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Installing spunbond lines across the world

For more than 25 years, SCHOLPP has been providing the entire range of services relating to transporting and installing spunbond lines. The awe-inspiring machines are used to produce raw materials for hygiene products (baby and adult diapers) and for medical disposables (surgical drapes, masks, gowns), among other products. During the coronavirus pandemic, demand is accordingly high.

You need to have seen a modern spunbond line with your own eyes to appreciate how much effort and skill it takes to get it to its destination and install it there. Up to 5.2 meters working width, plus around nine meters high and more than 50 meters long – a machine that is simply too big to transport whole. Instead, it is delivered in more than 150 containers and various seaworthy crates.

Martin Linke has been supervising the worldwide installation of these systems for many years and explains: “Today’s spunbond lines are so large and complex that we don’t assemble them completely until they are on site; that is where they are planned, and the cables, lines and pipes are cut to length and hooked up. The challenge clearly lies in ensuring that the various trades such as steel construction, electrical and mechanical engineering, ventilation systems and piping construction work very well together and complete their tasks on schedule.”

Ideal partners for a quarter of a century

SCHOLPP has been able to perfect this type of collaboration over more than 25 years. This is the length of time that the industrial installation professionals have been working closely with well-known, world-leading suppliers of complete spunbond, meltblown and composite lines. While the first installations were in Germany and Europe, SCHOLPP teams were soon installing facilities the world over, including in China, Russia, Korea, Brazil and the US. SCHOLPP’s experts either act as supervisors or undertake the complete installation.

Where SCHOLPP supervises, an experienced crew usually made up of four mechanics and electricians heads a local installation team and coordinates the installation of the spunbond line. This type of installation is particularly suitable if a viable infrastructure and competent installation companies are already available locally.

Complete greenfield installation

“It’s different when the customer operates globally, is setting up a plant on a greenfield site, has no infrastructure there and is relying on minimal maintenance,” Martin Linke points out. That’s where complete installation comes in. In other words: A SCHOLPP team of up to 50 people takes care of the entire project. The machine is aligned with precision and positioned in the steel structure, and the components are installed. Meticulous attention is paid to tolerances in steel, machine, ventilation and piping construction. Once completed, SCHOLPP hands over a fully functional turnkey facility to the customer. A job of this kind can take longer than half a year for large machines.

When fitters are working together for such a long time on a project far from home, the human factor also plays a decisive role. It’s therefore crucial that the project managers on site not only possess technical expertise but also communication skills and empathy. This became particularly clear during a recent assignment in the US.

Sudden, huge demand

A supervisor team was to install a new spunbond line there in Georgia with a US partner. “Then, all of a sudden, along came Covid,” Martin Linke recalls, “and quite a few fitters wanted to go home to their families. But with a lot of sensitivity and team spirit, our project managers then found a solution.” Another challenge was communication. Instead of communicating on site, a great many technical issues had to be dealt with in video conferences instead. The pandemic has therefore highlighted the extent to which teams grow with their tasks and how important social cohesion is.

However, Covid has also generated tremendous global demand for spunbond and meltblown lines – the latter providing the raw material for the very high-protection FFP2 masks. For manufacturers of these machines, this means orders the world over. And SCHOLPP is there to assist.