Wood-based panel manufacturer Schilliger has launched a €28 million investment in Volgelsheim (Haut-Rhin) which will enable it to increase its production capacity tenfold. The new automated production unit of Multilayer Building Panels (PMC) will be commissioned in July 2023. At the end of this investment, this French subsidiary of a Swiss family company, located in Alsace since 1999, will be able to produce each year one million square meters of panels.
“There are enough forests and raw materials in Grand-Est. But the region lacks sawing capacity, processing power and carpenters. We are partly meeting this need”, Promises Stefan Muller, Managing Director of Schilliger Bois. The turnover of this company (120 employees) reached 54 million euros in 2021, with a projected increase of 20% for the 2022 fiscal year. The catchment area extended to the whole of France, with emblematic or high-rise buildings (up to R+13) built of wood in Nice Paris, Bordeaux, and soon Rennes.
In Grand-Est, the wood construction market is growing. The sector regained its momentum after several years marked by forest health crises (bark beetle epidemic) and Covid.
Fibois, the professional association that unites this ecosystem, has identified 194 companies present in the Grand-Est wood construction market. The total cumulative workforce is 3,250 employees with a turnover of €605 million in 2020. “The market is growing in the short term because the end of confinement has revitalized housing in the broad sense. In the long term, wood appears to be in line with societal expectations to reduce the carbon footprint. Finally, implementing RE 2020 regulations place wood as one of the main building materials.”summarizes Sacha Jung, Fibois Grand-Est regional delegate.
In 2020, according to the Fibois Institute’s National Building Survey for Fibois Corporation, lumber held 15.7% of the market share in single-family home construction in the region, compared to 9.3% on the national average. Growth forecast for 2021 is 44% in single-family homes in the scattered sector, and up to 67% in the combined sector. In Grade III buildings, the market share of lumber is 13.9% in Grand-Est versus 10.9% on average nationwide.
“The investment in capacity made by Schilliger is part of a very favorable domestic dynamic in the timber sector”confirms Thomas Amstutz, project manager of the Factory of the Future at the regional innovation agency Grand E-nov. “Their structural panels, designed to scale on an automated line, comply with innovative assembly processes”notes Thomas Amstutz.
The large PMC boards in the Schilliger catalog (up to 16m long, up to 3.40m wide) consist of cross-layers of dried hardwood boards. Several types of species can be combined, combining spruce, fir and Douglas fir. The assembly processes allow it to be anchored to a concrete slab or used on the roof or on the ground. By varying the orientation, number, and thickness of the layers (between 27 mm and 500 mm), PMCs can be implemented as a load-bearing wall, supporting wall or sail sail. Schilger insists on the intrinsic qualities of wood, which provide this material with “good building thermal and moisture behavior” while “reducing thermal bridges.”
Schilliger’s investment also helps boost the timber industry in the Vosges Mountains, whose players until 2019 lamented the imbalance caused by massive exports of logs to China. “The source wood corresponds to bark beetle surpluses which we were unable to recover on site”Sacha Jung’s mood today. “At the end of the crisis, demand is back again so that the resources are sold mainly to the local population”. If the increase in demand has generated “price pressure”, the FIBOA regional delegate estimates that “Higher levels now allow for a fairer reward, all the way to the critical”.