Updates and announcements from the manufacturing arena

Exciting expansion
Morris Property has been commissioned to build the new manufacturing plant for sister company Morris Site Machinery after planners gave the go-ahead for the £6m investment at i54. Work will commence in November to deliver more than 60,000 sq ft of manufacturing and office space at the flagship site next to Jaguar Land Rover on the i54 South Staffordshire high-tech business park.

When the 12 month building programme is complete, it will enable Morris Site Machinery to relocate from its existing base at Four Ashes, Wolverhampton, three miles away to its own purpose-built base.

Chris Morris, CEO of Morris Site Machinery, said: “This exciting development is in good hands and represents an important step in our ambitions to build a flagship premises which can grow with us. We’ll be able to retain our skilled workforce by remaining local and have plans to also create new jobs.”

VW Group forges new path
The Volkswagen Group is on the brink of its biggest transformation to date, as it switches to making electric cars exclusively. Sten Forsberg, Head of VW Cars in Sweden was at Elmia Subcontractor to talk about the revolutionary decision and what it will mean for production. Described as ‘a complete transformation and the biggest ever investment in the VW Group’, the move represents an investment of SEK 300 billion in just a few years, 70 new models of electric car and the imminent phasing-out of the combustion engine.

The VW Group – which includes Audi, Skoda, Porsche and others – has assessed all kinds of drivelines and concluded that pure electric cars are the way forward. During a transition period, chargeable hybrids will be available, and in the long run so will certain fuel-cell cars ‘for long-haul transport’, but the goal of a total shift is clear. 2026 will be the final year the Group begins the development of a combustion platform (which will remain until around 2040), and many electric models are already seeing the light of day. First out is the ID family including the ID.3 and ID.Buzz, a throwback to the classic VW Camper.

The Volkswagen Group’s dramatic shift will not only be noticeable in road traffic; several of its factories are already switching over to exclusive production of green electric cars. The first one is Zwickau in Germany, where the ID.3 goes into production in November, followed by Emden, Hanover and Dresden.

“In addition, we have also promised that our entire production chain for the ID concept will be completely CO2 neutral. So that includes subcontractors, raw material extraction, the use of electricity and everything else,” added Sten.

€11m investment
With a new injection of growth capital, sustainable fibre technology company Spinnova is now starting the commercialisation phase of the world’s most sustainable textile fibre. The company aims to revolutionise the raw material base of the textile industry with its cellulose-based fibre products in collaboration with major textile brands.

Spinnova is a Finnish, sustainable deeptech company that has developed a disruptive technology for manufacturing cellulose-based textile fibres. Spinnova’s patented method includes no harmful chemicals and no waste or side streams, making the fibre and the production the most sustainable in the world.

Spinnova is beginning to plan for its commercial phase after passing its most important milestone so far; getting proof of concept from its pilot factory. The pilot line was completed in Finland last December and ramped up over early 2019. Now fully operational, the pilot is producing fibre for Spinnova’s brand partners, while Spinnova scales towards a commercial facility.

Following close collaboration with piloting brands, several demo products will be introduced to consumers in the near future. Spinnova’s vision is that its sustainable fibres become an attractive option to brands and this way available to all consumers.

Simplified corrosion protection
Corrosion protection just got easier following the launch of a range of high-performance primers from AkzoNobel’s Powder Coatings business. The company’s new Interpon Redox range offers customers a one-stop-shop that provides the simplest route to maximum corrosion protection. Four innovative systems were developed to cover a variety of substrates, surfaces, and environments – the new Interpon Redox range is suitable for everything from bus shelters, elevators and security gates, to wind turbines, metal fences, and agricultural equipment.

“Interpon Redox is all about bringing simplicity to corrosion protection,” explains Daniela Vlad, Managing Director of AkzoNobel’s Powder Coatings business. “Selecting the right primer for the right level of corrosion can be a lot more complex than people may think. So, our Interpon Redox systems have been developed with characteristics that address all the variables, making it much easier for customers to pick the perfect coating system.”

Long-term performance is paramount for specifiers, who rely on finding the right corrosion protection system for their steel products. However, the process of selecting the right system is influenced by numerous factors, such as the material used and the environment it’s exposed to. Interpon Redox helps to simplify this often-complicated decision-making process and offers customers the best possible corrosion protection, in all conditions.

Entering phase two
Evonik and Siemens have begun their joint research project Rheticus II. The goal is to develop an efficient and powerful test plant that will use carbon dioxide (CO2) and water as well as electricity from renewable sources and bacteria to produce specialty chemicals. In the Rheticus I project, the two companies worked for two years to develop the technically feasible basis for artificial photosynthesis using a bioreactor and electrolyzers. Evonik and Siemens are now combining these two, previously separate, plants in a test facility at Evonik’s site in Marl (Germany). Rheticus II will run until 2021 and will receive funding of around €3.5 million from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

“The innovative technology used for Rheticus has the potential to contribute to the success of Germany’s energy transition,” says Thomas Haas, who is responsible for the Rheticus project at Evonik. “In the future, this platform could be installed anywhere CO2 is available – for example, at power plants or biogas plants. We use available CO2 as the raw material for the production of high-value chemicals using artificial photosynthesis.” Siemens is contributing the world’s first CO2 electrolyzer to the Rheticus project. “We are developing a flexible system that can provide answers to various questions raised by the energy transition,” says Karl-Josef Kuhn, who is in charge of Power2X research at Siemens. “We are also contributing to the stability of the grid because production is so flexible that we can respond to fluctuations in power supply.”

News in brief
A use for plastic waste
Neste and REMONDIS have signed an agreement to collaborate in the development of chemical recycling of plastic waste. Chemical recycling of plastics breaks down plastic waste into a raw material for the plastics and chemicals industries to use in the production of new high-quality plastics, chemicals and fuels.

Through joining forces, REMONDIS and Neste combine REMONDIS’s waste collecting and sorting capabilities and Neste’s experience and know-how in oil refining and processing of low-quality waste and residue materials. The companies wish to build an ecosystem around chemical recycling to enable other companies in the value chain to join the initiative and complement mechanical recycling by closing the material circle also for those plastics that today are difficult or impossible to recycle.

Ford’s green power
Haven Power has won a contract to supply all three of Ford Motor Company UK’s manufacturing locations with around 250GWh of renewable electricity per year.

The deal makes Ford one of Haven Power’s largest clients and gives them access to a renewable energy source and the flexibility to track wholesale energy prices. Haven Power also provides accurate billing, a high standard of quality checks and strong service level agreements.

Clever recycling
Smurfit Kappa has joined with companies HVC and Bluemats to unveil an ambitious plan for the first full beverage carton recycling plant in the Netherlands.

When it comes to recycling, beverage cartons, for example those used for fruit juice or milk, currently pose an infrastructural challenge as they have to be split into three materials: paper, plastic and aluminium. The planned new facility will have the capability to quickly split and sort the components of the drinks cartons so the materials can be used to create new products. Single-use coffee cups, which also have multi-layered materials, are also included in the scope of the plan.