When WBPI arrived in Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, on our Focus on Germany tour, we found panel plant technology giant Siempelkamp in a buoyant mood.

The company had sold ten wood-based panel production plants in 2014, by the beginning of October. With this result, it had already reached the total number of orders received during the previous business year.

Significantly, Siempelkamp has also picked up business in western Europe, which has been quiet on the new mill front.

"The 2013 last quarter finished very well for us and this carried over into 2014," said Siempelkamp marketing and communications manager Ralf Griesche.

And with prospects of further contracts in the last quarter, the company is already regarding 2014 as a satisfactory year for incoming orders against a background of highly competitive markets and political uncertainty.

"There’s another quarter of the year left and we hope there are perhaps two more contracts to come in," said Mr Griesche.

The current order backlog means the Krefeld factory’s capacity utilisation is ensured well into the third quarter of 2015.

The winning of two orders this year in Western Europe includes the first large particleboard plant in the region for eight years. Germany’s Rauch Spanplattenwerk has ordered a large particleboard line featuring a 7ft x 52m ContiRoll press with a 630,000m3 annual capacity.

With German particleboard production plummeting in recent years this feels like an important move.

Rauch’s investment in a complete forming and press line includes the steel structure and installation.

The company will effectively use the production in-house for the manufacture of furniture.

"We are very positive about this – it will be the most modern and most intelligent machinery on the market," claimed Mr Griesche. Siempelkamp is currently preparing the engineering plans for the project.

The second big western European investment is an OSB line for SmartPly Europe Ltd, Ireland.

SmartPly is replacing its old multi-daylight press with a state-of-the-art OSB plant from Siempelkamp, including a forming and press line with a 9ft x 45.4m ContiRoll, as well as numerous finishing line machines. The supply includes the downstream materials handling technology, the cooling and stacking line, a high-stack storage system, as well as the cut-to-size and the packing lines.

"We believe OSB will become more and more interesting in Europe in the years to come," said Mr Griesche.

Machine assembly work will start at Krefeld next year.

Siempelkamp is also building on its relationships in Turkey, a panel market which seems to continually confound expectations with its investment in new capacity.

With Camsan Entegre and Starwood in Turkey, two long-term customers have once again decided to buy Siempelkamp products. The Krefeld company has now sold 25 plants to Turkey in the last 20 years.

"It’s an excellent market for us," said Mr Griesche. "There are times when people think this market is saturated but it is always coming up with new mills."

The first, at Camsan Entegre, is a ContiRoll 7ft x 48.7m MDF line with a 360,000m3 capacity, to serve the Turkish domestic market.

The new line at Hendek in the Marmara region of northwest Turkey will allow Camsan to manufacture boards with a size ranging from 1,830 to 2,100mm x 6,800 to 8,400mm and a thickness between 3 and 40mm.

Equipped with a Generation 8 ContiRoll press, the plant is suited for the production of high-quality HDF, which will open up new markets for the customer.

The scope of supply includes: The complete engineering; glue kitchen; Ecoresinator blending system for MDF; dryer and energy plant by Büttner; separator; and the forming and press line, as well as the complete finishing line with double-diagonal saw, cooling and stacking line, sander, cut-to-size line and storage system.

Siempelkamp’s control technology system Prod-IQ is responsible for the quality control.

The other new Turkish order is from Starwood Orman Ürünleri San AS, which is expanding its MDF production with a new MDF/ HDF plant also suited to the manufacture of lightweight boards.

The order was signed at this year’s Intermob exhibition in Turkey and represents Starwood’s fourth contract with Siempelkamp.

The 340,000m3 plant is equipped with a forming and press line – a 7ft x 55.3m Generation 8 ContiRoll press, a dryer, separator, glue kitchen and Ecoresinator. The scope of supply also includes the complete finishing line, with a cooling and stacking system as well as an intermediate storage system, and the entire plant automation.

"They are building a lot of houses in Turkey and there are a lot of young people there, with a population of nearly 80 million," added Mr Griesche. "They definitely need furniture and HDF/MDF, also for flooring."

"We do not think there is so much potential in the Chinese market," said Mr Griesche. "The boom seems to be over and everybody is looking to see what is going to happen in the future. But we have sold one big plant there this year, to Luoding Luyuan Wood Based Panel Co Ltd."

The 8ft x 25.4m line will have a 230,000m3 capacity for thin MDF/HDF. It will be Luyuan’s fourth plant and is scheduled to be installed by the end of 2015.

Siempelkamp has received three important orders from other Asian markets in 2014.

An MDF plant for the Vietnam Rubber Group, Vietnam, will utilise rubberwood as the raw material, while a further plant for thin MDF has been ordered by Kien Giang Vietnam.

The latter is a 4ft x 33.8m line with a Dragon press from Siempelkamp’s Chinese factory and 100,000m3 annual capacity.

Siempelkamp has also picked up a new order in Bangladesh from the Akij Group for a particleboard line with a capacity of 260,000m3. Assembly work will begin at Krefeld next year, with the plant probably starting up in 2016. Siempelkamp promises the plant will be one of the most advanced in the world.

It will supply all components, ranging from the chipper infeed to the 8ft x 23.8m Generation 8 ContiRoll and fully automatic sanding and cut-tosize line, as well as the entire materials handling technology, Ecoresinator blending system for the particleboard core layer, as well as optimised control of the pneumatic conveyors to ensure reduced raw material use and maximum energy efficiency.

For South America, Siempelkamp will supply two more panel plants from 2013 orders (Guararapes and Berneck, both Brazil). One important customer in Brazil, Fibraplac, ordered a complete particleboard line this year, comprising a 9ft x 38.7m ContiRoll press with a 325,000m3 annual capacity.

"The market is slowing down," said Mr Griesche. "But we expect it [to be] back by mid- 2015."

Despite the regional conflict in Ukraine, and Russia’s political wrangling with the west, Siempelkamp says it is very successful in that market.

The latest order came from Ugra Plit, to build a complete OSB line in Sovetskiy in the Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous region, with an 8.5ft x 28.8m ContiRoll press with a capacity of 200,000m3 per year.

Another Siempelkamp line for the manufacture of particleboard – including a Generation 8 ContiRoll 6ft x 18.8m press – will be supplied to Plitspichprom (Sojus Group) in Russia, with a 150,000m3 annual capacity.

This order represents another success for Siempelkamp in the very competitive Russian market for wood based materials. The company has installed and started up six new lines in Russia and White Russia in 2014.

"The North American market may be coming up more and more. We already see the number of refurbishments going up and we expect in the years to come that some of the old plants should be renewed totally," said Mr Griesche.

With the next Ligna exhibition just around the corner, it is not surprising that Siempelkamp is quiet about new technology announcements.

"But we are working hard at finding ways to make resource savings for customers. Saving glue, energy and wood raw materials is very interesting for customers at the moment and cuts costs for companies."