Well-equipped for the industry of the future

As Chairman of the VDMA (Mechanical Engineering Industry Association) Glass Technology Forum, Egbert Wenninger wants to give new impetus and tools for equipping the factories of the future.

Mr. Wenninger, what’s the temperature reading on the industry thermometer?


Egbert Wenninger: The temperature is currently very pleasant. At the end of 2016, the glass industry experienced a turnaround, the demand for glass products started to climb, and the indicator at the time was clear: rising glass prices.

What effects did this have on international markets?


Take glass production, for example. For some time now, China has been making an extremely large number of very long-term investments in its plants. From façades to vehicle windows, they’re turning to German mechanical and plant engineering to equip their factories. It’s been shown repeatedly that reliable quality made in Germany is more than ever the top choice for these significant investments.

What can your association do to keep it this way?


All of th member companies have to strengthen one another. One of my most important short-term goals is to recruit 10 to 15 new companies for the association. Joined together under the powerful umbrella of the VDMA, we can, for example, stake our claim in important markets like China.

What other arguments will you use?


For instance, our association is systematically tackling all issues relating to digitalization. Topics like data security, big data, and connectivity are currently high on the agenda of seminars and workshops. Our members inspire one another, demonstrate best practices, and share their valuable experiences. Each meeting is held at a member company or at the VDMA in Frankfurt – we couldn’t be any closer to the future than that.

Siemens is a relatively new member of the Glass Technology Forum. What input would you like to see there?


It’s extremely valuable for the 60 primarily small and medium-sized German glass machine and plant-building companies to learn about practical, valuable cloud applications. Members also appreciate their Siemens colleagues for their digital expertise. The importance of the consulting aspect alone can’t be overestimated. For example, when it comes to areas like data security, Siemens has highly developed concepts that they are more than welcome to present again and again. That issue is simply too important to have it appear only once on the agenda.

In addition to the wide-ranging expertise, the Forum also provides access to the VDMA network. What added value does this offer?


The VDMA offers numerous services. For example, it collaborates extensively on standardization issues – and so is helping shape Industrie 4.0. All the member companies benefit. The association also advises its members in the area of internationalization and shares its expertise with companies that need to draft international contracts.

The next meeting of Forum members will be in November, hosted by Hegla. Will you be ­welcoming 10 to 15 new members?


That’s the goal. Even if they aren’t new members by then, I’ll invite companies to attend our meeting as guests to draw inspiration from the topics and people.

Picture credits: Siemens AG

Egbert Wenninger, 52, has been Senior Vice President of the Glass Business Unit at Grenzebach ­Maschinenbau GmbH in Asbach-Bäumenheim, Germany, since 2017. After graduating as an electrotechnical engineer from the Technical University of Munich, he worked as a project engineer at Pfister Systemtechnik GmbH in Augsburg for two and a half years starting in 1992. He joined Grenzebach Maschinenbau GmbH in 1995 and remained for the next 17 years, first serving as Vice President of Sales Glass Technology and later as a member of the ­Management Team. In 2012, he became Managing Director of EME GmbH in Lohr, before returning to Grenzebach as CSO in 2016.


Wenninger has been involved with VDMA’s activities since 2009. Since 2011, he has been a Member of the Board of the Glass Technology Forum and its Chairman since October 2017. From 2010 to 2012, he served on the board of the Photovoltaic Production Resources working group. Since 2009, he has also represented the VDMA on the glasstec Advisory Board.

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