Three manufacturing companies set the tone for 2050

A whopping 80% less greenhouse gas emissions: that’s the objective Europe aims to attain by 2050. The manufacturing industry is also playing an important role and the initiatives launched in the sector to achieve this ambitious goal are as varied as resourceful. The following three companies have already set the tone.

What is ‘Roadmap 2050’?

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to 1990
  • Milestones:
    • -20% by 2020
    • -40% by 2030
    • -60% by 2040
    • -80% by 2050
  • All industrial sectors must contribute

How will we benefit?

  • Lower dependence on imports of raw materials
  • Better air quality
  • Higher employment
  • Lower energy bills

IMA and Value Ash Technologies: from ash to super-strong construction material

Seven years ago, Michel Loots set himself a clear goal. He would amaze the construction industry by launching a new type of concrete: cheap, ultra strong and sustainable. But there was one major hitch: the superfine particles or ‘silica fumes’ which were required to strengthen the concrete proved prohibitive and only available in limited amounts. During his search for alternatives, Loots discovered the so-called fly ash. As much as 500 million tonnes of that ash are released annually in the production of coal. Once separated into fine particles, fly ash proved to be a worthy alternative to silica fumes.

In cooperation with machine manufacturer IMA and European research and technology organisation VITO, Value Ash Technologies, Loots’ company, developed a device to separate the waste into valuable raw materials. “We currently have a prototype capable of processing 15 kg of fly ash per hour. The next variant will process 200 kg of material in the same time frame.Partly thanks to a close R&D collaboration with VITO, the technology is constantly being improved and we support Value Ash Technologies in its scaling-up efforts to handle industrial volumes,” says Joris Ceyssens, Sales Director at IMA. “With this machine, coal plants will be able to convert up to 280 million tonnes of polluting ash into raw materials to make sustainable concrete.”

Figure in the spotlight: 280 million tonnes of polluting ash will be recycled yearly by IMA and Value Ash Technologies. 

Picanol: the most economical weaving machine ever made

Picanol, Belgium’s largest producer of weaving machines, has also put its best foot forward. The company is investing heavily in the development of energy-efficient machines. Geert Ostyn, Vice President Weaving Machines, implements a pragmatic policy with regard to ecological matters: “Of course, the customer wants a machine that will consume as little energy as possible throughout its lifecycle. But ensuring the quality of the final product should be just as important.” For this reason, Picanol joined the European ESTOMAD project. The purpose of ESTOMAD (energy software tools for sustainable machine designs) is to consider the energy consumption of both the individual parts and the whole machine as a fixed parameter when developing software for industrial machinery. Picanol produced the benchmark machine for this project: the OptiMax rapier weaving machine. “Why are we involved in this project? That’s simple,” Ostyn explains. “We want to build the most economical and most efficient weaving machines in the world.”

Figure in the spotlight: 10 to 15% lower energy consumption, thanks to the adjustment of the mechanism driving the weft.

JTEKT Torsen:  Lighter and greener thanks to automation

The 2008 financial crisis had a massive impact on the automotive industry. JTEKT Torsen, a major supplier to this sector, was also hit hard. Jean-Louis Dam, CEO of JTEKT Torsen, tells us how they responded to the challenge: “In order to be more cost efficient, we decided to invest in the automation of our production processes. For this, we gathered a lot of new data about the energy consumption of our production. Based on these new insights, we not only adapted our processes, but also the products themselves. This has allowed us to lower our energy bill by as much as 54% every year.” By using simulation software, for example, the company only needs one or two prototypes for each new product, while it used to be three to six. As a result, it has managed to reduce significantly the energy and material used per product launch. “Moreover, we have developed technologies that enable us to deliver an end product that is up to 40% lighter. In a sector where the customer pays for each gramme, this makes a huge difference. The lighter our components, the lower the fuel consumption of the cars where they end up. This is also our way of contributing to a greener world,” concludes Dam.

Figure in the spotlight: 54% energy savings following changes in production processes.