In the Oerlikon Manmade Fibers Segment, sustainability stands as a fundamental principle in all dealings with customers and its own employees. With the Oerlikon Barmag and Oerlikon Neumag brands, the company is a global market leader in the field of filament spinning machines for manmade fibres, texturing machines, and BCF, staple fibre spinning and nonwoven systems. In this interview, André Wissenberg, Vice President Marketing, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, describes the multitude of aspects under which the Oerlikon Manmade Fibers Segment develops future-oriented products and applications.
How significant is the issue of sustainability to the corporate culture of the Oerlikon Manmade Fibers Segment?
Sustainability has always played an important role in the Oerlikon Manmade Fibers Segment. The development of new products and customer solutions, as well as the production, manufacture, assembly, and sales and service performed by our 2,500 employees around the globe have always been bound by the requirement to save resources and protect employees. This is why we launched, among other things, our ´e-save´ programme in 2004, which we have consistently expanded through other ´Health, Safety and Environment´ initiatives over the years.
Which advantages do your own employees gain from the company identifying itself as sustainable?
Sustainability relates to three areas: economy, environment, society. We are constantly making improvements for our customers and in particular for our employees in all three of these areas. In production, for example, in recent years we have improved processes where appropriate in all production facilities as part of the company-wide Oerlikon Operational Excellence programme.
In Remscheid, the newly developed One-Piece Flow Concept has been implemented for the new WINGS POY 1800 production line and for the production of the traverse beams. This has not only allowed us to increase production capacity by 15 per cent, it has also brought ergonomic benefits for the assembly workers. And it has been possible to reduce energy consumption. We then use such experience at our other German sites, and international sites in China, India and the USA. We are also very active as far as health and safety is concerned. Our employees are able to benefit from age-appropriate workstation optimisation and the redesign of break rooms, to the food on offer in the canteen.
What financial and human resources does the Oerlikon Manmade Fibers Segment have at its disposal for research and development?
The entire Oerlikon Group is constantly investing in innovations to strengthen its leading technological position. Compared to the previous year, expenditure on Research and Development (R&D) in 2014 rose by 19.8 per cent to CHF 121 million, which is around 4 per cent of turnover. In concrete terms, last year´s R&D activities resulted in applications for 108 new patents.
With the Oerlikon Barmag and Oerlikon Neumag brands, our Oerlikon Manmade Fibers Segment, as a world leader in the area of filament spinning machines for manmade fibers, texturing machines, and BCF, staple fiber spinning and nonwoven systems offers solutions along the entire textile value added chain. We always provide our customers with cutting edge technology. With an annual R&D spend of around CHF 30 million, more than 200 engineers and almost 1,200 patents, we have been building on our leading innovative position in the manmade fiber industry for decades.
Are your customers prepared to pay for the sustainable technologies and considerable energy efficiencies of the products of both of these brands?
Yes, because our solutions increase the competitiveness of our customers and allow them to achieve a quic