On May 23rd and 24th, AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH, located in Niederzissen, Germany, hosted its Kunststoff-DIA(hr)LOG® after a 3-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The event focused on the theme of "Learning from Decarbonization, Deglobalization, and Demography." The industry's desire for such gatherings was evident in the fully occupied conference room, with participants from all over Europe.
Dr. Oliver Neuß, Managing Director of AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH, opened the conference with a short review of general events of the last three years relevant for the industry and an outlook on what the plastics industry will have to face in the short term in this scenario. Thus, it is to be expected that the consolidation wave will continue, China will take over a dominant role in raw material production due to an enormous capacity expansion and ecological aspects will strongly increase.
The thematic introduction to the conference took place with the key note, to which Dr. Thieß Petersen from the Bertelsmann Foundation took the auditorium. His presentation, entitled "The Return of Scarcity," highlighted where the megatrends of decarbonization, deglobalization and demographics will lead us. At the end of his talk, he presented three possible solutions on how we can meet the challenges of these megatrends. These are increasing labor productivity and labor force participation, accelerating digitalization, which is crucial to increasing efficiency, and expanding the circular economy. The crux, however, is that all of this must happen simultaneously. This set the tenor for the conference.
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In the following technical presentations, Hans Lochner from KTM Technologies GmbH first presented several examples of how sustainability is understood at KTM in his contribution "Sustainability on two wheels" and emphasized that it can also have additional efficiency-increasing effects if it is taken into account in the design right from the start.
Sustainability was also the topic of the following presentation of AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH. The colleagues Steffen Lang and Carsten Niermann illustrated in their joint presentation "Sustainable high-quality!", with which methods and materials AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH takes up this topic. One conclusion of the presented application cases is that there is no generally valid rule, since each component with its different requirements in its complexity requires its own solution approach. Often it is the combinations of several factors that bring the best result.
The first day was concluded with a visit to the AKRO Competence Center. Here, the conference participants could watch live demonstrations of three different processing technologies and have them explained individually: 3D printing, laser marking and foaming in the injection molding process.
The second day began spectacularly with detailed insights into the development work of an electric vehicle manufacturer. Mr. Eric Bach from Lucid Motors, California, immediately picked up the ball from the previous day in his presentation "Efficiency enhancement in the electric vehicle". Using a number of components whose design and function were used for the first time in the production vehicle, he made it clear that efficiency was the key to the success of this vehicle. Of course, the "object of desire", a Lucid Air, could also be admired and grasped in the parking lot afterwards.
In his presentation "Why outsourcing does not always pay off", Hans Ruijs of MOBA Group, Netherlands, used several components to explain how investments in new technologies can increase labor productivity in a high-wage country and at the same time lead to a reduction in quality costs. This eliminates the need for outsourcing as a cost-saving measure.
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Under the title "The scarce resource human" Dr. Gabriele Wolff from Coaching Wolff then used a video sequence to illustrate humorously, but also very drastically, the requirements that companies currently have to face in managing their personnel development in the existing demographic environment. The main focus here is on the changing needs of the workforce and the associated changes in company structures. There are numerous ways to make employee recruitment and retention more efficient, but the decisive factor is management's commitment to HRM.
The conference was concluded by Volker Scheel from K.D. Feddersen Holding GmbH, who picked up numerous aspects from the previous presentation with his talk "The other currency - added value of a foundation as shareholder". He spoke about the structures of the Feddersen Group with a company-affiliated foundation as owner and showed the positive effects that went beyond the purely economic and ecological. Thus, the arc was thematically spanned over the entire conference. In the overall view, the 14th Plastics DIA(hr)LOG® was a complete success.
The participants of AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH were pleased about the positive feedback of the participants and expressed their sincere thanks for the active participation, the inspiring questions and the valuable networking. Because one thing has crystallized during these two days: We can best meet the challenges posed by decarbonization, deglobalization and demographics together.
The 15th Kunststoff DIA(hr)LOG® will take place on June 4 and 5, 2024.