There exists a constant demand for optimisation in the process flows for companies wanting to remain competitive and provide products at marketable prices in the future. What the energy- and resource-efficient production of tomorrow can look like is undergoing research in Saxony-Anhalt. Together with partners from industry and research, the Fraunhofer IFF in Magdeburg has formed the ER-WIN innovation cluster for the purpose of developing sustainable solutions for the future in the key field of energy costs. As a result of this, competitive benefits are arising for each and every company as well as a significant locational advantage for Saxony-Anhalt.
The subjects of energy and resource efficiency are practically the daily companions of manufacturing companies. Nevertheless, despite prior investments a considerable potential for savings remains untouched. While many energy consultants present standard solutions for investments and studies often find no practical application, the team headed by branch managers Dr. Jörg von Garrel and Carsten Keichel are pursuing a holistic approach. At ER-WIN it is all about analysing the energy requirements in a company's production process, determining requirement times, structuring processes on a more efficient energy and resource basis and sustainably supporting them based on an individual catalogue of measures. A key factor is also the involvement of people, who are actively shaping the required processes and changes with their ideas and commitment.
"The experiences made in the first year reveal that the consultancy requirements in companies is extremely individual and heterogeneous", according to Dipl.-Ing Carsten Keichel. The contents of the consultation meetings range from classic energy consultancy, via questions of using state-of-the-art technologies through to the impact of the EEG levies and current funding programmes. It has become abundantly clear that company structures and process flows are all not the same and it is therefore invariably necessary to develop solutions on an individual basis. Furthermore, a certain climate of uncertainty has been exhibited on the part of entrepreneurs as far as long-term decisions are concerned. Fluctuations in the global market, combined with changing political framework conditions in the area of renewable energies generally only allow short-term planning times.
"In the first months, it proved possible to complete key steps to strengthen the innovation cluster", Dr. Jörg von Garrel stated. A large number of industry and research partners have joined ER-WIN and - as a result - benefit from the innovation and knowledge transfer between theory and practice. Initial reference projects from the fields of the optoelectronic industry, plastics industry, metal production and metallisation clearly illustrate the potential of the holistic consideration. As an example, it has been possible to reduce the energy consumption of one company by 67% by energetically optimising production processes in the plastics industry.
However, it is the intention of ER-WIN to achieve more. By using the slogan "Producing more value", the declared aim is not only to improve value creation within a single company but rather create synergies between various companies and so strive for a community-based improvement of competitiveness. The focus here is on so-called managed industrial parks. When towns and municipalities in Saxony-Anhalt open up new industrial areas, then with the help of ER-WIN as early as the planning phase the can create energy-efficient structures for the companies locating there. This may consist of joint generation of energy, such as a wind farm or photovoltaic park, to serve as a self-sufficient energy supply for the industrial properties. Networking between the individual enterprises is also conceivable, which would, say, enable the waste process heat from one production plant to be used for the heat supply of neighbouring companies.
Dr. Jörg von Garrel and Carsten Keichel draw attention to the crux of the current issue: "Even in the future, we will have to particularly work at convincing companies. The problem is that the benefits of investment in an energy-efficient future cannot be measured in short-term results." Nevertheless, visionary enterprises, who are already adopting long-term solutions for better energy sufficiency, will possess a definite competitive advantage. They are not reacting passively to new framework conditions, but actively shaping their own future along with creating a positive image for their companies. By means of technical expertise, strategic solutions and entrepreneurial courage, the partners of the ER-WIN innovation cluster are developing Saxony-Anhalt into a model region of an energy- and resource-efficient business location.
Author: Miriam Fuchs
Caption: Supporting companies in changing over to a resource-efficient production: Dr. Jörg von Garrel (right side) and Dipl.-Ing. Carsten Keichel (left side). Rights: Fraunhofer IFF
Administrative Office ER-WIN®
c/o Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF Magdeburg
Dr. Jörg von Garrel, Tel. +49 (0)391 4090-714
Dipl.-Ing. Carsten Keichel, Tel. +49 (0)391 4090-368