A visit to their internal production facility in Haan illustrates how this works. A large, white production hall on the outskirts of an industrial estate in the centre of Haan, a tranquil town approximately 20 kilometres east of Düsseldorf. Here, 70 employees develop and manufacture a total of 500 different transportation devices in 200 versions for the proprietary brands Eurokraft and Quipo on an area covering 10,000 square metres. The product range extends from the simple pushcart and specialist transport trolley for bottles to the height-adjustable work desk. Only in Haan does the company manufacture products itself; it obtains the rest of the products in the catalogue from suppliers. "Internal production and development helps us to improve our understanding of suppliers and their processes," explains Karl-Friedrich Sandmeier, the head of the Internal Production division. "However, it serves as a role model for other manufacturers at the same time, offering swift service, high quality and sustainability."
KAISER+KRAFT has set itself the goal of being the industry's role model in terms of sustainability and therefore makes sure to conserve resources throughout the entire production process. This applies to the coating procedure in particular during which the products are given their colour. "That's our core competency," explains the division head. The individual components are therefore purchased and then assembled and welded in Haan. Before they are coated, the parts still need to be cleaned and degreased; otherwise the colour will not stick. "The cleaning system works like domestic dishwashers," says Sandmeier. "However, we have been able to continuously reduce the temperature over the past few years. The parts are now cleaned at 40 degrees Celsius, which allows us to save energy. That is something a normal dishwasher is not yet capable of." Kaiser+Kraft also saves water: Every part is washed four times, but the water is only completely replaced once every six months. Fresh water is only added for the final clean to compensate for evaporation and displacement losses.
Now for the colour
For coating, the unfinished parts are transported through a cabin in which coloured powder is blown through nozzles. All colours are possible, with blue being the standard colour. The metal parts are earthed, and the powder is charged electrostatically to ensure that the colourful cloud sticks to the components. This way, the colour is attracted to the parts like a magnet to a refrigerator. This makes powder coating more environmentally friendly than paint since it does not contain any solvents and excess powder is reused. The powder melts in a curing furnace at a temperature of 170 degrees Celsius, forming a continuous layer. After coating is complete, the welded parts are assembled and then packaged.
Offsetting CO2 emissions
In its function as a role mode, the optimisation of production is not enough for Kaiser+Kraft. "We asked ourselves: What actually constitutes a green product?" explains Sandmeier. With a view to discovering how sustainable the product range is, the company worked together with TÜV Rheinland to draw up a life cycle assessment for certain products. This illustrates what resources are consumed, such as steel, and what emissions are generated in the process. "The life cycle assessment covers the product's entire life cycle. In the extraction of raw materials, processing, transportation and finally disposal - CO2 emissions are always generated. As a result, recording these emissions is a highly complex procedure," says Sandmeier. For example, a pushcart emits a total of 16.8 kilograms of CO2 throughout its lifetime, which is equivalent to the exhaust gases of an average car over 90 kilometres. A shelved trolley even accounts for eight times this amount: 139 kilograms. For this reason, Kaiser+Kraft launched the new "Active Green" line at the beginning of the year, which sees these emissions being offset by Kaiser+Kraft acquiring CO2 reduction certificates. The money goes to the Yuntdag wind farm in western Turkey. It satisfies the requirements of the strictest international standard - the WWF "Gold Standard". "None of our competitors offset their CO2 emissions," says Sandmeier. In sales, the products from this line are no more expensive than comparable products - something our customers are picking up on as well.