Wiegand-Glas invests in the future
Many construction sites can be seen on the company premises. Excavators roll back and forth, jackhammers can be heard, various objects are being hammered and bolted. It was not so long ago that the container glass manufacturer in Steinbach received a grant of EUR 1.3 million for its pilot project "filter dust house" for the energy-efficient and innovative processing of the waste products of glass production from the State Secretary of the Federal Environment Ministry, Florian Pronold (we reported). The politician explained that this investment will make an important contribution to environmental and climate protection.
With a "Five-Year-Plan" fit for the future
Environment, climate protection, sustainability, innovation. These are goals that the company management has been pursuing for years. "We have to continue to develop and also take certain risks, otherwise we will miss the opportunities that arise," says Managing Director Oliver Wiegand, who run the family-owned company together with his cousin Nikolaus Wiegand in the fourth generation. And he begins to tell of the "Five-Year Plan" and of "key projects" that are to be implemented by 2022. This includes an investment programme worth millions. In addition to the filter dust house mentioned at the beginning, a new batch house for the storage and processing of raw materials is under construction at the plant in Steinbach. In addition, the waste glass processing plant, which was only commissioned a few years ago, is constantly being optimised with the aim of further improving the cullet quality and reducing the amount of waste. Wiegand-Glas is already considered the world champion in the use of cullet in container glass production. The proportion of waste glass used is up to 97 per cent. The new exhaust gas treatment system put into operation this year sets new standards for emissions. Furthermore, an emergency power concept is also being developed to account for the deteriorating supply, which comes as a result of the construction of the lines being prevented.
Future construction measures
A new glass plant with two furnaces will be built at our location in Schleusingen. Construction work is scheduled to begin at the end of September 2018. Commissioning is scheduled for the last quarter of 2019. According to Oliver Wiegand, the investment is necessary to ensure modern, efficient glass production. Investments are also being made in the neighbouring glass plant in Ernstthal. Oliver Wiegand speaks about a capacity expansion at furnace 3, a new packaging and storage hall as well as new social areas and offices. At our plant in Großbreitenbach, two new warehouses, a vehicle workshop and a new logistics building with social and rest rooms for truck drivers are currently being completed. The management is also investing in an energy supply center there. This is intended to mitigate the impact of power outages. A plastics recycling plant is currently being planned at PET-Verpackungen GmbH Deutschland in Großbreitenbach, with the aim of increasing the proportion of recycling used from the current level of just under 30 per cent to over 50 per cent. Oliver Wiegand emphasises that all these investments are in addition to the construction of the furnaces and any repairs that may be necessary. As far as the exact amount of investment is concerned, the managing director continues to be discreet. The annual turnover of the company group is around half a billion euros per year.
Business is flourishing
Eight million bottles are produced daily in the glass plants of the Wiegand-Glas business group in Steinbach, Großbreitenbach, Schleusingen and Ernstthal. In addition, more than seven million PET preforms and up to one million PET containers are produced daily by PET-Verpackungen GmbH Deutschland. Currently, the containers are transported exclusively by road. Around 300 trucks, fully loaded with glass and plastic products, leave the production sites every day. Transport by rail is currently not possible due to a lack of rail connections. The company has no sales problems at present. On the contrary: "Summer is the best salesman," Oliver Wiegand is pleased to say. Since 1996 Oliver Wiegand has been managing the company together with Nikolaus Wiegand. He speaks of a change that he has experienced since then. By this he means the trend away from glass towards plastic bottles for water and soft drinks, the change in the industry, the development of the manufacturing processes, and the foreign investment at Nampak Wiegand Glass in South Africa. And also the change in terms of skilled workers. These days, Wiegand-Glas – as with many other companies – is fighting for skilled workers. At present, the Wiegand-Glas business group employs about 2,000 people, 570 of them in Steinbach. Wiegand-Glas is therefore not only the most important employer but also the most important taxpayer for the community of Steinbach am Wald. On top of this come the "indirect jobs", for example in the craft trades and in the catering industry.