Reiner Eckhardt has taken over the management of the Caramba Chemie Group, which offers a wide range of specialty chemical products for cleaning, care, maintenance, surface treatment and industrial parts cleaning, effective June 1, 2021. The company employs around 700 people in 7 European countries.
The internationally experienced manager is very familiar with both the industry and the group, as he previously headed the business of KENT, one of the two strong brands of the Caramba Chemie Group alongside Caramba, for six years as Managing Director.
“Reiner Eckhardt has international experience, is passionate about his work and is a seasoned leader in the specialty chemicals industry,” says Christoph Möltgen, Executive Board Member of the Berner Group.
Eckhardt, who lives in Dortmund, can look back on more than 30 years of professional experience in Germany and abroad. During his career he was responsible for well-known traditional brands and companies, including Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, Wacom Europe, Office Depot and SMEAD, and held various management positions for Operations, Multi-Channel Sales as well as Sales & Marketing. At the globally active machine manufacturer intimus International GmbH, he succeeded in completely turning the company around in just two years. At KENT, too, he proved his entrepreneurial expertise and consistently drove the economic success since 2015. Just like Caramba Chemie, a business unit of the Caramba Chemie Group, the KENT business unit used the pandemic as an opportunity under his leadership and developed faster and more profitably than the market in 2020/2021.
“I am very pleased that my journey in the Berner Group will continue and that I will get the great opportunity to set new impulses for the Caramba Chemie Group. There is immense potential in the company and both brands and I am excited to meet all new and familiar colleagues in the KENT and Caramba team to jointly develop and implement strategies that will drive each company in our group forward.”
– Reiner Eckhardt
Helicobacter pylori, a stomach germ, knows how to protect itself against attacks by the immune system or by antibiotics. A research team from the University of Würzburg has succeeded in deciphering new details of this ability.
Helicobacter pylori is widespread worldwide. Experts estimate that about half of humanity carries the bacterium – preferably in the stomach. Thanks to various adaptations, Helicobacter is protected from the extremely acidic environment and is able to settle and multiply permanently in the gastric mucosa. Above all, the ability to make the structures on the surface of its envelope extremely variable helps the bacterium to hold its own in this environment, which is hostile in and of itself. It uses the same trick to hide itself from the immune system of its host.
A group of scientists from the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg (JMU), together with collaborators at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, have now uncovered new details about how it does this. The team has succeeded in identifying a gene that is involved in the synthesis of the surface structures of the bacteria.
Furthermore, they were able to show that a small RNA can modulate the expression of this gene and thus vary the nature of the surface structures. In this way, Helicobacter pylori not only manages to escape the immune system, but also to vary its sensitivity to certain antibiotics.
Publication in Nature Communications
The researchers have now published the results of their investigations in the journal Nature Communications. Cynthia Sharma, head of the Department of Molecular Infection Biology II and spokesperson for the Center for Infection Research at JMU, is responsible for the publication.
Lipopolysaccharides (LPS): This is the technical term for these surface structures in which Sharma and her team are interested. These are compounds of fat-like (lipo) components and sugar (polysaccharide) that are found in the outer membrane of bacteria such as Helicobacter. “Helicobacter pylori produces a unique lipopolysaccharide compared to other bacteria that performs important functions in the infection process. Without this molecule, the bacterium could not colonize the human stomach or survive there permanently,” Sharma explains.
On the other hand, LPS is one of the most powerful stimulators of the immune system. For an organism to effectively fight an infection with Helicobacter, its immune cells must be able to recognize these structures. The bacteria have learned to prevent this in the course of evolution: “During an infection, many pathogens modify their LPS synthesis as well as their structure. In this way, they can escape recognition by the immune system,” says Sharma.
Widely dispersed genes
Although the central role of lipopolysaccharides in the successful infection of the host by certain bacteria is well known, the synthetic pathway of these molecules in the case of Helicobacter pylori has not yet been completely deciphered. “This could be due to the fact that the genes responsible for LPS synthesis are scattered throughout the bacterium’s genome,” Sharma suspects. Together with her team, she has now succeeded in identifying an essential protein in this process.
So-called “hypervariable simple sequence repeats (SSRs)” are one of the main sources of the changes in lipopolysaccharides. They are short DNA sequences that are randomly varied in length during cell division and influence the expression of genes. In previous work, the group was able to show that such SSRs are also targets for small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs), an important class of regulators that, for example, control gene expression under stress conditions or during infection.
Gradual resistance to antibiotics
In the study now published, the participants show that a specific sRNA with the scientific name RepG (regulator of polymeric G-repeats) in Helicobacter pylori controls the synthesis of LPS by modulating the expression of a gene that is important for this process. The interplay between the various players allows for stepwise control of LPS biosynthesis by the sRNA.
“In this way, regulatory RNA can fine-tune the structure of lipopolysaccharides, influencing their sensitivity to antibiotics and reducing the risk of being recognized by the host immune system.”
– Sandy Westermann, first author of the study
Chemspec Europe postponed to May 31 – June 1, 2022
Today Mack-Brooks Exhibitions announced the postponement of Chemspec Europe 2021, which was scheduled to take place Sept. 29-30, 2021, at the Frankfurt Exhibition Center. The International Trade Fair for Fine and Specialty Chemicals will instead be held May 31 – June 1, 2022. In addition to the resulting planning security, all parties involved will also benefit in the meantime from a proven virtual marketplace for doing business.
Focus for 2021: Virtual booths, product presentations & matchmaking
The show will take place on its original September date, offering the global fine and specialty chemicals industry an interactive networking event. Industry experts from around the world will have the opportunity to do business in the form of matchmaking opportunities. In addition, webinars and other digital content will be offered to promote the exchange of knowledge and know-how.
“The past Chemspec Digital has shown that virtual booths, product presentations and online meetings create new sales channels and offer exhibitors the opportunity to do business. We will ensure that attendees can continue to take advantage of these opportunities for themselves. Until then, our brand new Digital Presentation Series 2021 will offer numerous sales and networking sessions for the fine and specialty chemical industries. More information will follow soon.”
– Liljana Goszdziewski, Portfolio Director
In the coming weeks, the Chemspec Europe team will be communicating intensively with customers and partners. We would like to thank all exhibitors, partners, suppliers and visitors for their support during these challenging times.
Siemens will be demonstrating how the combination of the real and the digital worlds empowers industrial companies to act in a versatile and sustainable manner at the “Achema Pulse” live digital event. Companies in the process industry are facing urgent and rapidly changing challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic in particular has transformed demand patterns and global supply chains virtually overnight. At the same time, industry-specific regulations and standards are creating new framework conditions for production. Digitalization and automation are the levers for mastering these changes. Industrial IoT solutions can exploit the resulting data to secure a competitive advantage since the intelligent analysis, understanding and utilization of the data allows companies to adapt their processes faster to changing requirements. The Digital Enterprise portfolio makes this possible by combining the real world with the digital world, thus enabling solutions for simulation, virtual processes, remote access and connectivity as well as presenting service offerings for digital transformation. Thanks to the corresponding industry-specific know-how, individual sector requirements can be taken into account.
Focus on industry-specific solutions
“Achema Pulse is a great opportunity to providing impulses to our custumers and gaining insights on how we can implement the digital transformation together. There will be a special emphasis on the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, and we look forward to sharing our expertise in these areas.”
– Eckard Eberle, CEO of Siemens Process Automation
For companies in the pharmaceutical industry, winning the race against time is now more important than ever. The company is helping pharmaceutical companies accelerate their production setups with the help of digitalization and automation. One example is the Mainz-based biotechnology company BioNTech SE which has converted an existing facility in Marburg for the production of the Covid-19 vaccine in record time with assistance from the concern. Through collaboration and the team of experts on site in Marburg, the project timeline for converting the existing facility for the production of mRNA-vaccine was cut from around one year down to five months, whereby the implementation of key parts of the new Manufacturing Execution System (MES) was reduced to two and half months.
In the future, the digital twin can be increasingly used in vaccine development. Global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is collaborating with digitalization expert and digital transformation leader Atos to digitalize its vaccine development and production process using the digital twin. As the first application for testing, GSK, Siemens and Atos have developed a proof-of-concept digital twin specifically for the development and manufacturing of adjuvant technologies. Using mechanical models and artificial intelligence (AI), the partners developed a hybrid model to simulate and monitor the process. As such, the digital twin links the process parameters to the quality of the adjuvant, with the sensors and process analytical technology (PAT) feeding the twin with the information needed to predict the quality of the product. Any deviation from the optimal quality is anticipated and causes the twin to act on the process parameters and rectify them to satisfy the target specifications. In the next step, GSK wants to work with the company to support its vision to establish and introduce new digital twins for the entire vaccine development process for new vaccines. Thus, the digital twins of product, production and performance will be linked together.
In the chemical industry, the biggest challenges lie in the fact that plants must run reliably and safely. The “Digital Worker” is a concept that allows operating personnel to digitize and automate work in the field using state-of-the-art technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). This approach supports the user in the digitization of workflows in process plants and in paperless processing, promoting remote access thanks to electronic documentation, access information and guidance by intelligent devices. Against this backdrop, specialty chemicals company Lanxess continues to drive forward digitalization in its production plants. Over the next three years, the specialty chemicals company will introduce mobile operations and maintenance. In a first step, around 400,000 paper-based operations and maintenance checklists used every year will be replaced by digital equivalents, then filled out on tablets. Lanxess is supported by Siemens to digitize its checklists. For this, the Moby.Check software will be used, which runs on tablets and can be controlled using either the keyboard or voice commands. Moby.Check has a flexible operating concept allowing users to create production, servicing and maintenance checklists on their PC – without any programming work or training in advance. In addition to more efficient processing, the error rate of manual transmission can be reduced, and documentation simplified. The Digital Worker supports the transformation from analog to digital workflows and can also exploit the potential of the digital twin in the field. Applications based on AI contribute to higher plant availability through the early detection of anomalies. And predictive maintenance planning means that outages and routine maintenance work are avoided.
As a specific offering for the chemical and oil & gas industries, Siemens offers not only the explosion-proof motors of the Simotics XP series, but also motors of the Simotics SD series for environments without explosion hazard in the Chemstar version. They are equipped with pre-configured chemical-specific options. Both motor series, available with options, operate reliably and energy-efficiently even under extreme conditions and offer all relevant certificates.
Modularization as the key to meeting new requirements with ease
To meet the demands of short innovation cycles and adaptations to new product portfolios, systems must be quick and easy to expand. The prerequisite for this are standardized, cross-vendor interfaces for the efficient configuration, communication and integration of modular plants. An interface of this type is defined in the MTP (Module Type Package). This protocol defines the information technology aspect of process models or plant sections in such a way that they can easily be integrated into a comprehensive automation solution, for example the Simatic PCS neo web-based process control system. The modules are assembled to form an overall process, facilitating their monitoring and control. At Achema Pulse, the example of the cooperation between Siemens and Merck will demonstrate how a modular production plant based on MTP minimizes engineering effort and permits fast and versatile process adaptations.
New IIoT solutions for faster data transmission and reliable data acquisition
“As part of the digital transformation, new trends are emerging in the process industry, which we are driving with our solutions and innovations,” explains Eberle. “We regard 5G as one of the most important technologies in the industrial IoT context. It means we can transfer data quickly and reliably over powerful communication networks to exactly where it is needed. This makes production plants more flexible, autonomous and efficient.” Scalance MUM856-1 is the first industrial 5G router from Siemens.
With its wireless connectivity, the robust Sitrans MS200 Multisensor forms the hardware basis for the collection of vibration and temperature data in mechanical system components. Via a Bluetooth connection, the data is sent to the Sitrans CC220 industrial gateway where it is encrypted before being transmitted from there to the cloud. Sitrans SCM IQ has an anomaly detection feature which is based on machine learning. It constantly monitors and analyzes all sensor values and swiftly detects any deviations from the intended operating state. Via the app, anomalies in plant behavior can be documented for immediate distribution to alert a predefined group of users. The Sitrans SCM IQ system comprises multisensors, gateway and app, and can be used in all industrial plants with mechanical or rotating system components. Scheduled to be available from summer 2021, it allows previously unused data from field devices to be used for the preemptive identification and prevention of imminent device failures in advance, thus reducing maintenance costs and avoiding unplanned downtimes.
Sustainability as a guiding principle
As Eberle emphasizes: “Our offer not only meets the requirements of our customers, it also constitutes a contribution to sustainability.” Accordingly, Achema Pulse will also be offering sessions on the topics of chemical recycling and sustainability.