German plastics and rubber machinery industry currently facing major challenges after a good previous year

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German plastics and rubber machinery industry currently facing major challenges after a good previous year

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• Positive closure of 2021
• Full order books, but fewer new orders in the first four months of 2022
• Material shortages and Ukraine war dampen outlook
• VDMA Circular Economy Forum at K 2022 – circular economy up close

“German plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers can look back on the year 2021 with satisfaction, achieving a turnover plus of 12 per cent,” said Ulrich Reifenhäuser, Chairman of the Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association in the VDMA, summarising the situation. “It didn’t turn out to be a record year, as the impetus from the automotive sector in 2018 and 2019 was too strong for that, but we are more than satisfied with the order intake in 2021 as a whole (up 39 percent against the previous year),” Reifenhäuser continues.

Currently, the order books of companies are still reasonably well filled, but due to supply chain problems resulting from lockdowns and the Ukraine war, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to convert orders into turnover. Added to this are the rapidly rising prices for raw materials and energy. And finally, after the small interim peak in 2021, there is now a saturation effect in addition to a base effect. Both these factors mean that the new order volume is declining.

“In the first four months of the current year, new orders fell 17 per cent short of those of the same period last year,” says Thorsten Kühmann, managing director of the trade association, explaining the reason for the many worries among plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers. “Availability of supplier parts is the predominant issue in the mechanical engineering sector, which, according to surveys, will become more acute again in the coming months before the sector can expect it to ease,” Kühmann continues. The uncertainty in the world market as a result of the Ukraine war is doing the rest. For this reason, the trade association recently revised its turnover 2022 forecast of 5 to 10 per cent, and now expects a sideways movement, or at best a small increase of no more than 2 percent.

VDMA Circular Economy Forum at K 2022 – circular economy up close

Alongside climate protection and digitalisation, the circular economy is one of the key themes of K 2022. If the plastics cycle is to be successful, recyclable products are needed, as well as high-performance machines and systems that can turn plastic waste into good quality recyclates, and then process the recyclates into new, high-quality products.

At the VDMA Circular Economy Forum on the open-air site of K 2022, visitors to the fair can see how the circular economy works in practice in the plastics industry. Throughout ten pavilions, the VDMA and its members – manufacturers of plastics machinery and equipment – together with their partners, will be showing the technologies they utilise to make the plastics cycle possible in the first place. This involves the processing of plastic waste, as well as the production of re-granulate, which is then processed into new products. The digitalisation of the procedures plays an important role here.

The VDMA Dome is at the centre of the forum. It is once again the meeting place for everyone who wants to know more about the circular economy in the world of plastics. The installation named “The Machine” provides an overview of the individual process steps of the cycle. Here, 40 companies will present their highlights on the circular economy in video clips, and where these can be found at the fair. The accompanying exhibition shows what is produced on the machines: exciting plastic products made from recyclate!

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