The consumption of resources and the way we treat our environment affects people and companies all over the world. Many consumers are now highly sensitized and correspondingly critical when shopping. Manufacturing processes are moving into the focus of attention, environmentally friendly and sustainable packaging is becoming a sales argument. Gerhard Schubert GmbH, with its core competence in cardboard packaging, has been dedicated to reconciling sustainability and cost-effectiveness in packaging for over 50 years. The company also impresses with its high sustainability standards in its own operations.
The packaging machine specialist from Crailsheim takes this claim very seriously and has, among other things, therefore committed itself to six of the proclaimed sustainability goals of UNESCO, which are to be implemented by 2030. To this end, an internal sustainability expert group was initiated at Schubert two years ago, which collates information on all developments and innovations aimed at achieving these ambitious goals from across the Schubert Group, guides them and then communicates them within the company, or coordinates appropriate measures. Schubert focuses on the two overarching thematic clusters "Know-how and Location" and "Materials and Technology". The company recently summarized the implementation of the sustainability concept in its own "5R logo" and published it generally. Under these 5Rs - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink, the manufacturer evaluates all internal and external business decisions and aligns them accordingly.
Michael Graf, Director of Schubert-Consulting and Head of the Sustainability Expert Group at Schubert, already has a number of successes to show for the company: "We are already successfully implementing six of the defined UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals - more specifically Goals Nos. 7, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 17. For example, we use geothermal energy to air-condition our offices and generate our own electricity using photovoltaics. As a well-known innovation driver for outstanding packaging and robotics technology, we are also strongly positioned in the areas of digitalization, networking and the integration of artificial intelligence. This is symbolised by the many pioneering projects of our subsidiaries in the field of cobot development, Schubert Motion, Schubert Additive Solutions and Schubert Consulting" The concept of sustainability can be found in all areas of the company and is practised in equal measure at all hierarchical levels and in all facets, from purchasing through the entire production process and training to cooperation with service providers and partners.
Anyone who walks attentively through the production facilities in Crailsheim, for example, will immediately see that the respective machining centres attach great importance to the recycling of waste material produced during the machining of metal and raw materials and, where possible, to saving energy. The packaging systems for the customers are developed according to the latest state of the art. Even at the design stage, the aim is to achieve a machine design that is as simple and sustainable as possible and excludes processes that are not necessary, thus also saving resources and raw materials in production. The production flow is designed according to the latest production philosophy, according to which the plants are pre-designed as in the automotive industry to ensure resource-saving production. Ergonomics and energy saving are top priority. If necessary, new technologies are also developed without further ado in cooperation with competent partners. In some cases, this has already provided some customers with demonstrable competitive advantages, as materials and technology have been harmonised in such a way that new sustainable materials can be used in an automated packaging process at all.
Further decisive advantages are offered by the modular machine concept itself and the consistent use of robotics. Schubert's modular system is so flexible that packaging machines can be tailored precisely to the desired customer requirements without redundant components. In addition, new formats can also be implemented in the machines at a later date. This even applies to the switch to more sustainable packaging materials: Simple substitutions such as cardboard trays instead of plastic trays can be implemented in an existing Schubert plant without any major effort. The safer the packaging process in the machine and the more efficient the use of packaging materials, the more sustainable the entire packaging will be. "Profitability and sustainability go hand in hand here. We make this potential available to our customers on request for every machine - with our in-house packaging development. In cooperation with the department, manufacturers can optimise their packaging in such a way that they benefit several times over. This extends to more sustainable logistics when one more carton fits on the pallet," explains Michael Graf.
Precisely because Schubert pursues a high standard of sustainability in its own operations management, all customers who want to produce sustainably and economically at the same time as part of the international trend towards more ecological packaging benefit. In order to be able to make a packaging process more efficient and sustainable in its entirety, Schubert is committed to being an experienced and strong partner for its customers. The experts at Schubert-Consulting specialise in providing targeted advice in a strategically favourable, early planning phase. Michael Graf explains: "Thanks to our manufacturer-independent consulting services, we are already in a position to help customers make the switch to sustainable packaging materials. Right from the planning stage, we pay attention to the perfect interplay of materials, technology and know-how - from cardboard trays to paper-based films. The concepts convince with flexibility, quality and efficiency and thus set standards throughout the industry.
For Michael Graf, the fact that this is so successful is primarily due to the fact that Schubert can count on the strong pioneering spirit and motivation of its employees. No wonder, then, that Schubert is also involved in the implementation of UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal No. 8: "Decent Work and Economic Growth" is at the forefront. Since 2015, the packaging machine manufacturer has been certified by the Veritas office in accordance with SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trade), thus adopting the requirements of ethical action in production and infrastructure and documenting this regularly.
Since the beginning of the company's success story, one of the Schubert family's main concerns has been the training and further education of young people in various professions - borne by the idea of passing on innovation and passion to future generations. Regular meetings of the dignitaries promote the solidarity, even the smallest ones from the kindergarten are playfully introduced to the innovative technologies in company tours. It was probably also this social commitment that was rewarded in 2018 with the "Factory of the Year" award, recognising both Schubert's innovative manufacturing and modern entrepreneurial spirit.