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26.07.2022

Composites Germany – Results of the 19th Market Survey

  • Current crises are dampening mood in composites industry
  • Pessimistic outlook
  • Subdued investment climate
  • Varying expectations for application industries
  • GRP is still a growth driver
  • Composites Index continues to decline

This is the 19th time that Composites Germany has identified the latest performance indicators for the fibre-reinforced plastics market. The survey covered all the member companies of the three major umbrella organisations of Composites Germany: AVK, Leichtbau Baden-Württemberg and the VDMA Working Group on Hybrid Lightweight Construction Technologies.

As before, to ensure a smooth comparison with the previous surveys, the questions in this half-yearly survey have been left unchanged. Once again, the data obtained in the survey is largely qualitative and relates to current and future developments in the market.

  • Current crises are dampening mood in composites industry
  • Pessimistic outlook
  • Subdued investment climate
  • Varying expectations for application industries
  • GRP is still a growth driver
  • Composites Index continues to decline

This is the 19th time that Composites Germany has identified the latest performance indicators for the fibre-reinforced plastics market. The survey covered all the member companies of the three major umbrella organisations of Composites Germany: AVK, Leichtbau Baden-Württemberg and the VDMA Working Group on Hybrid Lightweight Construction Technologies.

As before, to ensure a smooth comparison with the previous surveys, the questions in this half-yearly survey have been left unchanged. Once again, the data obtained in the survey is largely qualitative and relates to current and future developments in the market.

Current crises are dampening mood in composites industry
Both the economy in general and industry in particular are struggling with numerous challenges at the moment. The Covid-19 pandemic has now had a negative impact for over two years and is still affecting a range of segments of the composites industry. One area that has been hit especially hard by the resulting losses is the mobility sector. Another major strain has been a sharp rise in energy costs recently. Above all, we can expect price increases in fuel and gas to become a central issue over the next few months. In addition, there are still problems along international supply chains, coupled with steep increases in raw material prices, partly due to bottlenecks in the supply. The war in Ukraine has put an additional strain on many business sectors, affecting their supply chains, in particular.

In the current survey, both these and other effects have had a major negative impact on the mood in the composites industry.

The assessment index for the current general economic situation is showing a clear decline.

Compared to the last survey, the assessment of the respondents’ own business situations has dropped significantly and for the first time in eighteen months. However, this decline has been far less severe than during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pessimistic outlook
Furthermore, there has been a substantial decline in expectations for the future market development. The key figures for the general economic situation have been declining sharply and have reached an all-time low since the beginning of the survey. The respondents are also less optimistic about future expectations for their own companies.

However, respondents are less extreme when assessing the business situations of their own companies. Despite negative spikes, this curve is far less steep, showing that respondents are expecting less dramatic effects on their own companies than on the industry as a whole.

Subdued investment situation
Although, as expected, the investment climate has also become subdued, it should be noted that, in all, expectations are still relatively high. 70% of all respondents believe that machine investments are possible, or they are planning for it. This figure is somewhat lower than in the previous market survey, but it shows a far less dramatic development than the other factors mentioned above .

Varied expectations for application industries
We already mentioned the high level of heterogeneity of applications in the composite sector. In the survey, respondents were asked to provide assessments of market developments in various core sectors.

Their expectations clearly differ substantially from one another.

The proportion of pessimistic expectations has generally been rising for all application industries. While these expectations are almost entirely within a single-digit range, there has been a clear rise in the proportion of those expecting a deterioration of the market in the various application industries. Similar to the last surveys, major drops are expected above all for the automotive, aviation and mechanical engineering sectors. For the first time, however, we can now also see rather negative expectations on the infrastructure and building sector. Yet this is a segment which often reacts quite slowly to temporary economic fluctuations and has so far shown itself to be relatively resilient towards the above-mentioned crises. It remains to be seen whether such forebodings will come true, or whether the construction industry will continue to hold its own in the face of the current negative forces.

Growth drivers remain stable
Geographically, the survey shows that the most important growth stimuli for the composites segment are expected to come from Germany, Europe and Asia.

Where materials are concerned, we are seeing a continuation of the ongoing paradigm shift. Whereas, in the first 13 surveys, respondents always mentioned CRP as the material with the most important growth drivers in its environment, the most important stimuli are now being expected to come consistently either from GRP or from all materials.

Composites Index continues to decline
The industry is currently going through an extremely tense and difficult period, characterised by rising costs, supply chain issues, lack of availability of certain semifinished products and raw materials, increasing political instability and very pessimistic expectations for the future. All the relevant indicators of the current composites survey are pointing downwards at the moment. After some slight recovery over the last 18 months, the Composite Index has therefore clearly been weakening this time and has been dropping to new low points, especially concerning future expectations.

Industry in general, but particularly also Germany’s composite industry, has always shown itself to be very resilient towards crises and has often cushioned negative developments quickly. The total production volume for composites in Europe last year already reached its pre-crisis level of 2019. Germany continues to be the most important manufacturing country in Europe, with a market share of nearly 20%. Hopefully, the slowdown in the coming months will be less severe than expected and the composites industry will remain on an upward trajectory. We will continue to be optimistic, as composites are highly diverse and therefore a key material of the future.

The next Composites Market Survey will be published in January 2023.

Source:

Composites Germany

(c) A3/Christian Strohmayr
10.05.2022

Fraunhofer reduces CO2 footprint and recycles trendy lightweight carbon material

Neo-ecology through innovative paper technology

To reduce the CO2 footprint, the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV Augsburg research with a state-of-the-art wetlaid nonwoven machine for recycling carbon fibers. The production processes are similar to those of a paper manufacturing machine. The crucial difference: we turn not paper fibers into the paper but recycled carbon fibers into nonwoven roll fabrics. The carbon fiber thus gets a second life and finds an environmentally friendly way in nonwovens, such as door panels, engine bonnets, roof structures, underbody protection (automotive), and heat shields (helicopter tail boom), as well as in aircraft interiors.

“Wetlaid technology for processing technical fibers is currently experiencing a revolution following centuries of papermaking tradition.”
Michael Sauer, Researcher at Fraunhofer IGCV

Neo-ecology through innovative paper technology

To reduce the CO2 footprint, the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV Augsburg research with a state-of-the-art wetlaid nonwoven machine for recycling carbon fibers. The production processes are similar to those of a paper manufacturing machine. The crucial difference: we turn not paper fibers into the paper but recycled carbon fibers into nonwoven roll fabrics. The carbon fiber thus gets a second life and finds an environmentally friendly way in nonwovens, such as door panels, engine bonnets, roof structures, underbody protection (automotive), and heat shields (helicopter tail boom), as well as in aircraft interiors.

“Wetlaid technology for processing technical fibers is currently experiencing a revolution following centuries of papermaking tradition.”
Michael Sauer, Researcher at Fraunhofer IGCV

The wetlaid technology used is one of the oldest nonwoven forming processes (around 140 BC - 100 AD). As an essential industry sector with diverse fields of application, wetlaid nonwovens are no longer only found in the classic paper. Instead, the application areas extend, for example, from adhesive carrier films, and packaging material, to banknotes and their process-integrated watermarks and security features. In the future, particularly sustainable technology fields will be added around battery components, fuel cell elements, filtration layers, and even function-integrated material solutions, e.g., EMI shielding function.

Fraunhofer IGCV wetlaid nonwovens line is specifically designed as a pilot line. In principle, very different fiber materials such as natural, regenerated, and synthetic fibers can be processed, mainly recycled and technical fibers. The system offers the highest possible flexibility regarding material variants and process parameters. In addition, sufficiently high productivity is ensured to allow subsequent scaled processing trials (e.g., demonstrator production).

The main operating range of the wetlaid line relates to the following parameters:

  • Processing speed: up to 30 m/min
  • Role width: 610 mm
  • Grammage: approx. 20–300 gsm
  • Overall machinery is ≥ IP65 standard for processing, e.g., conductive fiber materials
  • Machine design based on an angled wire configuration with high dewatering capacity, e.g., for processing highly diluted fiber suspensions or for material variants with high water retention capacity.
  • Machine modular system design with maximum flexibility for a quick change of material variants or a quick change of process parameters. The setup allows short-term hardware adaptations as well as project-specific modifications.

Research focus: carbon recycling at the end of the life cycle
The research focus of Fraunhofer IGCV is primarily in the field of technical staple fibers. The processing of recycled carbon fibers is a particular focus. Current research topics in this context include, for example, the research, optimization, and further development of binder systems, different fiber lengths and fiber length distributions, nonwoven homogeneity, and fiber orientation. In addition, the focus is on the integration of digital as well as AI-supported methods within the framework of online process monitoring. Further research topics, such as the production of gas diffusion layers for fuel cell components, the further development of battery elements, and filtration applications, are currently being developed.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV

Photo: Pixabay
12.04.2022

Disrupted supply chains: Only nearshoring and digital technologies will help in the long term

  • McKinsey survey: Globally, more than 90 percent of supply chain managers are investing in the resilience of their supply chains during the Corona crisis.
  • But more often than not, they are simply increasing inventories instead of focusing on long-term effective measures such as regionalization of suppliers.
  • Only the healthcare industry has consistently relied on nearshoring and regionalization of suppliers so far.

Supply chain managers worldwide are under pressure: More than 90 percent invested during the Corona crisis to make their supply chains more resilient to external disruptions. More often than planned, however, supply chain managers resorted to the ad hoc measure of simply increasing inventories. And less often than planned, they also relied on long-term effects by regionalizing their supply base.

  • McKinsey survey: Globally, more than 90 percent of supply chain managers are investing in the resilience of their supply chains during the Corona crisis.
  • But more often than not, they are simply increasing inventories instead of focusing on long-term effective measures such as regionalization of suppliers.
  • Only the healthcare industry has consistently relied on nearshoring and regionalization of suppliers so far.

Supply chain managers worldwide are under pressure: More than 90 percent invested during the Corona crisis to make their supply chains more resilient to external disruptions. More often than planned, however, supply chain managers resorted to the ad hoc measure of simply increasing inventories. And less often than planned, they also relied on long-term effects by regionalizing their supply base. These are the key findings of a comparative study for which management consultants McKinsey & Company surveyed more than 70 supply chain managers from leading companies worldwide - for the first time in 2020 and again this year. Further results: Digital technologies are used much more frequently today than at the beginning of the pandemic, for example real-time monitoring or analytics based on artificial intelligence (AI).

The survey also quantifies the striking shortage of IT specialists in the area of supply management: in 2021, only one percent of the companies surveyed had enough IT specialists. "In the wake of the digitalization push, the need for IT skills is becoming even more of a bottleneck than it already has been," reports Vera Trautwein, McKinsey expert for supply chain management and co-author of the study. "As a result, the scope for action is also decreasing dramatically." In 2020, ten percent of the supply chain managers surveyed still had access to sufficient experts with the relevant IT know-how in their departments. How did the supply chain managers act during the crisis? Almost all respondents (92 percent) have invested in the resilience of their supply chains, and 80 percent have also invested in digital supply chain technologies. But while 40 percent of the 2020 respondents in McKinsey's first "Supply Chain Pulse" had still planned nearshoring and expanding their supplier base, only 15 percent ultimately put this into action. Instead, significantly more managers than expected - 42 percent versus 27 percent - expanded their inventories.

The 2020/21 comparative study also shows that supply chain managers have acted very differently in the crisis, depending on the industry. Healthcare can be considered a pioneer in the regionalization of the supply chain: 60 percent of the respondents in the industry have actually concentrated procurement, production and sales in a region such as Europe or North America, which they have also announced. In 2020, 33 percent of companies in the automotive, aerospace and defense industries had also announced this. However, according to their own figures, only 22 percent actually did so. This was despite the fact that more than three quarters of supply chain managers had given this measure priority. The chemicals and raw materials sectors made the fewest changes to their supply chains.

After the crisis is before the crisis
Over the years, supply chains have evolved into a high-frequency sensitive organism. Consistently globalized, optimized to fluctuations in consumer demand and with as little inventory as possible to cut costs. "This strategy has left companies vulnerable," notes McKinsey partner Knut Alicke. "And during the crisis, measures were taken that were more effective in the short term." As a result, supply chains are not yet resilient enough to prevent future disruptions. "For companies, nearshoring of suppliers remains a key factor in increasing their crisis resilience in the medium to long term." In addition, however, he said, the expansion and use of digital technologies are the key factors for resilient supply chains.

The pressure to act is great: Massive supply chain disruptions occur on average every 3.7 years and disrupt supply chains for at least one month. This was the conclusion of another McKinsey study on supply chains entitled "Risk, resilience, and rebalancing in global value chains" back in 2020.

Source:

McKinsey & Company [Düsseldorf, Germany]

Foto: Lalit Kumar, Unsplash
29.03.2022

The man-made fibers industry at the turning point of time

"You don't tear down a house before the new one is ready for occupancy."

Textination talked to the Managing Director of the Industrievereinigung Chemiefaser e.V., Dr. Wilhelm Rauch, about his assessment of the turning point that the man-made fibers industry is currently facing. What are the risks and threats, and what needs to change in order to remain a competitive player on the global market.

"You don't tear down a house before the new one is ready for occupancy."

Textination talked to the Managing Director of the Industrievereinigung Chemiefaser e.V., Dr. Wilhelm Rauch, about his assessment of the turning point that the man-made fibers industry is currently facing. What are the risks and threats, and what needs to change in order to remain a competitive player on the global market.

US President Joe Biden has called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a war criminal in connection with the invasion of Ukraine. The United Nations' highest court, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, has ordered Russia to immediately end its war against Ukraine. How do you personally assess Russia's behavior?
Dr. Rauch:
With family roots in the Rhineland, Central and East Germany, I grew up at a time when, as a result of the division of Europe, families were separated and people were ruthlessly shot in the middle of Germany who wanted to cross the inner-German demarcation line towards the West. Since 1989, the fall of the Iron Curtain has led us into a period that lasted more than 30 years and allowed us, at least in Europe, to experience an era of peaceful coexistence between the great power blocs, intensive trade relations and prosperous states.

It is more than shocking to see today how Russia is trying to turn back the wheel of history in Europe with a brutality that the youngest generation growing up in Europe has fortunately not had to experience so far, and it brings back the worst memories of the Cold War, which everyone hoped would never return. If today in Ukraine even facilities for the peaceful use of nuclear energy are fired upon, a dimension has been reached that one does not want to extrapolate any further. In addition to the unspeakable human suffering caused, which we can only begin to alleviate by accepting Ukrainian refugees, in the long term all trust in political promises is being gambled away, which, however, is essential both for peaceful coexistence and for economic cooperation. We are facing a reordering of the world in which supply relationships and dependencies with or on autocratic states must be evaluated much more sensitively for each individual case.

The economic consequences of the Russia-Ukraine conflict are becoming increasingly clear. The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) is correcting its forecast for 2022, but does not yet see a recession. What are your expectations for the industry in the current fiscal year?
Dr. Rauch:
The man-made fibers industry has been severely affected by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in the last two years. Planned investments were first postponed and then finally abandoned. By the end of 2022, three man-made fibers producers will close their doors in Germany compared to 2019. The industry started the current year on a very hopeful note, although previous issues such as REACH and, above all, energy costs were already increasing in severity before the Russia-Ukraine war. The economic consequences of the war will have a negative impact both directly in the form of increased energy prices and indirectly through changes in international competitive conditions.

What do the war in Ukraine and the economic sanctions against Russia entail for the upstream supply chains of the manmade fiber industry?
Dr. Rauch:
The immediate upstream supply chains will not be affected much by this war at first. However, we must expect supply chains in other industries to be disrupted. If, for example, certain raw materials or products are no longer available, this can have a noticeable impact, starting with logistics (mobility) and extending to components in production technology facilities. An example of this is the availability of cable harnesses, which were previously produced in Ukraine and are indispensable in many electronic components for man-made fibers production.

What is the relevance of Ukraine and Russia as sales markets for IVC member companies?
Dr. Rauch:
If we take the last year before the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic as the reference year, exports to Ukraine and the Russian Federation account for around 1.6% of total exports of man-made fibers from Germany. On average, a loss of sales to these countries can be tolerated, although it should not be forgotten that in individual cases - depending on a company's product portfolio - the impact can be quite significant. Looking beyond the horizon, it is not only the direct exports of man-made fibers to the war region that are of significance, but also deliveries of products in which man-made fibers are processed. Here, there are now interrupted supply relationships that result in order losses for the man-made fibers industry.

Certain industries are particularly affected by the consequences - what does this mean for the man-made fibers sector as a supplier industry?
Dr. Rauch:
Wherever production is cut back along the downstream value chain in which man-made fibers were used, the effects will be noticeable with a temporal delay. This applies, for example, to deliveries to the automotive sector, where the production of new vehicles comes to a standstill due to a lack of components originating from Ukraine.

How are exploding energy prices and the gas embargo affecting man-made fibers producers in the DACH region?
Dr. Rauch:
Even before the Russia-Ukraine war, European energy costs were already at a level that hit our members hard. For example, European gas costs currently rose by ten times from approx. 12 EUR/MWh to approx. 120 EUR/MWh as a result of the war, while in the USA they "only" rose by two and a half times from approx. 8 EUR/MWh to approx. 18 EUR/MWh. The situation is similar for electricity prices in Germany in particular, which have also risen by a factor of 10 from an already high level. Further price increases in Europe cannot be ruled out, but are more likely. Against this background, moderate adjustments in man-made fibers prices are only a drop in the bucket. A market development with virtually exploding energy costs cannot be reliably depicted by any company, nor can it be priced in such a way as to cover costs.

As the industry association of the man-made fibers industry, what do you think of "Freeze for Peace" or a stop to all Russian gas and raw material imports?
Dr. Rauch:
In Germany in particular, we have deliberately made ourselves dependent on Russian gas, contrary to all international warnings, by defining it as necessary for the bridge technology of electricity generation that we will need after the shutdown of coal- and nuclear-based power plants, before the availability of a sufficient amount of so-called "green" energy is assured. Gas is also needed for heating purposes and as a raw material, so it takes on the function of an all-rounder.

A boycott-related import stop would not only have serious negative consequences for the man-made fibers sector, but for the entire German industry and the majority of private households. As I mentioned at the beginning, it is the order of the day to help alleviate human suffering by taking in Ukrainian refugees. But this is not the end of the crisis. It must be assumed that the war situation will not be resolved in the near future. However, in order to cope with a protracted crisis situation, our economic strength must be maintained in order to be able to cope with the challenges ahead. An import freeze would be counterproductive in this respect. Since, due to the latest developments, gas deliveries are now to be paid for in rubles, there is rather a risk that Russia, for its part, will stop gas deliveries. In their effect, the two scenarios do not differ. The only thing that is certain is the fact that the availability of Russian gas to Europe is no longer guaranteed. Ultimately, the Russian demand to switch payments to rubles, which is not only aimed at revaluing the ruble, makes it clear that Russia is not dependent on Europe as a buyer of its gas. This would mean that a "freeze for peace" would lead to nothing. In the Far East, there is already a potential buyer of Russian gas to obtain it cheaply and safely, and which is also a major competitor of the European chemical fiber industry: China.

Are agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar a good substitute solution for gas and oil supplies from Russia?
Dr. Rauch:
It is not a question of evaluating a measure in the sense of good or bad, but of whether it appears suitable in this particular situation to reduce unilateral dependencies on an aggressor before sustainable solutions are available in sufficient quantity. In this respect, there should initially be no ideological barriers in the measures to be examined for feasibility. The agreements concluded with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar after certainly careful political scrutiny are individual decisions and represent only one piece in the mosaic among many.

Does the saying "First we had bad luck, then we were not lucky at all" apply to the current economic performance of the industry - or: how do you assess the influence of the Corona pandemic and the war situation in this respect?
Dr. Rauch:
Both the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war are events with a global character. While the first event affected all countries equally sooner or later, the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war must be assessed in a more differentiated manner. The consequences of the war primarily affect companies in Europe, and there in particular those countries which - as mentioned above - have placed themselves in unilateral dependencies like Germany. This does not apply to the man-made fibers industry in particular. Although there are many fellow sufferers in other industries, this does not improve the situation, of course.

What does the industry expect from the political leaders in Berlin and Brussels in the future?
Dr. Rauch:
The wish list can be fixed to a few core elements:
In the long term, we need a supply of energy and raw materials that is not based on the dependence of a few autocratic states. On the way there, against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war, previous exit scenarios from coal and nuclear energy must be reconsidered without prejudice with regard to their timeline. Or to put it more concisely: You don't tear down a house before the new one is ready for occupancy.

But energies from renewable raw materials must also be offered at prices that allow global competitiveness. According to a study by DECHEMA and FutureCamp, the chemical industry has calculated a price of 4 ct/kWh (including all taxes and fees). We are miles away from this today.

The revision of REACH must not lead to further bureaucracy and requirements that tie up capacity in companies. What we need in Europe is not dotting the i on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but to ensure that we do not slide down the levels step by step and that the i dot floats in the air without an "i".

European economic policy must focus on the international competitiveness of European industry. It is not sufficient to consider and regulate the European Union only from the point of view of the internal market. The planned carbon border mechanism is such an example. It is intended to impose customs duties on imports that carry a high CO2 burden. This may protect the domestic market, but it does nothing at all to help export-oriented European industry such as the man-made fibers sector on the international world market, because European production costs remain too high by global standards despite the carbon border taxes.

The European Commission must increasingly recognize the European industry and with it the man-made fibers industry as problem solvers. Man-made fibers are indispensable as products for the energy turnaround (rotor blades for wind turbines), lightweight construction in mobility (lightweight car bodies in composite systems), sustainable road construction (geotextiles to reinforce the road surface and increase its service life), reduction of steel-reinforced concrete and thus cement, sand and gravel (reinforcement with high-tensile man-made fibers) and medical products (medical masks, bandaging materials, stents).

In Europe, we again need more market economy and no small-scale regulations that are adapted again and again and proliferate into an impenetrable thicket.

With all the wishes to politicians mentioned above, let me finally mention the following with regard to the current situation: In 1961, after the Berlin Wall was built, Russian and American tanks faced each other at Checkpoint Charlie at a distance of less than 50 meters, ready to fire.

A year later, in October 1962, nuclear-equipped American and Russian naval units met head-on in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Both John F. Kennedy and Nikita S. Khrushchev - bitter rivals in the contest of political systems - were sensible enough at the time not to let the situation escalate.

At present, I wish our national, European and transatlantic politicians’ unconditional determination in the defense of our free democratic values, but I also appeal to all politicians worldwide to take to heart one of Albert Einstein's fundamental perceptions: "I don't know what weapons will be used in the Third World War. But I can tell you what they'll use in the Fourth - rocks!"

Source:

Textination

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

Photo: Rostyslav Savchyn, Unsplash
22.03.2022

Again more Chinese company takeovers in Europe

  • Increase from 132 to 155 transactions - transaction value increases eightfold to 12.4 billion US dollars
  • Number of Chinese acquisitions in Germany rises from 28 to 35
  • UK most popular investment destination for Chinese companies followed by Germany

After the pandemic-related decline in Chinese company acquisitions in Europe in 2020, the number of transactions increased again in 2021: from 132 to 155. The transaction volume also increased: The value of investments and acquisitions has increased more than eightfold from $1.5 billion to $12.4 billion.

  • Increase from 132 to 155 transactions - transaction value increases eightfold to 12.4 billion US dollars
  • Number of Chinese acquisitions in Germany rises from 28 to 35
  • UK most popular investment destination for Chinese companies followed by Germany

After the pandemic-related decline in Chinese company acquisitions in Europe in 2020, the number of transactions increased again in 2021: from 132 to 155. The transaction volume also increased: The value of investments and acquisitions has increased more than eightfold from $1.5 billion to $12.4 billion.

Chinese investors also appeared more frequently again in Germany: After only 28 transactions by Chinese companies were counted in 2020, there were 35 of such investments or acquisitions in 2021. The investment volume rose from USD 0.4 billion to USD 2.0 billion. This figure does not include venture capital investments in German startups totaling USD 1.9 billion in 2021, in which Chinese companies were active as part of international investor groups.

These are the findings of a study by the audit and consulting firm EY, which examines investments by Chinese companies in Germany and Europe.

"Chinese companies remain cautious about investing in Europe overall," observes Yi Sun, partner and head of China Business Services in the Europe West region at EY. "One contributing factor is still the pandemic, which continued to cause disruptions in 2021 - partly because of mitigation measures such as travel restrictions, strict quarantine rules for people traveling to China from abroad, and lockdowns both in Europe and in China itself. Most Chinese companies that have already acquired companies abroad have been more concerned with restructuring in Europe in recent years rather than expanding further - especially in the automotive supply and machinery sectors."

According to Sun, the now high hurdles for foreign investments, especially in certain critical industries, as well as increasing competition from financial investors with strong capital, also had a dampening effect. "Purchase prices on the M&A market have risen sharply recently - in some cases, the Chinese interested parties didn't want to go along with that. Listed Chinese companies in particular fear putting pressure on their own share price with expensive acquisitions," Sun said. "In addition, some of the potential takeover candidates own production facilities or R&D centers in the US. In such cases, they may fear rejection by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) - and potential Chinese bidders may not even be invited."

Declining interest in industrial companies
Traditional industrial companies continue to account for the majority of deals - especially in Germany: 12 of the 35 transactions in Germany and 30 of the 155 transactions in Europe took place in the industrial sector.

However, their number is declining: In 2020, 36 industrial transactions were counted across Europe. "Chinese investors are still interested in European automotive suppliers or mechanical engineering companies - but now more in the subsectors of electromobility, autonomous driving and high-tech materials," says Sun.

However, Yi Sun identifies a significant increase in interest elsewhere: "Chinese private equity funds and venture capitalists are becoming increasingly active. In Germany in particular, there were some very large investments in startups last year in which Chinese investors were significantly involved. In addition to German engineering skills, e-commerce expertise is increasingly in demand."

High tech/software companies accounted for 27 transactions across Europe last year (previous year: 20). "We see an increased interest in game developers and software programmers, for example. Especially the most active Chinese investor last year, Tencent, has recently become heavily involved in this segment," observes Sun.

The number of acquisitions and investments in the healthcare sector also increased: from 16 to 26 transactions. "The healthcare sector - whether pharma, biotech or medical technology - is increasingly becoming one of the most important target sectors for Chinese companies because there is a lot of pent-up demand in this sector in China, especially in research and development."

Great Britain replaces Germany as top destination in Europe
Most transactions were recorded in the UK last year. With 36 acquisitions and investments, the UK is just ahead of Germany (35 transactions) and well ahead of the third-placed Netherlands (13).

In the previous year, the order at the top was reversed: in 2020, Germany with 28 transactions was ahead of the UK with 21 deals.

"To the extent that the interest of Chinese investors is moving away from classic industrial companies toward technology, software and media companies, the target market of Great Britain is gaining in importance," says Sun. However, she is convinced that Germany remains an attractive market for Chinese investors: "Many Chinese companies have had good experiences with their investments in Germany in particular. In addition, there are now close and resilient ties between China and Germany at many levels. We will see more Chinese transactions in Germany in the coming months - especially when the impact of the pandemic on the economy subsides," Sun expects.

The largest investment in Europe last year was the sale of Philips' home appliances division to Hong Kong-based investment firm Hillhouse Capital for $4.4 billion.

The second largest transaction was Tencent's acquisition of the British developer studio Sumo Digital for US$1.1 billion, followed by China International Marine Containers' takeover of the Danish reefer container manufacturer Maersk Container Industry for also US$1.1 billion.

Study Design:

  • Sources: EY research, Thomson ONE, Merger Market, communications from the companies or consulting firms and law firms involved.
  • Acquisitions and investments originating from companies headquartered in China and Hong Kong or their subsidiaries were examined.
  • The target companies are headquartered in Europe and are operationally active.
  • Pure real estate transactions were not included.
  • The analysis also included transactions that had not yet been completed as of the reporting date of Feb. 17, 2022

Increasingly, Chinese investors are also participating in venture capital financing rounds, mostly as part of investor groups. In these cases, it is often not possible to determine the amount provided by the Chinese investor. Therefore, these transactions are included in the number of transactions but not in the total values.

Source:

Ernst & Young Global Limited (EYG)

IT solutions for stable supply chains © pixabay
30.11.2021

IT solutions for stable supply chains

Global supply chains comprise complex networks, making them particularly vulnerable. The UK is a prime example of this, where logistics problems are currently resulting in empty supermarket shelves and closed gas stations. Fraunhofer experts provide IT solutions that counteract supply bottlenecks in international goods traffic and maintain robust supply chains.

Earthquakes in South America, floods in Germany or political unrest in Asia: all compromise supply chains. A research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM is developing mathematical methods that can be used to calculate how to minimize risks to supply chains. “Mathematically speaking,” explains Dr. Heiner Ackermann, Deputy Head of Optimization – Operations Research, “these disruptive events create a multidimensional decision problem.”    

Global supply chains comprise complex networks, making them particularly vulnerable. The UK is a prime example of this, where logistics problems are currently resulting in empty supermarket shelves and closed gas stations. Fraunhofer experts provide IT solutions that counteract supply bottlenecks in international goods traffic and maintain robust supply chains.

Earthquakes in South America, floods in Germany or political unrest in Asia: all compromise supply chains. A research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM is developing mathematical methods that can be used to calculate how to minimize risks to supply chains. “Mathematically speaking,” explains Dr. Heiner Ackermann, Deputy Head of Optimization – Operations Research, “these disruptive events create a multidimensional decision problem.”    

Cushioning risks without additional costs
Ackermann’s team of experts analyze the properties of supply chains using mathematical models. The failure scenarios simulated on the basis of these calculations show at which points there is a greater need for action. In the second step, the researchers focus on holistic optimization – for a more robust supply chain that can cushion risks without incurring major costs. The experts package all variables into a multicriteria optimization problem. In this way, they determine the best possible solution for the triad of resilience, cost and risk. Algorithms calculate the optimum balance and with it various options for raw materials, suppliers and warehousing. Even the use of alternative materials is considered. The top priority: as few assumptions as possible. “Our work has set the ball rolling – companies that previously relied on Excel spreadsheets and their gut feeling are now engaging in very fruitful discussions,” explains Ackermann, adding: “Whether you are dealing with supply chains or supply networks, mathematics is a universal and very effective tool.”

Early detection of potential supply shortages
The Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML also offers highly effective support for testing and optimizing supply chains with its Order-To-Delivery-NETwork (OTD-NET) simulator. Thanks to this tool, planning and material flow processes from order to delivery can be continuously assessed. “OTD-NET maps even highly complex supply chains in full and at all levels, including the planning and information flow processes. Using various parameters, it is possible to accurately model cooperation between supply chain partners on the computer,” specifies Marco Motta, Head of Supply Chain Engineering at Fraunhofer IML.
 
Combining digital twins of supply chains with simulations
The tool set examines networks particularly with regard to customer promises in terms of delivery reliability and quality, etc., costs, environmental considerations and, in the analysis of alternative scenarios, resilience. “In the simulation, I can easily play around with demand peaks, a slump in the respective market or scenarios in which production is disrupted,” explains the Fraunhofer IML expert. In this way, forecasts can be made about how a supply chain will react in a state of emergency. Logistics assistance systems that combine a digital twin of the supply chain with simulations show dispatchers which cargo ships have loaded which parts, where these are located and when the consignment will be available at the required location. Supply for the next 20–30 weeks can thus be depicted for global networks, enabling potential bottlenecks to be detected early on. Tracking is also a distinguishing feature of the solution for demand and capacity management. Not only is the number of parts affected displayed but planners can also directly see the impact of this on the whole of production.
 
Most recently, both the automotive and medical sectors have suffered from supply bottlenecks. Saskia Sardesai, Senior Scientist at Fraunhofer IML, is leading different research projects in which OTD-NET is being used to increase resilience in value creation networks for medical supplies. “Especially smaller and medium-sized companies were addressing this problem using existing spreadsheet analysis tools. However, this approach does not identify dynamics.” This is where OTD-NET comes into play: The simulation dynamically shows over a long period whether all parts will be at the right location at the right time. “If all parts are available except for those from my transatlantic supplier and there is no alternative supplier in Europe, I will quickly have a break in my chain lasting over a month,” outlines the specialist.

Increasing the European manufacturing sector’s resilience to future pandemics In the European research project “CO-VERSATILE”, overseen by Sardesai, participants are doing everything in their power to increase the European manufacturing sector’s resilience to future pandemics. The supply chain should be able to react quickly and effectively to a sudden spike in demand for strategic medical supplies. To that end, experts at Fraunhofer IML have developed a simulation model that takes into account future peaks and fluctuations in demand as well as supplier risks. Companies are immediately given an overview of which effects they will have to face. “We have created very simple models to facilitate rapid feedback and implementation for a variety of companies,” explains the project manager. Particular attention was paid to capacities, lead times, transportation frequency and possible supply restrictions. Users can see how individual factors interplay – an invaluable advantage compared to the long-standing Excel solution.

(c) PERFORMANCE DAYS
16.11.2021

PERFORMANCE DAYS 2021: Hybrid Event in December

From December 1 to 2, 2021, the industry will meet up again live at the trade fair center in Munich. Trade visitors, industry insiders and experts can look forward to inter-personal exchanges, intensive networking, exciting fabric innovations and various other program highlights. The fair will go ahead in strict compliance with the current official hygiene regulations and in close cooperation with the Messe München authorities. Planned as a hybrid event, PERFORMANCE DAYS offers the possibility to follow what is on offer digitally.

From December 1 to 2, 2021, the industry will meet up again live at the trade fair center in Munich. Trade visitors, industry insiders and experts can look forward to inter-personal exchanges, intensive networking, exciting fabric innovations and various other program highlights. The fair will go ahead in strict compliance with the current official hygiene regulations and in close cooperation with the Messe München authorities. Planned as a hybrid event, PERFORMANCE DAYS offers the possibility to follow what is on offer digitally.

Live in Munich: PERFORMANCE DAYS in Hall A6
In Hall A6 on the grounds of the New Trade Center in Munich, trade visitors can look forward to an extensive portfolio of exhibitors showcasing their latest functional textiles and fabric innovations for the upcoming winter season, winter 2023/24. Exhibitors who are unable to present their highlights on site can also be accessed via the PERFORMANCE DAYS LOOP digital platform throughout the course of the fair. As part of the newly developed “remote booths” concept, trade visitors will for the first time also find collections from exhibitors who cannot be in Munich in person for the trade show. Interactive exchanges via chat, call or video call is planned.

Two further PERFORMANCE DAYS fairs are planned as live events: The Functional Fabric Fair by PERFORMANCE DAYS in Portland, Oregon, USA on November 17-18, 2021 and Functional Textiles Shanghai by PERFORMANCE DAYS on December 6-7, 2021. Registration is open at www.functionalfabricfair.com/ and www.functionaltextilesshanghai.com/

PERFORMANCE FORUM together with USA Fair
As part of the PERFORMANCE FORUM, a select jury of experts assembles for two days prior to the fair to exchange views on the latest fabric innovations for the winter 23/24 season. In order to ensure a more global market overview, the PERFORMANCE FORUM will curate highlights for the first time in conjunction with the US fair in Portland. Consequently, the next fair in Munich will not only feature the latest products from exhibitors at the Munich fair, but also highlights from the fair in Portland. This year’s Focus Topic in cooperation with the Vaude Academy will engage with the topic “The Sustainable Future of Nylon” and a specific hand-chosen selection of fabric materials. Furthermore, as part of the winter fair, the “sustain & innovate” conference on sustainability, organized in close cooperation with SAZsport, will take an in-depth look at the topic comprising all its aspects along with speakers, webinars and discussion rounds. The program will be broadcast live from the fair and thus accessible for all who wish to follow it online in digital form.  

Eco Award and Performance Award for Innovative Winter Fabrics 23/24
This year, in addition to a PERFORMANCE AWARD, the jury also presented an ECO PERFORMANCE AWARD. An integral part of the winter edition of PERFORMANCE DAYS is the presentation of the fabric highlights and accessory trends in the respective categories for the Winter Season 2023/24 at the PERFORMANCE FORUM. The well-known segments will be joined for the first time this winter by the Shoes & Bags category, while the renowned Lifestyle Category will be continued under its new title, “Function Meets Fashion”. The high level of innovation and quality of many of the fabrics submitted this year are particularly striking.

“The fusion of the two PERFORMANCE FORUMs of our fairs in Munich and Portland has lead to a significant increase in quality and innovation. Thanks to the new partnership, not only were we able to get new, exciting manufacturers on board, but there was also a significant increase in participation in general“, says Marco Weichert, CEO of PERFORMANCE DAYS.

Natural fabrics such as organic cotton, wool or canvas remain in demand. These are joined by significantly more plant fibers such as hemp, coconut shell, bamboo or fibers derived from pineapple or banana leaves. The additional use of castor oil, zinc or ginger supports the antibacterial effect, ensures enhanced breathability, optimum temperature management and makes the fabric soft, light and kind to the skin. The topic of recycling presents itself in various new facets and features exciting trends. The portfolio ranges from the recycling of marine waste, such as old buoys, plastic waste or fishing nets, to the recycling of waste from the automotive and computer industries, such as old car tires or computer chips. Natural dyeing methods are also gaining increasing importance, as is the recycling of materials into the textile loop.

In the Marketplace, visitors have the opportunity to view over 13,000+ products from exhibitors, including the fabric highlights of the individual categories at the PERFORMANCE FORUM. In order to be able to present the fabrics to the digital visitors as realistically as possible in terms of feel, design and structure, the PERFORMANCE FORUM has been equipped with groundbreaking 3D technology, including innovative tools such as 3D images, video animations and U3M files for download.

In addition to the PERFORMANCE AWARD WINNER, which goes to drielease/Optimer, there is also an ECO PERFORMANCE AWARD WINNER, awarded to Long Advance.

Completely new look: With the innovative Dricomfort Geo, drirelease turns to a blend of 6 % Lycra, 44 % polyester and 50 % recycled polyester. The processing of the various fibers in the knitting process, in combination with the Dricomfort GEO finishing, makes the reversible interlock fabric unique.

Unique, new pattern and knit designs are possible thanks to a special jacquard knitting process used to process the recycled polyester yarn. The material impresses with its lightness and versatility. The GEO technology also ensures optimal body temperature management. The adaptable technology provides excellent thermal regulation features through efficient heat management and enhanced moisture transport to optimize comfort and performance. Moreover, GEO boasts UV protection up to 50+.

New recycling variant: Long Advance presents LNT-21191-Z4C, a post consumer nylon that opens up a new world to recycling. The fabric, which consists of 7 % elastane and 93% recycled polyamide via Mass Balance, introduces new facets to the topic of recycling. BASF is using tire waste from now on and processes them into a new fiber. fiber. Due to the recycling, the need for synthetic fabrics are reduced to replace petroleum-based plastics with plastics made from renewable raw materials.

Photo: Pixabay
03.08.2021

Composites Germany presents results of the 17th Composites Market Survey

  • Highly positive rating of current business situation
  • Future expectations are optimistic
  • Varied expectations for application industries
  • Still the same growth drivers

This is the seventeenth time that Composites Germany has identified the latest KPIs for the fibre-reinforced plastics market. The survey covered all the member companies of the three major umbrella organisations of Composites Germany: AVK (Industrievereinigung Verstärkte Kunststoffe e.V.), Leichtbau Baden-Württemberg and the VDMA Working Group on Hybrid Lightweight Construction Technologies.

As before, to ensure a smooth comparison with the previous surveys, the questions in this half-yearly survey have been left unchanged. Once again, the data obtained in the survey is largely qualitative and relates to current and future market developments.

  • Highly positive rating of current business situation
  • Future expectations are optimistic
  • Varied expectations for application industries
  • Still the same growth drivers

This is the seventeenth time that Composites Germany has identified the latest KPIs for the fibre-reinforced plastics market. The survey covered all the member companies of the three major umbrella organisations of Composites Germany: AVK (Industrievereinigung Verstärkte Kunststoffe e.V.), Leichtbau Baden-Württemberg and the VDMA Working Group on Hybrid Lightweight Construction Technologies.

As before, to ensure a smooth comparison with the previous surveys, the questions in this half-yearly survey have been left unchanged. Once again, the data obtained in the survey is largely qualitative and relates to current and future market developments.

Highly positive rating of current business situation
After ratings of the current business situation had been steadily declining for nearly two years in succession, last year’s survey already displayed a trend reversal towards a more positive outlook. This positive trend has now continued in the latest survey, with entirely positive ratings for all three regions (Germany, Europe and worldwide). For ex-ample, 80% described the current general business situation as either positive or indeed very positive.

Moreover, unlike in the last survey, this more optimistic assessment applies not only to the general business situation, but also to the respondents’ own businesses, as they gave even more positive ratings than last year.     

There are currently quite a few challenges in the industrial environment. In many cases, the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, has merely receded, but has not disappeared.      
Business models have been and are still requiring adjustments. In some cases, supply chains have been severely disrupted and there are still some serious bottlenecks. The blockage of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given has once again highlighted the vulnerability of international commerce.

Shortages of raw materials, sharp increases in the prices of many raw materials and, most recently, a shortage of chips are having a major impact on various application industries. Nevertheless, the overall picture in the composites in-dustry is extremely optimistic. Similarly positive ratings were last achieved in the autumn 2018 and spring 2019 surveys.

Future expectations are optimistic
The positive prevailing mood is further reinforced by positive expectations for the future. A consistently optimistic picture emerged when respondents were asked about their ex-pectations for future business developments. For example, more than 80% of respond-ents are expecting the business situation in Europe to improve over the next six months. The pattern is similar for the other regions.

Varied expectations for application industries
Expectations on selected application industries vary substantially. As in the previous survey, significant declines are expected, above all, in automotive, aviation and wind energy. However, we can see that the proportion of respondents giving more pessimistic assessments has once again declined significantly.
Whereas, in the last sur-vey, 46% were expecting to see the situation get worse in aviation, this value has now dropped to a “mere” 17%. In the automotive sector, it has dropped from 17% (second half of 2020) to only 14%.

Two areas of application, in particular – infrastructure/construction and sports/leisure – have long been seen by many respondents as major growth stimulants for the composites industry. Even in times of a more difficult industrial environment, these two areas are currently proving to be especially robust.

GRP is still a growth driver
As before, the current market survey shows Germany, Europe and Asia as the global regions expected to deliver the most important growth stimuli for the composites segment. Expectations for Asia, on the other hand, have declined somewhat in favour of Europe. Where materials are concerned, we are seeing a continuation of the ongoing paradigm shift.      

Respondents are still convinced that CRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic) is losing ground as a growth driver. However, GRP (glass fibre reinforced plastic) is now ranking as the most important material for the third time in succession. A large number of respondents have also mentioned the area entitled “Across All Segments” this time.

Composites are still relatively young materials with a great deal of potential. It remains exciting to see to what extent composites will continue to emerge as alternative materials and whether they can benefit from the major forthcoming developments (e.g. alternative drives, a growing demand for sustainability, alternative power sources, 5G, etc.).
The next Composites Market Survey will be published in January 2022. 

(c) Fraunhofer IAP
08.06.2021

Fraunhofer IAP: Recyclable, Fiber-reinforced Material made from Bio-based Polylactic Acid

"Packaging made from bio-based plastics has long been established. We are now supporting the further development of these materials for new areas of application. If in the future the market also offers plant-based materials for technically demanding tasks such as vehicle construction, the bioeconomy will take a decisive step forward," explained Uwe Feiler, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in Potsdam. The occasion was the handover of a grant to the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP. The Fraunhofer IAP wants to develop a composite material that consists entirely of bio-based polylactic acid (PLA) and is significantly easier to recycle than conventional fiber composites.

"Packaging made from bio-based plastics has long been established. We are now supporting the further development of these materials for new areas of application. If in the future the market also offers plant-based materials for technically demanding tasks such as vehicle construction, the bioeconomy will take a decisive step forward," explained Uwe Feiler, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in Potsdam. The occasion was the handover of a grant to the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP. The Fraunhofer IAP wants to develop a composite material that consists entirely of bio-based polylactic acid (PLA) and is significantly easier to recycle than conventional fiber composites.

The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is intensively promoting the development of biomaterials as part of its Renewable Resources funding program. More than 100 projects are currently underway, covering a wide range of topics: from plastics that are degradable in the sea to natural fiber-reinforced lightweight components for the automotive sector. The projects are supported by the Agency for Renewable Resources, the BMEL project management agency responsible for the Renewable Resources funding program.

Easier recycling of fiber-reinforced plastics
PLA is one of the particularly promising bio-based materials. The global market for this polymer is growing by around 10 percent a year. PLA is also used, among other things, as a matrix in fiber-reinforced plastics. In these mechanically resilient plastics, reinforcing fibers are embedded in a plastic matrix.

The Fraunhofer IAP project is now focusing on these reinforcing fibers: "We are further developing our PLA fibers in order to transfer them to industrial scale together with partners from industry. These fibers are ideally suited for reinforcing PLA plastics. The resulting self-reinforcing single-component composite promises great recycling benefits. Since the fiber and the matrix of PLA are chemically identical, complex separation steps are not necessary," explains Dr. André Lehmann, expert for fiber technology at Fraunhofer IAP.

Novel PLA fibers and films are more thermally stable
The challenge with this approach is that conventional PLA has a relatively low temperature resistance. Technical fibers can be produced most economically using the melt spinning process. The Fraunhofer IAP team is now using more thermally stable stereocomplex PLA (sc-PLA) for the fibers. The term stereocomplex refers to a special crystal structure that the PLA molecules can form. Sc-PLA fibers have a melting point that is 40 - 50 °C higher and can therefore withstand the incorporation process in a matrix made of conventional PLA. In the project, the researchers are developing and optimizing a melt spinning process for sc-PLA filament yarns. The partner in this work package is Trevira GmbH, a manufacturer of technical and textile fiber and filament yarn specialties that are in demand from automotive suppliers and contract furnishers, among others. Furthermore, the development of a manufacturing process for sc-PLA reinforced flat films is planned. The international adhesive tape manufacturer tesa SE is participating in this task, and will test the suitability of sc-PLA films as adhesive foils. In a third work package, the Fraunhofer IAP will finally process the filaments in a double pultrusion process to produce granules suitable for injection molding.

Bio-based solutions for the automotive and textile industries
The scientists led by Dr. André Lehmann are certain that the self-reinforced PLA material can conquer many new areas of application. The automotive and textile industries are already showing interest in bio-based materials that are also easier to recycle. In terms of price, PLA would already be competitive here, and now the material is also to be made technically fit for the new tasks.

Professor Alexander Böker, head of Fraunhofer IAP, says: "The steadily growing demand from industry for sustainable solutions underlines how important it is to develop biobased and at the same time high-performance materials. With our research, we are also actively driving the development of a sustainable and functioning circular economy and therefore very much welcome the support from the federal government."

Information on the project is available at fnr.de under the funding code 2220NR297X.

(c) Porsche AG
04.05.2021

Fraunhofer: Lightweight and Ecology in Automotive Construction

  • The “Bioconcept-Car” moves ahead

In automobile racing, lightweight bodies made from plastic and carbon fibers have been standard for many years because they enable drivers to reach the finish line more quickly. In the future, lightweight-construction solutions could help reduce the energy consumption and emissions of everyday vehicles. The catch is that the production of carbon fibers is not only expensive but also consumes considerable amounts of energy and petroleum. In collaboration with Porsche Motorsport and Four Motors, researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI have succeeded in replacing the carbon fibers in a car door with natural fibers. This is already being installed in small series at Porsche. The project team is now taking the next step: Together with HOBUM Oleochemicals, they want to maximize the proportion of renewable raw materials in the door and other body parts - using bio-based plastics and paints.

  • The “Bioconcept-Car” moves ahead

In automobile racing, lightweight bodies made from plastic and carbon fibers have been standard for many years because they enable drivers to reach the finish line more quickly. In the future, lightweight-construction solutions could help reduce the energy consumption and emissions of everyday vehicles. The catch is that the production of carbon fibers is not only expensive but also consumes considerable amounts of energy and petroleum. In collaboration with Porsche Motorsport and Four Motors, researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI have succeeded in replacing the carbon fibers in a car door with natural fibers. This is already being installed in small series at Porsche. The project team is now taking the next step: Together with HOBUM Oleochemicals, they want to maximize the proportion of renewable raw materials in the door and other body parts - using bio-based plastics and paints.

Carbon fibers reinforce plastics and therefore provide lightweight components with the necessary stability. Mass-produced natural fibers are not only more cost-effective but can also be produced in a considerably more sustainable manner. For the “Bioconcept-Car” pilot vehicle, researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI have developed body parts with 100 percent natural fibers as reinforcing components.

“We utilize natural fibers, such as those made from hemp, flax or jute. Whilst natural fibers exhibit lower stiffnesses and strengths compared to carbon fibers, the values achieved are nonetheless sufficient for many applications,” explained Ole Hansen, Project Manager at the Fraunhofer WKI. Due to their naturally grown structure, natural fibers dampen sound and vibrations more effectively. Their lesser tendency to splinter can help to reduce the risk of injury in the event of an accident. Furthermore, they do not cause skin irritation during processing.

The bio-based composites were successfully tested by the Four Motors racing team in the “Bioconcept-Car” on the racetrack under extreme conditions. Porsche has actually been using natural fiber-reinforced plastics in a small series of the Cayman GT4 Clubsport since 2019. During production, the researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI also conducted an initial ecological assessment based on material and energy data. “We were able to determine that the utilized natural-fiber fabric has a better environmental profile in its production, including the upstream chains, than the fabric made from carbon. Thermal recycling after the end of its service life should also be possible without any problems,” confirmed Ole Hansen.

In the next project phase of the "Bioconcept-Car", the researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI, in collaboration with the cooperation partners HOBUM Oleochemicals GmbH, Porsche Motorsport and Four Motors, will develop a vehicle door with a biogenic content of 85 percent in the overall composite consisting of fibers and resin. They intend to achieve this by, amongst other things, utilizing bio-based resin-hardener blends as well as bio-based paint systems. The practicality of the door - and possibly additional components - will again be tested by Four Motors on the racetrack. If the researchers are successful, it may be possible to transfer the acquired knowledge into series production at Porsche.

The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is funding the “Bioconcept-Car” project via the project-management agency Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V. (FNR).

Background
Sustainability through the utilization of renewable raw materials has formed the focus at the Fraunhofer WKI for more than 70 years. The institute, with locations in Braunschweig, Hanover and Wolfsburg, specializes in process engineering, natural-fiber composites, surface technology, wood and emission protection, quality assurance of wood products, material and product testing, recycling procedures and the utilization of organic building materials and wood in construction. Virtually all the procedures and materials resulting from the research activities are applied industrially.

 

  • EU Project ALMA: Thinking Ahead to Electromobility

E-mobility and lightweight construction are two crucial building blocks of modern vehicle development to drive the energy transition. They are the focus of the ALMA project (Advanced Light Materials and Processes for the Eco-Design of Electric Vehicles). Nine European organizations are now working in the EU project to develop more energy-efficient and sustainable vehicles. Companies from research and industry are optimizing the efficiency and range of electric vehicles, among other things by reducing the weight of the overall vehicle. The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM is providing support with mathematical simulation expertise.

According to the low emissions mobility strategy, the European Union aims to have at least 30 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads by 2030. Measures to support jobs, growth, investment, and innovation are taken to tackle emissions from the transport sector. To make transport more climate-friendly, EU measures are being taken to promote jobs, investment and innovation. The European Commission's Horizon 2020 project ALMA represents one of these measures.

(c) JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG. CEO Andreas Kielholz (r.) and Business Development Manager Patrick Kielholz in the state-of-the-art production facility of JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG.
23.03.2021

JUMBO-Textil – Innovative Narrow Textiles redefined

A dynamic family business as a future-oriented solution partner for high-tech elastics
 
The various branches of the German textile and fashion industry generate a combined annual turnover of around € 32 billion. Of the approximately 1,400 companies, the vast majority are medium-sized. Special solutions made in Germany are in demand. The importance of technical textiles has been growing for years - as has their share of turnover. Textination spoke with Andreas and Patrick Kielholz about innovative product solutions, the importance of family businesses in today's world, traditions and innovations, challenges and the courage to fail, aircraft construction, the automotive industry, medical technology and diving suits.

A dynamic family business as a future-oriented solution partner for high-tech elastics
 
The various branches of the German textile and fashion industry generate a combined annual turnover of around € 32 billion. Of the approximately 1,400 companies, the vast majority are medium-sized. Special solutions made in Germany are in demand. The importance of technical textiles has been growing for years - as has their share of turnover. Textination spoke with Andreas and Patrick Kielholz about innovative product solutions, the importance of family businesses in today's world, traditions and innovations, challenges and the courage to fail, aircraft construction, the automotive industry, medical technology and diving suits.


The history of today's company "JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG" goes back to the last millennium. Founded in 1909 in Wuppertal, you have moved beyond the production of pure yard goods for the lingerie industry and are now a demanded competence partner for high-tech solutions for narrow textiles. Which industries do you focus on when developing your technical textiles?

Andreas Kielholz: JUMBO-Textil focuses on particular competences in the field of narrow textiles and not on specific industries. We produce narrow fabrics, narrow braids and knitted fabrics. In these three fields we bring out our special competences: Elastics, individual solutions and individually fabricated elements in combination with non-textile components. There is, of course, a long-standing intensive cooperation with customers from the automotive industry, for example. In this sense, JUMBO-Textil is also an "interior expert". However, this does not imply a focus on a specific industry. Quite the opposite: We are very broadly positioned in terms of industries. New sectors are opening up all the time; most recently, we supplied the toy industry with textiles specially developed for babies and toddlers. We also supplied the medical technology sector with narrow-textile solutions in form of skin-friendly elastics.


Speaking of Elastics - how did the specialization come about?

Patrick Kielholz: The specialization in elastic narrow textiles began as early as the 1920s. In our entrance area you can see one of the first specialized braiding machines that was purchased for this purpose. It is about 100 years old. A landmark decision: It made the step from apparel textiles to technical textiles, which - many years later – became essential for survival, if not possible, then at least considerably easier.
 

What characterizes elastics? Why is the property so important for technical textiles?

Andreas Kielholz: Technical textiles, as well known, are textiles that are developed for a specific technical function. They have to, if you like, be capable of doing something: securing a load, sealing an opening, protecting from heat ... Many of these industrial functions can only be accomplished with elastic textiles - from applications in aircraft construction to protective suits for divers and to textiles in medicine. It is often the specific, highly precisely defined strength-elongation-ratio that makes use in such extreme, highly demanding applications possible. Innovative fibers are manufactured and finished by us on highly modern, digitally controlled equipment. In this way, we achieve highest precision and safety in the elongation properties and and produce a textile high-tech product with high-performance fibers for extreme, often individually requested technical applications.
 

And what does your product portfolio look like for your customers as a whole?

Patrick Kielholz: The spectrum ranges from woven tapes and belts to braided tape, tubular braids and braided cords to nets - in all widths, made from numerous raw materials and with specific, even demanding properties, special features and fabrications. As a solution partner, we often guide our customers from the initial idea to the finished product.
The importance of narrow textiles as components is growing visibly. Since they are very light, very efficient and at the same time very quiet, they are being used more frequently as an alternative to components made of other materials. The demands placed on the textiles are growing with their tasks: Their specifications are becoming increasingly more precise, the tolerances increasingly tighter. In the automotive sector and in protective equipment, for example, fire safety requirements play an important role. Therefore, we only have success with narrow textiles that are permanently flame retardant. We are currently addressing many inquiries for fitness bands with highly precisely defined strength-elongation-ratios. We are also responding to the sustainability question with our portfolio: We are increasingly working on projects with recycled materials or recyclable products. This development is embedded in a comprehensive sustainability strategy, which we are addressing for the entire Group - also in connection with the new planning of our sister company vombaur GmbH & Co KG.

 
What has particularly influenced the company's development process of about 110 years? Were there any significant changes of direction or decisions?

Andreas Kielholz: In the 1970s, we broadened our range enormously by no longer producing technical narrow textiles only for the apparel industry, but for all industries. At the same time, we continued to specialize - in elastics. This is not a contradiction: We implement what we are particularly good at, however, for all industries.
In the recent history of the company, we made a strong push with our new building in 2016. Optimal production conditions were created. With a variety of new production plants, we are at the advanced level of technology and high production capacity. The environment also has an effect on our team. You can feel that people enjoy working here. At the beginning of 2019, we again set an important strategic course when we combined our competencies with vombaur GmbH & Co KG under the umbrella of Textation Group GmbH & Co. KG.
 

These two traditional companies for demanding high-tech narrow textiles will remain independent as companies and brands. Why did you decide to take this step, what is the market response and what can you recommend to other producers in terms of partnerships?

Andreas Kielholz: We have had very good experiences as a sister company: Knowledge transfer, trade show appearances, digitization workshops - the partnership is beneficial in many ways. But - unlike in real life - we were able to choose our sister. The partner companies have to be compatible. Sure, you have to pay attention to that. They should have things in common without doing exactly the same thing. Because if they are too similar, there is a risk of competition, even cannibalization of one of the brands.
Our construct is perceived by our market companions as a good and elegant solution. We could serve as a role model for one or the other. Perhaps we will also expand our circle in the next few year, which we are open to. And our move has also been well received by our customers. In addition to all the other positive effects, succession issues can also be solved more easily in the Group. We are thereby demonstrating future prospects and security.
 

In the medium-sized textile industry, companies were and still are shaped by people - founding personalities, owners, families who live and breathe textile tradition and innovation. In your opinion, what qualities do people need to have in order to be successful in our niche-oriented German industry?

Andreas Kielholz: Successful and formative are people with curiosity and drive. People who like to explore new territories, first in their thinking and then consistently in their implementation. You should be able to inspire others in these explorations. In addition, you should keep a close eye on the market and act accordingly, i.e., constantly questioning the status quo. Self-criticism is therefore also important: Is our path still the right one? Are we fulfilling our aspirations? To move forward as a company, you have to work tirelessly not only in, but also on the company.    

Patrick Kielholz: The important thing is to recognize change and see it as an opportunity, not as a threat. I fully agree with that. However, I would strongly question the idea that it is the one founder, the one owner, and therefore individual people who make a company successful. We live in a very complex and fast-paced world that cannot be overseen and comprehended by a single person. Don't get me wrong, great ideas can come from individuals and help a company succeed. But we can't rely on that. A company today must be managed in such a way that ideas are developed by divergent teams. An environment must be created that gives each person the opportunity to make a difference. A leader must therefore understand how to develop functioning teams.
 

Mr. Kielholz Snr., you are the managing partner of JUMBO-Textil GmbH & Co. KG and one of the managing directors of vombaur GmbH & Co KG. For about two years now, you have your son Patrick at your side as Business Development Manager of JUMBO-Textil. How did that come about? Did you encourage your son to follow in your footsteps?

Andreas Kielholz: Not explicitly. My sons - there's also Kevin, Patrick's brother - had a lot of freedom in their childhood and youth. It was always up to them how they wanted to live their lives. During their school education and their studies, I tried to support everything in a trusting manner. Education has a lot to do with leading by example. I always had a lot of joy in what I did, even if it wasn't always easy. They witnessed this joy every day - and so I may have implicitly encouraged them.  
The fact that Patrick is now part of the team, performing a very good job and already bears a lot of responsibility - of course I'm very happy about that. He is a good, trustworthy corrective for me, because he can do some things better than I can. There is a high chance that Kevin will also join us after completing his technical studies.
 

Mr. Kielholz Jr., you completed your studies with a master's thesis on family businesses. How do you assess the future of family businesses in a global textile industry in general? And where do you see JUMBO-Textil here?

Patrick Kielholz: Family businesses are usually employers that retain their employees for a long time - by providing a family-like working environment and a corporate culture that creates trust. These include values that are important to the younger generations. Status symbols are becoming less important. This can create a working environment in which highly innovative and flexible work can be done - if it is not prevented by an overly patriarchal structure. Family businesses can usually still work on this. We are trying to create such an innovation-friendly environment in the Textation Group with JUMBO-Textil and vombaur, and in this way to be the best solution partner for narrow textiles in the future.
 

You manufacture exclusively in Germany. Why? Have you never been tempted to benefit from lower wage levels in other countries?

Andreas Kielholz: We position ourselves as a highly qualified solutions partner and aim to provide our customers with excellent expertise in the field of narrow textiles. We can do this best in a country with very good education and training opportunities, which for us, is Germany as a location. Of course, we also work in close cooperation with partners in Eastern Europe.
 

Customized instead of solutions for major customers: The topic of individualization up to batch size 1 takes up a lot of space today. At the new site in Sprockhövel, you have invested significantly in innovative production technology. What is your opinion of individual product solutions, and in which areas of application have you already implemented them successfully?
     
Andreas Kielholz: We don't produce tailored suits; we produce goods by the meter. Batch size 1 - this has a special meaning for us: We develop in exchange with our customers for one project - a car seat in an off-road vehicle, a crab on a crane, an exoskeleton, a baby grab ring, whatever - so we develop a textile component for this one project. Individually specified for the particular concrete application and its requirements - for example, with regard to elongation, temperature resistance, skin-friendliness, etc. All the properties of the textile are configured individually. And then it is produced in the required quantity. This is definitely a customized solution. So; if the customer project is the tailored suit, then "individualization up to batch size 1" is our day-to-day business. Because that's what we do.
 

What does it take for such solutions?

Patrick Kielholz: A close exchange is important for such individual solutions, but also precise industry knowledge and knowledge of the applicable standards. We assist some customers all the way to product registration and advice on technical delivery conditions and documentation. For individual solutions, know-how and experience go far beyond technical textile expertise. The key basis here is to understand the customer's product, the manufacturing process and its purpose. We want to offer a complete solution that provides the greatest value for the respective client company. This starts with the selection of the raw material and ends with the use by the end consumers..


Breaking new ground means being willing to make decisions, overcoming fears - and therefore also having the courage to fail. Not each project can succeed. In retrospect, which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad you made?

Andreas Kielholz: The courageous decisions to reconstruct JUMBO-Textil, the corporate alliance with vombaur and the planned new building here are among them - and: having my son on the Executive Board. He brings a new, different perspective to the company, which enriches us enormously. In addition, I simply enjoy it. Who sees their grown-up children every day?

Patrick Kielholz: Yes, that took courage to fail. (laughs) Seriously, not every result of a decision can be dated as firmly as the commissioning of our new building. We are right in the middle of some processes. We started digitization early on, for example, and it will certainly never be completed. It has an infinite number of facets - from materials management to product development, from quality assurance to internal and external processes. It’s an unbelievably dynamic topic that is constantly evolving and opening up new potential for improvement. You need smart people who want to work as a team to advance the issues, otherwise you'll be lagging behind instead of moving forward. The same applies to sustainability - also a topic that must be viewed as an opportunity rather than an unwanted evil, as is so often the case.

Andreas Kielholz: That's the crux of the matter: As a company, it's important not to be driven by such major issues, but to actively drive development forward yourself.
 

How important is the concept of sustainability in corporate decision-making? Which certifications do you use and where do you go beyond legal requirements?

Andreas Kielholz: Our quality management system is certified according to IATF 16949:2016, an extension of ISO 9001 developed by the automotive industry. We have also been awarded Formula Q-Capability according to the VW Group's customer-specific certification with a score of 95%. In the area of environment and sustainability, we are certified to the environmental management standard ISO 14001:2015, and many of our products meet the OEKO-TEX® Product Class I certificate. In addition, we expressly stand by the claim to enforce human rights, labor, social and ecological standards in economic value-added processes, as formulated in the Code of Conduct of the German Textile and Fashion Industry.

Patrick Kielholz: A specific feature of family businesses becomes apparent here as well. The demands on the company and the values it stands for are much more personal demands. People must and want to be measured against these demands as individuals. They cannot and do not want to hide in the anonymity of stock corporations. A family business owner is also personally connected to the stakeholders of his company and therefore has a stronger interest in pursuing social, environmental and economic sustainability.


How do you judge the efforts of other countries, such as China, to increasingly address the issue of sustainability? Will this mean that an important unique selling point in the comparison between Europe and Asia will be lost in the future?

Andreas Kielholz: The topic of sustainability has not yet reached its peak, in other words: demand will continue to rise here as well. China is getting stronger, but Europe is also working on not losing its pioneering role. Increased demand and competition will benefit us all, especially agile companies.
 

The COVID19 pandemic has also left its mark on the textile and clothing industry. When you look back on just under a year of "state of emergency" - what positive experiences do you take with you, where do you see a need for improvement, for what support are you grateful and where did you feel left alone?

Andreas Kielholz: By facing up to the challenges early on and - thanks to our timely, multi-layered controlling - always knowing where we stand, we were able to adapt quickly. This is how we have largely come through the crisis well. The newly developed forms of work - mobile working and video conferencing, partly also in-house - will continue to exist. We have also made significant progress in digitalisation and new media.

     
If you had to introduce your company in 100 words to someone who does not know JUMBO-Textil: What would you say? What makes you unique?

Patrick Kielholz: JUMBO-Textil is a solution partner - our customers are always at the center of our thoughts and actions. For them and their projects, we develop and manufacture sophisticated technical narrow textiles: precise, custom-fit and Made in Germany.

Andreas Kielholz: I don't even need that many words: Highest quality standards, intensive customer relationship, reliability and unique Elastics expertise.

Patrick Kielholz: These were eight. (laughs)

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius,
Managing partner of Textination GmbH

 

Photo: Pixabay
16.02.2021

Carbon with Multiple Lives: Bringing Innovations in Carbon Fiber Recycling to Market

When it comes to the future of motorized mobility, everyone talks about the power drive: How much e-car, how much combustion engine can the environment tolerate and how much do people need? At the same time, new powertrains place ineased demands not only on the engine, but also on its housing and the car body: Carbon fibers are often used for such demanding applications. Like the powertrain of the future, the materials on the vehicle should also be environmentally friendly. That is why recycling of carbon fibers is required. Institutes of the Zuse Community have developed solutions for this.

Carbon fibers consist almost completely of pure carbon. It is extracted from the plastic polyacrylonitrile at 1,300 degrees Celsius, using a lot of energy. The advantages of carbon fibers: They have almost no dead weight, are enormously break-resistant and sturdy. These properties are needed, for example, in the battery box of electric vehicles in structural components of a car body.

When it comes to the future of motorized mobility, everyone talks about the power drive: How much e-car, how much combustion engine can the environment tolerate and how much do people need? At the same time, new powertrains place ineased demands not only on the engine, but also on its housing and the car body: Carbon fibers are often used for such demanding applications. Like the powertrain of the future, the materials on the vehicle should also be environmentally friendly. That is why recycling of carbon fibers is required. Institutes of the Zuse Community have developed solutions for this.

Carbon fibers consist almost completely of pure carbon. It is extracted from the plastic polyacrylonitrile at 1,300 degrees Celsius, using a lot of energy. The advantages of carbon fibers: They have almost no dead weight, are enormously break-resistant and sturdy. These properties are needed, for example, in the battery box of electric vehicles in structural components of a car body.

The Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI), for instance, is currently working with industrial partners on combining the static-mechanical strengths of carbon fibers with vibration damping properties to improve the housings of electric motors in cars. The project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, is aimed at developing hybrid nonwovens that contain other fibers, in addition to carbon fiber, as a reinforcement. "We want to combine the advantages of different fiber materials and thereby develop a product that is optimally tailored to the requirements", explains Marcel Hofmann, head of department of Textile Lightweight Construction at STFI.

The Chemnitz researchers would therefore complement previous nonwoven solutions. They look back on 15 years of working with recycled carbon fibers. The global annual demand for the high-value fibers has almost quadrupled in the past decade, according to the AVK Industry Association to around 142,000 t most recently. "Increasing demand has brought recycling more and more into focus", says Hofmann. According to him, carbon fiber waste is available for about one-tenth to one-fifth of the price of primary fibers, but they still need to be processed. The key issue for the research success of recycled fibers is competitive applications. STFI has found these not only in cars, but also in the sports and leisure sector as well as in medical technology, for example in components for computer tomography. "While metals or glass fibers cast shadows as potential competing products, carbon does not interfere with the image display and can fully exploit its advantages", explains Hofmann.
 
Using Paper Know-How
If recycled carbon fibers can pass through the product cycle again, this significantly improves their carbon footprint. At the same time it applies: The shorter the carbon fibers, the less attractive they are for further recycling. With this in mind, the Cetex Research Institute and the Papiertechnische Stiftung (PTS), both members of the Zuse Community, developed a new process as part of a research project that gives recycled carbon fibers, which previously seemed unsuitable, a second product life. "While classic textile processes use dry processing for the already very brittle recycled carbon fibers in fiber lengths of at least 80 mm, we dealt with a process from the paper industry that processes the materials wet. At the end of the process, in very simplified terms, we obtained a laminar mat made of recycled carbon fibers and chemical fibers", says Cetex project engineer Johannes Tietze, explaining the process by which even 40 mm short carbon fibers can be recycled into appealing intermediates.

The resulting product created in a hot pressing process serves as the base material for heavy-duty structural components. In addition, the mechanical properties of the semi-finished products were improved by combining them with continuous fiber-reinforced tapes. The researchers expect the recycled product to compete with glass-fiber-reinforced plastics, for example in applications in rail and vehicle construction. The results are now being incorporated into further research and development in
the cooperation network of Ressourcetex, a funded association with 18 partners from industry and science.

Successful Implementation in the Automotive Industry
Industrial solutions for the recycling of carbon fiber production waste are being developed at the Thuringian Institute of Textile and Plastics Research (TITK). Several of these developments were industrially implemented with partners at the company SGL Composites in Wackersdorf, Germany. The processing of the so-called dry waste, mainly from production, is carried out in a separate procedure. "Here, we add the opened fibers to various processes for nonwoven production", says the responsible head of the department at TITK, Dr. Renate Lützkendorf . In addition to developments for applications e.g. in the BMW i3 in the roof or rear seat shell, special nonwovens and processes for the production of Sheet Molding Compounds (SMC) were established at TITK. These are thermoset materials consisting of reaction resins and reinforcing fibers, which are used to press fiber-plastic composites. This was used, for example, in a component for the C-pillar of the BMW 7 Series. "In its projects, TITK is primarily focusing on the development of more efficient processes and combined procedures to give carbon fiber recycling materials better opportunities in lightweight construction applications, also in terms of costs", says Lützkendorf. The focus is currently on the use of CF recycled fibers in thermoplastic processes for sheet and profile extrusion. "The goal is to combine short- and continuous-fiber reinforcement in a single, high-performance process step."

1) Since February 1st, 2021, Dr.-Ing. Thomas Reussmann succeeds Dr.-Ing. Renate Lützkendorf, who retired 31 January.

Source:

Zuse Community

Grafic: Gerd Altmann, pixabay
19.01.2021

IW Association Survey: Textile industry and Banks particularly pessimistic

Things can only get better

At the turn of the year, the German Economic Institute (IW) traditionally asked German associations about their economic expectations for the coming year. Most industries are reporting incisive difficulties and are hoping for an improvement in 2021. However, many companies will cut jobs - especially where there were have been already problems before the pandemic started.

Things can only get better

At the turn of the year, the German Economic Institute (IW) traditionally asked German associations about their economic expectations for the coming year. Most industries are reporting incisive difficulties and are hoping for an improvement in 2021. However, many companies will cut jobs - especially where there were have been already problems before the pandemic started.

At the end of the year, the German economy looked back on one of the most difficult years in recent history. The Covid-19 pandemic already hit many companies in spring 2020, and the current winter and the second wave have put struggling sectors under further strain. It is still not possible to predict when the situation will noticeably improve. This is also reflected in the traditional IW association survey: 34 of 43 associations interrogated reported a worse economic situation than the year ago. Those reporting an improved or unchanged position were often already in a difficult economic situation in the previous year. These include, the automotive and chemical industries respectively.

Four out of five companies in Germany at the turn of 2020/2021 judge the mood even worse than a year before. This crisis-prone initial position partly explains in general optimistic business expectations for 2021. According to the IW’s association survey, higher economic activity is expected in 26 of 43 sectors. By contrast, 13 associations expect a decrease in production in 2021. While there is a moderate recovery in investments overall, employment is expected to decline further in 23 sectors.

Looking ahead to 2021, the IW Association Survey is dominated by confidence. This is not surprising understanding this confidence as an improvement on the crisis year 2020. The expected increases can be explained having the massive drop in view as well as a poor starting point in 2020. For a number of companies and entire industries, this hopeful outlook for 2021 does not necessarily mean a return to pre-crisis production levels. The IW business survey with more than 2,200 companies conducted in November 2020 consistently shows, that around half of the companies surveyed still expect shortfalls in production by 2022 compared to the pre-crisis level (IW Research Group Macroeconomic Analysis and Business Cycle, 2020).

Textile industry and banks particularly pessimistic
After all, most associations are confident with a view to 2021, expecting their situation to improve - although the pre-crisis level is not yet in sight for many sectors. 26 associations are planning increased production for the coming year. 13 associations - including shipbuilding and marine technology, textile and fashion associations, and the food industry - predict lower production. Banks and construction companies also have subdued expectations for 2021, although the pandemic has had relatively little impact on these industries up to now.

Less jobs in the automotive industry
The outlook for the employment market is less optimistic: Only five of 43 associations surveyed expect their member companies to employ more people in the coming year. This includes the construction industry and handicraft businesses, which already suffered from a shortage of skilled workers before the crisis. 23 associations expect a reduction in employment, especially for industrial site. Particularly pessimistic are associations with member companies facing structural adjustment burdens in addition to the corona pandemic – like in the area of finance:

In the previous years, fewer and fewer customers used branches of banks. The automotive industry is also planning with fewer employees: In addition to the weak global economy, are strict exhaust emission limits and quotas for electric mobility put companies under pressure. Exports, which are extremely important for the industry, decreased by a similar amount.

The few industry associations whose members - on average across all enterprises and subsectors - are in the same or better position than at the previous turn of the year, are often sectors that were already in a difficult economic situation at the turn of 2019/2020. The automotive industry, segments of the metal and electrical industry as well as the chemical industry point to this. The Covid-19 crisis already records a negative history for parts of the industry. 2019 the downturn in business was partly the result of a cyclical normalization after a phase of high capacity utilization. Above all, protectionism and geopolitical uncertainties weighed on global investment activity, and hit the German industry, which is heavily involved in the international capital goods business. Technological challenges - due to digitization and climate change for example - also created adjustment burdens.

Source:

German Economic Institute, Prof. Michael Grömling Head of the Macroeconomic Analysis and Business Cycle Research Group

Graphic: Pixabay
12.01.2021

East German Textile and Clothing Industry recorded a significant Drop in Sales in 2020

  • vti calls on health textiles purchasers to place more orders with domestic manufacturers
  • East German textile and clothing industry faces the Covid-19 crises with new ideas and products
  • Clothing sector more affected than the textile sector

The Association of the North-East German Textile and Clothing Industry (vti) calls on decision-makers in politics and authorities as well as in clinics and long-term care to order far more health protection textiles from local manufacturers than before. "That would be a logical step towards future-oriented, sustainable business - and furthermore in an exceptionally tough crisis situation. We are happy to arrange appropriate contacts with our companies," emphasized Dr.-Ing. Jenz Otto, Managing Director of the Chemnitz-based industry association, during an online press conference on January 8, 2021.

  • vti calls on health textiles purchasers to place more orders with domestic manufacturers
  • East German textile and clothing industry faces the Covid-19 crises with new ideas and products
  • Clothing sector more affected than the textile sector

The Association of the North-East German Textile and Clothing Industry (vti) calls on decision-makers in politics and authorities as well as in clinics and long-term care to order far more health protection textiles from local manufacturers than before. "That would be a logical step towards future-oriented, sustainable business - and furthermore in an exceptionally tough crisis situation. We are happy to arrange appropriate contacts with our companies," emphasized Dr.-Ing. Jenz Otto, Managing Director of the Chemnitz-based industry association, during an online press conference on January 8, 2021. “We don't understand the buying resistance concerning health textiles, even though the demand is huge. It is just as incomprehensible why there are still no noteworthy orders from authorities. In spring, the German federal government had already announced to provide 1 billion Euro with its economic stimulus package for national epidemic reserves for personal protective equipment. The federal states also had to take action in this regard and stock up. We urgently await the long-announced tenders for equipping the pandemic reserve stock. It is important that the purchase price is not the only measure of all things. Rather, criteria such as standard-compliant quality, traceable supply chains, the possibility of needs-based reorders and the multiple use of textiles are decisive for the safety of the population.”

When supply chains worldwide collapsed at the beginning of 2020, both authorities and many care and health facilities turned to textile companies for help. Many manufacturers launched both everyday masks and protective textiles that could be used in healthcare at short notice.
"These include highly effective bacteria and virus-repellent reusable products that enable effective textile management in the healthcare sector and at the same time prevent the piles of single-use waste from growing there," explained vti chairman Thomas Lindner, managing director of Strumpfwerk Lindner GmbH, Hohenstein-Ernstthal: “When the cheap imports from Asia reinstated, however, the interest decreased significantly. Nevertheless, numerous companies have continued to invest in new technology and aligned their production accordingly. For example, completely new production lines of face masks have been set up at several locations. Do not forget: The very expensive test procedures for medical and health textiles are a major challenge for us, the medium-sized businesses. In addition, there are still too few accredited test and certification bodies in Germany.” The fact that the companies were able to adapt to the new requirements at this rapid pace was primarily possible, because around 30 local companies and research institutes have been part of the health textiles network "health.textil", which is controlled by the vti and supported by the Free State of Saxony, for several years now. This alliance cooperates closely with practice partners such as the University Clinic of Dresden and the Elbland Clinics in Meißen. Nowadays it has expanded their activities to their neighbouring industry, research and application partner in Czech Republic. www.healthtextil.de

CO2 taxation puts medium-sized companies at a competitive disadvantage
Concerning the permanently relevant topic energy transition in Germany, vti General Manager Dr.-Ing. Jenz Otto points out that the economic framework conditions for medium-sized producers will continue to worsen with the introduction of the CO2 taxation in the midst of the current crisis. “The financial resources to be used for this will then be lacking for investments in innovative products and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Furthermore, our companies suffer significant competitive disadvantages compared to foreign competitors.” Björn-Olaf Dröge, managing director of the textile finishing company pro4tex GmbH, Niederfrohna, with around 100 employees, reported that the tax to be paid by his company for renewable energies adds up to around a quarter of a million euros annually. “Now the CO2 taxation for our natural gas consumption comes on top of that. For 2021 we anticipate an additional burden of almost 70,000 Euros.”

vti about the current situation in the East German industry
The East German textile and clothing industry recorded a significant loss in sales already in 2019. This trend has continued in 2020 being reinforced by the Covid-19 crises. Based on preliminary estimates, the vti assumes that the total turnover of the industry will be more than 11 percent below the previous year at the end of 2020, where the clothing sector is affected far more than the textile sector, with a decline of 35 percent. Exports, which are extremely important for the industry, also decreased in a similar magnitude. The job cuts have so far been relatively moderate, as many companies use the short-time working regulations and try to retain their permanent workforce. For 2021 the vti sees a gleam of hope in technical textiles, which have been in greater demand again in recent weeks - especially from the automotive industry. The employment cuts have so far been relatively moderate, as many companies use short-time working regulations and try to retain their permanent workforce. The vti sees a bright future for technical textiles in 2021, which have been in greater demand – especially in the automobile industry – in the last few weeks.

Of the around 16,000 employees, 12,000 work in Saxony and 2,500 in Thuringia. This makes this region one of the four largest German textile locations, along North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. It has modern spinning mills, weaving mills, knitting mills, warp knitting mills, nonwovens manufacturers, embroidery mills, finishing companies and clothing manufacturers as well as efficient research and educational institutions. 

Over half of the turnover in the East German textile and clothing industry has so far been attributa-ble to technical textiles, followed by home textiles with around 30 percent and the clothing sector with around 10 percent. The vti acts as a stakeholder at state, federal and EU level, tariff- and so-cial partner, as well as a service provider for its around 160 member companies.

Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG (c) Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG
06.10.2020

Nopma - Experts for antimicrobial finishing: Technical textile coatings from the Swabian Alb

The Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG - started in the early 1950s as a day- and nightwear manufacturer. Over the last 20 years the company has become a specialist in the field of technical textiles. With its brand nopma Technical Textiles the company is present as developer and producer of textile solutions via coatings. The main products are nopma anti-slip - textiles with anti-slip effect, nopma adhesion - adhesive pre-coated films, spacer fabrics and substrates for lamination in automotive interiors, nopma ceramics - abrasive more resistant textile surfaces and nopma silicones - silicone coatings on textile surfaces.

Textination talked to the managing director, Jens Meiser, who joined the company in 2005, realigned the division and developed it into a service provider, about his plans and objectives.

The Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG - started in the early 1950s as a day- and nightwear manufacturer. Over the last 20 years the company has become a specialist in the field of technical textiles. With its brand nopma Technical Textiles the company is present as developer and producer of textile solutions via coatings. The main products are nopma anti-slip - textiles with anti-slip effect, nopma adhesion - adhesive pre-coated films, spacer fabrics and substrates for lamination in automotive interiors, nopma ceramics - abrasive more resistant textile surfaces and nopma silicones - silicone coatings on textile surfaces.

Textination talked to the managing director, Jens Meiser, who joined the company in 2005, realigned the division and developed it into a service provider, about his plans and objectives.

Founded in 1952, Carl Meiser GmbH & Co.KG has changed from a day- and nightwear manufacturer to an innovator in the field of technical textiles, presenting themselves as a specialist for plastic-based coating processes. If you had to introduce yourself in 100 words to someone who does not know the company: What has influenced you most in this development process and what makes you unique?
Innovation is the new normal - This has been true for the textile industry not just since Sars CoV-2. Our industry was one of the first to be disrupted in the early 1990s and has always been subject to constant change. This urge for further development, which is essential for survival, has left its mark on us intensively and has enabled us to manage huge leaps in innovation in recent years

Today we regard ourselves as an innovative development and production service provider with a focus on textile coating. We develop and produce almost exclusively customized special solutions.

Through the combination of coatings on textiles these hybrid materials receive completely new properties.

You manufacture exclusively at your location in Germany. Why? Have you never been tempted to set up subsidiaries in other countries, for example to benefit from lower wage levels?
Today we supply global supply chains from our headquarter in southern Germany. Although we produce in a high-wage country, much more important for us are know-how and the drive of our team to create something new. Globalization will continue to be the key to success in the future. Therefore, subsidiaries in North America and Asia could be very interesting for us in the medium- and long-term perspective. However, this is still too early for us.

You use CIP and Kaizen techniques intensively in your company. How did a Japanese concept come about in the Swabian Alb?
KAIZEN, the change for the better, are actually German virtues. The urge to improve and optimize things is in all of us. Due to the continuous improvement process we do not stand still but evolve constantly. Besides, there is the personal affinity to Japan. A look at another culture simply opens the horizon. And if you additionally recognize parallels in the working methods, it’s even better. 

10 years ago, you turned your attention to new markets: aviation, automotive, protection, caravan and furniture manufacturing, to name just a few. Some of these segments have collapsed significantly during the Covid 19 pandemic. What market development do you expect in the medium term and what consequences will this have for your company?
Of course, the aviation or automotive industry, for example, have substantial problems during or due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Quite honestly, many of these problems existed before. They were further tightened, as if a fire accelerator has been used. Of course, these cut-backs are also hitting us hard economically. But we are pursuing long-term goals. As a medium-sized company, you have to have the resilience to continue on your path. Thanks to our specialisation and the split of our industrial sectors, which we drive forward every day, we manage to decouple ourselves more and more from economic developments in individual industries. For our customers this is a great advantage of relying on a very stable partner with long-term orientation.

We are positive about the future. Megatrends like sustainability, digitization and ongoing globalization will lead to new business models in the above-mentioned sectors, as in many others, and to renewed growth. Our coatings on textiles and flexible woven materials can contribute a wide range of solutions to this. If, for example, materials become lighter with identical usage properties or suddenly become biodegradable, because of biodegradable plastics, many new opportunities will arise.

Tailor-made instead of solutions for major customers: The topic of individualization down to batch size 1 is making up a large part of the discussion today. In 2015, you opened a large development laboratory where you have a wide range of testing technologies for textiles and plastics available. What do you think about individual product solutions, and in which application areas have you successfully implemented them?
In principle, we do not use any standards. We live individualization with the smallest possible batch sizes. In our field, we do not manage batch size 1, but we start with MOQs of 300 running meters at process-safe series production. We have very few finished products, and above all we have no collections. Our development laboratory is the key for this. Together with our customers we have the possibilities to realize very lean development processes.

Even on a laboratory scale, we can develop and test new products within just a few hours. We then strive to scale up to production at a very early stage in order to obtain production series results. This way, we offer our clients speed and power that represent a special potential for our partners.

You register important input factors in the production process and evaluate them in monthly environmental analyses. What are these factors in concrete terms and to what extent have their analyses already changed production operations? How do you define environmental management for your company?
For us, environmental management means a holistic approach. In principle, we operate production units and manufacture products that consume many resources. Due to the high production volumes, this continues to accumulate. Because of this, it is self-understanding that we record and evaluate our input and output flows and derive measures from them. This makes economic sense, but is also necessary because of our responsibility for our environment. Specifically, these are energy consumption values, consumption data of primary chemicals, electricity load peaks, our Co2 footprint, just to name a few. This consideration has changed us in many areas. Today we operate a power plant with gas condensing technology, our free roof areas are greened or carry photovoltaic modules, we offer our employees and visitors electric filling stations and finally we have converted the entire power supply of our factory to environmentally friendly hydroelectric power.

With nopma, you have been building up a brand for the technical textiles industry since several years and communicate this via an Individual website parallel to Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG. How did this brand name come about and what is the product portfolio behind it?
This is the name of a first technical textile product from the 1990s. It was a textile - coated with dots. Dots on a knitted fabric. NOPMA. My father created this brand.

In 2016 you invested in an additional production line for nopma products and were able to start a directly serial delivery in the NAFTA area. How do you currently assess the market opportunities for North America and Mexico?
We continue to see opportunities in globalization and thus on the North American market also. However, these markets are still severely affected by the pandemic and there are major distortions. When these return to normal, we surely will see more success on these markets again.

As an innovation leader, Meiser offers solvent-free PU adhesive systems as pre-coatings for lamination. How do you assess the importance of such innovations in the context of REACH?
These innovations offer our customers the opportunity to decouple themselves from the pressure REACH triggers in some industries. However, we also have some products that have been developed newly in recent months. This keeps us busy, but also creates opportunities to open up new market segments.

How have you felt about the corona era to date - as a company and personally? What would you on no account want to go through again and what might you even consider maintaining on a daily basis?
I think this time has also strengthened us as a society, as people and even as entrepreneurs. Each crisis you go through makes you a little more relaxed for the unforeseen, but also more motivated to achieve your goals. In my opinion, there have been a lot of positive things in the last few months. Suddenly, for example, digitalization tools have become accepted in our everyday lives, and I feel that people are paying more attention to others again. Hopefully this will stay this way.

The futuristic "tube" escalator at the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall is just as impressive as the building itself and the longest escalator in western Europe. In August, a start-up based in Cologne installed an UV technology that keeps the handrails clean at all times. At the same time, you presented an antiviral functional coating that can be applied to all textiles in the form of yard goods. How does this work and for what purposes will this technology be suitable?
We have already been working with antimicrobial finishing techniques for many years. This already started with the swine flu in 2009/2010, when we made initial contacts with a young start-up and launched a development. Due to a lack of market interest, however, this had to be discontinued after a few months. Today we are experts in the field of "antimicrobial equipment by means of coatings". We were also able to build up an enormous amount of knowledge on the subject of approval and biocide regulation. Today, we can support our customers holistically in these areas. The function by skin-compatible active substances from the cosmetics sector with a vesicle booster can kill viruses and bacteria within a few minutes.
Since the pandemic has shown us the enormous importance of a new level of hygiene, the applications are very diverse and differentiated. We have already realized the use in personal protective equipment, work furniture, vehicles and for example gloves. In principle, every application is predestined where textile carriers are exposed to many touches by different persons in high frequency. Here our nopma products offer a new level of protection and hygiene.

To break new ground means decisiveness, overcoming fears - and thus the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect - about which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad to have made it?
We fail again and again. This is part of the game. But it has never happened that we did not learn anything. The pandemic situation is another good example. In spring we accepted our corporate responsibility for our society and were one of two companies in Baden-Württemberg to achieve certification for FFP protective masks. Since we did not want to participate in the revolver market at that time, we offered these products only to the public sector at favourable pre-crisis prices. However, the decision makers could not make up their minds for weeks and did not order. This disappointed our whole team very much at that time. Today we have overcome this and have taken a lot of knowledge with us from this development.


The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

The Fraunhofer WKI double-rapier weaving machine with the Jacquard attachment in the upper of the photo.  © Fraunhofer WKI | Melina Ruhr. The Fraunhofer WKI double-rapier weaving machine with the Jacquard attachment in the upper of the photo.
02.06.2020

Fraunhofer WKI: Climate-friendly hybrid-fiber materials on the basis of renewable natural fibers

As a result of the new combination possibilities for bio-based hybrid-fiber materials achieved at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI, the industrial application possibilities for renewable raw materials, for example in the automotive industry or for everyday objects such as helmets or skis, can be expanded.

By increasing the proportion of flax fiber in hybrid-fiber materials to up to 50 percent, the scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to significantly increase the biogenic proportion in composite materials. The special aspect of the tested methods: The fabrics can be individually composed with the help of a weaving machine. In this way, process steps in industrial production, in which materials first have to be merged together, can be omitted. This will achieve reductions in energy and CO2 throughout the entire production process.

As a result of the new combination possibilities for bio-based hybrid-fiber materials achieved at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI, the industrial application possibilities for renewable raw materials, for example in the automotive industry or for everyday objects such as helmets or skis, can be expanded.

By increasing the proportion of flax fiber in hybrid-fiber materials to up to 50 percent, the scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to significantly increase the biogenic proportion in composite materials. The special aspect of the tested methods: The fabrics can be individually composed with the help of a weaving machine. In this way, process steps in industrial production, in which materials first have to be merged together, can be omitted. This will achieve reductions in energy and CO2 throughout the entire production process.

Successfully woven: Different hybrid fabrics
In view of the increased demands being placed upon environmental and climate protection, science and industry are seeking sustainable alternatives to conventional materials in all branches of production. As a material, natural fibers offer a sustainable solution. Due to their low density and simultaneous high stability, natural fibers can be used to produce highly resilient light-weight-construction materials which are easy to recycle. In the “ProBio” project, scientists from the Fraunhofer WKI have therefore addressed the question as to how the proportion of natural fibers in bio-based hybrid-fiber materials can be increased as significantly as possible. A double-rapier weaving machine with Jacquard attachment was thereby utilized in order to produce the bio-based hybrid-fiber materials.

The researchers thereby focused specifically on bio-based hybrid-fiber composites (Bio-HFC). Bio-HFC consist of a combination of cellulose-based fibers, such as flax fibers, and synthetic high-performance fibers, such as carbon or glass fibers, for reinforcement. Bio-HFC can be utilized in, for example, vehicle construction. As an innovation in the “ProBio” project, the researchers interwove differing fiber-material combinations, reinforcing fibers and matrix fibers with the aid of the double-rapier weaving machine. This procedure differs from the process in which finished fabrics are layered on top of one another.

“We have combined the advantageous properties of the fiber materials within a composite material in such a way that we have been able to compensate for weak points in individual components, thereby achieving new properties in some cases. In addition, we have succeeded in increasing the proportion of bio-based fibers to up to 50 percent flax fibers, which we have combined with 50 percent reinforcing fibers,” says project team member Jana Winkelmann, describing the procedure. The bio-hybrid textiles, each consisting of 50 percent by weight carbon and flax fabric, are introduced into a bio-based plastic matrix. The composite material possesses a flexural strength which is more than twice as high as that of the corresponding composite material made from flax-reinforced epoxy resin. This mechanical performance capability can significantly expand the application range of renewable raw materials for technical applications.

With the weaving machine, the scientists have successfully combined innovative light-weight-construction composite materials with complex application-specific fabric structures and integrated functions. Reinforcing fibers, such as carbon and natural fibers, as well as multilayer fabrics and three-dimensional structures, can be woven together in a single work step. This offers advantages for industrial production, as production steps in which materials first have to be merged together can be omitted. “We have succeeded, for example, in utilizing conductive yarns or wires as sensors or conductor paths directly in the weaving process, thereby producing fabrics with integrated functions. The introduction of synthetic fibers as weft threads enables the production of bio-hybrid composites with isotropic mechanical properties,” explains Ms. Winkelmann.

Weaving technology makes it possible to create new products with a high proportion of bio-based components on a pilot scale. The project results provide an insight into the diverse combination possibilities of natural and reinforcing fibers and demonstrate opportunities for utilization not only in vehicle construction but also for everyday objects such as helmets or skis. The results will be presented within the framework of the 4th International Conference on Natural Fibers, ICNF, July 2019 in Porto, Portugal. The “ProBio” project, which ran from 1st July 2014 to 30th June 2019, was funded by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture (MWK).

Background
Sustainability through the utilization of renewable raw materials has formed the focus at the Fraunhofer WKI for more than 70 years. The institute, with locations in Braunschweig, Hanover and Wolfsburg, specializes in process engineering, natural-fiber composites, wood and emission protection, quality assurance of wood products, material and product testing, recycling procedures and the utilization of organic building materials and wood in construction. Virtually all the procedures and materials resulting from the research activities are applied industrially.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research WKI

Foto: Vlad-Vasnetsov, PIXABAY
01.10.2019

FAIR TRADE MARKET CANADA

Economy
With an average GDP growth of 2% in 2018 and 2019, Canada now resembles the word’s 10th biggest economy and is worthy of a closer look wether it could serve as a sales market for investments.

Canada’s average GDP growth of 2 % in 2018 and 2019 initiates an examination if the country could serve as a market or if an investment in the country could be of value. In particular, the service sector, the manufacturing sector, energy and raw materials and agriculture form the Canadian economy. Canada’s business centers are Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, as well as the provinces Ontario and Quebec. The sometimes enormous distances between those regions should not be underestimated.

Economy
With an average GDP growth of 2% in 2018 and 2019, Canada now resembles the word’s 10th biggest economy and is worthy of a closer look wether it could serve as a sales market for investments.

Canada’s average GDP growth of 2 % in 2018 and 2019 initiates an examination if the country could serve as a market or if an investment in the country could be of value. In particular, the service sector, the manufacturing sector, energy and raw materials and agriculture form the Canadian economy. Canada’s business centers are Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, as well as the provinces Ontario and Quebec. The sometimes enormous distances between those regions should not be underestimated.

An inner-Canadian trade agreement that came into effect in 2017 aims on the reduction of trade barriers among Canada’s provinces. In addition to that, an investment plan for infrastructure by the government should enable public investments in the amount of roundabout €120 Bil. by 2028. With its national climate strategy and the ratification of the Paris climate agreement, Canada also pursues an ambitious climate policy. Today, more than 50% of the needed electricity is already created by using renewable energies, even though the country has got the third-biggest energy and raw materials reserves in the world.

Due to its dependency on export, Canada is involved in many trade agreements (about a dozen bilateral free trade agreements). The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, which has been in existence since 1994, is expected to be renewed and replaced on January 1st 2020 by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) With the EU, Canada's second most important trading partner, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has been provisionally in force since 21st September 2017. Furthermore, Canada signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) at the beginning of 2018. Besides that, there are amongst other trade agreements with the EFTA-States, as well as South Korea and the Ukraine.

Automotive parts, oil and raw materials (excluding fuels) account for more than one third of Canada's total exports. The US are the biggest customer of Canadian goods with a share of 75.9% of exports. The majority of goods being imported in Canada are motor vehicles and automotive parts; machines and chemical products. The main exporters to Canada in 2017 were the US (51.3%) and China (12.6%), followed by Mexico (6.3%) and Germany (3.2%). Germany mainly exports cars and parts and machinery to Canada and imports raw materials.

Economy Data 2017/2018 (Estimations/Forecasts)
GDP 1,820 Bil. USD (2019)
Population 37.1 Mio. (2018)
Exports to Germany 4.4 Bil. Euro
Imports from Germany 9.7 Bil. Euro

Source: GTAI, AHK, AA

Fair market
The close economic relations with the US are also reflected in the exhibition industry. For Canadian exhibitors and visitors, it does not make much of a difference in terms of time and logistics whether a trade show takes place in the neighbouring United States or in Canada. Therefore, many of them take advantage of the opportunity to participate in international fairs in the US. However, some Canadian trade fairs are among the industry's leading trade shows in North America or even worldwide. These include, for instance, the GPS Global Petroleum Show (oil and gas industry) and the Buildings Show (construction industry), but also the PDAC (commodities) and Canada's Farm Progress Show (agriculture) fairs. For exhibitors and visitors from the US and from all over the world, participation at these fairs is indispensable. In addition to the international fairs, there are various regional fairs, which are mainly used by local companies of specific industries.
 
Just as in the US, in Canada it is common for trade fairs to be either organized by trade associations or in cooperation with a trade fair organizer. It also makes sense in Canada to first test the interest in one's own products at a trade show and, in a second step, to decide on a branch or a sales partner. Canadian trade fair visitors are accessible and relaxed, which facilitates the first conversation. The stand construction is usually less expensive than in Germany and the exhibition halls are more compact.

Since the mid-1970s, the Canadian Association of Exposure Management (CAEM) has represented the interests of the Canadian exhibition industry. The members are organizations or persons organizing trade fairs, consumer exhibitions or similar events. Fair-related service providers can become associated members. Among other, the association provides its members with ‘Best Practice Guidelines’ for health and safety. As a partner of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), CAEM also offers specific courses for the Canadian trade fair industry as part of the Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM).
 
Fairs und Organizers 
The Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) approximately lists around 40 fairs in Canada every year. The majority of these events takes place in Toronto, followed by Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.

Similar to the US, most of the fairs are being organized by the industry associations. Fairs and accompaniment-events are one of the key services for their members, but also the main source of income of the associations. With the main emphasis on metalworking and processing, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers organizes among other the FabTech Fair Canada. The vast majority of organizers only hosts one fair per year. The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy & Petroleum (CIM), for instance, organizes the CIM Annual Convention (Mining) annually at changing places. The Society of Petroleum Engineers organizes the ATCE – Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition fair (Petrochemistry) - and the Woodworking Network carries out the WMS - Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo (Woodworking).
 
Also, there are for-profit fair organizers, that host different fairs in Canada. The British company Informa PLC for instance has been active on the Canadian market since the takeover of the fair Fan Expo Canada in 2010. Over the years, the enterprise continuously extended its portfolio among other with the takeover of the company MMPI Canada. Dmg events also organizes various trade fairs in Canada, for example the trade show GPS - Global Petroleum Show & Conference. In the field of food and beverage the French company COMEXPOSIUM organizes the trade fair SIAL Canada. The activities of Messe Frankfurt GmbH and Deutsche Messe AG in the Canadian market are explained in more detail in the section "German Organizers".

Year Fairs in Canada*
2020 41
2019 46
2018 44
2017 43
2016 39
2015 41

* listed in AUMA fair database

German Organizers
The Messe Frankfurt GmbH has been active in Canada since 2005. Part of the Portfolio are two fairs, that take place simultaneously, the Waste & Recycling Expo Canada and the Municipal Equipment Expo.

Since 2014 the Deutsche Messe AG is represented in Canada by its subsidiary Hannover Fairs with the CanWEA fair (wind energy). The fair has been organized annually in collaboration with the Candian Wind Energy Association. Another cooperation with the solar industry association (Canadian Solar Industries Association) concerned the organization of the solar Canada fair, which was being held until 2019. The two fairs are being merged from 2020 on as Electricity Transformation Canada. In addition to that the Truck World fair is being organized in cooperation with Newcom Business Media every two years.

Contact
AHK Kanada
Deutsch-Kanadische Industrie- und Handelskammer  Canadian German Chamber of Industry and Commerce Inc.  
480 University Avenue
Suite 1500
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1V2
Phone +1 416 598 33 55
Fax: +1 416 598 18 40
E-Mail: Info.toronto@germanchamber.ca  
Website: http://kanada.ahk.de
 
CAEM Canadian Association of Exposition Management
E-Mail: info@caem.ca
Website: https://caem.ca/
 
Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI)
E-Mail: info@gtai.de  
Webseite: www.gtai.de
 
Auswärtiges Amt
Botschaft der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Postadresse:
P.O. Box 379, Postal Station „A“ Ottawa, Ontario  K1N 8V4
Phone: +1 613-232-1101
Fax: +1 613-780-1527
Website: https://canada.diplo.de/ca-de

AUMA
Christine Zander  
Referent global markets
Regions: North America, Latin-America, Subsahara-Africa, South East Asia, Australia; Voting of foreign trade fair participations, EU-topics
Phone: +49 30 24000-125
Fax: +49 30 24000-320
E-Mail: c.zander@auma.de

 

 

China Gerd Altmann, Pixabay
17.09.2019

FAIR MARKET CHINA

The People's Republic of China has experienced unprecedented economic growth since the late 1970s, with average double-digit growth rates. Over the past 10 years, the country has become the export world champion and holds the position as the second largest economy after the USA for almost as long. Along with the economic boom, modern China faces major challenges, including high wage increases, massive environmental problems and overcapacity in many industrial sectors.
 

The People's Republic of China has experienced unprecedented economic growth since the late 1970s, with average double-digit growth rates. Over the past 10 years, the country has become the export world champion and holds the position as the second largest economy after the USA for almost as long. Along with the economic boom, modern China faces major challenges, including high wage increases, massive environmental problems and overcapacity in many industrial sectors.
 
Unlike at the beginning of the opening policy more than 40 years ago, when foreign investors with the appropriate technology and know-how were targeted, China is now pursuing a strategy to strengthen the domestic market. With the support of the "Made in China 2025" decree adopted in 2015, the Middle Kingdom is to become one of the leading industrial nations in three ten-year programs by 2045. In doing so, the government is focusing on promoting innovation, increasing production efficiency, optimizing the industrial structure and "green" production. Key sectors such as robotics, medical technology, electromobility and modern agricultural technology are defined as particularly eligible. The development of Industry 4.0 is also of great importance.

Economic data 2018/2019* (estimates and forecasts)
GDP      USD 14,217 billion*
Population    1,395.4 billion
Exports    USD 2,487.4 billion
Exports to Germany EUR 106.3 billion
Imports USA 2,135.6 Mrd. billion
Imports from Germany EUR 93.1 billion 

    Source: GTAI, Ministry of Foreign Affairs    

China's regions have developed at different rates. Although the economically strong regions at the east and southeast coast of the country generate about half of the annual GDP, the areas in central and western China are recovering dynamically. With the "go-west" policy, since the turn of the millennium, the Chinese government has been increasingly working to promote and develop the western regions, increasing the attractiveness of the affected regions to foreign investment and business settlements. 

Another ambitious project is designed for decades: The “One Belt and One Road” initiative, i.e. the revival of the "Silk Road", which connects more than 60 states in Asia and Europe via land and water. Planned and already implemented billion investment in the construction of ports, railways and telecommunications equipment. Opportunities for German companies exist above all for providers of special equipment in rail, shipping, port and aviation technology. 
 
German-Chinese economic relations have developed very well in recent decades. At the beginning of 2014, the first Chinese Chamber of Commerce (CHKD) in Europe was founded in Berlin to promote the intensification of trade relations. Since 2011, Germany and China have been conducting regular government consultations that include comprehensive strategic partnerships.  

In 2018, German exports to China amounted to EUR 93 billion. Imports from China today amount to more than EUR 100 billion. With a trade volume of about EUR 200 billion in 2018, Germany is by far China's most important European trading partner. For Germany, the People's Republic of China is again the most important trading partner in Asia and the third most important worldwide. The main products supplied to China are machinery, motor vehicles and automotive parts, electrical engineering and chemical products. Around 5,200 German companies are based in China; around 900 Chinese companies have settled in Germany. 
          
Trade Fair Industry
Although China's economy is slowing, the world's second-largest economy continues to grow. Investments worth billions in infrastructure, housing, climate and environmental protection, combined with the construction and expansion of trade fair venues, have made China the most important trade fair venue in Asia, and this position is undisputed. Especially in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the professionalism of the trade fair organizers is high, above all because of the numerous international cooperation. 
 
The fairs in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou continue to characterize the Chinese fair landscape. Beijing as an important trade fair location is characterized by its proximity to political decision-makers and the extensive expansion of infrastructure. The majority of the major trade fairs take place in Shanghai and the concentration of international organizers is high.  

The increased reorientation of the Chinese economy on the domestic market also influences the further development of the Chinese trade fair landscape, as the exhibition industry is increasingly turning to the service sector, digitization, automation, health, education and high-quality consumption.  

The "New Silk Road" project also has a major influence on the Chinese trade fair industry: Chinese organizers are increasingly conducting trade fairs and trade fair participations in countries that are to be linked via the Silk Road. In 2018, 76 trade fair organizers were involved in 718 trade fairs in 33 countries, an increase of around 14% compared to the previous year. Most of the fairs were classified as multi-sector and machine-building exhibitions. With an increase of 19% compared to the previous year, the majority of the exhibition-related projects were realized in Russia.

Country Number of Fairs Exhibitors from China
Russia 132 3,870
India 89 3,129
United Arab Emirates 82 3,906
Turkey 30 1,728
Thailand 47 1,641

Since 2015, the Chinese State Council has been pursuing the strategy of making the domestic trade fair industry more international and transparent by 2020. For example, the approval of new trade fairs is to be gradually decentralized and responsibility transferred to the provinces. There is a noticeable professionalization of trade fairs outside the traditional trade fair locations of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. In addition, China has developed into the world's largest e-commerce market, i.e. online platforms are used as distribution channels for products. This development is also increasingly affecting trade fairs as a marketing instrument, as traditional aspects of trade fairs are virtualized.   
 
The main problem for the Chinese trade fair industry remains the great complexity of the Chinese trade fair market with its many trade fair offerings, which vary greatly in terms of quality. In addition, the "Go West" strategy of the Chinese government to promote and develop the western regions has resulted in a large number of trade fair centers that are often not profitable due to their low capacity utilization. In 2018, for example, around 9.83 million m2 of exhibition space is said to have been available in 164 exhibition centers in China. More than half of the exhibition grounds had a utilization rate of less than 10%. The competition between trade fair locations for trade show themes and thus exhibitors and visitors lead to overlapping themes and schedules. Sufficient information or independently collected data on space utilization, exhibitor and visitor numbers are scarce and make it difficult for everyone involved to make the right trade fair selection.

Trade fair cities and exhibition venues
In China, many large exhibition centers have been built during the last 10 years. In 2018, 164 exhibition centers with a hall area capacity of 9.83 million m² were counted. That were 11 exhibition centers or 480,000 m² more than in 2017. Shanghai is the most important exhibition hub in the country - two of the largest exhibition centers are located here.

The 10 largest fairgrounds in China (more than 100,000 m²)
Venue     Gross hall size in m²
National Exh. & Conv. Ctr (NECC), Shanghai 400,000
China Import & Export Fair Complex, Guangzhou 338,000
Kunming Dianchi Intern. Conv. & Exh. Centre 300,000
Western China International Expo City, Chengdu 205,000
Chongqing International Expo Centre 200,000
Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC) 200,000
Wuhan International Expo Centre 150,000
Nanchang Greenland International Expo Center 140,000
Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center 140,000
GD Modern International Exhibition Center, Houjie 130,000

Additional fairgrounds were built over the last years e.g.in the provinces Shandong and Guangdong. With a covered exhibition area of 1.54 million m2 spread over 21 fair grounds the southern province Guangdong takes the top position in China.

German Engagement
In a comparison of countries, the People's Republic of China takes first place concerning German trade fair organizers’ self-organized events abroad. The concepts of these events are based on the standards of leading international trade fairs in Germany. Almost all major German trade fair organizers are active in China. By far the most attractive market is the economic metropolis of Shanghai.

Outside the leading trade fair cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, German organizers are active in Chengdu, Changsha, Foshan, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Qingdao and Xian. 

Year Number GTQ** China (without Hongkong) Shanghai
2019* 324 86 51
2018 321 88 51
2017 300 83 50
2016 296 84 49
2015 295 84 49

* preliminary
**Self-organized events by German trade fair organizers are advertised by AUMA with the label "German Trade Fair Quality Abroad" (GTQ). 
Source: AUMA database
 
Foeign Trade Fair Program 
In the PRC, German companies can present themselves at numerous well-established trade fairs under the umbrella brand "made in Germany" within the Foreign Trade Fair Program. The trade fair participations in the form of German Pavilions cover a large part of the capital goods sector, such as mechanical engineering, food and packaging machinery, automotive supply industry, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, agricultural technology, health care to chemical and environmental engineering. But also, furniture, fashion and consumer goods fairs have been an important part of the program for many years. China is the most important trade fair venue for German companies within the Foreign Trade Fair Program, with Shanghai remaining by far the most important trade fair location.

Contacts
Delegation of German Industry and Commerce Beijing
E-Mail: info@bj.china.ahk.de 
Homepage: http://www.china.ahk.de

Delegation of German Industry and Commerce Shanghai
E-Mail: office@sh.china.ahk.de  
Homepage: http://www.china.ahk.de

Delegation of German Industry and Commerce Guangzhou
E-Mail: info@gz.china.ahk.de  
Homepage: http://www.china.ahk.de

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
E-Mail: embassy@peki.diplo.de  
Homepage: http://www.peking.diplo.de

AUMA e.V.
Natalja Winges
Manager
Regions: Eastern Europe, Central and East Asia
Tel.: +49 30 24 000 124 Fax: +49 30 24 000 320
E-Mail: n.winges@auma.de

More information:
China trade fairs
Source:

AUMA Association of the German Trade Fair Industry

DIGITALE PROZESSKETTE SICHERT ZUKUNFT DES LEICHTBAUS © Reed Exhibitions Deutschland GmbH
10.09.2019

DIGITAL PROCESS CHAIN SECURES THE FUTURE OF LIGHTWEIGHT CONSTRUCTION

  • At COMPOSITES EUROPE from 10 to 12 September
     
  • Incubator of ideas for multi-material lightweight construction
     
  • „Ultralight in Space“: Market study examines lightweight construction trends in aerospace

Whenever there’s movement, mass and weight quickly become destroyers of energy. From 10 to 12 September, the Lightweight Technologies Forum (LTF) at COMPOSITES EUROPE in Stuttgart will show how lightweight construction contributes to more efficient and better cars, airplanes and machines. The focus at the Forum will be on the commercially viable implementation of cross-material and holistic lightweight construction systems. The way to get there is through the digitalisation of the process chain.

  • At COMPOSITES EUROPE from 10 to 12 September
     
  • Incubator of ideas for multi-material lightweight construction
     
  • „Ultralight in Space“: Market study examines lightweight construction trends in aerospace

Whenever there’s movement, mass and weight quickly become destroyers of energy. From 10 to 12 September, the Lightweight Technologies Forum (LTF) at COMPOSITES EUROPE in Stuttgart will show how lightweight construction contributes to more efficient and better cars, airplanes and machines. The focus at the Forum will be on the commercially viable implementation of cross-material and holistic lightweight construction systems. The way to get there is through the digitalisation of the process chain.

From the idea to the component – that’s the path the Lightweight Technologies Forum aims to illuminate and support. To that end, the forum will gather current lightweight construction projects in Stuttgart, including from automotive engineering, aerospace and mechanical engineering – precisely those industries whose stringent material, safety and reliability demands make them idea generators for many other industries.
The commonality that runs through all the projects: a consistently digital process chain contributes significantly to the implementation of innovations. Another focus area is connecting and joining technology in multi-material lightweight construction.

"The Lightweight Technologies Forum is conceived as a cross-industry and cross-material incubator of ideas, a place where all stakeholders can consider new concepts. For that, we’re bringing successful flagship projects to Stuttgart”, says Olaf Freier, who on behalf of organiser Reed Exhibitions is responsible for the programme of the forum.

The growing significance of digitalisation and bionics
Support in putting together the forum programme comes from Automotive Management Consulting (AMC). The consulting company specialises in lightweight construction strategies, processes and structures in the automotive industry. “Lightweight construction requires comprehensive, systematic thinking”, says Rainer Kurek, the managing director of AMC. “The most important key factor, though, is the digitalisation of the process chain. Only virtual and simulation-driven design work can bring about competitive lightweight construction products, because they’re launched faster and ensure process safety while costing far less in development”, Kurek adds.

„Ultralight in Space“: Market study on lightweight construction trends in the aerospace industry
When it comes to ultra-lightweight construction, space travel has played a pioneering role since its inception, having driven many disciplines to new record performances. In cooperation with the Luxembourg-based aerospace suppliers GRADEL, AMC are currently conducting a market study to examine the latest technological trends. The results will be revealed at the LTF in Stuttgart on 10 September.
"Even though aerospace is a niche business: technical solutions that meet the stringent material demands here lead the way into the future, which in turn impacts other industries. That’s why it’s important to know the customer’s needs as well as the lightweight strategies, processes, structures and material decision-making of this market”, Rainer Kurek says assuredly.

Also underlining how important space travel is for the development of new technologies is Claude Maack, managing director of GRADEL: “All components are exposed to extreme conditions. Right from the launch of the rocket, they have to withstand enormous acceleration forces. In space, material must resist radiation exposure – and for many years. Then there are the high temperature differences from minus 185 to plus 200 degrees Celsius – alternating every couple of hours from one extreme to the other.“

The material question: Composites with biggest growth potential
Metals currently hold the largest market share among lightweight materials – but fibre-reinforced composites are said to have the biggest growth potential. More and more often they get to apply their strengths in lightweight construction. In the exhibition area, the LTF demonstrates how glass-fibre reinforced (GFRP) and carbon-fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) play to their strengths in hybrid structural components.
On display, among other things, will be an ultra-lightweight seat by Automotive Management Consulting (AMC), Alba tooling & engineering and csi entwicklungstechnik GmbH, which was presented as a feasibility study – based on the lightweight construction innovation xFK in 3D – and virtual prototype at the 2018 LTF.

The innovative ultra-lightweight seat, which only weighs 10 kg, is based on a special winding process for fibre-composite components. The  “xFK in 3D process” uses a resin-impregnated continuous fibre from which components are wound and produced without waste to match the load. Conceivable uses for the concept seat include the so-called hypercars, sports cars and the air taxis of the future. Just a few weeks ago, the prototype was presented to the public and swiftly recognised with the German Innovation Award.

Exhibitors will be presenting additional lightweight construction solutions in the adjacent Lightweight Area. Some examples include structural components, semi-finished goods, technical textiles, adhesives and resins for automotive engineering and aerospace.

Altogether, visitors of the Lightweight Technologies Forum and COMPOSITES EUROPE will meet 300 exhibitors from 30 countries who will come to Stuttgart to showcase the entire process chain of fibre-reinforced plastics – from materials to machines for processing to concrete application examples from automotive engineering, aerospace, mechanical engineering, construction, wind power, and the sports and leisure sector. Besides new products, a special focus of the trade fair will be on advances in process technologies for large-scale series production.  
 

Composites Europe 2019 (c) Photos: Reed Exhibitions/ Oliver Wachenfeld
30.07.2019

COMPOSITES EUROPE 2019: Digital Process Chain makes Fibre Composites Competitive

  • Strong Triple: COMPOSITES EUROPE, International Composites Conference and Lightweight Technologies Forum
  • “Process live” special areas showcase technological progress
  • Co-located event: Foam Expo Europe

The composites industry provides important impetus – for lightweight construction and material innovations in automotive, aviation, mechanical engineering, construction, wind power as well as in the sports and leisure sectors. So in international competition it is solutions with a high degree of automation that are in demand. COMPOSITES EUROPE from 10 to 12 September will present the trends and advances in the production and processing of fibre-reinforced plastics in Stuttgart. The trade fair will be accompanied by the International Composites Conference and the Lightweight Technologies Forum. Also held in parallel at the Messe Stuttgart premises will be Foam Expo Europe.

  • Strong Triple: COMPOSITES EUROPE, International Composites Conference and Lightweight Technologies Forum
  • “Process live” special areas showcase technological progress
  • Co-located event: Foam Expo Europe

The composites industry provides important impetus – for lightweight construction and material innovations in automotive, aviation, mechanical engineering, construction, wind power as well as in the sports and leisure sectors. So in international competition it is solutions with a high degree of automation that are in demand. COMPOSITES EUROPE from 10 to 12 September will present the trends and advances in the production and processing of fibre-reinforced plastics in Stuttgart. The trade fair will be accompanied by the International Composites Conference and the Lightweight Technologies Forum. Also held in parallel at the Messe Stuttgart premises will be Foam Expo Europe.

Trade fair visitors will meet with over 300 exhibitors from 30 nations who will be displaying materials, technical solutions and innovative application examples in Stuttgart. Apart from novel products the trade fair will place special emphasis on innovative process engineering. Visitors will learn about the state of play in serial production and new applications in the composites industry in the exhibition area as well as on numerous special areas, on themed guided tours, at the accompanying International Composites Conference and at the Lightweight Technologies Forum, which is dedicated to the trends in multi-material lightweight construction.

“Process live”: Technologies in Synergy
Perfectly coordinated processing and manufacturing processes will be centre stage at the “Process live” event. On shared exhibition space machinery and equipment manufacturers will exhibit their technologies in concert and – what’s more – in operation so as to show the different individual processes in a real context.  

On display, to name but one exhibit, is VAP®, the Vacuum Assisted Process patented by Airbus, which will be in the limelight in the Trans-Textil and Composyst special area. This process permits the one-step production of large-surface and geometrically complex components without an autoclave, which is why it is particularly suitable for structural components in aviation, wind power, shipbuilding, in rail and road transport, in machinery and device manufacturing as well as in architecture and in the leisure industry.

The “Process live” special area care of cutting specialists GUNNAR from Switzerland specifically targets the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) with its small and medium-sized companies. Jointly with laser projection expert LAP and composites engineering expert SCHEURER Swiss, GUNNAR introduces a connected overall process that fuses modern machinery and software with specialists’ manual jobs. The point of departure here is an automated manufacturing process for sorted layer placement in small and medium quantities involving a certain degree of skilled labour.

Fibre composite specialist Hacotech will present CNC-controlled cutting processes and various finishing possibilities in cooperation with Aristo Graphic Systeme and Lavesan. Alongside cutting, production preparation and customised sizing, the production of dimensionally correct templates and the cutting and custom-sizing of composite materials and prepregs will be on show.

Cutting technology is also centre stage in the special area of Rebstock Consulting, Broetje-Automation and Zünd Systemtechnik, which will be taking part in “Process live” with “Automated Sorting and Kitting”.

Composite producer Saertex and chemical company Scott Bader will demonstrate the RTM process for producing and curing a laminate that complies with the highest fire protection requirements in as little as 1 hour.   

5th International Composites Conference (ICC)
Serial production, stable processes, new markets – the International Composites Conference (ICC) is set to inject a fresh breeze for innovations into the market and to this end brings together processors and users of fibre-reinforced plastics from all over Europe. For the first time, this renowned Conference will be held in parallel with COMPOSITES EUROPE. The lecture programme put together by the trade association Composites Germany and the trade fair will also move closer in terms of content.  

One of tomorrow’s cross-cutting themes keeping the entire industry on its toes are multi-material solutions in nearly all industrial applications. In the construction sector the Conference also deals with the rising use of carbon concrete. Process engineering will focus on processing thermoplastic materials for serial production and stable processes for thermoset plastic processing.  

The partner country of the Conference is the United Kingdom. Especially against the backdrop of the current Brexit debate the ICC aims to foster exchange among all European countries. After all, the UK is among the biggest producers of composites components in Europe.

Themed Tours on Digitalisation, Fibre Glass, Thermoplastics, Automotive and Wind Power
Guided tours and hands-on demonstrations in the exhibition halls complement the conference programme. Themed guided tours revolving around composites application, materials and markets guide trade fair visitors and congress delegates right to the stands of selected exhibitors, who will share with visitors their innovations in the fields of digitalisation of composites production, automotive manufacturing, building and construction, fibreglass, new mobility, thermoplastic materials and wind power.  

New ideas on special areas and joint stands
“Material and Production Technology” is the name of the new special area set up under the guidance of the Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) of the RWTH Aachen University. In cooperation with other institutes such as the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) the IKV will place manufacturing technology centre stage at the trade fair. In particular, the special area will trace the path from scientific development to practical, industrial implementation.

Tomorrow’s automotive experts will also be given a separate forum: under the heading “Formula Student” students and trainees will present to visitors racing cars and bikes they have engineered.

Lightweight Technologies Forum: platform for multi-material lightweight construction
Lightweight construction remains a driver across the board for many developments in the composites sector. The Lightweight Technologies Forum (LTF) held as part of COMPOSITES EUROPE makes it clear how lightweight construction can be achieved in an economical and resource-efficient manner. This Forum views itself as a cross-industry and multi-material think tank where all parties involved can reflect on these new concepts.

To this end, the Forum in Stuttgart pools lightweight construction projects from automotive manufacturing, aviation and aerospace and mechanical engineering, to name but a few industries that serve as a driving force for many sectors with high demands made on materials, security and reliability.  

This year’s keynote speakers include Airbus Innovation Manager Peter Pirklbauer, lightweight construction expert Prof. Jörg Wellnitz (TU Ingolstadt), Dutch racing driver Jeroen Bleekemolen and lightweight construction, aviation and aerospace specialist Claus Georg Bayreuther (AMC). In their talks they will provide an overview of reference projects and novel manufacturing and joining technologies.  

Combining its own exhibition space with a lecture forum, the LTF demonstrates how glass-fibre reinforced plastics (GRP) and carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) leverage their strengths mixed with other materials in hybrid structural components. Exhibitors at the Forum and in the neighbouring Lightweight Area include “Leichtbau-Zentrum Sachsen” (Lightweight Construction Center Saxony), Chem-Trend, Gößl + Pfaff, Krempel, Mitsui Chemicals Europe, Leichtbau BW, the VDMA, Gustav Gerster, Potters Ballotini (UK), Yuho (Japan), Riba Composites (Italy) and Stamixco (Switzerland) as well as the journals Lightweight Design (Springer Fachmedien) and Automobil Industrie (Vogel Communications Group), to name but a few.

“Ultralight in Space”: market study on lightweight construction trends in the aerospace industry
The aerospace industry has always served as a pioneer for ultra-lightweight construction pushing many disciplines to their limits as a driver of innovation. The latest technical trends are currently under scrutiny via a market study carried out by consultancy Automotive Management Consulting (AMC) in cooperation with the Luxembourg-based aerospace OEM GRADEL. The results will be presented for the first time at the LTF in Stuttgart on 10 September.  

Presentation of the AVK Innovation Prize
Innovative products and applications in fibre-reinforced plastics, manufacturing processes and the latest insights from research and science, will again be recognised by the German trade association AVK – Industrievereinigung Verstärkte Kunststoffe e. V. with its renowned Innovation Prize. The winners will be announced as part of the trade fair on 10 September and the award-winning products and projects will be on display in a special area.

Presentation of the SMB-BMC Design Award
The European Alliance for SMC BMC will announce the winners of the SMC BMC Design Award 2019 – also on 10 September. The contest already held for the second time now, honours and promotes the design excellence of students or young design professionals who use SMC and BMC components (sheet and bulk moulding compounds) in their designs. This year saw sustainable mobility take centre stage as a theme.

COMPOSITES Night
The event to celebrate the midway point of the trade fair: the COMPOSITES Night at the end of the second trade fair day offers visitors and exhibitors additional opportunities for networking. Participants are in for buffets and live music at the Stage Palladium Theater in Stuttgart.

Matchmaking programme makes trade fair visit more efficient
Thanks to the complimentary networking & meeting platform “matchmaking” visitors and exhibitors can already reach out to contacts in the run-up to COMPOSITES EUROPE. Who is at the trade fair? Who has answers to your specific questions? Who can you team up with to turn new ideas into practice? The matchmaking platform allows you to “filter” and make direct appointments with potential cooperation partners by product category, industry, country, or company.

Career & Composites
With its career&composites stand COMPOSITES EUROPE targets students and graduates who can come here to establish contact with potential employers. On the special area the exhibitors present their companies to interested junior employees and attract attention to vacancies and career opportunities via a Job Wall.

Co-located with Foam Expo Europe
COMPOSITES EUROPE will be co-located with Foam Expo Europe for the first time. This trade fair covers the supply chain of technical foam production and presents moulded, rigid and soft foam solutions – from raw materials to equipment and machinery. The parallel exhibition dates generate special synergies for gaining an overview of lightweight construction materials for such shared applications as the automotive, aviation, construction and sports & leisure industries.