GUANGZHOU, CHINA — Chinese companies and government agencies are increasingly paying attention to energy efficiency requirements, including linking approvals for new investments to equipment that reduces power consumption.
That was the message at a forum held at the Chinaplas trade show in Guangzhou.
The event, organized as part of the Blue Competence energy efficiency and sustainability program promoted by the German machinery trade group VDMA, was part sales pitch for German machinery.
But the May 20 forum also included a strong message from VDMA that the plastics industry faces pressure to more fully embrace machinery and manufacturing processes that consume less energy, regardless of where the machinery comes from.
As an example, Joanne Shen, managing director of Chinese operations for extruder maker Coperion GmbH, said a delegation from the government of Zhejiang province recently came to Coperion's Nanjing factory with the idea of tying government investment approvals to energy-efficient equipment.
“The purpose of this visit is they want to see a qualified suppler who really pays attention to energy savings,” Shen told the forum. “Zhejiang province is a very big province for recycling, but the majority of the compounders use very lousy, dirty, high-energy consumption extruders.”
She said the government officials were interested in creating a “recommended supplier list” and not allowing companies to sell equipment into factories in specific industrial areas, unless they met energy efficiency standards.
“This is an example to show that the Chinese government is paying high attention on this topic,” Shen said.
Other speakers at the event reviewed energy efficiency standards from Europe, including creating standards both for the equipment and the whole manufacturing process.
Karlheinz Bourdon, vice president of technologies at KraussMaffei Technologies GmbH, said the company has developed a system it calls adaptive process control, for better control of manufacturing parameters of the machines. It can reduce energy use by more quickly getting equipment into a stable processing situation after startup, he said.
And Helmut Heinson, managing director of Arburg & Co. GmbH KG, said the injection molding machine maker considers the issue broadly, sourcing 33 percent of its power from renewable sources.
It plans to increase that to 100 percent renewable sourcing by 2016, he said.
“We can't just continue like we've done for these many years, especially in the plastics industry… as we look at things carefully, as we look at the environmental needs and also look at the cost side,” said Thorsten Kühmann, managing director of VDMA's plastics and rubber machinery committee.
He said it was the first time VDMA has taken its three-year-old Blue Competence initiative to Chinaplas, which was held May 20-23.
Coperion's Shen said Chinese companies and governments are putting more emphasis on energy.
“China is changing very fast — our customer is not only looking for what is the machine quality, what is the product quality you can produce, but also how much energy saving I can get from the machine,” she said. “In previous years the GDP is always a key factor… environmental protection, the EHS issue, has become more important.”