In Düsseldorf at K, the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics industry, the Zeppelin Group Plant Engineering strategic business unit presented an innovation in plant engineering: Rather than having multiple exhibits on show, this time it was all about its engineering expertise.Zeppelin designs complete systems, so customers obtain the architecture that matches their needs – all from a single source.
“Zeppelin sees the big picture,” says managing director Rochus C. Hofmann, hitting the nail firmly on the head. Zeppelin Plant Engineering provides engineering expertise to the plastics processing and manufacturing industries, in much the same way that architects serve the construction sector. The Group’s market position is no longer built solely on its plant components, but by an all-inclusive service concept. The customer starts with an idea, a vision or impression of what they need, and Zeppelin designs the entire system, including with third-party components.
Zeppelin is always changing
“Zeppelin has moved from being an equipment and silo-building company to an engineering business,” explains Hofmann in Düsseldorf. The company takes on responsibility for the whole plant.Where Zeppelin once constructed silos all over the world, regional competition in that area led to a change of approach,and now the company maintains its market leadership by developing complete systems and acting as an architect for the customer’s vision. This type of engineering service is unique. Customers have always wanted systems designed quickly, and now Zeppelin does it in just half the previous timeframe. Time to market – the length of time before the facility can start producing – is of increasing importance, says Hofmann. After just six weeks, the customer can “view” its system by means of digital technology; virtually inspect and test it; and give it the green light. Another expected focal point for the future is plastics recycling. This segment is growing worldwide, as a means of producing raw material rather than generating waste.
Just as important for Zeppelin is Industry 4.0. The Group has been delivering intelligent systems since 2017: Digital components are routinely installed in all plant areas, not only for providing information on what they are and how they work; in future they will also be able to highlight defects or suggest solutions to problems. The Smart Components app developed by Zeppelin represents a concept that covers far more ground than current communication programs, for example by providing information and a facility to chat with Zeppelin experts 24/7. The concept has really captured the mood of the industry, says Chairman of the Management Board at Zeppelin Systems, Axel Kiefer. “It’s like steel becoming intelligent,” says Kiefer, demonstrating the system developed by Dietmar Dieing. Dieing is responsible for new development at Zeppelin. The global trade fair was a huge success for Zeppelin Systems from the opening day.