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Something you should pin for 2021 – rebuilding as a future investment

Upgrades and retrofits as possible alternative for a renewal of a production line

In a fast-growing market like nonwovens, producers are always looking for ways to increase production or enter new, more lucrative markets. There are two ways of doing this: invest a lot of time and money in a completely new line or opt for a less expensive, high-quality upgrade or retrofit to existing lines. ANDRITZ makes the latter a very attractive proposition.

Nicolas Pirard-Branche, the ANDRITZ Nonwoven Global Service Director and Damien Gamet, Service Upgrade Expert, explain when and why upgrades, rebuilds, and retrofits are worthwhile and why these measures may even have advantages over buying a completely new line.

As a partner to the industry, ANDRITZ Nonwoven will always discuss with the customer which solution – new line or upgrade – is the better choice.

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“We are seeing an increasing trend towards retrofits and rebuilds at the moment, mainly because demand for nonwovens is so high that our customers are looking for all sorts of ways to increase production.”

Nicolas Pirard-Branche, Global Director Service, ANDRITZ Nonwoven


What current trends are you noticing in retrofits and rebuilds in the nonwovens industry?

Pirard-Branche: We are seeing an increasing trend towards retrofits and rebuilds at the moment, mainly because demand for nonwovens is so high that our customers are looking for all sorts of ways to increase production. With an upgrade, rebuild or retrofit, customers can get that “quick win” they are looking for.

What is more, we are finding that our nonwovens customers are exploring new markets and looking to make new, more profitable products. This is driving demand for the installation of technology they haven’t had in their lines before.

Upgrade example: New cylinder for Jetlace hydroentanglement unit with removable lintels

Why choose an upgrade or retrofit over the installation of a new nonwovens line?

Gamet: Well, the first and most obvious reason is cost. The cost of a new line can run into millions, particularly when you consider the setting up of a new line and all the extras involved, the building, utilities and facilities. On the other hand, upgrades and retrofits can also be up and running sooner – some of our upgrades take less than 6 months.

The fact is, when we are upgrading or retrofitting, we are not simply replacing the old with the new, we are bringing in the very latest, proven process technology that has been developed and perfected over a number of years, bringing it into the latest modern dimension, and which is able to compete with the best in new lines. So really, it is a winning option.


What are the limitations when it comes to upgrading nonwovens lines?

Pirard-Branche: Well, there are actually very few limitations. Some of our customers have lines that are more than 30 years old, and after an upgrade and rebuild, they have the same productivity as the latest new lines. What we do is completely renew the technology within the machine frames available, using as much of the line’s existing infrastructure as possible.

Where does a customer start when it comes to exploring the option of an upgrade or retrofit?

Pirard-Branche:  The ability to offer these services to our customers stems from the deep knowledge we have of all the processes here at ANDRITZ when it comes to nonwoven production. We have an extensive, worldwide network and a very open approach. We encourage our customers to talk to us about their ideas for either improving productivity or entering new markets with new products. And we have all the expertise at our competence centers, such as the one in Grenoble, France, where customers can see the latest technology and products being made on our pilot lines.

“We are very much focused on the fact that our customers need their machines running. ”

Damien Gamet, Service Upgrade Expert, ANDRITZ Nonwoven


Gamet: It is good to note that we don’t just concentrate on machines supplied by ANDRITZ. We can carry out upgrades and retrofits on any brand of nonwoven line.

Does ANDRITZ guarantee that customers will get exactly what they are looking for when it comes to an upgrade?

Gamet: Absolutely. In fact, performance guarantees are one of our differentiation points. Any customer who wishes to invest in a line has to have guarantees to enable the return on investment.

Each part and machinery of a line  – here a ANDRITZ neXline needlepunch – can be retrofitted or upgraded with ANDRITZ original parts and devices

© ANDRITZ

Apart from actual line upgrades and rebuilds, what other services and products does ANDRITZ offer to give customers a quick win?

Pirard-Branche: We have a variety of plug-and-play components that are designed to make sure that customer lines can continue producing, no matter how old they are. One significant area is the replacement of older electrical systems. This can be a major problem as some of these systems are so old that the manufacturers no longer make spare parts. We have come to the aid of customers by providing “obsolescence kits”, which we have developed to completely renew the electrical components in nonwoven lines. In this case, we make no changes to the line whatsoever but simply renew all the electrical components and bring them right up to the most modern standard available. This immediately gives our customers more confidence when it comes to possible downtimes.

Gamet: We are very much focused on the fact that our customers need their machines running, so when we perform an upgrade or retrofit, we make sure first of all that we keep the downtime of our customers’ lines to the bare minimum. Sometimes, we can even complete an upgrade in less than 24 hours. In the case of obsolescence kits, this really is about keeping customers’ lines running by upgrading to the very latest in electronics.

All in all, considering upgrades and retrofits for your nonwoven line should be high on your agenda in 2021. Contact our service department – they will be happy to evaluate the potential with you and support you actively.


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