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14. June 2005

Knauf to expand first PUR panel operation

Global building products supplier Knauf Group, Iphofen, Germany, is planning to expand its new polyurethane rigid insulation panels facility at the Knauf Isba site in Auxerre, France. The group only recently invested EUR 5 million to establish its first base for the production of PUR panels at the site, where it also manufactures expanded polystyrene and gypsum board products. Knauf Isba’s 290 metre long PUR production line has an annual capacity of 5 millions m2, according to a company spokesman. The unit started production last October with employees, and is currently the only PUR panel plant in the Knauf Group, he said. According to a Knauf statement, the company intends to establish the Auxerre site as its main site for the production of PUR insulation panels. This includes a further investment to raise production capacity to 8 million m2 and meet growing market demand for these products in the near future, the company said. Knauf has manufactured PUR foam insulation for agricultural building applications since 1991. With the new unit, the company said it will now also supply PUR insulated panels building flooring, cavity walls and roofing--under the respective trade names of Knauf Thane 24, Polyplac Thane 24 and Knauf Thane ET. The company decided to make these products at the 11,000 m2 Auxerre site due to its central location and because it had the spare factory floor space and facilities required for the new production line. However, the company added that it will have to extend the plant to accommodate the expansion of its PUR production facilities. Knauf puts the total volume of PUR going into the French building market at around 600,000 m3, comprising 60% for roof insulation, 20% for walls and 20% for flooring. The market, it said, is relatively modest compared to neighbouring countries and so offers strong growth potential with increasing demand for high performance insulation that meets the requirements of new national regulations.

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