In Wildeshausen, south of Bremen, a brand-new iron foundry will start its operations next year, as announced by the managers of the company HYDROTEC Technologies AG.
According to board member Jürgen Unewisse, the approval procedures with the authorities are proceeding cooperatively so that this ambitious plan can soon be realised.
HYDROTEC Technologies AG is a family-managed German company that produces manhole covers and drainage channels. It operates worldwide with successful country representatives. The partner foundry ERKON in Turkey currently produces some of the standard products for drainage technology.
The decision to build a modern iron foundry in Germany on a green field site may surprise at first, but Jürgen Unewisse cites good reasons for choosing this location, including the criteria, the motivation, and not at least the vision.
In the following interview, Jürgen Unewisse gives a first insight:
FP: Mr. Unewisse, you are planning to build a modern iron foundry in Wildeshausen. What is the current planning status and how does the cooperation work with the authorities?
Jürgen Unewisse: Except minor details, the planning is completed and the building permit, including approval documents, has been submitted in accordance with the Federal Emission Control Act. The cooperation with authorities works well, as each side concentrates on its responsible tasks, given by the legislator.
FP: The global trend is outsourcing of casting to other regions in the world. What are the arguments for Germany as an industrial location, and how can that be economically achieved?
Jürgen Unewisse: Germany is an industrial country, and both, metal production and metal processing are the great strength of our industry. With the right equipment and process management, any production in Germany can produce economically. By the way, I speak German very well. ;-)
FP: In times of industrial transformation, the CO² footprint plays a major role. Which part of Germany's investments is climate-related?
Jürgen Unewisse: I cannot imagine that a company would make such an investment only for this reason, but it certainly affects the CO² footprint, because a lot of transport, among other things, can be avoided.
FP: What is your company's motivation? Or rather, what is your vision?
Jürgen Unewisse: The idea is to prepare the company for the future and to establish it well on the market.
FP: Which capacity are you aiming for the new foundry plant?
Jürgen Unewisse: The foundry, with its plant technology, must be considered as an addition to our foundry partner ERKON. We will concentrate on certain groups according to the plant technology, so that we can produce them competitively. The capacity will be around 20,000 tonnes per year.
FP: The HYDROTEC Foundry Wildeshausen could become a European beacon project, what are you planning in terms of equipment, digitalisation, and logistics?
Jürgen Unewisse: Being a " beacon " is not our motivation, but we act from an economic point of view – with a little risk, I must admit . A new foundry, regardless its material, should always use the most innovative possibilities if it wants to survive on the market on a long-term basis. This is how we started the planning of the foundry. If the "lack of personnel" or the "personnel costs" are identified as challenges, we must focus on the optimal use of digitisation and its logistical processes in the process chain as well as its workflows. In particular, transport doesn't make a product more valuable, but more expensive!
FP: In times of uncertainty, how do you ensure the energy supply for the foundry plant?
Jürgen Unewisse: Electricity is our main source of energy, as we use electric smelters. The problem of electricity is not a supply problem, but rather a "price problem". In this context, it is not the price itself that is important, but the price in the international comparison. Apart from that, we will cover part of the energy demand with PV systems.
FP: A high-tech foundry should be a pole of attraction for young people. How do you rate the situation on the labour market to recruit the right employees? What do the young people expect, and what do you offer them?
Jürgen Unewisse: Recruiting staff is certainly not an unimportant point in a project like this, it is a challenge. You must consider the expectations of a potential employee towards his or her employer. Specialists and managers are recruited on the labour market. We are mainly searching for people who are interested in helping to build up a production. In my opinion, this form of professional self-fulfilment is a big bonus in terms of employer attractiveness.
FP: Investing in the future is an important point for a family-operated company. What is the strategy of HYDROTEC Technologies AG in terms of family tradition?
Jürgen Unewisse: Maybe I am not the right person to answer this question but let me try to explain: HYDROTEC was founded 55 years ago and is now being managed by the second generation. This kind of challenge is a generational task, and the owner family is fully committed.
FP: The groundbreaking for the new foundry is scheduled on 01 July 2023. It seems that everything is going well. We are looking forward to the first casting, and we wish you and the whole team good luck!
About HYDROTEC Technologies AG
HYDROTEC Technologies AG is a family-managed company based in Wildeshausen. The company produces manhole covers and drainage channels, as well as road caps and products for gardening and landscaping. Already in 2002, the different companies of the group were united under the name HYDROTEC Technologies AG.
The company operates worldwide and sells highly innovative products. For example, various Formula 1 racetracks as well as international airports or the luxury Palmtree Island in Dubai have been fitted with drainage technology from Wildeshausen in Germany.
The company's goal is based on the production of innovative quality products through short delivery distances and process efficiency. 130 employees work at the site in Wildeshausen, which is, like the entire company, focused on advanced technology and constant further development.