The responsible use of resources is one of the big issues of our time. The Dürr Group helps customers to reduce emissions, and benefits from this itself. An interview with → Dr. Jochen Weyrauch, Deputy CEO of Dürr AG and responsible for the → Corporate Sustainability department.
Sustainability has become a huge topic
Dr. Weyrauch, how does Dürr help its customers to achieve environmentally friendly production?
With our equipment and machines, customers will, among other things, save materials, consume less energy or manage with less space. In this way, our solutions are in themselves a contribution to sustainable management. Resource efficiency has been one of our criteria in product development for a long time and continues to gain in importance.
Has the importance of sustainability changed for your customers?
Yes, absolutely. This has become a big issue, especially in the automotive industry. Daimler, VW and BMW, like many other manufacturers, plan on achieving CO2-neutral production in the future and have now set themselves clear targets against which they will be measured. We are therefore observing a much greater interest in resource-saving and low-emission solutions. Ultimately, a sustainable painting process in particular will be key to car manufacturers achieving their goals. We are already discussing with customers how exactly the reduction of resource consumption can best be incorporated into their purchasing decisions regarding paint or final assembly systems. Fortunately, there is a lot happening at the moment.
What would such a resource-saving solution be?
One shining example, quite literally, is the sharp application of → paint without overspray, which allows roofs to be painted in a different color or contrasting colors to be applied without prior masking and thus without plastic waste and unnecessary paint consumption. In addition to this development milestone, there is of course a lot of detailed progress: With the → EcoBell Cleaner D2, for example, we offer a cleaning device that the painting robot approaches to clean its atomizer of paint residues. This reduces the consumption of environmentally harmful cleaning agent by 85 percent. Per car, this saves 50 milliliters, which may not sound that exciting. But with 89.5 million cars painted worldwide in 2019, that would be around 18,000 bathtubs filled to the rim. So, there is a lot of potential here. For many years we have been the market leader with our → EcoDryScrubber system for highly efficient overspray separation in spray booths. The topic of resource conservation, which is now receiving so much media attention, has been a pacesetter for us in product development for a long time now.
You mentioned that customers are paying greater attention to resource-saving production technology. How does this affect your strategy?
The answer lies not least in our latest acquisition in environmental technology: In October 2018, we → acquired the Megtec/Universal Group. In doing so, we doubled our existing business in → exhaust-air purification technology. In 2019 we were able to book orders worth around € 450 million and we will continue to grow in the coming years. Clean air is by no means an issue that only concerns the western world. We see strong demand especially in the emerging markets since government regulation is increasing.
Dürr has made digitalization a top priority. To what extent do digital products contribute to sustainable production?
Ultimately, all digital innovations serve to increase productivity. Perhaps you read the article on → artificial intelligence in the painting process earlier. At the end of the day, we aim to avoid equipment failure and increase availability through fault predictability. We thus help to avoid production problems. This means less waste of resources and better use of machines and equipment. Or take, for example, → IntelliDivide, a smart application by HOMAG. Among other things, you can use it to minimize waste when dividing wood panels. Economic and environmental benefits are not mutually exclusive – quite the contrary.