The future lies behind a red brick facade that is so typical of Northern Germany. What looks like a traditional industrial building now houses a laboratory of the future. Rubber has been processed in Hamburg-Harburg since 1856 – until today. Directly above the production halls are bright, open workspaces of our newly established Innovation Center. From here, we coordinate all innovation and digitalization activities of our worldwide industrial businesses.
As a business and science location, we are closely networked in Hamburg – especially with the knowledge and technology transfer company Tutech, the Hamburg University of Technology and other universities in Germany. Students can test the potential and feasibility of concept ideas together with our experts in the Makers Garage. Young engineers and software developers apply their theoretical knowledge in practice and work together in international teams – a springboard for a career in the industry.
Smart Solutions for the Mobility of the Future
“Through continuous investment and a future-oriented approach, we have developed the plant site from a rubber processor to a location where solutions for future mobility on and off the road are designed and produced,” explains Dr. Georg Ullmann, who heads our Harburg site. Such solutions can be applications for the Internet of Things or cloud-based app developments. They add a digital component to conventional rubber and plastic based products and thus open up opportunities for completely new business models.
Hamburg-based Digital Experts Support Successful Fleetmatch App
One example of a new business model, the development of which was also supported by the Hamburg experts from the Innovation and Digitalization department, is fleetmatch. The web- and app-based solution brings together qualified professional drivers and fleet operators and gives drivers a strong voice by allowing them to evaluate loading ramps easily and quickly. Thus, fleetmatch counteracts two problems of the logistics industry: a lack of professional drivers on the market and the widespread lack of appreciation for this professional group. Many forwarding agencies and drivers at the logistics hub Hamburg already use our app intensively.
High-performance Plastics for Electric Cars
In addition to digital solutions, we also develop high-performance plastic hose lines for electric vehicles in Hamburg-Harburg. Our Hamburg Plastics Competence Center, in which we have invested 2.2 million euros, is responsible for product development for all plants worldwide. Because the demand for high-performance technical materials is growing in the automotive industry, hose lines are needed for thermal management of modern vehicles, i.e. the targeted heating and cooling of components such as batteries or electric motors. Efficiency and range can thus be significantly increased.
From Hamburg for Hamburg – Air Spring Systems for Elevated Railroads
The mobility of the future is not limited to roads; passenger transport by rail will also gain in importance. Our technology is installed in many trains today, for example, the new DT5 trains of Hamburger Hochbahn use our air spring systems. The auxiliary spring, an important component of the air spring system, is manufactured at our Hamburg site. The corresponding rubber compound is also produced in Harburg. In addition, we recondition the spring systems in our maintenance center to meet customer demands. This saves resources and reduces costs. For the preparation of the metal to rubber elements, we purchased a new machine in 2019, which combines different steps to increase efficiency and competitiveness.
Further Training of Tomorrow’s Skilled Workers
Besides machines and technology, we are investing in people: In Harburg, unskilled and semi-skilled employees from the rubber processing industry can acquire the officially recognized vocational qualification of Process Mechanic for Plastics and Rubber Technology. This continuing education program offered in 2019-founded Continental Institute of Technology and Transformation (CITT) completes our package for employee qualification at the Hamburg location, which also includes programs for the long-term unemployed and career orientation for young people.
Rubber Keeps the World in Motion
||Dr. Georg Ullmann manages our Hamburg site:
“Even though the Hamburg plant is being transformed into a diversified and future-proof technology location, the traditional production of rubber compounds remains an integral part of it.”
Rubber keeps the modern world on the move. This unique material has a function in almost every branch of industry and in the everyday lives of many people: Drive belts in washing machines, car and bicycle tires, conveyor belts on major construction sites – all made of rubber. In addition to this core segment, our Hamburg location is helping to shape the transition to Industry 4.0 with innovative clusters and smart solutions and is training qualified specialists.