2016 Nonwovens Sales: $725 million (estimated)
Enno Henze, senior vice president and general manager, engineered products; Patti Rizzo, director of sales and marketing, nonwovens Americas; Stefan Mohr, director of sales and marketing, EMEA/APAC; Martin Kleinebrecht, marketing and portfolio management leader nonwovens, EMEA/APAC; Brian Sapp, director of global fibers; Christian Hassmann, global filtration and separation business leader.
Tucson, AZ; Defiance, OH; Waterville, OH; Richland, MS; Spartanburg, SC; Etowah, TN; Cleburne, TX; Bobingen, Berlin, Wertheim, Karlstein, Steinach, Germany; Shanghai, Louyang, China; Trnava, Slovakia
Dura-Glass, Delta-Aire, DynaWeb, Micro-Aire; Evalith (EU nonwoven brand); ThermoFlow, MultiStar, DuraCore, MicroStrand (fibers brands)
It’s been two years since Johns Manville’s latest line investment—the company’s 14th—a bicomponent spunmelt line featuring proprietary spinning technology—located in Berlin, Germany. Since then, the Denver, CO-based, Berkshire-Hathaway-owned company has been focusing on enhancements to its existing lines. New investments have been able to expand JM’s role in the filtration market and expand its offerings in its core market, roofing and construction.
“The new line in Berlin has specialized know-how and is flexible in fiber sizes,” says Martin Kleinbrecht, marketing and portfolio management leader for nonwovens. “This allows us to offer a big variety of multilayer products and we are now offering complete filter media, not just the carrier to the filter media.”
Featuring a spunbond back topped with spin glass layer, this filter technology requires no electrostatic charge and has found substantial success in the HVAC market.
All of JM’s spunmelt lines are based on the company’s heritage Hoechst technology, and the latest spinning technology is the latest offering by JM, which entered the filtration market about 20 years ago as a way to diversify beyond construction.
Elsewhere in Germany, JM has a pilot line in Bobingen as well as several nonwovens production lines in Wertheim. In 2014, the company enhanced an existing glass mat line in Wertheim to address the increasing needs and demands of local customers and markets.
In fact, line upgrades are central to JM’s growth strategy and the company routinely debottlenecks lines to increase capacity and add new capabilities to them to enhance its business. This not only allows JM to continue to grow while keeping its risk to a minimum, it also helps it expand into new areas.
“There are lots of ways to be flexible—changing the raw material or add a new binder system,” Kleinebrecht says. “This allows us to operate in some nice niche areas where we can fulfill market requirements. Our customers give guarantees for their roofs and our products need to measure up.”
JM has traditionally operated two plants in China—one in Shanghai and the other in Luyong—but infrastructure challenges have forced Johns Manville to move its spunbond equipment located in Shanghai to Lyuong in May.
Looking to the U.S., JM operates three spunbond lines featuring the same Hoecst AG technology it purchased in the 1970s, at its facility in Spartanburg, SC. These lines primarily target roofing applications but have some business in filtration and geotextiles.
According to JM, the North American roofing and construction market continues to experience slow and steady growth while the European market continues to vary by country. “Parts of Spain and Portugal continue to be challenging but if you take them out of the results, the recover is stronger,” Kleinebrecht says. “Eastern Europe is seeing good development and Germany is booming.”
As a global supplier of nonwoven materials, JM has set up its business to quickly adapt to the changing market conditions around the globe. As market conditions change regionally, JM is able to shift its products between sites.
“Because we are a global business, we routinely transfer grades of our products between our sites,” Kleinebrecht says. “For example we were sold out in Europe so we were trying to move product from around the world.”
And, the European business will surely benefit from an upgrade to a Wertheim glass nonwoven mat line, scheduled for this month. The line, which was built in the 1970s, will be able to produce products with smoother surfaces, opening up doors in specialty markets. Other improvements include faster runtimes and increased capacity.
“It is not so much completely new technology, but it adds capacity and gives us new product features,” Kleinebrecht says.