Sustainability, energy scouts, Industry 4.0, the SPD labor market policy and TTIP – Sigmar Gabriel, Vice Chancellor and German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, discussed these subjects and others with the employees and company management during his visit to ebm-papst in Mulfingen. Rezzo Schlauch, a former member of the Bundestag, recommended that ebm-papst invite Gabriel to see the southern German company – which is a stellar example in the areas of energy efficiency and innovation – for himself. Rainer Hundsdörfer, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ebm-papst Group, said: “It is good and important for federal-level politicians to personally inform themselves of the state of the economy. We were able to speak with Sigmar Gabriel on many subjects that are significant to us today. He saw that we appreciate Germany as a location and want to develop further here – and now knows what politicians can do to support us.” During a tour of the manufacturing halls for energy-efficient fans for refrigeration and air conditioning systems in the Mulfingen-Hollenbach plant, the group addressed current economic policy subjects at specially erected discussion points. World market leader ebm-papst loses annual revenues of around €150 to €200 million to Asian product piracy. Hundsdörfer pointed out that the company is protecting itself with a high rate of innovation and systematic criminal prosecution in the region. Apprentice Eva-Maria Wolfart, who will be away on a tour of the US this summer, presented the Energy Scouts project to the vice chancellor. ebm-papst initiated the project in 2010 and 53 chambers of industry and commerce now apply it. Thanks to the program, over 1,500 young apprentices have been assessing the potential energy savings in their companies since then. At ebm-papst alone, they have saved around €1 million in energy costs. The project has received multiple awards and was presented to the United Nations Environment Program in New York City last summer. Hans Peter Fuchs, Head of Finance and Controlling, emphasized the company's commitment to investment in Germany, supporting his claim with current key company figures. The fan specialist is currently investing over €100 million to expand its research & development, logistics and administration capacity – €80 million of which is earmarked for the Mulfingen location. It is important for the national government to invest more in developing and modernizing the region's infrastructure. An expanded road network and improved connection to a higher-speed Internet – which remains inadequate in the rural areas – are required. These are the key factors for guaranteeing the real-time data transfer required for implementing Industry 4.0. ebm-papst started intensively working to interconnect its production units as early as 2009. Alexander Frank, Head of Process Development, demonstrated the digitalization of production at a manufacturing island for fans. In a speech to around 200 manufacturing facility employees, the federal minister talked about the key role of foreign trade for German companies and the qualification of skilled specialists. He also explained how the federal government is already supporting energy efficiency in the building management sector. German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel noted: “Today, yet another company has been able to convince me that it understands how to develop high-quality, sustainable, and above all, energy-efficient products, and maintain its market leadership in the face of strong international competition. ebm-papst not only achieves this with innovative ideas, but also with the successful digitalization of its manufacturing processes. The company's idea of using its apprentices as energy scouts is also very progressive."