Techtextil Talk: Dr Ulrich Hornfeck, Sandler AG
They cut noise levels in cars, filter the air in offices and help maintain a high level of hygiene in households and hospitals – nonwovens are used in almost all areas of life. We spoke with Ulrich Hornfeck of Sandler AG, one of the leading nonwovens manufacturers, about new markets and product innovations.
The world economy is in a state of flux. Markets are redefining themselves and introducing new rules and regulations. How well is your company prepared to meet these new challenges?
As a family-run company – something that is becoming increasingly rare in our dynamic and global nonwovens sector – we continue to bank on organic growth. At our works in Schwarzenbach, we have brought together an unrivalled spectrum of production technologies and a multi-faceted product programme. Last year, we invested € 48 million in strengthening and expanding our centre of expertise for the production of nonwoven rolled and sheet goods. And, with the signing of an agreement for a new nonwovens factory in the USA, we laid a milestone in the history of our company. Now, with the Sandler Nonwoven Corporation, we have direct access to the North American market and continue to rely on the continuation of the well-established transatlantic partnership between the United States of America and Germany. Naturally, we anticipate shifts in the markets. However, technical textiles are a growing global market that offers a wide range of chances and opportunities for our sector.
Which product-development strategies are you pursuing? Which steps are particularly important?
The nonwovens industry is a driving force for trends. We help our customers to enter new markets and expand existing ones. Our development expertise is based on a close working relationship with our customers, as well as our raw-material and machinery suppliers, universities and research centres.
Increasing urbanisation, rising energy consumption, increasing environmental issues and resource shortages are among the most important challenges confronting our company. Moreover, we must face up to the challenge posed by the ever-higher degree of product digitalisation.
Homogenous, recyclable and lightweight nonwovens are key elements for excellent room acoustics; used as sound absorbers, they help ensure peaceful and relaxed motoring; and, as thermal insulation, they contribute to the best possible energy balance. Efficient filter media play a vital role in ensuring a clean environment. Moreover, in combination with other materials, e.g., as composites, nonwovens create new areas of application for our industry. Sandwich materials for lightweight components profit from a unique combination of the properties of the nonwoven textile material and plastic.
What are your expectations on this year’s Techtextil and Texprocess fairs? Who or what do you want to reach? What information and ideas do you hope to take away with you?
As always, we will present our multifarious range of products in the fields of transportation, filtration and building / room acoustics. We are looking forward to many interesting discussions along the value chain and to an exchange of information about the latest ideas and trends in the industry. An important aspect is the intensification of existing business connections and building-up new partnerships.