With over 180 attendees and 10 ex-hibitors, the conference held by the Association of the German Building and Raw Materials Industry Regd. (vero) and the Federal German Association of the German Sand and Gravel Industry Regd. (BKS) from 08.-09.02.2011 in Hanover was a resounding success (Fig. 1). In the Old Town Hall the mood among the conference attendees was positive.
In their opening addresses, the presidents of the organizing associations, vero and BKS, Franz-Bernd Köster and Michael Schulz, talked about the situation in the aggregates sector and future market developments within the context of macroeconomic development as well as the backlog in public sector investments (Fig. 2). According to the two presidents, the positive effects of the economic recovery conflicted with austerity packages of the German government, the German state and local authorities so that a shift rather than any considerable improvement in demand can be expected. They went to say that the associations would have to continue to provide intensive support for the field, especially with regard to assuring the supply of raw materials and environmental legislation.
The first round of lectures on the quality of mineral building materials was kicked off by Dr. Albrecht Germann from Rock and Mineral Consulting GmbH, a company based in Herzogenrath, with his talk on petrography as a basis for product understanding. Properties derived from the rock composition could not be changed, he said, they predestine certain applications or may restrict them. They cannot be influenced. Prof. Dr. Rudolf Hoscheid from the Cologne Institute for Buildings Material Testing followed on from this in his overview paper on the development of requirements for aggregates. His credo: instead of a (superficial) permanent tightening of the requirements for aggregates (ASR, frost resistance, grain shape, polishing resistance), until their regional availability is endangered, more attention should be paid to the correct selection and handling of building materials as well as the optimal planning and realization of structures.
Holger Vespermann from Euroquarz GmbH, a Dorsten-based company, informed attendees about the reasons for and progress in the revision of the standard for well gravels and sands, including interim results; the change process is actively supported by the BKS. Raimo Benger, General Secretary of vero and BKS, reported in detail about the increasing discussion about the “gravel euro” charge, which could end up in a demand for a general raw materials tax. Christian Engelke from the Federal German Association of Building Materials – Non-Metallic Minerals, Berlin, emphasized the importance of investment in building for sustainable macroeconomic and social development. Building was not yet “out”, he explained, but communication and perception especially in the case of major projects needed systematic improvement to ensure planning reliability for the future.
Public relations for the associations and the companies were the focus of the talk by Bernhard Lemkamp (Niederrheinische Dienstleitungsgesellschaft für Kies und Sand, Duisburg) and Claudia Kressin (Kressin Agentur für Kommunikation, Kleve). Amongst other things, they outlined the activities of the BKS working committee on public relations, and in particular the programme for primary schools with primer on gravel, poster, media box with experiments and gravel ambassadors all centring on the topic of sand and gravel. Further, Lemkamp called for lively participation of the companies at Minerals Day 2011, the Europe-wide action day of the minerals and quarried aggregates industry from 13 to 15 May. Claudia Kressin explained how open communication – with, indeed especially with critics – is the key to successful public relations work.
In the last block of lectures of the first day, the issues addressed were assuring the supply of raw materials, environmental and health protection. Reinhard Fischer (vero/BKS General Secretary) informed attendees about the current situation with regard to §12a of the BBodSchV (Germany’s Federal Soil Protection and Contaminated Sites Ordinance) and the interplay with other legal fields and regulations such as the “Substitute Building Materials Ordinance” (waste law) and water law. He described impressively the potential effects on landfills of the development process, which is long from being finished.
“The topic of mineral dust and fine silica dust from the perspective of occupational health and safety should not be underestimated. We can only support and positively influence the development of the discussion (not only) about strict limits at the workplace on national and European level with a wholehearted contribution to the negotiated agreement on NePSi level and with implementation of TRGS 559 (mineral dust)”, explained Walter Nelles, (General Secretary at BV MIRO, Cologne). The new CLP ordinance on the classification, labelling and packaging of products (in respect of hazardous substances such as respirable silica dust) also had to be taken seriously and it was necessary to assess how far the aggregates and flour produced are affected, appealed Nelles. “Objective and balanced regional planning is the only targeted instrument for assuring the sustained supply of raw materials.” This is how Dr Stephanie Gillhuber from the Special Department for Sand and Gravel Industry in BIV, Munich, formulated her view and presented appropriate examples and experience from Bavaria. The parallel exhibition and not least the rustic evening in the Ernst August Brewery provided a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere for colleagues or customers to meet, transfer information and compare opinions – sometimes of a more and sometimes of a less technical nature. The “we feeling” of the entire aggregates sector could be both felt and observed.
The second day was under the banner of production engineering, equipment, research and innovation. Ottmar Bauer from Rohr Bagger, Mannheim, presented the operating principle and operating possibilities with automatic barge operation with unmanned dredger control. Marcel Elsner from Van der Graaf, Rheine, presented drive engineering with drum motors for extraction and conveying systems in a new light, eliminating any “preconceptions” with appropriate case studies. Michael Herbort from SEW EURODRIVE, Graben-Neudorf, discussed the impact of the so far widely unknown “EuP directive”. In future, electric drives must be designed and operated to be “energy saving” in accordance with the directive. He explained how in many cases it was possible to retrofit “old” drives. During the interactive talk by Michael von Kunhardt, the conference attendees really got moving. Von Kunhardt spoke to the auditorium about the art of minute training, for which everyone could find time, even in the tightest schedule. After a few short exercises and a “jog” round the hall of the Old Town Hall the attendees were refreshed and fit for the last round of papers and the rest of the day.
With examples of the pelletization of fine substances, Sandra Weyrauch (Haver Engineering, Meissen, HEM) presented new possibilities for the handling, use and sale of, for example, rock flours and filter dusts. As an institute associated to the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, the HEM optimizes research and technology transfer between science and industry. Frank Langer (Schlüter Baumaschinen, Erwitte) explained impressively the principle of operation and wide-ranging possibilities of satellite-assisted monitoring of mobile machines. The safety of equipment, targeted acquisition of operating data and optimized maintenance were the key advantages, he said. Using and selling fines, this time from wet processing, was the subject of the talk by Dr. Lutz Krakow (ClayServer GmbH, Kappeln). Within the framework of a BGR study, it was established that in a substantial number of companies, the mineral sludge produced has been proven as suitable for use in building ceramics and is actually in high demand.
At the end of the conference, Franz-Bernd Köster and Michael Schulz reviewed its success and pledged to work to ensure the entire minerals sector continues to grow together on all levels.
Verband der Bau- und Rohstoffindustrie e.V., Duisburg (D), Tel.: 49 203 99239 55, www.bks-info.de ; www.vero-baustoffe.de