Panels & Furniture Asia Jan/Feb 2018

January / February 2018 • Issue 1 • PANELS & FURNITURE ASIA 20 PANEL MANUFACTURING The particleboard producer’s latest decision banks on the belief that Asia is overflowing with opportunities, which makes now a great time to invest in a new line. G reen River Panels is set to build Southeast Asia’s biggest particleboard plant, boasting a 50.4-metre continuous press—the longest in the region. The new line, which is Green River’s third, will see the company double annual production capacity to over one million cubic metres, making it one of the largest production powerhouses in Southeast Asia. It will be delivered by Siempelkamp. “The negotiations took a long time but I believe that this agreement will provide a lot of value for us. We have known [Siempelkamp] for more than 10 years,” said David Huang, chief executive officer of Green River, at the signing ceremony in Hatyai witnessed by representatives from both client and vendor. Jurgen Philipps, speaker of the Siempelkamp Management Board, added, “We are happy and honoured to be selected for this project. This is our second success in three months in Southeast Asia. It is a good sign as it shows we are considered a market leader in this area.” The new line also sees Siempelkamp delivering its first ContiRoll Generation 9 continuous press to Asia. It will also featuremachineryby its subsidiaries: Buettner, CMC Texpan and Pallmann. Together the engineering teamwill build the biggest drumdryer and energy plant in Southeast Asia as well as the world’s biggest knife ring flaker. “All eyes will be on Green River for this project,”Mr Philipps said. Addressing the Green River team, he added, “Your project has our personal attention and like a marriage, we welcome open and frank communication between both parties.” Although Green River is no stranger to Siempelkamp’s expertise, this is the first time it is working together with the Krefeld-based technology company on such a massive scale. (PB Line 1 runs on Buettner's drum dryer while Line 2 uses size reduction technology from Pallmann.) Never before has the Taiwanese-owned company sealed such a historic contract, marking a significant milestone for itself and a benchmark for the panels industry in Southeast Asia. The first board is expected to birth in the last quarter of 2019. BIG, BIGGER, BIGGEST The upcoming line is based in Trang, Thailand, over 200km away from Green River’s headquarters in Songkhla. It is one of the best fits for a particleboard line. Thailand’s south is mostly agrarian, providinganamplesupplyofrubberwood to feed the factory. It is close to various ports of call where products can easily be shipped worldwide. On the decision to seal the ag reement wi t h S i empe l kamp , Mr Huang said he was pleased that the management and engineering team were single-minded about Green River’s commitment to producing green products. (Green River is named for the company’s environmental philosophy.) Waste from rubber plantations and wood that is too poor for solid furniture often end up in the backyard of a particleboard line, which makes the panel product ‘green,’ and “I am sure there will be a demand for these panels in future. I believe Siempelkamp can support us in our vision for a green production line,” Mr Huang says. He looks fitter than when I last saw him three years ago, younger than all his 57 years. Yet, he is still the visionary businessman, steady and consistent, making calculatedmoves before planting resources in the right places. He doesn’t stop, it appears. Decisions keep himbusy and discussions with European suppliers often see him working late into the small hours. But being busy is a good thing, he jests, “otherwise the business is not moving.” The green field investment was conceived over two years ago, even before the second line was fully operational. Mr Huang says the planning phase involved a lot of research and consulting. It was a slow and long-drawn process, but necessary. Green River’s move to increase production capacity comes at a time where industry insiders observe a difficult future for panel plants—first