Latest Manufacturing sector features, company profiles, and executive interviews from across Europe and the Middle East.

Latest Manufacturing Corporate Stories

Longer Wind Turbine Blades for Higher Production Capacity Bodes Well for Composite Materials Manufacturers

Escalating energy demand and improving wind turbine technologies are fuelling the wind energy market and encouraging wind turbine installations. In turn, this is boosting the consumption of high-performance and lightweight blade materials, such as fibre, resins and core foam materials that can be used to increase blade length while keeping blade weight low. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan - Analysis of the Global Wind Turbine Blade Materials Market - finds that the market earned revenues of $1.94 billion in 2014 and estimates this to reach $3.78 billion in 2021. “While governments worldwide have designed support mechanisms and funding programmes to promote renewable energy such as wind, uncertain aid and financing often delay projects,” said Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials and Food Research Analyst Ankit Mittal. “As a result, demand for blade materials has been cyclic in nature. Additionally, emphasis on the optimum strength-to-weight ratio of blades restricts the use of certain materials like balsa.” Nevertheless, volatile oil prices and the rising profile of environmental issues will push forward alternate energy forms – wind being one of the most viable. It has no fuel cost, allows energy independence from traditional fossil fuels, is permanently available almost anywhere in the world, and is technologically advanced. Wind energy is also much quicker to install; large onshore and offshore wind farms can be installed within a time frame of two years. Taller, lighter and more reliable turbines significantly extend production capacity. These factors will see turbine blade manufacturers strengthen their portfolio to provide a consistent supply of high-performance materials in line with market

Editor By Editor

Mergers and Acquisitions Key to Profitability in Europe’s Packaging Industry

The European packaging industry's financial performance has been volatile over the 2010-2014 period. While return on equity, along with other profitability and cost metrics has been unstable over the last few years, liquidity and solvency ratios have remained consistent. Going by the current scenario, financial performance is expected to be flat in 2015. To break out of the current situation, companies in the packaging industry are increasingly looking for merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunities in Asia's emerging economies. This will help them increase revenue and strengthen foothold in fast-growth markets.The new study from Frost & Sullivan, Investment Analysis of the European Packaging Industry, reveals that over the 2010-2014 period, the United Kingdom struck the maximum M&A deals, followed by France and Germany.“Heightened M&A activity and the implementation of other strategies have increased the interest coverage ratio and improved profitability margins slightly in the European packaging industry,” said Frost & Sullivan Business and Financial Services Senior Research Analyst E. Saneesh. “While the cash and current ratio values for the industry are stable, the average cash conversion cycle has declined, indicating that the operating efficiency of the entire supply chain is improving.”Further, the European packaging industry has been spending between five and six percent of its revenue on technical innovations and machinery, resulting in consistent earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) margins ranging from 11 to 13 percent. Industry participants are also focussed on bringing down cost metrics as revenue growth is restricted by price pressures and sluggish end-user demand.“For further progress, process improvement and product strategies to cater to consumers’ preference for

Editor By Editor

Starco Group

Managerial Changes Drive Long-Term Business StrategyRecent changes to senior management have dictated STARCO’s focus, in a move to further strengthen both the daily management of the company and its strategic future developmentWriter: Emily Jarvis Family-owned STARCO Group has evolved to become Europe’s largest supplier of tyres, tubes and wheels for both the aftermarket and OEMs.Upholding a passionate and trusting relationship with all of its suppliers, partners and customers, the Group has continued to grow from strength to strength as it enters its 53rd year of business.Working out of five manufacturing units, STARCO is a well-established brand in Europe that is gaining traction around the world as it implements a global strategy to accommodate further market growth in order to gain a significant footprint on the world map. “Our vision is to become the global market leader in special wheels,” the Company added.This year, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and majority shareholder for 25 years, Peer Ejlersgaard, handed over the executive responsibility for the STARCO Group to Richard Todd and Karsten Petersen. Ejlersgaard remains a working part of the senior team, becoming Chairman of the board. He will be joined by a new board of exceptionally-qualified directors in a move to further strengthen both the daily management of the company and its strategic development for the future. “Under the leadership of Peer Ejlersgaard, the board of directors will support and guide the new management and focus on the long-term business strategy of the company,” says the company website.With Todd as CEO and Karsten as Chief Financial Officer at the

Editorial Team By Editorial Team

India Innovation and Industry 4.0 Vision Take Centre Stage at HANNOVER MESSE 2015

After five action-packed days of industrial innovation, dynamic networking and lead generation, HANNOVER MESSE 2015 - held on the 13-17 April - closed after being praised by rave reviews from exhibitors and visitors.The world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology soared to new heights this year, due in part to the “Integrated Industry - Join the Network” keynote theme which struck an inspirational note among exhibitors and attendees from industry, business and government.The show placed major emphasis on the digitisation of manufacturing as well as on human-machine collaboration, innovative subcontracting solutions and intelligent energy systems, all of which are hot topics in the industry. More than 220,000 trade visitors - 70,000 of whom came from outside Germany - found the event invaluable to catch up on the latest technologies and make key investment decisions. “HANNOVER MESSE 2015 has made it unmistakably clear: Industry 4.0 has arrived, and is sweeping every sector of industry. Digital integration is becoming a key aspect of modern manufacturing, and this trend is set to continue at a rapid pace,” commented Dr. Jochen Köckler, member of the Managing Board at Deutsche Messe. “Throughout the course of the event, some 6,500 companies from 70 countries have showcased technologies for tomorrow’s production plants and energy systems. And India has made a real splash as this year’s Partner Country, creating a truly impressive showcase to promote its ‘Make in India’ campaign,” added Köckler. Smart factoriesUnder the motto of ‘Integrated Industry - Join the Network’, HANNOVER MESSE 2015 gave tangible shape to the vision of the ‘intelligent factory’. In

Editor By Editor

Software Solutions Keep Continental On Track

Continental AG is one of the most renowned manufacturers in the global automotive industry with a worldwide presence devoted to adhering to the last industry trends and developments.Complementing its obligation and necessity to keep in line with sector regulations, however, exists a similarly pivotal expectation to actually veer ahead of the industry curve, and to that end, Europe Outlook spoke to the Group’s Head of Automotive Electronics and Advanced Development, Christian Senger about the tyre producer’s latest innovations, commitment to eco-progression and forecasts for the future of the sector on a global scale.Europe Outlook (EO): Firstly, due to the demographic shifts on a global scale where populations and wealth are rising dramatically in some areas but dropping in others, how does Continental AG ensure that it keeps on top of regional trends? Christian Senger (CS): With more than 200,000 colleagues working all around the globe in 53 countries, we have a very good connection in our various target markets. “In the market for the market” is not only a marketing phrase.We are developing our products in Shanghai, Singapore, Auburn Hills, Toulouse, Timişoara, Regensburg, Frankfurt, Hanover, Bangalore, and many other locations. We are also in close contact with our broad range of customers.We are holding top-level management meetings together with our global customers to exchange technology roadmaps and align our development programmes. With local experts in the regions, there is a continuous exchange, combined with knowhow on the basis of our own market studies, such as the Continental Mobility Study.EO: Similarly, in regards to varying economies, how

Editor By Editor

Barco Fredrikstad

Globally Renowned Innovators in Visualisation Barco is a brand that is known as a leader in its field. Boasting in-house competence, state-of-the-art equipment and testing facilities, customersrecognise its products as visualisation solutions that they can count on Writer: Emily JarvisProject Manager: Dave Alexander Barco Fredrikstad is at the forefront of technological advancements in high resolution, compact visualisation projectors. Designed to perform in a wide variety of fields including control rooms, training and simulation, visitor attractions and scientific visualisation to name but a few, the company is one of the small number remaining in Europe that still designs and manufactures in-house.Part of the one billion euro Barco Group headquartered in Kortrijk, Belgium, the Norwegian arm of the business is located in Fredrikstad and is regularly recognised as a Centre of Excellence in the visualisation industry worldwide.Previously known as projectiondesign, the company name was changed to Barco following an acquisition in 2013, which CEO John Paulissen says was designed to merge competencies and blend synergies of the two reputable visualisation companies: “The Group wanted to extend its focus into areas that it could build further strength in; namely simulation, visitor attractions, and the venues and hospitality industry. These were areas that projectiondesign held its strengths.”“The former projectiondesign brand and accompanying image is to be retained going forward as it has always focussed on the people behind the company. It remains invested in human development with an emphasis on our reputation as trustworthy and investable among partners,” says Paulissen.With the pace of development in the technology industry ever-increasing, Barco Fredrikstad invariably invests

Editorial Team By Editorial Team

Holcim and Lafarge Deal Re-Emerges

Europe's two largest cement companies Holcim and Lafarge have rescued a stumbling €41 billion ($43.82) merger by reconciling differences over financial terms and management that nearly caused the collapse of one of the biggest deals in recent years. After several days of intense negotiations to salvage the proposition, a new arrangement was formed whereby Holcim will pay around 0.90 of its shares for each one in Lafarge. What was initially agreed as a one-for-one share deal when it was announced last April will now be adjusted in favour of Holcim, after the Swiss company outperformed its French rival financially and saw the relative value of its shares enhanced by the strengthening of the Swiss franc. Private talks to salvage the €41 billion merger became under the spotlight after Holcim said the deal to create the world's biggest cement company could “not be pursued in its present form”. Although internal management shifts were protested, large shareholders on both sides remained supportive of the deal, motivated in part by the large cost savings promised.

Editor By Editor

Adidas Turnaround Plan Brings Production Back to Europe

In a bid to gain market share are rebound from a previous business plan that did not achieve its goals, popular German sportswear firm Adidas has outlined a new strategy that includes manufacturing some of its apparel in Europe rather than Asia.The company's Chief Executive, Herbert Hainer, said that he intends to bring production back to “where the main markets are", hoping that the changes will help it make new products available with a much quicker route to market.In a blog on the company's website, Mr Hainer wrote: “We had to accept in late 2014 that we'd not met all our financial ambitions which we'd set ourselves in the light of the strategic business plan Route 2015 five years ago.”Adidas says the initiative will help increase net income by 15 percent a year from now through to 2020 and will keep rivals such as Nike from eating into its market share. The company said it was testing automated production units that would speed up manufacturing and allow customers to personalise their purchases.One marketing expert called the shift to strategic cities a sensible move. “Those areas are important because they are opinion leaders,” said Vince Mitchell, Professor of Marketing at Cass Business School. Mr Mitchell added that “swift production speed” was the secret to the success of such High Street retailers as Zara.As part of Adidas’ strategic business plan, called ‘Creating the New’, the company will invest in talent and marketing in Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo.The company's executive board member in charge

Editor By Editor


The First Name in Secondary Packaging  Lantech has customer uptime, accessible customer support and the highest machine performance right at the heart of all it does Writer: Emily JarvisProject Manager: Tom Cullum  When purchasing a product from your local supermarket or retail outlet, we as consumers rarely give a thought to how it got there safely. From its manufacture to logistical operations, companies have to create balance between timely arrival in-store and the adequate packaging involved to get there with as little chance of damage to the product as possible. Lantech play an integral part in the design, assembly, installation, shipping and service on machines globally in the end of the line packing industry.As a serious contender in secondary packaging solutions, stretch wrappers, case erectors, shrink wrap machinery and palletload conveyors, Lantech remain unmatched when it comes to quality standards. Part of Lantech’s prosperity today can be attributed to its 43 year-long history. Founded in 1972, Lantech now has more than 65,000 machine placements worldwide and more than 150 US and foreign patents for its innovations. Its global network of 175 sales offices and Technical Packaging Centre can provide the stretch wrapping, case equipment, shrink packaging and conveying solutions to improve productivity and reduce packaging costs. Global expansionThrough the fast expansion of its customer base, the Lantech name has become known as a trademark for quality solutions in packing and stretch wrapping solutions. “We believe that service is key. If we go to a new country for example, we try to provide a service and after service akin to world

Editorial Team Joshua Mann By Editorial Team Joshua Mann

Saab and Damen Team up to Develop Walrus Submarine

Swedish defence and security company Saab is teaming with Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group to explore future opportunities in the international submarine market. The companies have signed an exclusive teaming agreement to work together in pursuit of the potential Walrus-class submarine replacement programme for the Netherlands. In addition to this project, Saab and Damen will also explore ways in which they might bid jointly on other submarine procurement programmes. Through the acquisition of Kockums Saab has extensive experience in the design and manufacture of submarines and surface vessels for a global customer base, integrating advanced systems and using a range of ultra-modern materials and construction techniques. Key technology includes Saab’s unique Air Independent Propulsion System based on the Stirling engine. In addition, Saab delivers many complex defence programmes in cooperation with governmental and commercial partners in customer nations worldwide. Damen delivers about 160 vessels annually and is known for its unique ship-design concepts, due to its sharp focus on research and development, standardisation and modularisation. Its defence and security portfolio includes vessels ranging in size from 7 m to over 200 m. Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (established in 1875) supplies major surface vessels to navies worldwide. Saab and Damen, both independently-owned companies, are confident that their combined skills, expertise and substantial R&D capacity will accelerate submarine development. Hein van Ameijden, managing director of Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding, says: “we are convinced that with Saab we have found the ideal partner to realise a successor to the present Walrus class; a vessel that will set a new standard for non-nuclear submarines.

Editor By Editor