Brückner always attaches sustainable production as top priority

Brückner, the world-wide acting family-run mechanical engineering company with over 60 years of tradition and experience, believes this tradition as obligation not to aim on the short term at profit maximization but to strive for long-term success and sustainable growth.

Founded by Mr Kurt Brückner in 1949 with the construction of air conditioning units, Brückner soon changed direction and began to focus on the engineering and construction of drying lines which still comprise the core business of the Group today.

Mrs Regina Bruckner- CEO (daughter of company founder), and her husband Mr Axel Pieper are the joint directors at helm of management. For more than ten years now already this strong team is leading successfully the company – a family tradition in the second generation.

Brückner’s goal for the future is to strengthen their position even more as a market and technology leader on the long run. Therefore, Brückner sees that it is absolutely essential to invest in efficient and sustainable products, which should be at the same time of highest quality standard. With their production site in Germany, Brückner is in the position to guarantee this standard to their customers worldwide. In addition, Brückner is currently establishing a new technical center with a pilot plant for the coating and finishing of textiles and technical textiles at their facilities in Leonberg, Germany. There is no doubt that this will help Brueckner somewhat more to master the challenges of the future.

We have conducted an exclusive interview with Ms. Regina Brückner, CEO and Ms. Verena Ruckh, Head of Advertising & Marketing Department, Brückner Trockentechnik GmbH & Co. KG, regarding sustainability, sustainable finishing and their steps with respect to sustainability.

Full text of the interview follows:

Sustainability has become a management topic which has been intensively discussed recently ever more than before. What made the topic this intriguing?

Sustainability is mainly concerned with new energy concepts to save resources and to preserve the environment. Today, the media and politics are unimaginable without these issues. Already during school or their studies, our children do intensively deal with them. The resources of our earth are limited and we are responsible for the next generations. Therefore we should always bear in mind to treat all we find on our earth intelligently and gently. It is the responsibility of every individual person to adapt their behavior. But as a company we bear also the responsibility to produce our product with as little resources as possible and to design them so that they consume as little resources as possible.

Today an increasing value is placed on energy and raw material efficiency in the whole textile production and distribution chain. How does Brückner handle this challenge?

We invest about 5 % of our yearly turnover in product and process innovations and the aspect of sustainability is always in the foreground. We offer for example heat-recovery systems allowing our customers to save up to 35 % energy depending on the process and the machinery configuration. These systems can be retrofitted also to machines of other make. On ITMA 2001 in Barcelona we presented a completely new machinery generation to allow saving another 20 % depending on the application. In addition we offer advisory service regarding an optimization of the energy consumption for the complete company of our customers. Connected with this we are currently working at a research project dedicated to an energy efficient factory. If one considers the complete textile production chain we are of course only a little component and we are only able to influence actively a part of this chain. But we are obliged to commit ourselves as good as possible in this field. This line of action is solidly anchored in our company philosophy and for us it is unimaginable to do without.

Today’s definition of sustainability involves permanently sustainable development in both the economic and the ecological and social realms. How would you define sustainability in textile finishing?

First of all we have to achieve that the issue of sustainability gets more and more connected to the production of textile machinery and production lines. Up to now it is not enough to know that we as Mechanical Engineering Company are in a position to further energy-efficient and resource-saving solutions. Sustainability in the textile finishing sector means to consider in principle the following aspects: Use of the most efficient machines, intelligent linking of processes and sequences, prevention of standstill times and waste as well as using the residual energy of air and water. The concept of sustainability describes the use of a regenerative system in a way allowing to keep this system with its main characteristics and to allow a regeneration of its assets in a natural way.The central idea is as follows: On the long run we cannot and must not live at the cost of people in other regions of the globe and at the cost of future generations. Environment, economics and society do influence each other reci procatively. On the long run there will be no economic and social progress without intact environment. And we will not succeed in protecting our environment effectively as long as human beings have to fight for their subsistence. Sustainability affects all fields of everyday life and can be achieved only by international cooperation. (Source: Wikipedia and bne-portal)

How does Brückner view its obligation to the environment?

Protection of the environment is an indispensable issue for all industries and in the end also for each individual. As a company we can contribute in many ways. We strive continuously to work as resource-saving and efficiently as possible in our production, our sales and our service. In parallel we are developing products which can work clearly more efficiently than the products of other producers. For our customers we are the best contact if it gets to line configurations, process engineering or energy efficiency.

Can you brief Brückner products with 4 main sustainability aspects which could be summarized as energy, environment, efficiency and ergonomics?

In the development of our products sustainability is for many years in the first place. Lets consider as an example our main product, the stenter. This textile dryer is not only used in the classical textile finishing process but also in the coating of technical textiles or plastic, in the carpet industry and in the consolidation and finishing of nonwovens. With our new dryer concept presented in 2011 our customers have the possibility to save an enormous amount of primary energy. In parallel the environment is preserved by the reduction of the CO2 emission and the customers can benefit at the same time of the increased productivity and thus increase their turnover. In addition our lines are so designed that they can be easily and clearly handled despite their complexity. Different energy saving concepts rounding our can be individually used for almost any type of line.

Can you brief us the economic advantages of the Brückner products? In which period these investment costs can be amortized by the manufacturers?

Let’s look at the family of our ECO products. Our heat-recovery systems pay back already from the first day and are a good investment for the future. With these lines which can be retrofitted anytime also for machines of other make, it is possible to save up to 35 % of energy. With a subsequent exhaust air cleaning system it is possible to solve exhaust air problems and to meet the legal regulations. If one considers the continuously increasing energy prices, the payback time of such systems will decrease also in future. Depending on the application and the process the actual payback time is already less than a year. Our new dryer generation pays back also within the shortest possible time. Our customers do not only benefit of the saved energy but also of a higher productivity and low emissions.

Have you encountered resistance from textile manufacturers, or have you found that they’re eager to work with you to reduce the energy and water consumption?

Our customers are very interested in these issues, in Europe as well as in Asia. On the one hand regulations must be met (mainly in Germany and Europe, but to an increasing degree also in other countries) and on the other hand many textile finishers are asked by their own customers, the big purchasers (Wal Mart, Karstadt, H & M etc.) to optimize their consumption of resources. The difficulty is rather that the pay-back for such investments is still too long and that our customers do often need financing. We can offer this under certain conditions but many banks are unfortunately very critical regarding the textile industry.

Will Brückner try to ramp up communications and PR around environmental issues?

Of course we want to get more active in communication and PR around these important issues. On the one hand we want to present of course our own products and increase the awareness of our customers for these issues. But on the other hand we want to be an example for other mechanical engineering companies and other industrial sectors which have not yet gone so far with their developments in the field of sustainability. The more companies we can inspire and convince for activities in the field of sustainability, the bigger is the contribution we can make for our environment. Since summer 2011 we are a partner of the BLUE COMPETENCE sustainability initiative launched by the VDMA (German Engineering Association). With this initiative our strengths and our knowledge are bundled in this field and we can affirm and further our role as technology leader worldwide.

What are your final remarks to the world markets regarding on sustainable innovation and production?

We feel that more companies should dare to think on the middle and long term and reduce their energy consumption step by step. Even if the investments do not pay back immediately, we will achieve step by step another way of thinking.