Friedrichshafen, Germany — Standing alongside one of the company's digitalized granulators, Mark Hellweg, managing director of granulator producer Hellweg Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG, noted that there were fewer booth visitors at Fakuma 2021 compared with earlier Fakuma fairs.
He stressed however: "But it is the quality that counts, as it was at Kuteno 2021," another recent plastics industry fair, in northern Germany.
The Roetgen, Germany-based company's first digitalized granulator was launched at K 2019, which was a highlight "before the crisis," Hellweg said. "But despite the pandemic, we meanwhile already sell 70 percent of our granulators equipped with digitalization, the entire range."
This achievement exceeded the company's own expectations.
There is strong demand for the new "i" Smart Control version granulators with their Ethernet-based, systemwide OPC-UA standard network provision of energy consumption, motor speed, bearing temperatures, complemented by data on the condition of blades, sieves and drive belts, but Hellweg is already working on making further progress in this area. He cannot yet reveal what he has in mind but says details will be revealed at K 2022.
But the level of digitalization is already quite advanced. It takes a touch on the control screen to change from "eco" to "boost" mode, namely from 60-90 percent power to 130 percent power, also to select the type of plastic being granulated, with or without glass-fiber reinforcement.
Hellweg says the business situation for the company is very positive. Record sales had been achieved in 2019, but effects of the pandemic resulted in around a 10 percent drop in 2020.
But the order books were full in 2020, so looking ahead, Hellweg expects 2021 turnover to exceed the record 2019 level by around 30 percent, or maybe as much as 40 percent.
The MDSi 600/300 granulator on the booth is a midsized granulator. The company's largest will be shown on Nov. 4-5 at the PRSE Plastics Recycling Show Europe in Amsterdam, organized by Crain Communications. That particular huge granulator weighs 12 tonnes, is four meters high and has a 3-by-3-meter footprint, described by Mark Hellweg as some 10 times larger than the one on show at Fakuma.
Hellweg stressed that Hellweg granulators have always been energy-efficient, typically running with energy consumption of 75 kwH compared with around 110-150 kwH for competitors, "but we have now made the next jump by cutting consumption even further, from 75 kwH to 45 kwH."
He stressed that this has been achieved without any reduction in granulator throughput.
Aside from digital data and networking capabilities, Hellweg highlighted the low vibration and noise level, thanks to a flywheel to provide torque and smooth running.