The VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau – Mechanical Engineering Industry Association) represents around 3200 predominantly medium-sized companies in the capital goods industry, making it the largest industry association in Europe. The association acts on behalf of all its members to further the collective economic, technical and scientific interests of the mechanical engineering industry, especially in relation to national and international authorities and business circles.

Due to our status as a leading filtration specialist, MANN+HUMMEL’s industrial filters division is also represented by the VDMA’s Engines and Systems Association, which includes all major manufacturers of industrial engines and their suppliers. Once a year, participants meet up at one of the member companies and we were delighted to host this year’s event ourselves just one month ago.

MANN+HUMMEL, part of the bigger picture

The community of engine manufacturers and suppliers represented by the VDMA is a powerful industrial network within the engine industry, bringing together the most influential manufacturers of industrial engines and their suppliers. While one individual company may find it difficult to make itself heard, we can achieve a great deal as a team. As part of this extensive network, we represent our interests on both a national and an international level. Even if each company essentially has its own intentions, we can present ourselves as a strong, collective advocacy group.

Many of the key issues covered by the VDMA are reflected in our planning for the industrial filters division, so we are always up-to-date with developments in different areas and can respond to those and gauge developments early on. One example of this would be the issue of electricity-based fuels. Going forward, these synthetic fuels will be designed to produce only a very low level of harmful emissions. Filtration will continue to play a significant role in this area. It is therefore of huge importance for us that the combustion engine (as it is currently used for industrial applications) remains viable in future and, furthermore, continues to require filtration of materials such as air, oil and, above all, fuel.

Playing host in the technology centre

As mentioned previously, once a year the VDMA meeting is held at one of its member companies. With its unique Filterwerk museum and its proximity to the town’s Baroque palace, the new technology centre in Ludwigsburg is such an exciting, technically interesting and prestigious location, that we decided to invite members of the federation to join us there for this year’s meeting.

The meeting initially focussed on the usual formalities of the association, including, among other things, amending the rules of procedure and the executive committee’s report on the key priorities for the year 2016. These included emission regulations, creating a CO2-neutral world by 2050 (as decided at the World Climate Summit in Paris) and collaboration with classification societies. All of these topics are important for companies in our industry, and influence both current activities and future developments. For me personally, and undoubtedly also for many other attendees of the conference, one highlight stood out in particular. Professor Thomas Bauernhansl from the Frauenhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA gave a talk on the topic ‘Industry 4.0’. This gave us an additional insight into this concept, which is currently the subject of much discussion.

Of course, alongside the more technical discussions, there should also be the chance to have some more informal interaction, and we wanted to use the opportunity to show our guests a little of the city of Ludwigburg’s culture. We therefore invited them to join us for a brief tour of the palace on the evening before the conference, and then for dinner in the palace too! Participants were also able to have an exclusive peek behind the scenes back at our event location, with a visit to our museum or a tour of our new test centre, for example.

I personally take great pleasure from being a part of this conference each time, and this year was no different. From the organisation to the preparation, right through to the members’ meeting itself, everything went swimmingly. This is something that all the participants would wholeheartedly agree on. So now there’s only one thing left to say – see you next year!