Zweibrücken, Germany -- Pallmann, one of the world's largest developers, producers and providers of innovative size reduction technology, is getting ready to celebrate 111 years of successful business next year. The number has a special significance for Pallmann: in recent years, the company has streamlined its organization to concentrate on three main areas: pulverization, recycling, and agglomeration. “We want to be Number One in each of these areas as we are in wood area”, says company CEO Hartmut Pallmann.
Founded in Zweibrücken, Germany, in 1903 as a flour milling company by the great grandfather of Hartmut Pallmann, the company soon expanded into designing the mills themselves. Now it makes equipment that is used across a wide range of industries, handling materials as diverse as foodstuffs and old tyres. The company offers over 1000 machine designs, and it also carries out custom grinding for companies operating in the automotive- and construction industries, recycling fibres from textile and the composites sector.
Hartmut Pallmann identifies strongly with Zweibrücken, which is just a few kilometers from the French border. “Our company has branches around the world, but our roots are deep here,” he says.
It is easy to understand the mutual attraction. “The town has managed to balance a respect for the environment with a spirit of welcome for industry,” says Pallmann. Zweibrücken is the tenth largest machine building city in the whole of Germany, but it remains a very “green” location. Pallmann’s operations are for example very close to one of the rivers that flow through Zweibrücken. “We have installed five water turbines there, and we also have a large area of solar panels to harness the power of the sun,” Pallmann says. “We actually produce more energy than we consume across our operations.”
A clear sign of Pallmann’s attachment to Zweibrücken was evident on the company’s stand at the recent K 2013 international plastics and rubber exhibition in Düsseldorf.
It was there in the form of a young woman in traditional dress and a crown on her head: the Rose Queen of Zweibrücken.
Lovers of roses probably do not need telling that Zweibrücken is famous for its Rosengarten, or Rose Garden. In fact, the Zweibrücken Rose Garden is the largest in all Europe—it is also known as Europe’s Rose Garden—and visitors will be able to count some 2000 different types as they walk around the 50.000 m² grounds. Not surprisingly, the rose is one of the symbols of Zweibrücken. Next year, the Zweibrücken Rose Garden will be 100 years old, and celebrations will be in order.
Hartmut Pallmann says the atmosphere in Zweibrücken is right for roses. “We have the right climate—not too cold in the winter, not too hot in the summer—and after a good day’s work at the factory, tending your roses is a good way to unwind,” he says. “Over the years, a whole culture for roses has developed in and around the town.”
The symbol of Zweibrücken actually contains three elements: a bridge, a rose—and a horse. Horses have been bred in Zweibrücken since 1744, and are prized throughout the world. Many winners of races across the globe can be traced to stud farms here. When they are ready to leave, the horses can be airlifted out from the local airport, which sports one of the longest runways in Europe. (The runway is also good for bringing in merchandise—and customers—to Germany’s largest designer outlet centre.) “And while they are growing up here, the horses supply excellent fertilizer for the roses!” Hartmut Pallmann points out.
Pallmann has another, less tenuous connection with the horses of Zweibrücken, says Hartmut Pallmann. “These horses need special treatment, especially when it comes to feeding and training,” he says. “They like to run on a soft track. Our machines make very good, very thin wood flakes for them to run on, and we have equipment for making chips out of old tyres. Race tracks in Saudi Arabia use tire chips for just this purpose.
“Race horses need special nutrition too. We have equipment to pulverize straw, herbs and chalk that horses like to munch on, for example, as well as special presses to create briquettes of animal feed.”
Pallmann machines may be considered as work horses, but just like the beasts running on the track, they are true thoroughbreds. “We build energy-efficient machines in an energy-efficient manner,” says Hartmut Pallmann. Given that Pallmann includes a nature reserve among its neighbours, Pallmann also has to comply with strict noise emission limits. “We as a company have learnt to make little noise, which I guess has been good training for us in designing equipment that makes little noise too!” quips the CEO.
Pallmann machines make things small, but the company itself goes about it in a big way. Hartmut Pallmann is proud to point out that the company has the largest research and development operation of any company producing size reduction equipment in the world. “We have some 30 people whose main job is to think of and develop our future products,” he says.
“Operating in such a beautiful place like Zweibrücken, we are conscious of our debt to nature,” Hartmut Pallmann concludes. “We think that over the years, we have formed a sort of symbiotic relationship with the place. We want people to come to Zweibrücken to see how we work in harmony with nature, and how our customers too can do the same. And afterwards, there is always something to see in the Rosengarten, or you could go shopping for designer clothes and, well you never know, maybe you’ll find a horse you like too!”