2020 - an uneven year!


Review of the past year
By Managing Director Carsten Jespersen, KE Fibertec AS

On the threshold of 2020, we were delighted to have landed KE Fibertec's best result of all time and the fourth record result in five years. We did feel a little worried about the political developments in our two  main markets, the USA and the UK, but that was before Wuhan and COVID-19 came on the world map.

Immediately after the lockdown in March, the management prepared a COVID-19 strategy, which was divided into different phases. The first phase was basically about the health of our employees, and the goal was to make sure that no one was infected and to keep our three factories running. Thanks to the great efforts and focus of all our employees, we have so far managed to get through the pandemic well. Quite early in the process, we agreed not to make use of the government's aid packages nor send our employees home for division of labour. Instead, we chose to use the surplus resources that we have periodically had to carry out a number of internal projects, and it has been a good investment.

Rarely have we experienced such an uneven year not only in terms of orders, but also in terms of activity. All in all, KE Fibertec is coming out of 2020 really well, but at a lower level than the record year 2019. At the same time, we are proud to have been awarded Success Company 2020 by BDO and Spar Nord on the basis of the continuous results we have achieved through a number of years. It was a great comfort in the middle of the lockdown.

Recycling of surplus yarn at KE Fibertec Væveri
One of the projects we have completed in 2020, and which we are particularly proud of, is our recycling of approx. 7 tons of surplus yarn at our weaving mill,
KE Fibertec Væveri. We have purchased two braiding  machines, which means that in 2021 we can produce all the different bulb cords ourselves, which are used for mounting the textile ducts in our mounting rails.

The advantage is that the surplus yarns are already fire-approved, they are Cradle to Cradle-certified, and they do not shrink, all properties that are very important to us in the finished product. In addition, the payback period on the investment is only 1.6 years. Our philosophy is that circular economy must be sustainable - also financially.

Certification according to UN’s Global Goals
As a natural development in our long-term strategy that KE Fibertec's products must not contribute negatively to the major global climate challenges, we are in the process of meeting our ambitious goal of becoming CO2-neutral by 2030.
We have spent a lot of resources on optimising our production processes and products.

Since 2012, we have been certified according to the sustainability standard Cradle to Cradle, which is based on five categories: Material Health (mapping of ingredients down to 100 ppm), Material Reutilization, Renewable Energy and Carbon Management (in the production process), Water Stewardship and Social Fairness. The Cradle to Cradle standard only supports 11 of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, so it is only natural that we want to take advantage of the investment we have already made by working towards a certification according to the Global Goals in 2021. We are convinced that future generations expect products and companies to make a positive difference in the climate accounts.

New voluntary sustainability class makes demands on ventilation industry
With the introduction of the new voluntary sustainability class and a greater focus on building certifications according to e.g. the DNGB standard, our end customers and the major project developers are getting ahead of us in the ventilation industry. The requirements for e.g. a life cycle assessment (LCA) of building components, including ventilation products (ventilation systems, ducts, etc.) are included with a weighting of 10-11% in the DNGB standard, and also included in the new voluntary sustainability class. At present, we are not very many manufacturers in the ventilation industry that can meet these criteria. That said, there is also a major challenge in terms of certification in handling dynamic products when it comes to tripartite-evaluated EPDs (Environmental Product Declaration).

Many manufacturers in the ventilation industry, like us, supply products that are tailored to the given task, and this makes great demands on the independent evaluation of the material data used in the dynamic LCA calculation. Our biggest fear is that the sustainability industry is evolving into “the Wild West”, where interpretations of standards and local certification institutes offer so-called tripartite-evaluated EPDs on a small section of the total product. A trend we have unfortunately already seen applied in the USA.

New Nordic Swan Ecolabelled washing concept
In 2019, we established our own in-house "KE Fibertec Laundry" with washing concepts that are 100% designed for the industries we service. Customers in the food industry naturally have completely different requirements for documentation than a customer with a single textile duct installed in an office environment. Our Nordic Swan Ecolabelled Heavy Duty Wash and Basic Wash have been incredibly well received, and in 2020 we were able to launch another washing program - Hygiene Plus, which can remove both mold stains and drops from the production process.

Visually, even very discoloured textile ducts can look almost like new again, and this helps to extend the service life significantly. As an additional service, we will introduce a new KE washing report at the beginning of 2021, where the treatment performed will be documented with before and after pictures, and where our recommendations for future washing intervals and any repairs will be stated. The timing of launching our inhouse laundry service has been perfect. We have experienced considerable growth, and we can see that many have used the lockdown to maintain their textile ducts.