"The regulations on environmental policy issues such as emissions trading, energy policy and the abatement of emissions are becoming ever more complex. And so we have to consider the long-term consequences these may have for our plants," said Gerhard Hirth, President of the German Cement Works Association (VDZ), on opening the conference. "We will also be looking beyond our own horizons and finding out about the challenges facing the plant engineering and lime industries."
In the light of the process of change in the German cement industry, Hirth appealed to the political decision makers to create "a reliable framework allowing us to plan for the future and giving us the assurance that we as an industry are welcome in this country." He went on to say that the cement industry has always been and intends to remain a dependable partner at all political levels. And the industry can be proud of its achievements: "Our products help to build the world. A modern society as we know it could not exist without cement and concrete," Hirth explained.
In the course of the evening ceremony at the VDZ annual conference, Gerhard Hirth awarded the Safety at Work Prize for 2015. 10 first prizes for achieving zero accidents were awarded to grinding works and a further 15 to clinker works. In 2015 the accident frequency rate of 9.45 accidents per 1 million hours worked was again lower than the figure for the previous year (10.6). Since 1977 VDZ has been awarding an annual Safety at Work Prize to honour the commitment of its members, to help motivate the workforce and to promote general safety awareness in the various plants. It has led to a more than 70 per cent reduction in the accident frequency rate at the works since 1969.
A further highlight was the awarding of the 5th Klaus Dyckerhoff Prize to Prof. Dr.-Ing. Siegbert Sprung. The prize is awarded by the Dyckerhoff foundation in recognition of exceptional achievements in the field of cement production and usage. The Dyckerhoff Prize is currently one of the most renowned international awards in this sector. In his award speech, VDZ General Manager Dr Martin Schneider emphasised the valuable contribution made by Siegbert Sprung's research: "A lot of what we know today about cement and its properties is the direct result of his work," said Schneider.
VDZ is the joint organisation of the German cement manufacturers. The 19 member companies together operate 49 cement works in Germany, employing around 7,900 people and generating an annual turnover of a good 2.5 billion euros. Three German companies and 27 businesses in other countries are currently also associate members of VDZ. Since the association was established more than 135 years ago, its research work has helped to make cement production both competitive and ecological and contributed towards the development of high-quality concrete construction methods.
The VDZ Annual Cement Conference 2017 will take place on 19 and 20 September 2017 in Duesseldorf. Please note that the conference language, as always, will be German.