In this interview of the expert interviews series we spoke to DI Dr. Karl Grabner, Member of the Management Board of Binder + Co AG.
Binder + Co AG, a company based in Styria, Germany, with more than 320 employees, is a specialist in processing, environmental and packaging technology and world market leaders in the areas of screen technology and glass recycling.
What is the importance of environmental technology at Binder + Co AG and how will it develop in the future?
Environmental technology accounts for 44% of sales, the business segment of processing technology is around 38% and packaging technology accounts for 18%. However, our business segments are not completely separated from one another. Binder + CO develops machines that are used in environmental technology - for example, in glass recycling - but which are also used in the processing technology. For this purpose, for example, sensor systems are developed that can be used in addition to glass recycling in mineral sorting.
How do you assess the position of Binder + Co in the environmental technology segment at the Austrian Heimmarkt compared to the international market?
At the domestic market there is an unchallenged pre-eminence of Binder + Co AG. However, it should be noted that an export ratio of around 95% is achieved in environmental technology. From an economic point of view, the Heimmarkt plays a relatively small role. Nevertheless, domestic reference plants are an important basis for international business. On the international market, Binder + Co is primarily a leader in the development and delivery of complete systems.
What advantages does the Location Austria for a company like Binder + Co?
The advantage is the fact that we are a well-established organization that has grown over the years. This can not be copied one-by-one into future markets such as China. In addition, educational institutions such as Graz University of Technology, TU Vienna, Montanuni Leoben, Karl Franzens University as well as WU Vienna, as well as FHs and HTLs, are important training places for our future employees. We do not expect this density of training opportunities in the overseas markets.
Which countries represent the primary target markets for the environmental technology segment of Binder + Co?
Target markets for recycling technology are primarily industrialized regions such as Europe, North America, Australia, Japan and South Africa. In addition, China will also be interesting as a future region. First glass recycling machines are already supplied by Binder + Co and the construction of an assembly factory in China is also planned.
What led Binder + Co BUBLON to develop a new heat insulation product for the building materials sector?
BUBLON is a special development in the thermal treatment (drying technology) of raw materials. Since the drying technology is already a basic technology from Binder + Co, the BUBLON technology is not quite new to us, but a technology not yet used in raw material processing. Although BUBLON is a new product, Binder + Co has been a well-known machine supplier for decades.
[Anm: Further information to BUBLON here]
How important is R&D at Binder + Co?
These factors always play an important role. However, Binder + Co does not measure the success of innovation in the R & D expenditures, but for the calculation of the innovation rate the sales of machines developed by Binder + Co over the past three years have been matched to the entire machine sales. Considering this, an innovation rate of 20% is achieved for the entire company, with 5% for processing technology, 20% for packaging technology and 45-50% for environmental technology.
The innovation rate, with nearly 50% in the environmental technology sector at Binder + Co, is very high. Why is no longer invested in R & D in environmental technology?
Even if it sounds tempting, we will not significantly increase R & D expenditures in the future as each new development also takes time to establish itself. In addition, the requirements for sales, engineering, production, assembly and service also increase with shorter development times.
Which environmental technology fields do you think are the most promising future potentials for domestic companies in the national and international market?
It can be assumed that the use of renewable energies will be of great importance in the future. In addition, the treatment of water is more important internationally. Air pollution will become a major issue around the world. Many international customers want "European / German / Austrian" quality. Problems for Austria and the EU could, however, result from significantly more cost-effective production sites in the developing and emerging countries.
Who are the drivers behind the positive development of these environmental technology areas?
Drivers are, above all, targets, such as recycling quotas or requirements for the purity of water and air within the EU. Political decision-making and legal requirements imply technological developments. Promotions are also of great importance.
How do you rate the industry in your recycling technology?
This area is becoming more and more important because primary raw materials are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain and, as a result, the price of raw materials is likely to rise sharply. At the same time, the raw material quality is increasingly deteriorated by the progressive reduction of less productive deposits, which can lead to a revaluation of secondary raw materials and their processing - the keyword of urban mining and the dumping of landfill sites.
What is for an Austrian company needed to take a leading position in the environmental technology sector??
It is above all the placement in a niche and a long-term financing strategy.
In which areas of technology do you see niches in which domestic companies can / should become market leaders in the future?
The reprocessing of old landfills or urban mining would be such a niche. However, appropriate overall concepts have to be developed here in order to make the complexity of this task manageable. A coordinated merger of several domestic companies would certainly be important in this case, in order to gain the opportunity to become a global market leader.
What obstacles do you see in your opinion on domestic environmental technology operators and how can they be counteracted?
I would like to point out the example of BUBLON: If you have developed and offered an innovative product, you also need customers who take the risk and try something new - even if the new product is perhaps not 100% perfect. Possibilities to counter obstacles are the establishment of reference projects, for example at their own location, state subsidies and the securing of long-term financing. And a well-established customer network can help to reduce the initial difficulties in many cases due to the existing trust relationship.
Where do you see the domestic environmental industry as a leader in international comparison?
In my opinion, we are leading in the field of water reprocessing and air pollution. Here, too, it is important to follow a niche strategy.
Which international markets will play the priority role for local UT companies in the future?
I see China / Asia and South America as important future markets. To a lesser extent, the CIS state consortium. These markets will have a certain impact on developments in Europe.
geboren 1959 in Pöllau/Steiermark
verheiratet, 3 Kinder
seit 1. Jänner 2000 Mitglied des Vorstands der Binder+Co AG
zuständig für Finanzen und allgemeine Verwaltung, Technik, Fertigung, Public und Investor Relations, Sprecher des Vorstands sowie Mitglied der Gerneralversammlung der Statec Binder GmbH, der Comec-Binder S.r.l. und der im Jänner 2012 gegründeten Bublon GmbH.
aktuelle Funktionsperiode bis 31. Dezember 2013
Nach dem Maschinenbaustudium 1986-1990 parallel zum Doktoratsstudium (Experimentelle Arbeit auf dem Gebiet der Fördertechnik) als Universitätsassistent am Institut für Fördertechnik und Konstruktionslehre an der Montanuniversität Leoben tätig.
Im Rahmen der Aktion „Wissenschafter für die Wirtschaft“ des Wissenschaftsministeriums kam Dr. Grabner 1991 zur Binder+Co AG und zeichnete dort von 1992-1999 als Produktbereichsleiter bzw. ab 1997 als Spartenleiter für die Projektierung und den Vertrieb des Produktbereichs Förder- und Silotechnik verantwortlich.