In March, I had the opportunity to join other press members from around the world at WACKER’s annual press conference in Munich, Germany, as well as its International Press Workshop in Burghausen. The event kicked off with a 2013 financial report by Dr. Rudolf Staudigl, President and CEO of Wacker Chemie AG. More on the financials can be found on page 14 of this issue. A portion of Dr. Staudigl’s presentation stressed the importance of the continuing growth in China. At the company’s polymer site in Nanjing, existing production plants for dispersions were enlarged in 2013 with a new reactor that has an annual output of 60,000 metric tons. Nanjing also saw the completion of a new plant for polyvinyl acetate solid resins with an annual capacity of 20,000 metric tons.

Dr. Staudigl also announced that Wacker Chemie and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) have resolved the issue of polysilicon exports to China. An agreement to this end was signed in Beijing. WACKER, for its part, undertakes not to sell polysilicon produced at its European plants below a specific minimum price in China. MOFCOM, in turn, will refrain from applying anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on this material. The agreement took effect on May 1 and will last until the end of April 2016.

Following the press conference, guests boarded a bus to Burghausen and on the second day attended an International Press Workshop at the Conference Center Villa Sell. A highlight of the workshop was Dr. Christian Finger’s overview of WACKER’s 100-year history. In addition to coatings, WACKER operates in numerous industries, including products in high-growth end-user markets, such as photovoltaics, electronics, pharmaceuticals and the household/personal-care sector. The group currently has 16,000 employees, and operates 25 production sites and 21 technical centers worldwide, and operates 52 sales offices in 28 countries. The overview put everything into perspective, and it was great to see the growth through the years.

Guests were then given a tour of WACKER’s Burghausen principal production site – the largest chemical plant in Bavaria. The impressive 2.3 km2 site employs almost 10,000 people in over 130 production units. The portfolio of products that are manufactured ranges from polysilicon and hyperpure silicon wafers to silicones, silanes and pyrogenic silicas, as well as dispersions and dispersible polymer powders, solid resins, fine chemicals and base materials for the chemical industry.

Almost 10 percent of the electricity required at the site is produced by WACKER’s own Alz power plant, the largest industrial hydroelectric power station in Germany. The water originates from the Alz river and is routed through a 17-kilometer-long canal to the steep slope above the banks of the Salzach. A state-of-the-art gas and steam turbine power plant provides another 40 percent of the electrical power; the rest is purchased from other providers.

The BBiW (Burghausen Vocational Training Center), a Wacker Chemie AG foundation, is located directly adjacent to the site. This educational institution is the Bavarian chemical industry’s largest vocational training center and is also open to other companies. It offers basic and retraining programs as well as advanced training courses. Each year, WACKER has 150 entry-level employees begin training programs there.

 I was thoroughly impressed, and greatly enjoyed all of the networking, camaraderie and side trips that were part of the program. Many thanks to WACKER for hosting us!