2011 Nonwovens Sales: $311 million
Key Personnel: Christian Heinrich Sandler, CEO; Dipl. Ingenieur (FH) Wolfgang Höflich and Ulrich Hornfeck, members of the management board
Plants: Schwarenbach/Saale, Germany
Processes: Carded, waddings and drylaid nonwovens, thermally bonded, mechanically bonded, meltblown, thermofused, needlepunched, air-through bonded, spunlaced, hotmelt and thermal lamination, coating and flexoprinting, embossing and aperturing, composites
Brands: Sawafill, Sawabond, Sawaloom, Sawavlies, Sawaloft, Sawaflor, Sawatex, Sawascreen, Sawagrow, Sandler Sports, Sawacomp, Sawaflock, Sawaform, Sawalux, Sawaflex, Sawasoft, Sawasorb, Sawatec, Sandler Fibercomfort, Sandler Fiberskin, Sandler Unico, Sawadur, Sawadry, Sandler White Lace, Sandler Silver Lace, Sawatex Mariquita, Sawatex Oresettino, Sawatex Sea Dwellers, Bio Textile by Sandler
Major Markets: Nonwovens for hygiene, medical, wipes (baby, cosmetic, technical, oil), automotive, filtration, technical nonwovens (civil engineering, technical insulation, environmental nonwovens) and home textiles
Reporting a whopping 18% sales gain in 2011 was German nonwovens producer Sandler, which credits the past couple of year’s growth to its presence in a diverse number of markets. Other factors contributing to this success include increasing export levels and a focus on new product development.
In investment news, Sandler continues to benefit from the addition of its third spunlace line at its Schwarzenbach/Saale headquarters, its sole manufacturing site, which allows the company to penetrate markets for spunlace beyond wipes applications. The new line, which came on-stream in mid-2011, was part of a €40 million investment that also included a building to house the new line. In addition to adding capacity, the new line has allowed Sandler to diversify its spunlace output.
Currently, the majority of Sandler’s spunlace output is going into wipes, a market being described as stable, but new business opportunities are coming from areas like hygiene and technical applications. “Specifically, we use our spunlace products in various applications and we are getting more and more successful,” says Ulrich Hornfeck, member of the management board. “Our special spunlace technology is great in industrial and household cleaning processes and also technical uses. Some of these applications are new to nonwovens and some substitute for other types of nonwovens.”
“Wipes continues to be an important market for us but it is certainly not the only one,” Hornfeck notes. “We are also working in hygiene and technical applications, which have helped us increase sales opportunities.” Beyond spunlace, Sandler offers a broad spectrum of technologies, including carded, drylaid, thermal bonded, meltblown and needlepunch with which it targets a broad range of disposable and technical markets. “We try to find the right balance between hygiene and technical. It is surely not easy but we work hard to be experts in nonwovens, not only on the technology, but on the product side. Our reputation for know-how and high-quality products allows us to develop cross-functionally, utilizing diverse technologies for a wide range of different products and seeing more synergies between the many markets we serve.”
Sandler has the largest fiber-based nonwoven production location in Europe and was again able to generate growth in all of its market segments. Countries such as China and India in particular show high growth rates for nonwovens in technical applications, especially filtration and automotive. Sandler is currently expanding its business in these markets.
One area where Sandler has seen recent success has been in the vacuum cleaner bag segment, where nonwoven filter media can offer advantages, including higher suction power and better tear and moisture resistance than traditional paper bags. All of Sandler’s materials, which combine several types of nonwovens, are certified according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100. These synthetic materials are therefore entirely safe, even for the youngest family members. Sandler media also cover the HEPA filter grades H10 and H11—offering even more protection, allowing people with allergies to breathe easy.
Sandler’s latest development in the field of synthetic vacuum cleaner bags uses PLA, a polymer based on lactic acid that is made of renewable resources, such as corn. This material features a similar performance to other high-quality synthetics and its quick drying also makes it ideally suited for application in the vacuum cleaner bag market. At the end of the product lifecycle, the advantages of a natural raw material become most apparent: PLA-based media are compostable and can be recycled using established processes.
The use of PLA is just one example of the many ways that Sandler is focusing on sustainability in both its products and its processes. In the wipes segment, Sandler’s bio textile uses certified viscose fibers and throughout its whole business, the company employs a “Less is Best to Nature” philosophy. Started in 2008, this initiative has led to lower basis weights and an increased use of recycled fibers. Hornfeck says efforts here will continue to change Sandler’s business.
“Whether it’s in the process, the product or the raw material, we try to bring those green ideas to the market in a reasonable way,” he says. “Sustainability is not only focused on green but also on the long-term partnership and the perspective of the end users and the resources we use.”
Another important growth market for Sandler is in the automotive sector. The company offers several products for the engine compartment, providing sound absorbency, water repellency, oil repellence and heat stability, which Hornfeck describes as “interesting new fields of development of nonwovens.”
“Highest level in quality, service, reliability and flexibility are Sandler’s main targets, which we systematically follow in the long run,” says Hornfeck. “We will continue investing in our production facilities to keep expanding our business and tapping into new markets and new applications.”