Personal contact to customers, partners and other interested parties at trade fairs can’t be replaced by digital media. This clear-cut statement issued by Sandra Füllsack, managing director of Motan Holding GmbH in Konstanz, is representative of many exhibitors and expert visitors who are looking forward to Fakuma 2021.
Which challenges is the plastics processing industry facing now, and which will it have to deal with in the future?
In particular digitalisation has been the focus of attention in recent years, and discussion about the image of plastics has now gained significance as well. Energy efficiency, the use of recycled materials and circular economy are linked to questions concerning economic efficiency and increased quality demands.
How do you see the positioning of German plastics processing companies with regard to digitalisation and automation?
The German plastics industry has been doing its homework and is already offering numerous solutions in the field of digitalisation. The shortage of skilled personnel is also forcing the industry to increase automation in production. However, potential offered by digitalisation is far from exhausted. We’re still in the initial stages of a development that will certainly continue for years to come. And we have lots of catching up to do where infrastructure and the standardisation of interfaces are concerned. Germany will have to make further progress in this area if we don’t want to be left behind by other highly technologised or very ambitious countries. For example, standardised communication interfaces and climate protection targets with regard to carbon footprint are already specified by governments in some countries – for instance IE3 – which further accelerates product development with regard to automation and digitalisation in these regions.
The industry is intensively engaged in the transformation from a linear to a circular economy. How far along are we in this regard?
Fundamentally, there’s consensus on the direction in which we need to proceed. Initial solutions have already been worked out and implemented, but the full potential of the circular economy is far from being entirely exploited. Synergy effects resulting from other trends are not yet being taken full advantage in a holistic manner, or they’re still in their infancy ¬ such as digitalisation, alternative materials and processes, and renewable sources of energy. In order to ensure success, it will be important for all stakeholders to work together, and to coordinate the roadmap with government policymakers.
Plastics are omnipresent in all areas of life, but they frequently don’t have a good image. How do you think we can we improve the reputation of plastics?
It’s important to clarify where it’s necessary to make good use of plastics, for example in the field of medicine, and where it’s not absolutely necessary – and here I make reference to disposable plastic products. At the same time, the circular economy should be promoted in order to make use of existing plastics for as long as possible. Raising awareness of the significance of recycling is also important, because plastics can only be used for as long as they remain within the loop, and everyone can make a contribution in this regard.
How important is it for you personally, and for your company, to demonstrate presence at trade fairs and to exchange ideas with customers in person – specifically at Fakuma 2021?
Digital trade fairs are very efficient and sustainable in terms of time, costs and energy consumption (travel, trade fair booth etc.). However, our digital trade fair appearances have also revealed that personal contact with customers, partners and other interested parties at on-site trade fairs can’t be replaced by digital media. We’re aware of the importance of personal contact with our customers – not only at trade fairs – and we intend to continue emphasising this approach. But at the same time, we also have to think about alternative formats or a combination of both, with which we can additionally reach out to existing and potential customers.
Which product highlight will you showcase at Fakuma 2021 in Friedrichshafen?
Our company will be featuring several product highlights at Fakuma this fall: the MINICOLOR SG V volumetric dosing and mixing unit with new controller, the LUXOR SG 50 dryer with new controller and product design including a 150 litre drying bin, the GRAVICOLOR 110 with new product design and optimisations, as well as the Moisture Minder for online moisture measurement.