Safe operations in extreme conditions

A few years ago, Stefan Ladenburger took over as Managing Partner of Holzwerke Ladenburger (Ladenburger Timber Works), representing the third generation of this family business. It is a big responsibility: Ladenburger has a total capacity of over 500,000 m3 and 500 to 600 employees at five sites in Germany, making it one of Europe’s leading wood processing and refinement companies. For Mr Ladenburger, it was important to further develop the company through innovation. Therefore two years ago the company invested over 40 million euros in a state-of-the-art sawmill in Kerkingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

How do you approach your role as manager of the family business?
“I view Holzwerke Ladenburger as an extremely innovative company. A great deal was achieved in the 1980s and I want to build on that. The new sawmill, which was commissioned in 2008, was an important step forward.”

Tell us some more about the new plant.
“The technology of the old sawmill was 20 years old and had reached its maximum capacity. Due to increased demand, the plants were being operated way above the originally configured capacity. Repairs were increasing and the plant was worn out. The new sawmill not only has a higher capacity of up to one million m3, but also offers much greater added value, which is extremely important given current market conditions, such as the scarcity of resources.”

Can you give us concrete examples of this added value?
“Our product portfolio is extremely wide-ranging compared with many of our competitors. We supply all types of customers, from small carpenters to the production industry and the timber trade. Everything has a value: the bark for bioenergy and gardening, sawn timber which is further refined to products for use in design, boards for the wooden pallet industry, wood chips for paper manufacturing and sawdust for the pellets industry. With the new plant, we get a lot more from the wood – with greater efficiency.”

What was particularly important when planning the plant?
“In the wood processing industry as in any other industry, with major investments of this type, the machines used must be as reliable as possible. Even the slightest machine failure can have critical results. A downtime of only one minute can mean that up to 30 fewer logs are processed. It is therefore very important to avoid repairs and downtime.”

What is the role of Nord-Lock in the new plant?
“Nord-Lock maximises the security of bolted connections that are subject to vibrations and dynamic loads. In a sawmill, the machines are subjected to extremely harsh operating conditions, with several tonnes of wood running through the plants every minute. For me, the safety of employees, and of machines, is therefore of vital importance. Nord-Lock is integrated in the units for securing motors and in numerous other vital bolt connections. In the operative life cycle, this ensures quick mounting and removal, a high degree of operational reliability, low maintenance costs and a significant reduction in the risk of failures. Further advantages include the re-use of Nord-Lock washers and on-site technical support.”

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