Following the recent decision of the Supervisory Board of Papierfabrik August Koehler SE, the globally active paper specialist will have invested approximately half a billion Euro in growth by 2020. “We’re able to do this thanks to our position of strength and exceptional business developments in the past,” explains Kai Furler, CEO of the German family-owned company. More than €300 million is also being directed to the Kehl production facility, where Koehler will be creating more than 100 new jobs over the next two years.
The primary investment is going to a leading global technology in the form of a specialty paper machine with Yankee cylinder. The off-machine coater will be equipped with multiple cutting-edge coating application technologies in order to help shape attractive market segments in the sector of flexible packaging. The total capacity will be well over 100,000 tons a year. That represents a clear commitment to paper and board, says CEO Kai Furler, as well as the largest individual investment in the company’s 210-year history.
The Koehler Paper Group is a prime example of a so-called “hidden champion.” The company is one of the global market leaders in thermal paper as well as a leader in special applications such as playing cards and beer coasters. “Our portfolio is profitable, diverse, and focused on further growth,” says CEO Kai Furler, explaining that the investments are intended to ensure it stays that way. He says that they also went in search of extremely sustainable and high-volume growth, which is precisely what they found in the future market of flexible packaging.
Whether it’s a chocolate bar, pudding mix, or muesli, the packaging it comes in tends to be made of plastic these days. Barrier characteristics are necessary to ensure food safety or, for instance, provide moisture protection. Koehler will place its focus on flexible paper-based packaging solutions, offering alternatives to brand manufacturers, converters, and printers with its future FlexPack range. This will also help to significantly reduce the use of unsustainable materials that are harmful to the environment.
“Pioneer in Flexible Packaging”
Flexible packaging in the form of paper-based packaging solutions is sustainable and eco-friendly, as demanded by more and more consumers, for example when it comes to food packaging at the supermarket.
“In this segment, it’s customer requirements that shape the market,” says Dr. Stefan Karrer, Chief Technology Officer, describing the current situation. “The trend is moving toward sustainable packaging made from renewable raw materials. Koehler has accepted this challenge and, with its technology, will assume a clear pioneering role that will be hard to beat internationally.”
Through the extensive preparations, a Koehler team of experts has already been established. Much of the machine construction planning and even the initial planning with brand manufacturers and converters has already been completed. “In the weeks and months to come, we’ll expand these meetings with brand manufacturers, trading companies, and converters, and together develop new, eco-friendlier packaging,” adds Dr. Karrer.
Koehler FlexPack will hit the market in less than two years. What makes the new system so unique is that it will allow Koehler to produce, with exceptional flexibility, a variety of functional surfaces based on customers’ requirements. The new machine technology is also suitable for thermal paper, making it possible to satisfy growing demand in this segment too and operate the machinery at high capacity from the first day.