(PresseBox) (Changshu, ). - Key element in ongoing decentralization strategy of ContiTech
- Largest investment in the history of the Compounding Technology business unit
- Engineering Next Level: compounds are a key starting point for technological innovations
With the start of its production facility for rubber compounds in Changshu, ContiTech has reached another historic milestone on the Chinese market. "Today, a project that has been in preparation for a long time reaches completion. With our new Compounding Center, we are now also bringing our special materials expertise directly to the heart of this key market. It is further evidence of our stable, local business growth. We want to continue to grow sustainably on the Chinese market. We will achieve that only if we are where our customers are – directly in their areas," explained Hans-Jürgen Duensing, CEO of ContiTech and Member of the Executive Board of Continental AG, at the opening ceremony for the location in Changshu.
As one of the leading specialists worldwide, ContiTech Compounding Technology develops compounds and sheeting for a wide range of industrial fields. Rubber-based product solutions are used on construction sites, in trucks, cars, and trains, in mining, and in the food industry. Our wide-ranging knowledge and the ultra-modern technology employed for our meticulous production controls guarantee the highest quality. "The challenges we overcome today with rubber compounds owe a lot to our immense experience. We are now continuing this success story in China," added Dr. Peter Scholtissek, head of the Compounding Technology business unit.
The plant is the first Compounding Center for general applications other than tires or conveyor belts outside Europe. Until now, the company has produced rubber compounds for applications such as drive belts, hoses, and car tires at its three plants in Germany and Hungary. At a total of €10 million, it is one of the biggest investments in the history of the business unit. "In our 3,000 square meters of production space, we are also setting technological standards. The machinery on the first production line is some of the most efficient in the whole of ContiTech," said Scholtissek.
First to start operations is a compounding line with a capacity of 10,000 metric tons per year. Furthermore, the company operates an extrusion line for high-tech compounds that produces one metric ton of rubber compounds every hour. Internal ContiTech customers are being supplied at first. "However, we have structured the plant in a way that will enable us to double our capacity in the years to come," explained Scholtissek, describing the potential for expansion of the location. In doing so, ContiTech is also drawing upon the knowledge and experience of Veyance Technologies in China. At the start of 2015, ContiTech took over a small compounding facility as part of the acquisition. "With this shared local expertise, we are now able to work even more quickly, more specifically, and with a greater proportion of local raw materials to meet the needs and requirements of the Chinese market. We also save valuable time and transport costs," said the head of the business unit.
Starting point for technological innovations
The slogan for the opening ceremony of the Compounding Center was "High-level compounds for excellent performance." It describes the special importance of rubber compounds for technological innovations. Hardly any other material has the ability to be combined with so many different substances to create an innovation. "Our compounds form the essential basis for numerous applications in a wide array of industries," commented Scholtissek. The composition of the ingredients also depends on which properties the product has to bring to the application. Should it be hard or flexible? Should it be particularly resistant to aggressive substances? Will it be exposed to UV radiation or salt water? Does it have to be resistant to high or low temperatures?
Depending on the requirements, the basic material of rubber – derived naturally or produced synthetically – is therefore mixed with ingredients such as carbon black and sulfur, chalk, oil, and wax. ContiTech watches carefully for effects on health and the environment during this process. Thanks to its special technological expertise, the company is today able to produce compounds free of lead, CFCs, mercury, and cadmium. The compounding lines with state-of-the-art mixing technology also enable consistent quality of the compounds.
The magic triangle of technical rubber development
"Our long-term objective is to offer our entire range of services locally. This also includes building up research and development capacity in Changshu. Very specific skills are required for this. That's why we talk about the magic triangle of technical rubber development," said Scholtissek, characterizing the success factors in mixing technology. Right from the development of the compounds, the experts conduct different tests in order to measure required properties such as density, resistance to bending, ductility, adhesion, scratch resistance, tearing force, or tensile strength. "To do this, they need chemists who understand how vulcanization processes work, right down to the smallest detail, as well as technicians who can build and configure the systems. These systems must ensure a high degree of accuracy with minimal tolerances. Process technicians produce a homogeneous compound from a variety of different ingredients: from fluids of different viscosities and from powdered materials in combination with elastic rubber. We have the knowledge required for this within our company. It is now a matter of gradually building up this knowledge in China, as our expertise in materials is a decisive factor in the lasting success of ContiTech," explained Scholtissek.