I have just returned from WACKER’s annual International Press Workshop in Munich and Burghausen, Germany. This has become one of my favorite events, not only because of the quality of information that I receive, but also because of the people I have met and the relationships that have been developed. This year, WACKER invited 18 journalists from around the world and from a variety of industries to attend their workshop.
The 2½-day event kicked off with the company’s annual press conference at WACKER headquarters. Details on that can be found on page 22. After the press conference and lunch with the Executive Board, we headed to Burghausen, where the company’s principal production site is located.
The workshop consisted of six different classes and a tour of the WACKER production site. Peter Summo, President of WACKER POLYMERS, began the workshop with a presentation titled Polymer Binders in Everyday Life. The key chemical building blocks used by the WACKER POLYMER’s business division are vinyl acetate and ethylene, which, along with other monomers, are polymerized to a wide range of products. WACKER is the only supplier to produce both dispersions and dispersible polymer powders based on vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE) copolymers in America, Europe and Asia. Today, this unique combination contributes around 25% of corporate sales. Construction polymers is the largest market for dispersible polymer powders, and VAE dispersions are used for industrial applications and consumer products.
Other presentations included, Innovation at WACKER POLYMERS, by Dr. Theo Mayer, Innovation Director; Enabling Modern Construction, by Christophe Berset, Strategic Marketing Manager, Construction Polymers; Regional Proximity to Engage Customer Diversity, by Lilyana Budyanto, Marketing Manager, Construction Polymers, Wacker Chemicals (South Asia); World-Class Production and Supply Chain, by Dr. Konrad Bachhuber, Vice President Operations; and Digitalization at WACKER, by Dirk Ramhorst, Senior Vice President Information Technology and Dr. Eric Frauendorfer, Senior Manager R&D.
The site tour included a visit to the company’s WACKER ACADEMY. One of several around the world, this training center and laboratory combines theory and practice to educate employees and customers about trends, the latest technology and application techniques, specifically for the construction market. It also provides an impetus for new business potential. We watched lab demos of products containing WACKER’s VINNAPAS® dispersible polymer powders and dispersions that increase adhesion, flexibility, abrasion resistance and durability in ceramic tile adhesives and cement mortars, and allow crayon and marker to wipe off easily from interior house paint. The visit also included a driving tour of the 2 km² site, the largest chemical site in Bavaria. It features over 130 plants, which are interconnected with 2,000 km of piping systems. Our tour also included a look into the production of Vinnapas dispersible polymer powder.
Other highlights of the workshop included amazing meals, a walking tour of old Munich, a guided tour of the medieval Burghausen Castle (followed by a candlelit dinner inside), and lots of time to get to know everyone and develop new friendships. Many thanks to Bill Toth, Gwen Knapp, Florian Degenhart, Nadine Baumgartl, Verena Roithmeier, and all the other WACKER employees who organized the event and hosted our group. I look forward to reporting on the technology that I learned about, and to seeing you all again at the next workshop!