CONTI® SYNCHROFLEX – In demand throughout the world
ContiTech AG has been producing timing belts, such as SYNCHROFLEX, in Dannenberg for the global market since 1961. The editorial team from mulco innovativ asked Production Manager Thomas Paul about the latest developments.
“We have already achieved a great deal but still see further potential”
An interview with Thomas Paul, Production Manager at ContiTech Power Transmission Group, about the Dannenberg site and the CONTI® SYNCHROFLEX polyurethane timing belt. The interview was published in “mulco innovativ”, issue No. 15/2015.
What makes the Dannenberg site special for you?
The Dannenberg site was founded in 1961 as part of the promotion of the area near the border with East Germany. The Synchroflex belt has been manufactured in Dannenberg since then. ContiTech’s Plastics Centre of Excellence is in Dannenberg. We process plastics here such as cast polymers, reaction polymers, thermoplastic polyurethane and thermoplastic elastomers.
What motivated you to take on the position here as production manager?
The scope of the tasks in production and the possibility of being able to make such a lot happen are what appealed to me. If you look at the reduction in processing waste that we have achieved, you can see what progress we have made over the last two years.
Cords and PU are both quite unusual materials. Is it difficult to find suitable professionals with experience in this field?
We currently have 120 employees in Dannenberg. We’re able to find excellently trained master foremen and engineers but they have to undergo intensive training by experienced personnel for our special products. This method has served us well.
What improvements have you and your colleagues implemented with respect to the CONTI® SYNCHROFLEX?
We have managed a great deal! We produce polyurethane using modern reactor technology. This allows us to achieve particularly uniform results and produce large batches. We have modernised our 80 m long continuous furnace and improved its temperature control. Our chemists have further improved the polyurethane quality including its longevity. We have refined the casting technique. New additives reliably prevent bubbles in the casting. We have also optimised the winding machines and winding process to achieve even more uniform spooling onto our cores. We have optimised the design of some of the moulds. We have implemented a large number of individual measures to reduce processing waste. We are also investing in new annealing furnaces to permit even more precise temperature control.
What future developments are planned in Dannenberg?
We are planning to extend our factory building to create additional space for logistics. As far as the products are concerned, the trend is towards progressively larger belt dimensions. We are also preparing to meet this trend.
Can we expect further improvements in performance of CONTI® SYNCHROFLEX?
Improvements in production, particularly in the processing and preparation of the raw materials have led to an improvement in performance, which is clearly visible to our customers in our catalogues. We have already achieved a great deal but we still see potential for further improvement of the cords. We are working on this together with our long-standing supplier. 80 – 90 percent of the cords on the market are currently made of steel. The proportion of carbon cords is likely to increase considerably over the next few years.
What role does environmental protection play in timing belt production? Have you implemented any concrete measures in Dannenberg in this area?
We have already implemented a number of measures over the past few years. We invested in a new thermal management system for our 80 m long continuous furnace The housing and insulation of the furnace and temperature measurements at several significant points ensure lower energy consumption and more gentle and uniform temperature control. We have cut our energy consumption and improved the quality at the same time thanks to more precise temperature control. This also reduces the amount of process waste, saving precious raw materials. Another important step was the introduction of a new specification for our release agent. We always use an improved silicone-free release agent, which is particularly important for our customers in the automotive sector and for applications in which paints are processed.
What do you consider to be the advantage of CONTI® SYNCHROFLEX timing belts in comparison to your competitors’ timing belts?
We don’t produce cheap products. We make quality products. From a superficial point of view, our belts are usually slightly more expensive. However, if the customers look more closely, they will see that our timing belt drives, seen throughout the life cycle of the machine, not only offer higher performance but are also longer-lasting and therefore often cheaper in the long run. Customers can utilise this performance advantage for downsizing. Customers can save money if only one belt less has to be changed throughout the life cycle of the machine due to the longevity of our timing belts.