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Arburg: Anniversary Days 2023

To celebrate the 100th Anniversary, Arburg/DE invited this year not as usual to Technology Days but to a full 4-days program on 8–11 March to demonstrate customers the latest developments, mainly for the core business of plastics industry, but also the range of MIM and CIM activities. About 5700 guests from 53 nations came to the Arburg headquarter in Lossburg/DE to learn details on the new anniversary machine, solutions for energy efficiency, digitalization and sustainability. Another special feature of the Anniversary Days 2023 was the welcoming of the 100 000th visitor to the industry event on 8 March 2023, which has attracted thousands of customers from all over the world to Lossburg every year since 1999.

Words of honour 

On behalf of EUROMAP (European Rubber and Plastic Machinery), the President Luciano Anceschi presented words of honour. He stated: “Arburg – as one of the main protagonists of the industry – has contributed immensely to the development and circularity of plastics, the material that has been crucial to the advancement of human civilization over the last 100 years. The company has developed a sophisticated corporate culture which combines highperformance 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: the Hehl family, are the people and faces of this great company. You and your ancestors stand for this amazing success story.” 

Some highlights of the history
Michael Hehl, Managing Partner and Spokesperson for the Management Team, said: “The hundred years history of the Hehl family business is unique – and stands up to any international comparison. The story of the family and so of the company as well – the names Hehl and Arburg are inextricably linked – tells of pioneering inventions and daring, of flashes of inspiration and ever new business ideas, of evolutionary development and disruptive leaps, of people and technology, of regional roots and global growth. A glance at the company’s history soon tells us that incredible effort has been made to build the business, especially in the extremely successful field of plastics processing. The entrepreneurial family was and is still – now in its 3rd generation – a pioneer of many innovative processes and applications in injection moulding and industrial additive manufacturing. Family-run Arburg was and remains a prime example of exactly what we imagine a family-run company to be.” Shaped by the ideas and innovative strength of the company’s owners, but also by their social responsibility towards their employees and the region. It now employees around 3600 people all over the world and has organisations in 25 countries at 34 locations. With two acquisitions – innovatiQ 3D printers and AMKmotion drive and controller technology – since 2020, the company has evolved into the “Arburg Family”. The history started with the surgical instrument maker Arthur Hehl, father of Eugen and Karl Hehl, who set up his own business in Lossburg in 1923 and from 1926 onwards focussed initially on the manufacture of precision medical instruments. The Black Forest, seen as a rather poor area at the time, was already renowned beyond the region for this trade as well as its tradition of watchmaking. The step into self-employment took place, quite typical for privatelyowned businesses in the Black Forest, in the basement of the family home, the “home office” so to speak. The first year of the new venture also saw the birth of the oldest child of the family’s second generation, Karl Hehl. The two younger brothers, Gerhard and Eugen, were born in 1925 and 1929. Gerhard Hehl was not fortunate enough to contribute to the company’s history: he died in 1944 at just 19 years of age during the Allied air raid on Dresden. And of course, the “Feingeraete- Fabrik Hehl”, Gerhard’s parents and two brothers were not spared the turmoil wreaked by the 2nd World War. In 1939, production was switched to precision mechanical parts important to the war effort, and in 1943–1944 the company got the name it goes by today: Arburg. Karl Hehl combined the first syllable of his father Arthur’s first name (AR) with the last syllable of the town name of Lossburg (BURG). The unique lettering, which makes the company unmistakable worldwide to this day, also dates from this time and so documenting contemporary history itself. 1945 saw the end of the war, and Karl Hehl returned from US captivity in 1948. The two brothers, Karl Hehl then 25, and Eugen Hehl 19 years of age, set about modernising their father’s business straightaway. With foresight, enthusiasm and technical minds, they converted the existing production machines to single drive technology. At that time, the company produced consumer goods for everyday use, such as potato baskets, trivets or screw rings for babies’ bottles, mostly made of metal – and by then, Eugen Hehl was already looking after the sales side. This far-reaching production conversion was one of several on which the success of the entrepreneurial family is ultimately based. It was always about identifying what the markets demanded at precisely right time and making the products as quickly as possible. Essentially, then, about a high degree of flexibility. In the early 1950s, the Hehl brothers recognised that the promising economic miracle happening in Germany, with growth of 9,2 % meant large parts of the population could share in greater prosperity. The people of Germany indulged themselves once again: more leisure and new pastimes. Including photography. The family, meaning Arburg as well, anticipated this development by expanding the production of consumer goods and medical instruments with the manufacture of flash units under the DuoLux brand – nationally and now also internationally, with immense success, at first. Arburg’s 1st manually operated small plastic injection moulding machine was designed in 1954. This was also the starting shot for global success with another completely new product: injection moulding machines “Made by Arburg – Made in Germany”. 1956 saw the production of the first series machine, over 10 000 sold since 1957. By 1959, the product range included three machines, and the workforce exceeded 100 employees. Until the anniversary year 2023, the company’s worldwide customers were served exclusively from its headquarters in Lossburg – on an area that now covers more than 210 000 m2. A situation that over the years has repeatedly proven to enhance the quality concept – driven not least by the events of the past three years, which have once again demonstrated that a high proportion of in-house production with mostly regionally based supply chains has many advantages. 

The goal is to make customers strong with digital solutions so that they can meet the challenges of today and in the future. Digitalization can play a good part in being resilient and holding one’s own in the market – because digital features can contribute significantly to increasing the energy and production efficiency of machines and systems. The customer portal arburgXworld, which is now used by more than 3500 companies and more than 10 000 users worldwide, plays an important role here, and the number is growing. All digital services that contain Arburg’s comprehensive know-how are now also available in the app for smartphones and tablets. The numerous features and assistance functions also counteract the shortage of skilled labour, e.g. by actively supporting in setting up and operating machines and systems. New features in the MachineCenter-app include the energy labels: each Allrounder is assigned to one of three energy efficiency classes. In addition, the carbon footprint from the creation phase of each machine is displayed. Depending on the machine, the customer portal provides tailored suggestions for energy optimization, e.g. through retrofits. There is also a stronger focus on supporting and optimising internal processes and workflows, so that customers can now manage their own tickets and messages in the ServiceCenter and have them displayed visually in the aXw Shopfloor Board for the stand-up meetings. The new equipment comparison option helps to quickly and efficiently find the best Allrounder for the current injection moulding process during production planning. Furthermore, the Ready2Go-app has been expanded, listing all the Allrounders available at short notice from Arburg. Networked injection moulding production requires machines to be interlinked in a Manufacturing Execution System (MES). The Arburg host computer system ALS is a central element with which the entire plastic parts production can be digitally planned and controlled and all relevant information can be tracked. A typical injection moulding plant running 20 machines can save approximately 1500 h of working time and 500 machine/h per year using the ALS. Mobile ALS functions enable resource-saving paperless production. Their energy requirements can be displayed and evaluated via ALS. Newly developed open interfaces (REST and MQTT) perfectly supplement the available interfaces and enable us to achieve an even higher level of integration in the existing IT and system environment. The Gestica control system’s intelligent assistance functions actively support the operator so that even less qualified personnel can set up and operate the machines and systems safely. In times of junior staff shortage, this is particularity 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. The aXw Control ReferencePilot is another assistance function that ensures precise holding pressure and constant shot weights. The digital product passport is presented in the Efficiency Arena as part of the R-Cycle initiative: All recycling-relevant data is stored in it for each end product. In addition, data, such as raw materials and dyes, are transmitted during the injection moulding process and the product is marked with a DM code. The pivotal element of R-Cycle is a database that contains the information about the materials used. In this way, plastic products can be separated by type after the use phase and high-quality Post-Consumer recyclates (PCR) can be recovered to close the cycle of recyclable materials. Arburg has been a pilot partner of Deutsche Telekom for the new campus network solution with 5G industrial frequency since June 2022. At the Anniversary Days in March 2023, machines in the Customer Center were networked and communicate based on 5G. Digitalisation also plays a central role in a functioning circular economy – for example in the sorting of plastic waste. Incidentally, almost every second exhibit at the Arburg event processes recyclates. 

Arburg Sustainability
Report 2022 The Sustainability Report is an important component of the arburgGREENworld Program, with which the company has enshrined sustainability through resource efficiency, a reduced carbon footprint and circular economy as important goals. These activities already go back more than ten years. As early as 2012, Arburg was one of the first companies ever to be triple certified in terms of quality, environment and energy. Environmental protection, resource conservation and efficiency have been an integral part of the corporate philosophy for decades. Energy-efficient construction is just as much a part of the portfolio as sustainable manufacturing processes. Other contributing factors include central production at a location with a high proportion of in-house manufacturing and short supply chains, production- efficient machine technology, and the digital products and services making up the arburgXworld program (www.arburg. com/en/smart-production/digitalisation/). An important goal of Arburg is to significantly reduce the carbon footprint in plastics processing through sustainable production and products. Returning the valuable material plastic sensibly to the cycle is only possible if it is separated by type. Here, Arburg is living up to its claim of combining sustainability and production efficiency through high-quality technology solutions. Reducing emissions, putting finances to good use for Arburg and its employees and understanding digitalization as sustainability are further central concepts that the company has been incorporating into its activities for some time now. The new Sustainability Report 2022 also has a lot to say about this. One example is sustainable construction: in all the assembly halls built during the last few years, Arburg uses heat recovery to harness the energy input and can therefore heat the buildings in a virtually cost- and carbonneutral manner. The use of photovoltaics and geothermal energy also enables sustainable energy management. By installing additional photovoltaic systems on the Arburg multi-storey car park in Lossburg and integrating the two wind turbines into the energy generation system, the company is expanding and intensifying its sustainable energy production even more. Further impressive figures demonstrate how Arburg has implemented sustainability across the entire company: 

  • 87 % of all waste in 2021 was recycled taking full account of the circular economy. 
  • Rainwater collected in multiple cisterns increased the share of rainwater in total water consumption from 16 % to almost 23 % in 2021. 
  • Arburg generated 1,7 million kWh of solar power with photovoltaics alone for its own use in 2021. This corresponds to the energy needs of around 470 four-person households. 
  • By participating again in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) 2022 rating, Arburg was able to achieve an above-average result with a B-rating, as it did in 2021. In addition, EcoVadis and SBTi (Science Based Target Initiative), two further sustainability assessment projects, were added in 2022. Arburg is among the top 25 % of companies with an EcoVadis Silver Score. The SBTi Status Commitment requires the elaboration of the target path in terms of reduction goals and targets. Arburg is currently implementing this. 
  • Between 2010–2021, these and many other measures and activities saved a total of over 100 million kg of CO2-emissions. 

Market assessment
Overall the turnover of EUR 875 million was very satisfied in 2022 compared to 2021 with EUR 735 million. In 2022, EUR 26 million were invested in manufacturing technology. Nevertheless, one needs to recognise that incoming orders during the second half of the year were behind the level from the first half. December, which went very well, could not make up for the previous 5 months. Dominated by discussions regarding skyrocketing energy prices, willingness to invest was clearly limited. As a result, investments were essentially limited to new projects and absolutely necessary capacity expansions. The following picture thus emerges in relation to the Arburg core business: • The mobility (automotive) industry is showing a slight recovery worldwide, but is still far from its previous level. • The electronics/electrical industry is at a consistently good level, has overcome the COVID dip and is at the previous level. • With the medical sector, an important market for ARBURG has developed positively. Currently no longer at the level of 2020 – the COVID peak – but now sustainably strengthened. • The packaging and construction industries have been at a good and consistent level over the last few years. • In the games-sports-leisure sector – an industry that gained during COVID – the previous level has returned. With regard to the sales markets, the following can be reported: • In the 2nd half of the year, Germany clearly responded to the energy discussion already mentioned. • This also applies to all European countries. There, too, the enormous price increases in the areas of materials and energy are a major obstacle. This applies to the plastics processing industry as well as to the entire mechanical engineering sector. • USA has been an important and stable market for Arburg – throughout the entire COVID period and also over the past year. • In Asia, the situation is twofold. Outside of China, there is a lot of movement due to the Chinese COVID strategy and China’s political positioning. In China itself, the mood is finally better after the end of the lockdown and everyone is hoping that there will be a positive impulse towards the future through Chinaplas in Shenzhen. Due to the high energy costs, which will presumably remain at a high level, energy efficiency has once again rapidly gained in importance.