From industrial halls, open-plan offices and single-family homes to new buildings and urban consolidation in both cities and rural areas – cross-laminated timber is a flexible product which can be used for various structures and buildings. Computer-based production methods transform the natural resource wood into a versatile material, which saves space and weight in addition to being climate-friendly and having excellent load-bearing properties. Architects appreciate the creative possibilities, builders the short assembly times with a minimum of emissions, noise and dirt. Residents praise the rooms’ healthy atmosphere and the natural insulation properties of wood.
By now, many governments have also discovered the advantages of modern timber construction and have developed strategies to promote it. At the same time, there is growing awareness of environmental and climate-related aspects and issues among consumers. Taken together, those are the best prerequisites for a building material which meets ecological, economic, aesthetic, social and health-related requirements. Wood and cross-laminated timber in particular have experienced a great boom in recent years.
Innovative timber constructions from central Germany
This trend in the cross-laminated timber sector did not go unnoticed by attentive market participants. Founded in North Rhine-Westphalia in 1927, family company ante-holz has been striving for innovation for almost 100 years and, as an international full-range supplier, is now one of the leading companies in the European timber industry. For Jürgen and Julia Ante and Jörn Kimmich, who manage the company in the third and fourth generation, respectively, entering the modular timber construction segment was therefore the next logical step.
In 2020, ante-holz manufactured the first cross-laminated timber elements in the competence center at its headquarters in Bromskirchen-Somplar/DE. A year later, the ante group founded its first comprehensive timber construction center together with HBS Berga on the border of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt. Since then, production, joining, order picking and the storage of wall, ceiling and roof constructions have been done there. The densely wooded southern Harz region with its connection to the motorway guarantees the supply of domestic raw material and helps to avoid unnecessary transport journeys. Additional synergy effects are created by ante-holz’s plant in Rottleberode, which is only 5 km away and has its own railway connection.
Growing demand and a bright outlook
Despite the relatively short history of the company, a lot has happened since the production site went into operation. The production line was expanded as were the joinery and loading areas, and the growing workforce has received continuous (further) training. By now, HBS Berga’s production capacity amounts to 130,000 m³ a year (100,000 m³ in Berga, 30,000 m³ in Bromskirchen-Somplar). Strong demand at the beginning of this year even brought the two plants to their limits in terms of capacity utilization. Despite the current geopolitical and economic turmoil caused by the war in Ukraine, HBS Berga expects a long-term upward trend in the cross-laminated timber sector and is taking the necessary steps to profit from this development.
East and West for big dimensions
By manufacturing CLT at two strategic production sites in the east and west of Germany, the company aims to serve the entire domestic market. In the coming years, strong impetus is expected to be given to timber constructions in the big cities of Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin and the metropolitan regions of Rhine-Main and Rhine-Ruhr. Furthermore, the production processes of the two plants complement each other within the ante group. In Berga, panels are pressed in less than 15 minutes thanks to a highly efficient Ledinek hydraulic press. In northern Hesse, elements with special dimensions of up to 18 by 3.9 meters can be produced using a flexible vacuum press. “This wide range of sizes leaves basically nothing to be desired for our customers,” Kimmich comments. What makes the timber elements suitable even for large projects is their crosswise structure of several 20 to 40 mm-thick layers which are surface-glued. This process ensures high dimensional stability and moisture resistance. The adhesive used is ecologically harmless and accounts for less than 1% of the total volume.
Expertise from planning to construction
“HBS Berga is more than a manufacturer,” Kimmich emphasizes. In the company’s service center, customers are accompanied and supported already in the design and structural analysis phases. Rooms and buildings are designed and modeled individually using 3D computer technology. Then, the raw CLT panels are cut with high precision using PBA-Industry and UFA-Industry CNC machines from Hundegger of Hawangen/DE, before the surface-treated elements are delivered as a finished construction kit. All cross-laminated timber elements, which can have up to nine layers, are in compliance with the product-specific European guidelines, as confirmed by the CE mark, and also have the ETA certificate (European Technical Assessment) proving their quality as laid down in the EU’s Construction Products Regulation.
This opens up a big international market to the company. Next year, HBS Berga wants to focus more on exports, especially to Great Britain, France and Scandinavia, and on the prefabrication of timber frame construction elements – a system that also has considerable potential when implemented in a modern way. In combination with CLT as well as solid structural timber (KVH) and glue-laminated timber (glulam), the ante group will then become a one-stop supplier of an extensive range of products.
Production sites: Berga/DE, Bromskirchen-Somplar/DE
Parent company: ante-holz, Bromskirchen-Somplar/DE
Managing directors: Jürgen Ante, Jörn Kimmich
Production: 100,000 m³/year
Products: cross-laminated timber and solid structural timber (KVH)
Start of production: June/July 2021
Sales: mostly in Germany to processing companies, in the medium term also to other European countries