Notable among its orders from this country is the fifth order in five years which the Austrian-based company received in July 2006 from Yangdong Luyuan Wood Based Panelboards in Guangdong in the far south of China. Scope of supply includes a woodyard, chip washing system and a pressurised refining system with a capacity of 600 tonnes per day. It will be equipped with a 60in-1CP refiner and is scheduled to go into production in the third quarter of 2007. Also, in March of this year, the Shenyang Heavy Machinery Group of Lioaning ordered a second 49in-1CP pressurised refining system with a 288 tonne per day capacity.
Back in Europe, Fiberboard GmbH, a member of the Classen Group of Germany, has signed a contract for the supply of a fibre preparation system for its new MDF mill in Baruth in the east of Germany. This line is due to start up in June 2007 and Andritz will supply the chip washing and pressurised refining system. In Spain, Unopan Tableros de Fibras of Burgos has a new MDF factory under preparation and has ordered a woodyard from Andritz. This will comprise debarking, chipping, chip handling, storage and screening equipment as well as a chip cleaning system and pressurised refining system with a 60in-1CP refiner. Start-up is scheduled for the third quarter of 2007. These are the major orders received to September 2006, which has also been a busy year for start-ups and final acceptances for contracts received in the recent past.
However, Egger’s plant in Wismar in the north of Germany illustrates the fact that Andritz is not solely reliant on new-build mills for its income. In January 2006, it received the final acceptance from Egger for an upgrade of its pressurised refining system. This was completed in five days and included a new 60in-1CP refiner and also replacement of the existing 20in plug screw feeder with a new 24in unit. Similarly, Pfleiderer Holzwerkstoffe International’s Baruth (formerly Kunz) MDF line had a complete system upgrade to a capacity in excess of 1,320 tonnes/day. The existing 24in plug screw feeder was replaced with a 26in one; and the vertical digester and discharger were exchanged. The originally installed refiner was a 70in diameter one and had spare capacity so Andritz optimised and upgraded the whole system, which still has spare capacity for future growth. This is currently the largest single-stage pressurised refining system in the MDF industry, says Andritz.
Turkey has been a main focus for new MDF mills in recent times, and a growth market for Andritz, with five pressurised refining systems supplied in recent years. In June 2006, Yildiz Sunta MDF of Izmit started up. It has an S2064M refiner, the largest in Turkey, with a 24in plug screw feeder. Other lines started up end-2005/early 2006 included Kronospan Egorievsk and Hubei Baoyuan Group. "We are the market leader for high-capacity pressurised refining systems for the MDF industry," said Michael Rupp, Andritz’s general manager for sales and marketing for Panelboard Systems. Wood is not the only material used in MDF production and annual plant fibres may well become more common. "We have new ideas and processes available for bagasse (sugar cane waste) and other annual plants," said Mr Rupp. The Andritz group also offers tailor-made refiner plates to meet individual customer requirements, he added.
As well as systems for large MDF factories, Andritz also produces laboratory-size equipment and in summer 2006 supplied a 12in refiner system to IHD Dresden, Germany, a well-known research institute for the wood products industry. Andritz’s head office for products for the MDF industry is on the outskirts of Austria’s capital Vienna and its main manufacturing base for refining systems is in Graz, where the Andritz group’s headquarters are also based. The group also has around 35 workshops and over 100 subsidiary companies, serving the pulp, paper and MDF industries, worldwide. In Finland there is another subsidiary, Andritz Oy, specialising in the equipment for the woodyard including debarkers, chippers, chip storage and screening and handling systems. Although wood is a very important part of Andritz’s overall market, the paper industry is also a big consumer of its refining technology – and its tissue paper machines. In addition to the complete product range for pulp production, the company is also a supplier of systems for the treatment and processing of stainless and carbon steel products, solid/liquid separation, animal feed processing technology, wood pelleting equipment and water turbines and pumps.
This last area saw significant expansion in 2006 with the purchase of VA-Tech Hydro, one of the world’s leading suppliers of electro-mechanical equipment for hydro-power plants. For the Andritz Panelboard department, the market remains strong and reflects the shifting nature of the geographical development of that industry in recent years: yesterday (and probably tomorrow) China; today Turkey, South America and western Europe. For the future, MDF production capacity seems certain to be growing, somewhere in the world.