Blue Competence Initiative European Machine Tool Makers Adopt German Sustainability Initiative

Author / Editor: Eric Culp / Jürgen Schreier

All of Europe’s national machine tool associations have agreed “in principle” to adopt the Blue Competence initiative for sustainability, Martin Kapp, president of CECIMO, Europe’s association of the machine tool industries, announced last week at the METAV metalworking show in Dusseldorf.The plan could provide mould makers seeking to increase their levels of efficiency and production sustainability a source of equipment produced under such guidelines.

Martin Kapp, President of CECIMO (right) and Filip Geerts, CECIMO Director General.
Martin Kapp, President of CECIMO (right) and Filip Geerts, CECIMO Director General.

Kapp said that CECIMO has elevated the initiative, first introduced in 2010 by the German machine tool manufacturing association VDW, to the European level as a proactive measure against possible EU sustainability guidelines. “Our goal is to avoid any regulation that might inhibit development,” he explained. Kapp went on to suggest that an industry-driven solution could not only help circumvent intrusive government rules, but also provide machine tool makers with the “flexibility to react to the market.”

CECIMO said that participants in the initiative “commit themselves to optimize the use of energy and other resources to enable faster, better and higher-quality manufacturing in end-user industries.”

Blue Competence may also boost the bottom line, CECIMO director general Filip Geerts said, adding, “Sustainability has become a significant competitive factor.” To join the programme, companies will have to pay an annual fee of €2,000. In Germany, more than 130 firms have already signed up for the programme.

Kapp, who is also the managing director of the Kapp Group and chairman of the VDW, said the decision of national associations to adopt a pan-European solution is a major breakthrough. “The machine tool industry is the first mechanical engineering sector to embark on a broad-based campaign on sustainability at the European level.” Kapp pointed out that companies who meet the requirements of the Blue Competence machine tool initiative will be able to mark their machines with the Blue Competence logo, indicating their adherence to the programme’s guidelines and so differentiating their products in global markets.

A number of machine tool producers see a need for the initiative, to meet the demands of downstream manufacturers. “Are these arguments that consumers are focusing on?” asked Martti Juhani Vesa, product manager at Finn-Power Oy. “I’d say yes.” Willi Nef, head of sales at Tornos S.A., said the project represents “a mindset shift in the machine tool industry and beyond.”

Cecimo said that participating national associations will administer the programme. Companies in countries without a national association can register directly through CECIMO. To become a Blue Competence “partner,” manufacturing companies producing machines or subsystems for working metal and related materials must carry out two of the three main activities—design, production and assembly, and sales—in Europe. Companies are also required to commit to fulfilling specific sustainability criteria on both business and technical levels. The guidelines are available online at

The initiative is based on a self-declaration principle, CECIMO said. Partner companies select the preconditions they meet and are scored on the answers. National associations and CECIMO are empowered to request documentation specific to those claims. They can also perform on-site inspections following prior notification.

For further information:

CECIMO–European Association of the Machine Tool Industries

Brussels, Belgium