Plastics News - Show Daily - October 17, 2023 - 3

Plastics News, October 17, 2023 * 3
Economic recovery? Maybe next year
By Karen Laird
Sustainable Plastics
Every downswing is followed
by an upswing, said Michael Wittmann,
president of
Wittmann Technology
GmbH: " That's
how economic cycles
work. "
Wittmann's exceptionally
high backlog
going into 2023 cushioned
the company
against feeling the effects
of the economic
downturn this year
in terms of sales revenue. In fact,
the fi gure for this year is expected
to show an increase of 9 percent
over last year, both because
of the order backlog but also because
a number of supply issues
have also been resolved.
As a result, deliveries have
picked up signifi cantly. The impact
of the economic slowdown
will not be felt by Vienna-based
Wittmann until 2024.
" We will only notice the economic
slowdown in our overall sales
revenue with a delay, specifi cally
next year in 2024, " Wittmann said.
The downturn in economic activity
has persisted since mid-2022,
which is a relatively long period by
historical standards, he noted.
" This may also be explained
by the fact that the investment
boom in 2021 and early 2022 was
exuberant and resulted in investments
being brought forward -
and these now have to be compensated
for, " he said.
Although there are currently
no indicators pointing to a signifi
cant economic recovery, he
is optimistic that market activity
will start to pick up next year.
" We'll be looking at an improvement
in order bookings
compared with 2023 and a temporary
slowdown in revenue in
2024, " Wittmann predicted.
He added that, generally
speaking, the different regions
in which the company operates
have been affected to varying degrees
by the economic crisis.
" Central Europe, Germany and
Austria in particular, are suffering
the most. In Western and Eastern
Europe, we can already see slight
signs of improvement. Asia will
also recover more quickly, while
North America continues to
show pleasing market activity. "
A diverse portfolio
of products
Wittmann has a much wider
portfolio of plastics equipment
and machinery than many other
machinery manufacturers,
and this has proved to be
an advantage in helping the company
to better navigate through
the current phase of economic
weakness - in various ways.
As Michael Wittmann pointed
out, particularly in times when
investment activity is at low ebb,
customers still purchase equipment
that is priced below qualifi
ed investment thresholds while
delaying investment in higher-priced
" A further distinction results
from the individual sale of equipment
and machinery to different
industrial sectors, " he added.
The turnkey options offered by
Wittmann Technology provide additional
Booth 1204
in that each component
in the production
cell originates
from a single source.
" The benefi t for
our customers is that
we match all components
of the production
cell with one another
right from the
start. This leads to
better energy effi ciency and often
to higher product quality. In addition,
the processor saves time
in procurement, project planning
and commissioning, as he does
not have to coordinate several
companies, but has only one central
contact for the entire production
cell, " Wittmann explained.
Energy effi ciency, he continued,
is an area in which the company
is positioning itself with
its products at the leading edge
of the market. In 2022, at the K
show in Düsseldorf, Germany, it
showed how far " off the beaten
track " it was prepared to go, with
an exhibit demonstrating how
energy generated by photovoltaics
could be directly used for
industrial production.
Tapping into the increasing
trend for corporations to install
solar cells on their corporate
roofs, the conceptual study
shown in Düsseldorf illustrated
that the continuous current generated
by those solar cells could
be used directly to power injection
molding lines, " without loss
by fi rst passing through inverters,
transformers and high-voltage
power lines, " he said.
Not only can this lower the
costs of energy for plastics manufacturers,
as the generated solar
electricity is immediately used,
but also direct current can be
easily stored in conventional batteries,
thus providing an excellent
way to handle current peaks.
At Fakuma, the company is
therefore pushing the innovation
envelope even further.
" For the world premiere of Wittmann's
DC technology, a solar
power storage system based on
the ecological salt battery technology
from Innovenergy [AG of Meiringen,
Switzerland] will be used.
Together with our partner, we are
actively driving forward the industrialization
of our DC solution. "
Energy effi ciency at
Fakuma 2023
The technology featuring the
solar energy storage system described
above is being used at
Fakuma 2023 to drive the new
EcoPower B8X on show at the
Wittmann booth. However, in line
with the value attached by the
company to the energy effi ciency
theme, it is presenting solutions
for reducing energy consumption
and lowering greenhouse gas
emissions at nine stations, creating
an energy effi ciency path.
" Take the new EcoPower B8X.
The toggle lever of this new
machine has been kinematically
optimized, reducing the force required
for clamping force buildup
by 15 percent. This decreases
the stress on the electromechanical
drive system, further reducing
the energy consumption,
while at the same time enabling
a higher level of dynamism and
better dry cycle times, " Michael
Wittmann said.
Wittmann's IMAGOxt energy
management software is being
used to make the machine's low
he added. IMAGOxt, a software
module to visualize and monitor
the energy consumption, enables
ineffi ciencies to be detected and
measures to be taken to improve
effi ciency, uncover potential savings
and reduce CO2 emissions.
The module has been optimized
to interact with Wittmann's
MES operating software solution,
TEMI, and can be connected to
auxiliary equipment to collect
data and analyze factors such as
temperature, pressure, humidity,
gas consumption and water consumption
- assisting customers
on the road to implementing the
European Union Green Deal and
the transition to a more circular
economy for plastics.
It is not the only way Wittmann
is supporting the circular economy.
As a supplier of products,
technologies and turnkey solutions
for injection molding processing,
it has also focused on
the need to ensure these are able
to produce equally high-quality
products from materials other
than fossil-based virgin polymers.
" All Wittmann injection molding
machines can be used to process
both recycled materials and
bioplastics, " Michael Wittmann
said. A key factor in processing
alternative materials is the plasticizing
unit. The company has the
know-how to provide the right
screw for every application, even
the most demanding, which, in
combination with its smart assistance
systems that compensate
in line for fl uctuations in the raw
material, ensures
high product quality.
Wittmann even produces the
granulators needed to shred
sprues and rejects directly at the
machine, enabling these to be returned
to the injection molding
process, should the application
so permit.
However, while the plastics
industry is working very hard
to close material cycles, there is
still a very long way to go before
we can really talk about a circular
economy, he noted.
" This is a challenge for everyone
- industry, consumers and
politicians. We need uniform systems
for collecting and processing
plastic waste in order to secure a
reliable supply with high-quality
raw material, and we need even
more information for consumers
in order to enable them making
responsible decisions as early as
the point of purchase.
" These are just two of many
urgent tasks which only can be
solved if society as a whole pulls
together. The plastics industry is
a strong driver here, " he said.
Trends to watch for
Next to energy effi ciency, one
development that continues to
play a major role is the ongoing
digitalization process. According
to Michael Wittmann, the company
is at the forefront of this transformation,
" both with our HiQ assistance
systems for supporting
the injection process and with
the networking of entire work
cells via Wittmann 4.0, " he said.
The advantages of fully networked
work cells, made possible
with Wittmann 4.0, are legion,
ranging from a singular point of
control and entry for all connected
equipment, to a common and
centrally managed mold data set.
" In general, this boils down to
an easier operation of the machinery
and equipment for the
user achieving more effi ciency
and a higher quality at the same
time. This aspect is all the more
important as it becomes more
and more diffi cult to fi nd qualifi
ed specialists, " Wittmann said.
At the same time, the company
is dealing with what he referred
to as " the mega topic of AI, " or
artifi cial intelligence, in injection
molding processes and attendant
activities. In his view, AI opens up
great opportunities and new possibilities,
which will be exploited
together with their customers. A
key area of development in this
context is data security.
In the longer term
Asked about the future of the
plastics machinery industry for
a company like the Wittmann
Group - family-owned and Europe-based
- Michael Wittmann
was both candid and direct.
" The high infl ation in Central
Europe and the green transformation
with accompanying and
announced measures of the EU
for CO2 pricing of raw and primary
materials present us with huge
tasks, " he said.
" These require decisions
that must be approached very
thoughtfully and will have longterm
effects. A European plastics
machinery company with a high
export quota to non-European
markets looks increasingly unrealistic
from today's perspective.
We are positioning ourselves accordingly,
further strengthening
the decentralization of our production
" In the long term, plastics is a
growth industry. Polymer materials
play a crucial role in solving
many of our challenges for a sustainable
healthy future, " he said.
He is optimistic about what Fakuma
will bring.
" It's a fi rst-class trade show for
the plastics industry with a very
successful overall concept and
an optimal location at the intersection
of the D-A-CH [Germany,
Austria, Switzerland] region. This
enables the exhibitors to make a
targeted selection of exhibits and
focus on topics that are geared to
the needs of processors in Central
Europe, the main area of attraction
for visitors. Despite the
unfavorable economic situation,
we are assuming that there will be
a large number of visitors to Fakuma
2023. If this happens, we will
call it a successful fair, " he said.
Daniel Greitsch and Markus Walus of Wittmann's Fit for Energy team, left, and Wittmann's SmartPrimus
90 production cell. Wittmann is positioning itself to lead the energy effi ciency market with new
products to save, collect and store energy. Wittmann Technology GmbH photos

Plastics News - Show Daily - October 17, 2023

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Plastics News - Show Daily - October 17, 2023 - 1
Plastics News - Show Daily - October 17, 2023 - 2
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