2018 Nonwovens Sales: $450 mllion
Jörg Ortmeier, CEO; Ralf Berens, CCO; Alexander Wansel, COO
Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, China
Air through bonded, chemical bonded, needlepunched, hydroentangled, airlaid
Hygiene, automotives, building, living, filtration, healthcare, cleaning
Despite a tough year marked with increased competition, higher raw material prices and weaker demand due to uncertainties and international trade conflicts, TWE Group was able to keep sales flat at $450 million in 2018. According to CCO Ralf Berens, the company continues to see strong growth in the U.S. automotives market as well as in the hygiene and construction industries globally.
Representing about one-third of the company’s overall sales, hygiene continues to benefit from TWE’s advanced air-through bonding technology which was acquired through the purchase of Libeltex in 2012 and included sites in France, Sweden and Belgium.
“With a global presence and production in multiple countries and a continuing innovative approach, I think that TWE is still rightfully considered as the market leader in the field of acquisition and distribution layer,” Berens says.
In the third quarter of 2019, TWE’s latest air through bonded line came onstream at its site in Meulebeke, Belgium, as planned, not only adding capacity but also improving products. “The new line is also state of the art and is therefore helping us to stay competitive and with high quality products,” Berens says.
In recent years, TWE has benefitted from developments in absorbent core technology. Its Amphibia product is a three-layer material made ideally with no pulp but high performing superabsorbent polymers creating a core fused to an ADL. Amphibia combines an ADL with the absorbing all-in-one core, allowing the diaper to be extremely thin while offering super performance in absorbency, rewetting and distribution of the liquid. It does not require additional adhesive, cutting or another layer.
In response to increasing demand for supersoft products in the hygiene market, TWE has introduced the Velo range. Described as an ultra premium product for coversheet applications in the hygiene market, Velo offers low friction and ultra softness and was made using carded technology. These soft materials are able to be manufactured extremely efficiently on TWE’s aforementioned new line in Meulebeke.
After hygiene, automotives is TWE’s second largest market and it is particularly strong in the U.S. thanks to the acquisition of Vita Nonwovens in 2015. This purchase included manufacturing sites in High Point, NC, Waco, TX and Fort Wayne, IN. While this market has been suffering since the last quarter of 2018, increased efforts on innovation have allowed TWE to offer its customers new products lines, which have compensated for losses in traditional markets.
This focus on innovation will be aided by the completion of a new needlepunch line that has just started supplying customers this summer. The state-of-the-art line will focus primarily on exterior automotive applications thanks to its ability to make competitive, high quality products for the automotives market. The investment also includes a new building for additional product machinery as well as for storage.
Beyond hygiene and automotives, TWE is present in markets like filtration, cleaning, medical and construction and has seen particularly nice growth in the building market where its acoustics products are performing well. In many of these markets, TWE is responding to a need for more sustainable products. In April, the company introduced a full range of sustainable products featuring alternative raw materials like hemp, kenaf and cotton.