The traditional industry conference this year commemorated VDZ’s 140-year anniversary. Alongside VDZ’s history, the association’s future was also a key focus: The conference agenda included numerous experts speaking on national and European industrial and environmental policy, especially regarding the progressing digitalization and the effects the energy transition is having on the development of electricity rates and secured availability. The conference further investigated the current issues of cement and concrete technology. An evening ceremony was held to present the VDZ Industrial Safety Prize 2016 to the winners.
VDZ President Christian Knell kicked off the annual conference with a review of VDZ’s 140-year history. “We would not be here today if we had not formed VDZ to commit together to advancing the industry.” VDZ had contributed a significant share to the development of today’s standards, which ensured safe and durable constructions. Thanks also to VDZ joint research efforts, the German cement industry was today acting as a global pioneer with respect to environmental protection and the use of secondary fuels. “We have thus demonstrated that we actively push advances in environmental protection and the ongoing development of the state of the art. We in the cement industry are prepared to continue researching and implementing innovative and pioneering technologies. It is our deepest conviction that our efforts in this regard are acknowledged and that they in no way impair our competitiveness,” Knell stressed.
The conference agenda continued with experts speaking on a broad range of different subjects, for instance long-term developments and impact of the energy transition and innovative options for storing energy. Opportunities and threats of the continuing digitalization were discussed, for example relating to energy efficiency and plant availability in the cement industry or how big data can optimize processes in the basic materials industries. In the afternoon, the conference visitors were also invited to attend panel discussions on process engineering or concrete technology to learn about the latest in plant technology and engineering or catch up with what is new regarding concretes and their raw materials.
During the conference soiree, the award ceremony was held, with Christian Knell presenting the Industrial Safety Prize 2016. Besides nine winners among grinding works, thirteen clinker works were awarded first prize for accident-free operations. Despite the number of accidents having risen slightly, the number of worker leave days due to industrial accidents in 2016 dropped to 2260 (2015: 2367). With its Industrial Safety Prize launched in 1977 VDZ pays tribute each year to the engagement of its members and helps to motivate staff and encourage a general awareness of safety at the workplace. Accident frequency rates since 1969 have been cut by more than 70 %.
VDZ, the German Cement Works Association e.V., is the joint association of German cement manufacturers. VDZ’s current membership of 19 cement companies operate a total of 47 cement works in Germany and employ a workforce of around 7900 staff, who generate annual sales of over € 2.5 billion. Three German firms and 27 foreign businesses are also associate members of the VDZ. Since being founded 140 years ago, the association has helped to ensure competitive and environmentally friendly cement production and high-quality concrete construction methods through its research.