Some 400 experts, both male and female, from the cement and concrete industry, and also from related sectors, examined current challenges in their industry in Düsseldorf on 22 and 23 September 2015. Speakers from industry and science focussed on current research topics and technical developments in more than twenty specialist papers. Future economic and political boundary conditions for cement production were also discussed. The annual presentation of the VDZ Health and Safety Award was the climax of the conference.
“Environmental policy targets confront German cement producers with great challenges”, stated Gerhard Hirth, President of the German Cement Works Association (VDZ) while opening the conference. “The current amendment to the Technical Directive on Air Quality Control, the future limits for oxides of nitrogen and the EU proposals for structural reform of European emissions trading are only a few examples, but they illustrate the kind of further technological and economic requirements which we can expect in the future at both national and European level. We, as cement producers, accept these challenges, but we demand, at the same time, dependable political boundary conditions to assure competitive cement production in the longer term in Germany”.
German cement producers are also faced at present with a somewhat restrained market dynamic. “The positive overall economic trend has not yet been reflected to the same degree on the domestic market, with the result that we are anticipating a decline in cement consumption for the current year”, Hirth continued. Positive impulses for demand are perceptible from the growing needs for new residential buildings and from the increase in state investments in the transport infrastructure, however.
The VDZ Health and Safety Award 2014 was presented by Association President Gerhard Hirth in the context of the celebratory evening event for the Cement annual conference. Of the total of twenty-four prize-winners, thirteen clinker-producing cement plants and seven grinding mills were actually able to look back on a year without a single accident at their plants. The VDZ has annually recognised the commitment of its member plants with its Health and Safety Award since 1977, thus contributing to the motivation of workforces and to the promotion of general safety awareness at plants. Plants in this industry have succeeded in cutting the frequency of accidents by more than 70 % since 1969.
The VDZ is the joint representative organisation of German cement producers. Its current twenty member companies together operate fifty cement plants in Germany, where some 7,900 employees achieve annual sales of a good 2.5 billion euros. The VDZ membership also includes six German and twenty-eight foreign companies as associate members. Since its foundation more than 135 years ago, the association has, via its research activities, constantly contributed to the competitive and environmentally friendly production of cement, and to high-quality construction using concrete.
The next VDZ annual conference, Cement 2016, is to be held in Düsseldorf on 27 and 28 September 2016.