Thailand: Energy efficiency in the Kabin Buri plant

Planned with foresight, built for the future. With our new Thai factory in Kabin Buri it was clear from the start: We wanted a state-of-the-art plant with the smallest possible carbon footprint. After more than four years this wish has now become a reality.

There is a lot to consider in terms of efficiency. Markus Giefing provides this insight with a knowing smile during a tour of our new Thai facility. "I’m a technician myself," says the Head of Far East Activities. “It was also a learning process for me, all the things to be observed if you want to work sustainably.”

Why Thailand, actually?

We have had years of positive experience with our Hat Yai latex factory in Thailand The new Thaimed Hightech Company Ltd. production centre is in the industrial area of Kabin Buri, northeast of Bangkok. Primarily, it allows MAM to manufacture plastic parts which we previously had to purchase. MAM also sees great potential in the Asian market and wants to invest accordingly. Local manufacturers and suppliers allow us to keep the transport routes short. 

Only the best

However, our move to the Far East does not mean lower standards for MAM. MAM founder Peter Röhrig insisted in particular that not a single kilowatt-hour should be wasted with the new production site. Oberhumer Engineering was consulted for cooling, energy efficiency and a photovoltaic system. The latter provides 10% of the energy demand with solar power at full plant utilisation. Economically, this will pay off in eight and a half years. “Many publicly traded companies don’t have the possibility to account for such a long amortisation period”, explains Otto Oberhumer. "Mr Röhrig was willing to invest in the long term. This has resulted in a plant that is also exceptional by European standards.”

Keeping a cool head

Savings in heat management are achieved by two independent systems for process cooling and air conditioning. We also communicate this conscious use of energy internally. Normally, staff rooms are too cold in Thailand because employees don’t think about conserving resources”, Markus tells us. “We use motion sensors and zoned climate control to only cool where necessary.” When selecting technical components, close attention was also paid to energy efficiency – from manufacturing to the transport route and even their actual use.

Just good thinking

Most notable is the clever planning in the new plant. Such as waste heat from the production process being used for dehumidifying the air. A ten centimetre air space between the wall and exterior cladding serves as thermal insulation. And, a reflective paint further reduces warming from the sun. Even the vegetation was factored in: A strategically cultivated ring of plants reduces the temperature by an astonishing 0.75 to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Shade rather than windows

These measures are specifically tailored to local conditions. "One aspect that many European companies do not consider is the climate”, Markus explains. “In Thailand efficient shading plays a much more important role than natural light or heating.” This led to, among other things, the cool, windowless design of the production area while a powerful LED lighting system provides near-natural daylight conditions.

With an eye on the future

After four years of planning and construction, the plant began operating at the end of 2016. The entire production and office area now have barrier-free access At present nearly 30 employees, three injection moulding machines and one extrusion moulding machine are at work in production. In total, there is capacity for 250 people working in different areas. Energy efficiency is far above planned levels (see table); the equipment and sophistication of the plant are trend-setting and unique in Thailand.