Passion for Timber

Our neck of the wood(s) is called success:

10-year anniversary for the Pfeifer Group in Lauterbach

On schedule for this momentous occasion the Pfeifer Group implements an ambitious investment programme at its flagship Lauterbach location. Under new Site Management 10 million Euros will be spent on the expansion of the pallet block production facility and state-of-the-art dryer technology this year. Thus, the wood-processing company from Tyrol (A) secures its role as an innovative leader and its status as an appealing employer in the Vogelsbergkreis region.

In Tyrol (A), Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony and the Czech Republic the Pfeifer Group runs a total of eight factories, employing 2,000 people and ranking among the top of European wood processors. Lauterbach in Middle Hesse is the largest fully integrated location operated by the Austrian family business – the plant took up operation on 4 May 2009. Up till today, Pfeifer has invested some 150 million Euros into the plant. Soon, a further 10 million Euros will follow.

New block presses for higher output

Nikolaus Schug, the new plant Manager in Lauterbach as of 1 January 2019, provides an outlook into the close future: “Complementing the 12 existing ones, the most significant addition are four new presses for the production of Euroblock pallet blocks. When they are put into operation, which will take place in the autumn of 2019 at the latest, we will be able to increase our production capacity by 70,000 m³ to approx. 250,000 m³ per year.” This expansion also made the acquisition of new hammer mills and the expansion of the chip transport system necessary.

The waste wood supply required for this production expansion is mainly guaranteed by the conversion of the saw mill production line from two to three shift operation which took place in 2018.

Nikolaus Schug (l.) – seit 1. Januar 2019 neuer Werksleiter in Lauterbach – und Gernot Hormeß, Geschäftsführer der Pfeifer Holz Lauterbach GmbH.

Nikolaus Schug (l.) – the new plant Manager in Lauterbach as of 1 January 2019 – and Gernot Hormeß, Managing Director of Pfeifer Holz Lauterbach GmbH are proud of how the largest fully integrated location of the Pfeifer Group has developed in the last 10 years.

Innovative dryer and energy concept

Another part of the investment programme concerns the wood drying system: In addition to the existing belt dryers a highly efficient dryer supplied by Dryer One/Belgium will be installed. This dryer requires 25% less energy. Talking about energy: In the framework of a contracting model Pfeifer is having an additional heat source installed to be able to continue covering the location’s heat demands.

10 years of success

Building the Lauterbach plant in the years 2008 and 2009 marked the largest individual investment in the history of the Pfeifer Group to date. Back then, it was furthermore regarded the largest new industrial development in Hesse in years. Its central location in the middle of Germany, its good motorway connections and the outstanding round timber availability in Hesse and its neighbouring states created the framework conditions for a success story:

Along one of the most modern high-performance saw lines in Europe and in the downstream processing units, 210 employees annually produce 600,000 m³ of cut timber, 180,000 m³ pallet blocks (250,000 m³ from autumn of 2019), 75,000 t of wood pellets and 80 million kWh of green power that is fed into the public energy grid. In typical Pfeifer fashion and commemorating our 10-year anniversary, a party will be held especially for our employees on 4 May 2019.

A processing quantity of up to 40 logs per minute (!) illustrates the dimensions of material supply.

Encompassing 50 hectares – only half of which are currently built over – the company premises still provide ample room for further expansion plans. Along one of the most modern high-performance saw lines in Europe and the downstream processing units, the Lauterbach plant annually produces 600,000 m³ of cut timber, 180,000 m³ pallet blocks, 75,000 t of wood pellets and 80 million kWh of green power.

Gernot Hormeß

Managing Director of Pfeifer Holz Lauterbach GmbH

»It’s our professed goal to process and refine the entire amount of timber logged. This allows us to create additional added value for the location. In the mid-term we will add a processing plant to the location and open up new export markets for our products.«

Partnering land and forestries

For a decade, the State of Hesse and HessenForst have appreciated Pfeifer as a large buyer of round timber and thus an entity that guarantees sustainable value creation in regional forestry. Denny Ludsteck, the Head of Round Timber Purchasing at the Lauterbach location since 2009, mentions further positive effects of this cooperation: “In this context we are talking about »wood that stays at home«. Round softwood from Hesse can stay in the region which also benefits the environment thanks to the fact that transport distances are much lower. Pfeifer is also known as a flexible and reliable partner when it comes to dealing with windthrow – some of which with devastating consequences – by quickly buying up the damaged timber that becomes available – most recently in 2018.”

Lots of room for the future

Encompassing 50 hectares – only half of which are currently built over – the company premises still provide ample room for further expansion plans. These are mainly focussed on increasing the value creation chain in further processing, Gernot Hormeß, Managing Director of Pfeifer Holz Lauterbach GmbH, explains, illustrating the company's expansion strategy:

“Wood that stays at home”: Round softwood from Hesse can stay in the region for processing which also benefits the environment thanks to the fact that transport distances are much lower.

CLT: Synergy effects in the Hessian factories

When it comes to cut timber refinement Pfeifer already relies on synergy effects with its neighbouring plant in Schlitz, some 15 km away: Amounting to an investment of 25 million Euros a new plant aimed at producing cross laminated timber or CLT is currently being built there covering six hectares.

Its immediate proximity to the Lauterbach site is a win-win situation: Serving as a sort of “lengthened work bench”, the Schlitz plant will refine cut timber supplied by the central supplier Lauterbach into CLT in the framework of an internal production network. These multi-layered, cross-laminated prefabricated system parts have been on an impressively successful streak in the international building industry for years.

The plants’ centralised location in Germany is an important factor to make sure these booming markets can be served effectively.

“In the form of CLT, the primary product cut timber achieves much higher added value. Thanks to its installation in building construction projects of all sizes the life cycle of cut timber significantly increases. This allows us to strengthen and utilise the Lauterbach plant in an even more efficient manner,” says Michael Pfeifer, the CEO of Pfeifer Holding, outlining the essential motivational factors that led to the integration of cross-laminated timber competences into the Group.

The market’s response makes him happy: “Our international customers’ feedback shows: Everybody waits for us to start.” When it comes to CLT, our plants’ centralised location in Germany, the most important market in Europe, and not far away from the core and booming markets such as Great Britain and Scandinavia, is a significant competitive advantage.

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