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German Machine Tool Industry Committed to Sustainability

Under the Blue Competence® brand, 27 machine tool manufacturers and associated vendors exhibiting at AMB 2010 in Stuttgart showcased solutions on the theme of sustainability and energy-efficiency in production operations. According to the VDW, the aim was to spotlight their corporate capabilities under a shared brand name.

“With Blue Competence, the German machine tool industry has proactively taken the issue of sustainability fully on board, and has thus positioned itself out in front of its international competitors”, explained Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, executive director of the VDW, at a press conferences held at the show.

The German machine tool builders’ association has put in place the necessary preconditions for companies to be able to use Blue Competence to publicize their solutions. By signing the conditions of use, companies accept their responsibilities to the natural environment and for climate protection, as well as affirming their readiness to enter into an active dialogue on these issues with both customers and vendors.

Blue Competence, however, is not solely market driven. Within the framework of the EUP Directive, Europe’s environmental policy makers aim to define specific requirements for the energy-efficient machine tool. The plan is to ensure continuous and quantifiable initiatives for improvement. For actual implementation, the directive expresses a preference for self-regulation by the industry.

The European machine tool industry has formulated a concept for this, under which machine tools are regarded as modular units, with the energy-consumption improvement potential of individual machine modules being calculated so that changes in one module can result in optimized energy-efficiency without other production tasks having to be neglected. Other aspects of the industry concept are as follows: measures must factor in the machine tool operator, since the greatest environmental impact comes from the energy consumption of a machine tool in use; the European industry intends to implement the EUP Directive by self-regulation arrangements; and internationally harmonized evaluation criteria are defined with the aid of standardization, so as to avoid distortions caused by the existence of competition.

However, the European Commission has no confidence in the industry, says Schäfer. It is ignoring the calculation method the VDW has formulated in favour of “squandering taxpayers’ money on a study.”

The VDW reaffirms its confidence in the success of the energy-efficient machine tool, because the sector has put all the preconditions in place for harnessing its capabilities to maximum effect. However, the measures involved have to be practicable. Otherwise, a fully functioning market will be destroyed.

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