Vetropack Group is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of packaging glass for the food and beverage industry in Europe. With roughly 4,000 employees, it currently operates eight glass factories in Switzerland, Austria, Czechia, Croatia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Italy and Moldova.
In a challenging environment impacted by the pandemic in 2020 and beyond, the Vetropack Group generated an EBIT margin of 11.5% in 2020 (2019: 12.5%). Consolidated net revenues amounted to CHF 662.6 million (2019: 714.9 million). In late 2020, the Group acquired a glass factory in Moldova, financing the acquisition with its own funds. In October 2021 Vetropack began construction of a new production site in the town of Boffalora sopra Ticino in Italy.
Energy management and procurement
The Vetropack Group is taking strategic and economic as well as technical factors into account for its energy management and procurement. In doing so, it is relying on external consulting expertise and using the energy management system Simatic Energy Manager PRO, including add-ons for structured energy procurement. The goal is to comprehensively manage energy throughout the Vetropack Group, from planning and strategic procurement to monitoring consumption and invoice verification. The goals of the Swiss packaging glass manufacturer will be achieved after the rollout [of the energy management system] in all nine of its international factories.
Permanent reduction in costs and consumption
Given the well-known fact that glass production is extremely energy- and cost-intensive, many adjustments need to be made in order to achieve improvements in both areas. This would be impossible without the use of professional software tools, especially in light of Vetropack’s goal of ensuring uniform energy management across all its locations. Another challenge is the definition, harmonisation and uniform reporting from energy measurement points.
A comprehensive approach
What’s special about Vetropack’s approach is that a core project team is devoted to the task of tackling energy management from the perspective of both commercial and technical factors as an integral part of the company’s digitalisation strategy. The project was initiated and is led by Strategic Procurement. The packaging glass manufacturer believes that the best and only way to optimise energy consumption and energy costs at the Group level – and thus make the necessary contribution to improving the company’s CO2 footprint – is to link all disciplines involved, from production and engineering to procurement. After a phase of evaluating and piloting different systems, the long-time Siemens customer chose the Simatic Energy Manager PRO software solution. To this end, Siemens developed and programmed a new module for integrating procurement on the basis of extensive specifications. After the project began in 2017, Siemens and Vetropack piloted the system in Vetropack’s Austrian factory in Kremsmünster in 2019 before systematically embedding it into the existing Simatic PCS 7 and IT infrastructure in all the other glass factories, beginning with Vetropack Straža in Croatia.
Linkage of operations and energy data
When the Group-wide rollout is completed in one to two years, Vetropack will have complete transparency across all relevant energy and media consumption values and corresponding costs (primarily gas, power, water and compressed air), CO2 emissions on various aggregation levels, and uniformly allocated cost centres.
A crucial element of this goal is a master metering plan to set uniform measurement standards. Up to 200 measurement points per factory will be integrated into the energy management system. “On this basis, harmonised Group-wide energy indicators can be purposefully defined, analysed, displayed on dashboards and applied as the basis for energy efficiency measures,” explained Bozo Dragoslavic, Energy Manager for the Vetropack Group. Best practices will be systematically transferred to the other production facilities. Thanks to the ISO 50001-conformant software support from Siemens, Vetropack will save considerable time on data entry and will therefore be able to focus more on drawing inferences from the data and making decisions about energy efficiency measures such as adding more photovoltaic systems in a given factory.
Smart energy procurement with real-time price display
Vetropack could well be the first company to link an energy management system with a fully integrated energy procurement tool. As a result of these measures, Vetropack can connect all market data in real time to the newly developed add-on of Simatic Energy Manager PRO and represent its entire procurement strategy and the implementation of that strategy in the module. The system will be connected to both the Group-wide ERP system and to various other systems.
Features of the Simatic Energy Manager PRO include:
- Recording and graphic display of all market data, procurement schedules and procurement quantities. Consumption values
are likewise integrated graphically.
- The graphic display follows the established procurement strategy. The status quo of all factories can be seen at a glance.
- The tool manages energy package purchases for the purpose of structured procurement in line with the strategy. Setting target prices triggers notifications in the form of action recommendations whenever the price targets are approached; alternatively, target prices can be agreed on directly with the energy supplier.
- Purchase quality is monitored graphically relative to self-defined benchmarks.
- Budget calculations and subsequent refinements on the basis of periodic forecasts are supported and quasi-automated by the system.
- All energy procurement contracts are administered in the system. Bids submitted in tenders are simulated using the relevant contract criteria. This allows the lowest-cost variant for implementing the strategy to be identified quickly.
- CO2 emissions from energy consumption and batch formulation, including Scope 2 CO2 emissions, can be calculated in this tool. The necessary certificates and their acquisition are likewise integrated into the tool.
- Thanks to the display of real-time prices (both hedging and spot prices), the decision to change and optimise the energy mix (electricity vs. gas) can be made at any time.
Customer value overview
Full-range provider Siemens has provided comprehensive support to Vetropack since the project began and has covered all phases, from advice and analysis in joint workshops to installation, commissioning and project planning of energy management software solutions. Siemens also handles the turnkey implementation of field devices such as energy measurement devices, flow meters and automation components, as well as assembly and connection to the process control system Simatic PCS 7, which is used in all eight factories.
“As we see it, Siemens plays a pioneering role in comprehensive energy management solutions,” says Kurt Hagenberger, Lead Buyer Energy at Vetropack Austria. “In addition, we’ve been very impressed with the company’s expertise in the glass industry. On top of that, their team is highly experienced, and the same team has supported us for many years and is always very flexible.”
Image: In orange hi-vis, L–R: Kurt Hagenberger, Bozo Dragoslavic, Ulrich Ruberg. Image source: Vetropack.