【DE】This was the ALUMINIUM Business Summit Premiere

At the end of September, the hybrid organized ALUMINIUM Business Summit celebrated its premiere in Düsseldorf. For two days, 25 speakers and discussants illuminated the current topics of the aluminum industry from different perspectives. Around 100 trade visitors followed the summit live at the “Altes Stahlwerk”.



  Photo: aluminium-exhibition.com



“Shaping a new Industrial Era”: the motto of the first ALUMINIUM Business Summit reflected the upheavals currently confronting the aluminum industry – and not only this. Sustainability, new mobility, rapid digitalization and fundamental shifts in the markets: On September 28 and 29 at the “Altes Stahlwerk” in Düsseldorf, the focus was on the central issues that are likely to occupy the industry for a long time to come – and, above all, on the possible answers to them.


The ALUMINIUM Business Summit is a joint project of ALUMINIUM, Aluminium Deutschland, European Aluminium and the CRU Group. Conceived as a combination of condensed, cutting-edge information and a top-class networking event, the Summit  featured a number of top speakers from different areas of the industry.


A diversity that was also reflected in the auditorium. The around 100 visitors on site and around 30 guests connected via Zoom each day represented the entire value chain of the aluminum industry.




Gerd Götz, Director General, European Aluminium, opening the ALUMINIUM Business Summit 2021     Photo: aluminium-exhibition.com




After the Summit opening by Benedikt Binder-Krieglstein (CEO, RX Austria & Germany), Marius Baader (Managing Director, Aluminium Deutschland) and Gerd Götz (Director General, European Aluminium), it was time to get down to business.


Sustainability in the focus of the summit


Serge Gaudin began by addressing a topic that was a cross-cutting theme throughout most of the two days: the role of aluminum as a key enabler for the circular economy and decarbonization. In his keynote address, the Director Strategy & Sustainability, Novelis Europe, emphatically emphasized that the ambitious climate targets can only be achieved if the players pull in the same direction across the entire aluminum supply chain.


The panel discussion that followed pointed in the same direction. Discussing the relationship of aluminum to the Green Deal were Hinrich Mählmann (President, Aluminium Deutschland and General Partner, Otto Fuchs), Marius Baader (Managing Director, Aluminium Deutschland), Marko Gernuks (Head of Life Cycle Optimization, Volkswagen), Rob van Gils (CEO & Managing Partner, HAI Group) and Matthias Buchert (Head of Resources & Transport Division, Öko-Institut). Under the direction of moderator Emily Whigham – who also led both days of the conference – the panelists sent a clear message: Despite all the differences in interest in the details – the Green Deal is a challenge that only the industry as a whole can overcome.


Aluminum in aerospace and automotive


An insight into the aerospace world was then provided by Blanka Lenczowski, Business Manager R&T Development & Partnership Europe at Airbus. The industry, which has committed itself to reducing net CO2 emissions to half the 2005 level by 2050, is increasingly relying on environmentally friendly, sustainable materials technologies, with a particular focus on the circular economy.


Rob van Gils, CEO & Managing Partner of HAI Group, emphasized that the industry can only manage the Green Deal together.   Photo: aluminium-exhibition.com




The following two speakers represented an industry that is undergoing transformation like no other. Manuel Kallweit, Head of Economic Intelligence & Economics Department, VDA, spoke about the disruptive changes that the mobility revolution is bringing to the automotive industry. And about the increasingly strong role that aluminum should play as a material in the future.


Alois Winkler, responsible at Audi for its “Responsible Supply Chain Strategy,” brought in the OEM perspective. Among other things, the Bavarian car manufacturer has established a closed loop for aluminum stamping waste, in which the high-quality scrap is reprocessed into equally high-quality parts without downcycling.


Alois Winkler from Audi presented the OEM’s “Responsible Supply Chain Strategy”.  Photo: aluminium-exhibition.com





Virtually unlimited possibilities


André E. Barten dedicated his keynote to the connection between the terms green, lean and digital. The President and CEO of the Achenbach Group, who sees these as just three different facets of one and the same topic, used the example of battery technology to report on the progress made by his own group of companies and sketched a picture of sheer unlimited solutions made of aluminum that should inspire the entire industry.


Artificial intelligence and a new accelerator


Against a completely different background is AI expert Jonas Moßler, founder and CEO of Susi&James. The young company offers its (industrial) customers artificial intelligence-based “digital employees.” How these can free people from overload situations and thus also ensure more satisfied end customers was the topic of his presentation.


André E. Barten, President and CEO of the Achenbach Group: Green, Lean and Digital as three different facets of one and the same topic.  Photo: aluminium-exhibition.com



Thomas Müller-Kirschbaum, Chief Scientist and member of the Advisory Board of Silicon Valley, concluded the first day of the Summit. The accelerator in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region wants to become a global center of the Circular Economy along the lines of Silicon Valley – with aluminum naturally playing a prominent role.


On the way to a circular economy


The second day of the ALUMINIUM Business Summit was opened by Nicola Coslett, CEO of CRU Events. She was followed by another contribution on the topic of sustainability with the first keynote.


Claudia Bierth, European Sustainability Manager at Ball Beverage Packaging Europe, reported on the one hand on the continuous growth that the aluminum can has already achieved as a sustainable circular packaging. At the same time, however, she pointed out the steps still needed to make the collection, separation and recycling of cans and other packaging part of a true circular economy. A clear appeal to the industry.


What influence does logistics have?


Bart van Gils provided another change of perspective. The logistics expert and Managing Partner of The Agency reviewed the upheavals to which global supply chains have been exposed in recent months – and by no means just because of the pandemic. How this affects just-in-time models and why logistics costs are unlikely to reach previous levels were topics of van Gils’ presentation.



 Manuel Kallweit, Head of Economic Intelligence & Economics Department, VDA, spoke about the disruptive changes that the mobility revolution is bringing to the automotive industry                             Photo: aluminium-exhibition.com




With Hélène Wagnies, Managing Director at Ducker Research Europe, the ALUMINIUM Business Summit returned to the automotive theme. Wagnies used extensive data to explain how electrification is affecting the use of aluminum in the European and North American automotive industries.


Other key topics: China, capital markets, CBAM


Rafael Suchan, CEO of the Scholz Group and the Chiho Environmental Group, then discussed how the market for aluminum recycling in China is developing.


Daniel Palme, Head of Metals, Mining & Adv. Materials, Industrials, Capital Markets at Commerzbank, shed light on capital markets with a view to sustainability – and on how finance can drive decarbonization.


Tolga Egrilmezer, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Aluminum Rio Tinto, reported on the numerous collaborations his company has already entered into in the spirit of making aluminum the material of choice. Sustainability, one of his key messages, is “Team Effort.”


Ken Ash, independent consultant and Visiting Fellow at the University of Adelaide’s Institute for International Trade, explained the challenges of developing effective and WTO-compatible CBAMs.



Thomas Müller-Kirschbaum, Chief Scientist and member of the Advisory Board of Silicon Valley.



Ross Strachan, Senior Analyst, Aluminum, CRU Group, highlighted the impact of the “emissions era” on primary aluminum production, market balance and trade flows. Specifically, he addressed the obstacles that still stand in the way of increasing recycled aluminum content.


With the last keynote, the ALUMINIUM Business Summit once again turned to China. Markus Taube, Chair of East Asian Economics at the University of Duisburg-Essen and partner of Think!Desk China Research & Consulting, provided insights into China’s changing role in the global aluminum industry.


New companion to the world’s leading trade fair


In view of the successful premiere, the ALUMINIUM Business Summit, like the ALUMINIUM Digital Talk, will in future accompany the world’s leading trade fair ALUMINIUM as a further format. Project Manager Malte Seifert says: “The trade fair is and will of course remain the center, but the two new formats are in our eyes the perfect complement to continue the imperative discussions.”







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