08/11/2022 – Report on the “NE Drahtforum 2022” in September in Nuremberg

Sustainability in the supply chain of the NF wire industry

Sunshine and late-summer temperatures framed the NE Drahtforum, which took place for the second time as an attendance event in September 2022. The conference organized by the consortium NE Drahtforum/NF Wire Forum* with the main topic "Sustainability in the supply chain of the NF (non-ferrous) wire industry" was held at the Seminaris Hotel in Nuremberg, southern Germany, and fully booked with around 150 participants. The conference language was German.


Fig. 4. The participants also used the long coffee breaks between the lecture blocks for discussions. © Konrad Dengler


Fig. 3. With around 150 participants, the conference was fully booked. © Konrad Dengler

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The two-day event began with a plant tour to which Maschinenfabrik Niehoff, an internationally leading manufacturer of machinery for the wire and cable industry, had invited to its headquarters in nearby Schwabach

There are different definitions of what sustainability means. Of fundamental importance for an industrial company are the sparing and quantifiable use of energy, raw materials and operating materials. Materials cycles should be closed as far as possible. Possible measures can be assigned to the categories “economically efficient”, “ecologically viable” and “socially fair”. Criteria are described in standards such as those of the ISO 14040 ff series and the “Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains”.

Bernd Moßhammer, sustainability manager and responsible for procurement at the commercial vehicle manufacturer MAN Truck+Bus SE, explained what responsible raw material procurement looks like in the VW Group with particular focus on copper. It is becoming increasingly important to involve suppliers in production processes and to make supply chains transparent. The VW group’s “Responsible Raw Materials Report 2021” published in May 2022 provides details.

Sustainability activities of the consortium partners
The speakers from the consortium partners described what their companies have already achieved in the field of sustainability, the projects they are working on and the customer benefits that result in each case. Among other things, the following information was gathered from the presentations:

The copper wire rod manufacturer Aurubis summarizes its measures in the “Tomorrow Metals by Aurubis” concept. For example, at its Hamburg site the company has invested in an additional hall fine dust filtering system which intelligently filters even the smallest particles from the hall air according to their point of origin. Three sites have already been certified for their production processes according to the requirements of the “Copper Mark”, the quality seal for sustainability in the copper industry introduced in March 2020.

The drawing die manufacturer Balloffet points out that diamond drawing dies can be used in a resource-saving manner and for a long time if they are used correctly and refurbishing is carried out in good time. The speaker showed how the wire drawing process affects the interior of a drawing die and how to recognize when it should be refurbished. Microscopically obtained images of the interior of a drawing die also allow conclusions on possible defects in the drawing process.

For the lubricant manufacturer Carl Bechem sustainability aspects are the use of renewable raw materials and in the industrial use of the lubricants a long service life and the capability to increase tool life and to reduce the energy required during use. The company has established a three-pillar model, is optimizing internal energy consumption and preparing to achieve the Silver status of the ecological label Ecovadis.

When designing machines and lines, Maschinenfabrik Niehoff attaches great importance to ensuring that they can be used in an energy and resource-efficient manner and is constantly working to increase even further their efficiency potential. Recently, Niehoff received an award from the cable manufacturer Nexans for a rod breakdown line that, when in operation, achieves 25% higher energy savings and a 60% higher production output compared to the previous standard.

One of the tasks of the German Copper Institute professional association (Organisation Deutsches Kupferinstitut Berufsverband e.V.) is to monitor legislative activities related to sustainability and to forward recommendations derived from them to copper processors. The EU Green Deal also plays an important role in this. The association has also analyzed which criteria should be considered for a life cycle assessment approach throughout the whole value chain up to the wire ready for shipment.

Further suggestions
Material cycles support the security of raw materials supply. Inken Sittler from the Federation of German Industries (BDI) presented the BDI Circular Economy (CE) initiative which is supported by more than 50 companies, institutes and industry associations. Its goal is to holistically promote the development of a circular economy from product development to recycling, to support the transfer of know-how and to act as a political mouthpiece in Berlin and Brussels.

By means of examples, the sales and marketing strategist Klaus Dirk Herwig suggested what industrial companies can do to define new targets, target groups and target sectors for future business activities, and what role “green” hydrogen could play in this.

Information and Outlook
Wires made of non-ferrous metals, above all copper, are indispensable for the turnaround in energy and mobility policies. It will be interesting to see how the industry continues to develop and what progress will be reported at the “NF Wire Forum” which is planned to be held in Belgium next year. Then the conference language will be English.

About “NE Drahtforum”/“NF Wire Forum”
The “NE Drahtforum” (in German) and “NF Wire Forum” (in English) are events which provide insight into the current technology state of all disciplines which are involved in the production of copper wire. The meetings also promote the exchange of ideas with all market participants.

The sponsors and organizers of these events are the copper manufacturer Aurubis AG, the drawing die manufacturer Balloffet GmbH, the lubricant manufacturer Carl Bechem GmbH, the wire drawing machine manufacturer Maschinenfabrik Niehoff GmbH+Co. KG and the Organisation Deutsches Kupferinstitut Berufsverband e.V. (German Copper Institute professional association).

The author is Konrad Dengler, freelance journalist from Großenseebach, Germany.

NE Drahtforum

Aurubis AG
Hovestrasse 50, 20539 Hamburg, Germany
Tel.: +49 40 7883-0

Balloffet GmbH
Dr.-Winkhaus-Weg 2, 34534 Bad Wildungen, Germany
Tel.: +49 5621 9640414

Carl Bechem GmbH
Weststrasse 120, 58089 Hagen, Germany
Tel.: +49 2331 935-0

Deutsches Kupferinstitut Berufsverband e.V.
Emanuel-Leutze-Strasse 11, 40547 Düsseldorf, Germany
Tel.: +49 211 239469-0

Maschinenfabrik Niehoff GmbH+Co. KG
Walter-Niehoff-Strasse 2, 91126 Schwabach, Germany
Tel.: +49 9122 977-0