LOSSBURG, GERMANY — German automation supplier Festo AG & Co. KG has won the Arburg Energy Efficiency Award, as it opens a new polymer competence center in Hassel/St. Ingbert, Germany.
Officials of Arburg GmbH + Co. KG announced that Festo won award at a March 18 news conference, just before the machinery manufacturer's annual Technology Days at Arburg's Lossburg headquarters.
Arburg worked closely with Festo to configure injection molding machinery — to process both plastics and elastomers — at the new polymer center.
“Over one year ago, we were invited to attend a meeting of planning a brand-new injection molding plant in which energy efficiency would play a leading role,” said Herbert Kraibühler, Arburg's managing director of technology and engineering.
He said collaboration at such an early stage was fairly new for Arburg. But leaders of Festo were “prepared to turn everything on its head, provided it made sense,” he added.
Festo runs 45 Arburg Allrounder injection press for plastics molding and 12 vertical Allrounders for elastomer processing.
Kraibühler said an energy analysis showed electric injection molding machines made sense for lowering energy consumption for plastics molding. For elastomer machines, that have a relatively long curing time to heat the material inside the mold, the partners worked on the latest drive technologies to significantly reduce energy consumption, he said.
Working with Arburg, Festo also designed a smaller cooling plant than the molder originally believed necessary.
Festo, which has many years of experience in prototyping and three-dimensional printing, also did beta testing of Arburg's new Freeformer additive manufacturing machine.
Festo executives, speaking at the awards ceremony in Lossburg, said the company, like Arburg, is a family-owned German business, and committed to social responsibility while pursuing business opportunities.
“This award has a very high meaning for us because it stands for innovation, said Curt-Michael Stoll, Festo's vice president, “It also stands for people that look across borders.”
Michael Hehl, managing partner of Arburg, said Arburg started the Energy Efficiency Award in 2008 to promote companies that use technology to reduce energy use. Energy efficiency is a key goal of Arburg, which generates about one-third of its own energy to run its factory, he said.
Hehl said Arburg generates 24 percent of its energy from gas co-generation, which the company uses to heat and cool the buildings. Wind energy generates 5 percent, and solar contributes 3 percent. The company invested a six-figure amount of money to expand its solar energy plant, he said.
The goal, Hehl said, is for Arburg to generate 50 percent of its own energy.
And in 2012, Arburg received ISO 50001 certification, which commits the company to efficient use of energy in all areas.