023 marked a particularly pertinent set of anniversary days at Arburg, as the Hehl family displayed some of its newest technology along with its commitments to environmental targets and customer service also being at the forefront of what was on display to mark the company’s 100th birthday.… BP&R’s Danny Ball writes.Heritage and tradition are clearly important elements to the identity of the company, family-run by the Hehl family since its inception, Arburg takes pride on the community it has built in Lossburg and beyond. This was emphasised by Michael Hehl, managing partner and spokesperson for the management team, who said: “The fact that our employees affectionately refer to themselves as ARBURGers to this day makes it clear that we are not just a family company, but a "real" family with corresponding values. We would like to continue to cultivate these values in the future.”

The press conference for Arburg’s anniversary days started off with a keynote speech from the president of Europe’s Association for plastics and rubber machinery (EUROMAP), Luciano Anceschi. This speech emphasised Hehl’s comments, but in addition to this it indicated the importance of the company to the local area and to the industry as a whole: “ARBURG has developed a sophisticated corporate culture which combines high-performance standards with a great commitment to the region, the young people, sustainability, governance, management, and the development of the employees. This far-sighted and value-based attitude has been delivered to market by a first-class communication for which everyone immediately understands what is important to you: Highest quality of your products and to act with the integrity of a reliable business partner. 

“Behind this Vision there are people and faces, with their histories, expectations, and decisions: you, the Hehl family, are the people and faces of this great company. You and your ancestors stand for this amazing success story! 

“You remind us that we, all the entrepreneurs of the industry, are called to commit ourselves to the great task, even if we sometimes seem to lose sight of this in our daily business.” 

× History of Arburg First up on Arburg’s conveyer belt of new technology for its anniversary days was an all new injection moulding machine; the Allrounder 470 H comes in "Comfort", "Premium" and "Ultimate" performance variants, and the company described the machine as a “very special anniversary gift.” Boasting that the machine is efficient, consuming 50% less energy than previous machines, with claims that the new Hybrid Allrounder cuts CO2  emissions by 12,000 kg. This efficiency is something that that the company claims carries over into the running costs of the machine, with the Arburg stating in its press release: ‘production-efficient, user-friendly and reliable all at the same time! The perfect combination of electric clamping unit and hydraulic injection unit significantly reduces acquisition and operating costs.’ This greater energy efficiency is partly put down to the machine using much less oil in comparison to others on the market; Arburg claims 35 per cent less oil is needed, and for another, waste machine heat is used to pre-heat the oil. In addition, the required cooling water capacity is also between 50 and 70 percent lower, leading to lower dry cycle times and greater efficiency.’

Combining new technology and strengthening what the company sees as proven, tried and tested was a priority in the development of this machine. This was emphasised by Guido Frohnhaus, managing director technology & engineering, who said: “When designing the new Allrounder 470 H, we significantly enhanced our proven technology to optimise the energy footprint and reduce cycle times. Contributing factors include the new oil management concept, flow rate splitting for simultaneous movements of hydraulic secondary axes and the extended use of the Arburg servo hydraulic system.” 

× Allrounder 470H The company claims that the splitting of the flow rate in the process allows a second axis to be successfully implemented meaning cycle times are reduced, creating greater efficiency. 

The company is also bullish about the user-friendly nature of the machine: a real-time Ethernet bus replaces the individual ribbon cables of the control modules, which the company claims increases the service and service life of the machines. The distribution of the hardware on and in the machine base has been completely restructured. The control manifold and hydraulic accumulator technology have been moved inside so that there is more space for peripheral equipment at the rear side of the machine and maybe most notably, the pneumatic and central lubrication systems are on the operating side, which according to the company allows for easier maintenance access and less downtime when small tweaks need to be made to the machine.

The circular economy is a concept that Arburg is clearly keen on promoting and this was especially prominent at both the press conference I attended and the Anniversary Day. ‘ArburgGREENworld’ is a programme that aims to provide guidance for circular approaches across Arburg’s network. The company committed to delivering significant demonstrations for its ‘GREENworld’ digitalisation products, the ‘efficiency arena’ showcased nine stations relating to Greenworld and ‘ArburgXWorld’ demonstrating how digitalisation was used to enable to circular economy along the value chain. The ‘ArburgxWorld’ product has a number of functions ranging from allowing Arburg customers to trace materials to effectively acting as a customer portal allowing a customer to log jobs for machine repairs. 

The efficiency arena was also home to the hybrid allrounder which produced products from the ‘Greenline Series’ which was producing a product made from 50% castor oil. 

The past year has been a success for Arburg, despite cautious financial predictions for 2022, the company exceeded its own forecasts. Jurgen Boll, managing director for Finance, Controlling IT at Arburg explained: “We gave a forecast of our turnover expectation for 2022, and were typically cautious in mentioning a figure of 750 million plus euros.  

We were almost certain that we would reach 800 million, but with the global situation, we thought many things were possible – in a negative sense. Much more so than in the past. 

“The surprise is, that there is indeed an "8" at the front, but this is followed by a "75"! We achieved a whopping turnover of 875 million euros in 2022! Compared to the 2021 turnover of 735 million euros, this constitutes an increase of 19 percentage points!”

2023 has started in a more sluggish nature for the company, the company has admitted that January and February have been slow, however it puts this down to a ‘struggling automotive industry’, However it is clear that Arburg doesn’t see this as a trend for the long term. Boll added: “The company is coping well and all economic indicators are pointing upwards […] We too have been faced with major challenges due to material shortages and supply bottlenecks, and still are. However, the situation has eased slightly.” Boll explained.

Another piece of technology that the company was keen to shine a spotlight on was a range of turnkey solutions. The automation arena was home to possibly the most desirable giveaway of the week; a toolbox produced by the hybrid Allrounder 1120, a sleek design that I unfortunately could not take home due to restrictions on my hand luggage!

Other features on display in the Automation arena included medical vaccine containers, a product that has proved to be more vital than ever in a world post pandemic. In terms of automation and robotics, the star of the show was arguably vertical rotary table machine Allrounder 1600 T and a total of five integrated robotic systems. This was complimented by another turnkey system with what the company describes as a ‘high level of autonomy of around twelve hours for pallets, intermediate layers and finished products. ‘

The company also unveiled new applications for its injection moulding range for the packaging industry. The new applications can produce thin-walled products, according to the company: “The 720 A “Ultimate” Allrounder featuring a clamping force of 2,900 kN and a new electric injection unit in size 1300, it is able to produce four thin-walled IML round cups with a wall thickness of just 0.37 millimetres in a cycle time of 3.95 seconds.” As well as high output, the machine also offers a high level of efficiency with the machine consuming 20% less energy.

Retrofitability is also a major factor in Arburg’s strategy as a company with the company offering options to refit machines that aim to make older machines more effect. According to the company modernisation of machines helps save 50,000 tonnes of C02 per year. 

3D printing has been a fixture at Arburg for nearly a decade, the company were keen to illustrate this to the press at its anniversary days. Although it is not clear whether the company has had the success expected from its ‘Arburgadditive’ range its commitment to upping its game in this area is unwavering, the company’s 3D printing products were on display in the prototyping centre with the new Freeformer 750-3X being on display. This machine is around 2.5 times larger than that of the Freeformer 300-3X – with the same external dimensions. The company also points out that this means that ‘The process is also faster and more economical. In addition, the Gestica control system has been optimised for additive manufacturing in terms of process stability, part quality and build time.’

The Freeformer 300-3X in a high-temperature version was also on display along with the Freeformer 200-3X ‘soft’ which allows for 3D printing with softer materials. Arburg also displayed its TIQ and LIQ machines which allow for the processing and 3D printing of processing filaments and silicone. 

Arburg also spent a considerable amount of time delving into some of the digital solutions that are underpinning the company’s strategy moving forward. This includes the manufacturing execution system (MES). This system along with the company’s centralised computer system, the ALS, allows for an interlinking network. According to the company: “The Arburg host computer system ALS is a central element with which the entire plastic parts production can be digitally planned, controlled and all relevant information can be tracked. A typical injection moulding plant running 20 machines can save approximately 1,500 hours of working time and 500 machine hours per year using the ALS.”

× Allrounder 470H To compliment this feature Arburg has introduced the ‘Gestica control system's intelligent assistance’ to its machines a piece of technology which the company believes will allow for those with less training to operate machinery. According to Arburg: “In times of junior staff shortage, this is particularty interesting. The starting point for the use of the recyclate package is the "aXw Control ScrewPilot", which compensates for malfunctions in the filling process and keeps the mould filling stable. The new "aXw Control RecyclatePilot" ensures a stable shot weight by means of adaptive process control, while the "aXw Control PressurePilot" ensures bionically optimised pressure control.”

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Publication date: 06/04/2023

European Plastic Product Manufacturer

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31