The growth in production volumes of particleboard and MDF in Turkey in recent years has been staggering – and it is still continuing, with new lines under construction and the machinery for others yet to be delivered.
In mid-February, I visited four factories around the country to see for myself the state-of-the-art facilities that some of the major producers are installing for both raw board and value-adding. Their stories unfold in the following pages.
To talk simply of particleboard and MDF raw board production would certainly completely miss the point. The value-adding facilities at each factory I visited were comprehensive and, in some cases, highly innovative.
The word ‘Entegre’ features strongly in at least two of the company names – Kastamonu Entegre and Yildiz Entegre – and that word translates well into English as ‘integrated’. Few other words could sum up as succinctly the approach of these and other Turkish companies to the panel market.
They are all integrated from the arrival of the wood raw material, through the manufacture of resins, to the production of panels, the impregnation of the decor papers, to the lamination of the boards.
In the case of Yildiz Entegre, a producer of thick MDF, further integration involves the production of moulded solid MDF doors and it will soon take delivery of a moulded doorskin production line.
A more basic form of integration can be seen where most manufacturers have added particleboard to their original MDF production, or vice versa, to integrate the range they offer to their customers.
Perhaps the strangest thing about the Turkish panel industry’s dramatic growth is the fact that the country is not well-endowed with forests to supply its wood needs. This means that much of the required raw material is imported, either as logs or as chips.
Machinery supplies
Something that is very noticeable as one visits the different panel making companies in Turkey is immense product loyalty in their choices of machinery for their production lines.
If it performs successfully for one panel maker, there seems little chance that a subsequent investment – by that company or its competitors – will not employ the same machine manufacturer again. And that applies ‘across the board’, from the woodyard to the value-added product.
German size reduction machinery maker Pallmann of Zweibrücken has supplied virtually all the panel mills in Turkey, and certainly all the many recent continuous line projects, with its chippers, flakers and MDF fibre refiners. It has also supplied its fully-automated knife sharpening systems to all the new mills, together with knife ring washing machines.
Similarly, Siempelkamp has supplied almost all the recent continuous presses (the only exception being Kastamonu Entegre’s Gebze mill, which is extending its Küsters (Metso Contipress) continuous line).
Other suppliers involved with all the new projects are Imal and Pal of Italy, Steinemann of Switzerland and GreCon and Wemhöner of Germany.
All through one supplier
There is a connection between all these suppliers and that is a German-headquartered company called GIM-Export, based in Göttingen and owned by Michael Krocker.
GIM-Export imports and exports goods for the wood panel industry from flake and fibre preparation equipment from Pallmann to production presses from Siempelkamp and everything including the value adding machinery.
The company also supplies value adding ‘consumables’ such as decorative papers, foils and press plates for short-cycle presses. Established in 1979, GIM-Export today has 10 employees in its branch in Istanbul, which has good business relationships with all the Turkish panel manufacturers.