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CEO Dialogue: Arburg celebrates “100 years of the Hehl family company”

Source:Adsale Plastics Network Date :2023-04-17 Editor :VC
Copyright: 原创,请勿转载

In the era of smart production and sustainable development, new machinery, chemicals and materials are needed by manufacturers in the plastics and rubber industries. Leading technology providers thereby innovate and upgrade their products to meet the demands.


Rita Chu, Vice Chairman of Adsale Group, talked with Gerhard Böhm, Managing Director Sales and Service at Arburg, about Arburg's efforts to offer the market the latest innovations, and his views on the industry’s outlook.

Rita Chu,Vice Chairman of the Adsale Group

Rita Chu pursued her studies at Northwestern University in the US, as well as London School of Economics in the UK. A certified accountant, she joined the Adsale Group in 2010 and became the Vice Chairman of the Group in 2019.

Rita Chu_250.jpg

Gerhard Böhm, Managing Director Sales and Service, ARBURG headquarters 

Gerhard Böhm trained as a mechanical engineer, specialising in energy device electronics and subsequently graduated in electrical energy technology at the University of Konstanz. He spent twelve years in project management in the automotive industry, subsequently working in sales management. In 1989 he switched to machine tool construction.


Gerhard Böhm has more than 20 years of experience in international sales. He was most recently responsible for international sales and marketing in a medium-sized family-run company. He joined Arburg in mid-2015 and became Managing Director Sales in 2016.


ARBURG GmbH + Co KG (Booth: 10J21)

German machine manufacturer Arburg is celebrating a very special anniversary in 2023: “100 years of the Hehl family company”. The family-run company, now in its third generation, has been a pioneer in plastics processing since 1956, notably revolutionized injection moulding with Allrounder in 1961 and 3D printing with the freeformer in 2013.


With the brand promise “Wir sind da.” that stands for quality, reliability and personal proximity, Arburg manufactures plastics processing machines centrally in Lossburg, Germany. It hires around 3,600 employees worldwide and has trading partners in over 100 countries.


A very special anniversary in 2023


Chu: Arburg is celebrating a very special anniversary in 2023: “100 years of the Hehl family company". What are Arburg’s plans to mark this occasion?


Böhm: We have a series of exciting events in place to celebrate our centenary anniversary. In February, Arburg’s headquarters in Lossburg hosted a major event with around 1,200 guests in a specially-built “Arburg Cube” pavilion, where we celebrated in grand style, centred around our “anniversary machine” Allrounder 470 H. 


In March, we held the “Arburg Anniversary Days”, which is how we are calling our globally unique “Technology Days” industry event this year, and a “Partner Summit”. After that, 25 events are on the programme in our subsidiaries worldwide, including, of course, China. There will also be an anniversary book, a film history, social media posts and much more. The anniversary “100 years of the Hehl family company” will also play a central role at CHINAPLAS 2023.


Chu: In the 100 years of the Hehl family company, what are the most significant milestones for the company’s development? 


Böhm: There are many milestones in our 100-year history. The basis of our success today is the first Arburg injection moulding machine, which was initially built in 1954 for our own use. It was used to overmould plastic onto the metal connectors of photography flash devices to protect them from corrosion. The machine aroused great interest among other companies, and Arburg became a manufacturer of injection moulding machines in 1956.


Another milestone was the invention of the Allrounder principle in the early 1960s. Thanks to the swivelling clamping and interchangeable injection units, it became possible to mould with one machine in different working positions.


In 1982, the Selogica control system set a new standard for the plastics industry. What is unique is that Arburg itself develops and manufactures control systems for its machines. In 2013, Arburg added to its portfolio the freeformer, an industrial 3D printer that processes standard plastic granulate.


Chu: What would you say is the success DNA that shapes Arburg as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-end injection moulding machines?


Böhm: The company's history is characterised by pioneering inventions and daring, flashes of inspiration and ever-new business ideas, evolutionary development and disruptive leaps, people and technology, regional roots and global growth.


Arburg’s success is based on the courage and inventiveness of the company's owners, on innovative strength and highly qualified employees, on the growth of the family business through its own efforts, and on the responsibility of the owners for people and the environment.


Our brand promise “Wir sind da.”, which means “We are here”. To put it in a nutshell: Arburg is uncompromisingly committed to the interests of its customers, employees and partners at all times, above and beyond its technological achievements.

Feb event_480.jpg

Arburg hosted a grand celebration at its headquarters in Lossburg in February. 

Unveiling a new generation of machines


Chu: What are the development directions of the company as it turns a new page?


Böhm: The anniversary “100 years of the Hehl family company” sets the stage for a new machine technology from Arburg, the hybrid Allrounder 470 H. The anniversary machine is impressive from front to back. It is energy-saving, resource-saving, production-efficient, user-friendly and reliable, all at the same time! The perfect combination of an electric clamping unit and a hydraulic injection unit significantly reduces acquisition and operating costs, while also reducing its CO2 footprint.


Compared to a comparable hydraulic machine, the energy balance of the Allrounder 470 H is up to 50 percent better. Depending on the application, up to 12,000 kilograms of CO2 can be saved per year. The new oil management concept contributes to further resource conservation: On the one hand, around 35 per cent less oil is needed, and on the other, waste machine heat is used to preheat the oil.


In addition, cooling-water requirements are between 50 and 70 percent lower! Moreover, significantly higher production efficiency results from the reduction of dry cycle time by up to 33 percent.


Finally, thanks to the “Comfort”, “Premium” and “Ultimate” performance variants, as well as various injection units and numerous options, the new Allrounder 470 H can be precisely adapted to customer requirements. It represents the beginning of a new generation of machines from Arburg.


Hybrid Allrounder 470 H is an anniversary machine that features many technical innovations.


Trends of sustainability and digitalization


Chu: Sustainable development and climate change have put the plastics industry under tremendous pressure to meet the increasing demand for processing new materials. What opportunities and challenges are there for plastics machinery manufacturers?


Böhm: The problem lies not on the plastic material itself but the global handling of it. Plastics is a valuable material that does not belong in the waste stream. It must be collected, processed and reused as purely as possible. With our know-how, we can support our customers not only in the processing of recyclates and alternative plastics, but ideally also one step earlier – during product development. Because the product life cycle is set in the design stage, the topic of "Design for Recycling" is becoming increasingly important.


Chu: How does Arburg seize the opportunities and overcome the challenges?


Böhm: Environmental protection and resource conservation have been on our agenda for decades. It is in our corporate DNA, so to speak. Since 2019, we have been addressing these issues through our “arburgGREENworld” programme, which encompasses our strategies with regard to resource efficiency, CO2 reduction, circular economy and all other aspects and activities related to sustainability.


For example, we have long been involved in the processing of post-industrial and post-consumer recyclates (PIR, PCR) and bio-based materials. Here we have both the necessary expertise and the appropriate equipment. Examples are the “recyclate package” for our Allrounder machines, which can also be retrofitted, or the “aXw Control RecyclatePilot” as an assistance function of the Gestica control system.


Chu: What are the new requirements from converters regarding injection moulding solutions?


Böhm: Besides sustainability, digitalisation and automation of injection-moulding production also play important roles. Complete production cells are in increasing demand, and we can fully design and implement them not only at our German headquarters in Lossburg, but also at our Arburg Technology Factory in Pinghu, as well as similar facilities in the USA and Czech Republic.


Riding through Europe’s soaring energy costs


Chu: Energy saving is a hot topic, especially in Europe due to surging energy prices. Has it affected the all-electric machine market?


Böhm: Energy efficiency has been rapidly gaining importance. We have excellent products and services and can provide our customers with comprehensive support in saving energy – both for new machines and existing machinery. In this context, electric drives play an increasingly important role, not only in fully electric machines, but also in Arburg’s hybrid machines.


The best example is the aforementioned new Allrounder 470 H. With an electric clamping system and hydraulic injection unit, it is an energy-saving and resource-saving machine that has not been available on the market like this! As a result, we are seeing nice growth in hybrid and electric machines.


Latest developments in smart manufacturing


Chu: Arburg is upgrading the Gestica control system and adding new services to the arburgXworld customer portal. What are the latest technology developments at Arburg in this regard?


Böhm: The “arburgXworld” customer portal is now used by around 3,500 companies and has over 10,000 users worldwide. And acceptance continues to increase!


Among the latest developments on the portal are energy labels, which provide important information on CO2 footprint or on retrofitting options that can optimize a machine’s energy profile. They facilitate the search for the most energy-efficient machine for manufacturing any product. The new assistance function “aXw Control RecyclatePilot”, for example, uses adaptive process control to ensure a stable shot weight despite fluctuating material viscosities.


Chu: What will be the next step along the track?


Böhm: We set standards with our digital products and services and we are continuously developing them across our entire range. In addition to the customer portal and assistance functions, the Arburg ALS host computer system can increase production efficiency and energy efficiency even further for our customers.


Regional perspectives and application focuses


Chu: Despite some market uncertainties, the global economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. China has recently relaxed COVID-19 controls which would benefit both domestic and global economies. From your perspective, what are the impacts of China restoring normal life to the plastics industry?


Böhm: With the end of the lockdown, the mood in China is finally better again and we hope that there will be a positive impulse towards the future through CHINAPLAS in Shenzhen in April.


Chu: What are your views on the transformation of China’s machinery manufacturing industry over the last few years?


Böhm: The demand for high-end solutions is growing very strongly and Arburg can offer excellent, market-adapted solutions with our products and expertise. These include, for example, turnkey systems with downstream assembly, which we can design and implement at the Arburg Technology Factory in Pinghu, as already mentioned.


Chu: Does Arburg have any investment plans in China in the next 2 to 3 years?


Böhm: We will continue to expand the area of automation and turnkey systems. Proof of this is the new Flexlift robotic system, which was developed especially for the Asian market and is only available there.


Chu: Are you optimistic about 2023?


Böhm: Yes, we are very well positioned with our product and service portfolio and offer our customers efficient solutions that will help them meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.


Presence at CHINAPLAS 2023


Chu: Lastly, can you tell us about the exhibits and demonstrations at Arburg’s booth during CHINAPLAS 2023?


Böhm: At CHINAPLAS, we are presenting a cross-section of our portfolio, on the approximately 400 square metre Arburg stand in Hall 10, No. 10J21. This includes the Allrounder 470 H and Flexlift robotic systems, which we have been talking about.


In addition, we are addressing the important themes of automation, digitalisation, and sustainability. Other machines on display includes an Allrounder 1600 T rotary-table machine, an Allrounder 370 H, and a freeformer 300-3X for industrial additive manufacturing. Most of the automation components and moulds come from Asian suppliers and have been assembled and intensively tested at the Arburg Technology Factory in Pinghu.


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