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German company Sandler grows, uses experience to produce nonwovens

05 Apr '21
4 min read
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock

Despite the pandemic, Sandler continued growth in 2020, adding additional capacity for producing nonwovens for face masks and respirators. The nonwovens manufacturer saw an increase in sales from 322 to 328 million euros, and used decades of experience in filtration to produce nonwovens for face masks, utilising as much capacity as possible.

The company added 60 new staff members. The Sandler team grew to 940, including 19 apprentices who started their professional careers in 2020. The first phase of the pandemic saw supply shortages regarding protective masks “In April, we therefore decided without further ado to invest in a new production line for nonwovens for face masks,” CEO Dr. Christian Heinrich Sandler remembers. In record time, the new line was set up at the company’s headquarters in Schwarzenbach/Saale (Bavaria). Production started in August 2020 and by September, the nonwovens line was running 24/7.

In May 2020, Sandler became one of the founding members of the Mask-Alliance Bavaria. The company has since been applying its competence in this organisation, which set up a fully Bavarian value chain, manufacturing these medical products for use in fighting the coronavirus.

The pandemic also rapidly changed Sandler’s markets. In the automotive industry and furniture production orders declined in the second quarter 2020, while demand in other segments, such as nonwovens for disinfection wipes or personal protective equipment, increased. At the same time, Sandler substantially invested in the modernisation of workplaces and factory buildings. Sandler continued to expand all of its market segments, including construction and hygiene products, and sound-absorbing materials for interior acoustics.

The pandemic gave rise to further challenges - at Sandler Nonwoven Corporation in Perry, Georgia, US, a new production line was set up inside a new building constructed specifically for this purpose. Advancing the strategic expansion of the US site, specialists from headquarters regularly travel to Perry to contribute to the installation of the new line. Corona-related travel restrictions imposed by the US government delayed the on-site support, but the US team steadily continued the assembly. Since late 2020, the German experts have been able to join their colleagues and apply their competences again. In late December, first trial runs of the new production line were conducted; commissioning is now in its final stages.

In addition to concerns about maintaining supply chains, 2020 was characterised by significant fluctuations in raw material prices and freight costs. Sandler believes the cooperation and team spirit within the Sandler staff are the reasons why the company was able to successfully navigate this tense situation. In all areas of the company, staff members working in divisions affected by declines in orders determinedly took on new tasks to assist their colleagues in segments where demand was increasing rapidly.

Sandler uses various natural and recycled raw materials in the production of both durable technical nonwovens and materials for disposable hygiene products. In cooperation with customers and suppliers the company ascertained which fibres are suitable for nonwovens production, for example pineapple, flax, bamboo, or corn. In April 2020, these innovations were at the centre of the “green month” on the company’s social media channels. Every week, Sandler introduced an alternative fibre. In addition, the campaign was linked to a fundraiser. For every shared post Sandler donated one Euro to an organisation that used the sum collected to plant 500 trees. Advancing its sustainability agenda, Sandler consistently pursues the goal of further reducing the ecological footprint in the manufacture of its products.

Growth and innovation continue to be Sandler’s predominant focus in 2021. “Building on the experiences and knowledge gained from the crisis year 2020, the Sandler team is excellently equipped to achieve these goals,” concludes Sandler.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (SV)

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