You can wait for the future – or you can shape it.
What makes a mere idea into a genuine innovation in the economic sense is its practical and commercial utility and a continual striving for improvement. This is precisely what Dressler Group has been engaged in since 1978 in the field of plastic grinding and finishing. After all, Dressler Group is constantly researching and developing, as well as taking care of the "daily grind". As expertise develops, so does the ability to innovate. "That's why one of our key assets is the theoretical and practical competence of our employees, all of whom are experts in their field," says organisational development expert Thomas Wiegand. "Almost half of them have been with the company for 15 years, and more than a fifth have been with us over 20 years." What's more, DG not only develops the processes - more than 2,600 and counting - but also the systems. It is hard to imagine a more detailed bank of knowledge.
"One of our key assets is the theoretical and practical competence of our employees, all of whom are experts in their field."
Research and development are pursued in close cooperation with customers. After all, it is all about implementing their specifications and goals. Working together on an equal footing is what enables Dressler Group to create "the future in real time", to borrow a phrase used at the company. Placing customers and their products at the centre of proceedings is not just paying lip service. Ideally, they should entrust a product to Dressler Group today and take it back tomorrow, processed exactly to their specifications, with comprehensive documentation to ensure reproducibility at all times - and, depending on the starting point, with a material utilisation rate of 95 percent. The customers' satisfied faces and follow-up orders speak for themselves.
Of course, it can't always be that simple. Fundamental research is a case in point. However, Dressler Group also offers two in-house institutions that are unique in the industry in this form and combination: the Innovation Lab and the Technical Centre. The great advantage of these testing facilities lies in the avoidance of costly and time-consuming missteps. As soon as changes are needed, improvements can be made quickly and flexibly. Series production only commences once this process is complete.
The Technical Centre has a total area of around 1,000 sqm. Here, research is conducted into how the raw material will behave in the envisaged processes before it reaches the series plants. The Technical Centre deals with raw material volumes of just a few grams up to around 1,000 kg.
A sample of the technical equipment:
› Cryo-grinding plants
› Universal mills
› Micro granulators
› Vibrating, tumbling and long-stroke jigger screens
› Twin-screw extruders
› Spraying systems to crystallise molten material and mixtures
› Mixing granulators and much more
The Innovation Lab is a kind of "Area 51" for grinding and finishing technology. Chemists, engineers and technicians work hand-in-hand with customers to develop new processes and improve existing ones, maintaining the utmost confidentiality - as is the case throughout the company. These processes can then be tested at the Technical Centre. Simply detailing the technical equipment and expertise on offer cannot adequately express what can be achieved here: "Our customers are thrilled when they see Technical Centre and Innovation Lab in action for the first time and experience its clearly structured set-up," says Dittmar Otten, Head of Research & Development. "It gives them confidence that we will handle their products with the same level of care and focus." Another "wow" moment is when customers get to see the development process live on screen and have the chance to request changes on the spot. Like a laboratory jam session, it takes flexibility to a new level.
"Our customers are thrilled when they see Technical Centre and Innovation Lab in action for the first time and experience the clearly structured set-up."
The results are clear: more than 80 percent of all processes developed and tested in the Innovation Lab and Technical Centre go into series production; new customers turn into regular customers. And an added benefit: these two facilities have established themselves as extended workshops and laboratories for many customers. Feedback loops with the customer are so effective that Dressler Group practically becomes integrated into the customer's internal decision-making process. This means minimal friction losses for the customer, coupled with maximum individuality, flexibility and time/cost efficiency.
Two current examples of Dressler Group innovations: Spherical Powder Technology (SPT) and the development of integrated processes. SPT is a process that makes it possible, for example, to produce PEEK plastics with a fineness of under 80 µ, optionally entirely free of additives. This opens up completely new kinds of applications that were equally impossible before.Meanwhile, integrated processes allow grinding, sieving and dust removal to be carried out in a single operation rather than separate steps.
Even outside of its core business, Dressler Group has repeatedly caught the eye with innovations, including just-in-time warehouse logistics and batch and packaging options tailored to customer requirements.
"A present goal is to make fine powders even finer, while offering fine dosage control and manageability, and to explore the resulting technical possibilities. That's how our SPT came about."
As for current and future trends? "A present goal is to make fine powders even finer, while offering fine dosage control and manageability, and to explore the resulting technical possibilities. That's how our SPT came about," says chemist Wolfram Baumgärtner, Managing Director of two DG companies. "However, it's always vital to keep an eye on the concrete benefits. Because sometimes, depending on the application, coarser powder is better suited as well as cheaper to produce." The "watch list" and "to do list" also cover topics such as bioplastics, the reprocessing of powders left over from processing, applications in additive manufacturing, the production of small quantities under pharmaceutical conditions, and new service and logistics activities. Clearly, Dressler Group is not about to run out of ideas. After all, "innovation" has its Latin roots in "renewal" - and this is a never-ending process.