Fecken-Kirfel and KÖPP – Development partners with the courage to embrace innovation
For more than 40 years, Fecken-Kirfel has been delivering cutting machines to the W. KÖPP GmbH & Co. KG. The “experts in foam” offer a comprehensive portfolio of cellular materials to always meet the specific requirements of their customers. The Aachen-based company continually invests in high-tech equipment and technological expertise and is therefore an important partner for Fecken-Kirfel with regard to the innovative development of its cutting machines. At Fecken-Kirfel, cutting solutions are continuously further enhanced and adapted to changes in material requirements. In their cooperation, both companies also profit from their geographical proximity. The close coordination of the two partners is beneficial for the conduct of cutting tests and the conception of technical components. A win-win-situation with excellent future prospects.
Wilhelm Köpp, founder of the today’s W. KÖPP GmbH & Co. KG, takes over a trading company that is specialized in trading with cellular rubber and sponge rubber in the year 1938. Starting in 1947, KÖPP also added cross-linked polyethylene blockfoam to its product portfolio. The trading company quickly expanded its activities by the areas of processing and production – initially only of cellular rubber. The foundation of a company offering all-round expertise along the entire value-creation chain was laid. In 1972, the in-house production of cellular rubber starts in Berlin. In 2007, KÖPP relocates its cellular rubber production from Berlin to the Romanian city of Arinis. The company successfully increases its production capacities and finally, in 2016, it adds the in-house production of PE blockfoam to its portfolio. In 2011, the company also set up a joint venture with an Indian partner. Also in Sohna near Delhi, cellular rubber is now being produced. This does not only ensure that service for the local market can be provided, but it also assured the level of delivery reliability for the European market.
Today, the product portfolio of this manufacturer and processor of cellular materials comprises more than 20 different cellular rubber qualities as well as more than 45 polyethylene qualities. This includes for instance special flame-retardant qualities, qualities with good thermal forming capability an liquid seals as well as filter materials. Product applications include various sectors such as the automotive industry, building industry, electrical engineering, climate technologies, medical technologies, renewable energies as well as the aerospace and aviation sectors.
Strong partners for strong developments
In the preface of the company magazine insight, the managing director Achim Raab at KÖPP expresses what drives the company: “Our incentive is not only to meet the requirements of the market but even to anticipate them. For this reason, we attach great importance to enhancing our development competence. In order to achieve this, we continuously invest in high-tech and expertise.” Also, strong partners are important to live up to those ambitious standards. One of these partners is Fecken-Kirfel. The company has been a supplier of the cutting machines that are used in the production facilities of KÖPP for more than 40 years already. Parallel to the development of new products at KÖPP - as for instance extremely soft material qualities for the application in the automotive industry - also Fecken-Kirfel is dedicated to the continuous improvement of its cutting solutions.
Present since 1967: Fecken-Kirfel Machines
The successful cooperation between the two Aachen-based companies starts in 1967 with the delivery of the first Fecken-Kirfel Bandknife Cutting Machine K1 to KÖPP. Company owner Achim Raab still clearly remembers that he worked on this machine several years later as a student during the holidays. By the way, this “old-timer” still operates successfully at KÖPP to the present day thanks to excellent care maintenance and quality of the machine. In the following years, Fecken-Kirfel delivered many more machines to KÖPP. Today, the Aachen-based production site owns two Loop Cutting Machines of the types H 42 A and K 11/2 for the production of roll goods as well as other Cutting Machines of the types H 24 A and K 11 and several Vertical Cutting Machines. Also at the production site in Romania, two Loop Cutting Machines of the type H 42 A of the latest generation beside others are efficiently in use.
Tailored Cutting Solutions for every requirement
The use of Fecken-Kirfel machines enables KÖPP to efficiently cut all materials – hard and soft, thick or thin, sheets as well as roll goods – with extremely narrow tolerances. An example of a successful development partnership is the first Cutting Machine of the type K 11/2 for the horizontal cutting and winding of roll goods. This further development of the K 11 was the product of the cooperation between Fecken-Kirfel and KÖPP.
Although the Splitting Machine K 11/2 was successfully sold worldwide, Fecken-Kirfel soon opted for a redesign of this machine on the basis of the cutting unit of the H 24 A. This marked the birth of the H 42 A, which is the ideal machine for the splitting and winding of extremely thin layers of soft and even sticky materials, such as cellular rubber and polyethylene. One of the major differences: A vacuum belt was used in order to guarantee an even more stable material run. Specifically for KÖPP, Fecken-Kirfel developed a special perforation of this vacuum belt to enable KÖPP to particularly process extremely soft qualities and to meet the special requirements of these materials. Furthermore, both companies jointly developed different production processes for the winding of very specific materials. This proved to be so successful that meanwhile KÖPP uses the H 42 A in its production sites in Aachen and in Romania, as this machine type guarantees a result that aligns perfectly with the customer requirements. By the way, the business partners still remember very well the finalization of the last machineorder. Achim Raab tells with a grin: “Our price negotiations were tough and had nearly – but not quite yet – come to an agreement. The last details were decided in a very competitive and highly emotional table soccer match between Francis Pinckers and Michael Decker, our plant manager and head of quality department.” A nice anecdote that can only happen if both parties know each other very well and have a good relationship.
Cheers to a good partnership
Francis Pinckers, Vice President at Fecken-Kirfel, appreciates the long-term good business relationship with KÖPP: “The “Experts in Foam” are a good match for our company. The innovative company consistently challenges us to improve even the smallest details of our machines. This also moves our company forward.” For instance, KÖPP has already given particular attention to the issue of sustainability for a long time. The company’s aim is a “greener” product portfolio. In order to achieve this, KÖPP for instance developed a specific type of foam. As, however, the processing requirements of this new foam differ from those of conventional foams, KÖPP contacted Fecken-Kirfel at an early development stage and asked the cutting solution specialists to develop a specific coating that prevents the sticking of the foam on the knife guide. KÖPP calls its offensive for more sustainability “Hand-in-Hand with Nature”, and Fecken-Kirfel is happy to tread precisely these new development paths with KÖPP.