75 Jahre Kallfass Maschinen und Automation EN 75 years of Kallfass Machines and Automation

Kallfass is holding a big anniversary celebration for employees and invited guests on Friday, June 7, 2024 and, in order to inaugurate its production extension in Klosterreichenbach, with an Open House for the general public on Saturday, June 7, 2024.

From a small workshop to global player

In 2024 Kallfass celebrates 75 years of success in mechanical and plant engineering. During this time, the family-run company–now in its third generation– has completed well over 1,000 complex projects for the woodworking industry. The long-established Black Forest company has made a name for itself worldwide, particularly as a mechanisation specialist and solution partner.

Founded in 1949 by Ernst and Frida Kallfass as a small workshop in Klosterreichenbach, Germany, the company initially carried out repair work for the local timber industry. However, the resourceful company founder soon developed his own machines, such as the groove and dovetailing machine or the firewood press. The machine programme took a pioneering direction in 1965 with the development of the multiple cross-cut saw for the efficient cutting of fixed lengths. After continuous further development, thanks to its precision and flexibility, it is now one of the market-leading multiple cross-cut saws in the wood cutting sector and is integrated in cutting systems as well as in sorting or planing mills. Kallfass was also one of the pioneers in the stacking of sawn timber. Ernst Kallfass' stacking system was the first ever on the market.

Kallfass cross cutting 1965

In 1965, Kallfass developed the multiple cross-cut saw for the efficient sawing of fixed lengths.

Kallfass Cross Cutting

Today, the precision saw from Kallfass is one of the market-leading multiple cross-cut saws in the industry.

The founder's son, Ernst Kallfass Junior, joined his parents' company in 1975 at the age of 24. Nine years later, he was handed the company’s reins and acting as Managing Director. He developed box and level sorting systems and combined them with cut-to-length and stacking systems to create a production line. This was the start of complex sawmill projects that opened up a new customer base. The complex systems required more production capacity and so in 1992, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he founded a second plant in Wernigerode, in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

In Klosterreichenbach, the opportunity arose at the beginning of 2019 to acquire the building of a former machine factory in the neighbourhood. Ernst Kallfass did not hesitate for long and seized the opportunity. Since then, Kallfass Plant 3 has been used as an interim storage facility for test installations and, to a limited extent, for production.

Currently, around 120 employees work in all three plants. The plant technology is developed, planned, designed, manufactured, painted and installed on entirely in-house. While remaining market-focused and product-focused, Kallfass has successively expanded its product range over the years. Today the company offers systems and complete mechanisations with integrated safety and control concepts for the production of construction, packaging and garden timber as well as glued wood products.

Specialised in complex mechanisation

Kallfass is known in the industry as a machine supplier who pragmatically harmonises the customer's requirements with the available space and develops the best technical solution for the situation. The company’s aim is to maximise production output and to achieve the highest possible degree of automation.

Some process solutions for automation were so unique that they were patented. In addition to the patent for the first layer-by-layer processing of sawn timber back in the mid-1980s, Kallfass also received patent protection for its robot handling in 2019. When stacking timber packs with automatic stick placement, the magazines used for this no longer have to be filled manually, but can be constantly filled with wooden sticks by a robot.

The transport system for large parcels is another example of an innovative logistics solution. Packages of wood weighing up to 30 tonnes and 6 m high are transported into the drying chambers on rails using transport trolleys. Subsequently, they taken out again for further processing, without the need for a forklift truck. An extremely cost-saving circulation system.

Kallfass mechanisation on rails

Handling of large packages: Mechanisation on rails

Kallfass Robot Handling

Patented robot handling made by Kallfass

However, it is not only special partial solutions in automation that distinguish the machine manufacturer, but also its expertise in the design of complete production lines for sorting, cutting to length, packaging, planing and gluing, into which it integrates equipment from other suppliers in an interface-optimised manner, such as quality scanners and labellers. At the customer's request, the product data can even be processed directly from the customer's ERP system. This is what Kallfass means by “Solutions from a single source”.

Kallfass planer mechanisation

Fully automated Kallfass planing mill

Kallfass also developed its own systems for glulam production, including a CLT press, which was also launched in 2019. The term CLT stands for Cross-Laminated Timber, one of the most important building elements in modern timber construction. The Kallfass press continuously presses individual, cross-glued panels into multi-layer panels with lengths of up to 16 m. With its own CLT press, Kallfass has also succeeded in rounding off its product portfolio in this area. Kallfass can offer complete mechanisation, from picking up the sawn timber packages to accepting the finished cross laminated timber elements.

Well positioned for the future

Six years ago, Ernst Kallfass set his company up for the future. He appointed his son Volker Kallfass and his long-time companion Hans Haist as additional Managing Directors and gradually withdrew from the operational business in order to concentrate on the strategic direction of the company. This also includes structural expansion measures, such as increasing the production hall in Klosterreichenbach, which was completed end of 2023, and the office expansion at the Wernigerode plant.

Kallfass Management

Kallfass Management: Volker Kallfass, Ernst Kallfass, Hans Haist (from left to right)

Over the years, the plants in Klosterreichenbach and Wernigerode have been adapted several times to meet changing requirements. In 2022, the decision was made to expand the production area at the Klosterreichenbach site by another 750 m² in order to better dovetail individual production steps in a direct, chronological sequence. Shorter distances are the result and with them a more efficient production process. A state-of-the-art paint booth also ensures greater efficiency and flexibility. It was designed as two cabins, one behind the other, each 10 m long. If necessary, the cabins can be opened to paint particularly long machine parts.

In Wernigerode, on the other hand, the focus was on more administrative space in order to cope with the growing number of employees in the electrical design and software development departments. Thanks to the 160 m² extension, modern office space totalling 480 m² has been available since the end of 2023.

With these expansion measures, Kallfass is well positioned for the future.

Kallfass building extension

The enlarged production hall in Klosterreichenbach and...

the office extension in Wernigerode

A reason to celebrate

At the beginning of June, Kallfass will celebrate the successful completion of its remodelling measures and, above all, its 75-year success story with the entire team of employees and invited guests at the Kallfass plant in Klosterreichenbach. The production hall will be transformed into a party mile. A music band, various food trucks and a cocktail bar provide the perfect setting for an exuberant evening event.

The following day, Saturday June 8, there will be an Open House at Röter Straße 44. Anyone interested can take this opportunity to get an idea of the production scope of the globally active machine manufacturer and see the new production hall from the inside. Those who wish can join guided tours and those who are still looking for an apprenticeship will be informed about possible apprenticeships at Kallfass at the apprentice info point. It is not necessary to register for the Open House. Admission starts at 11 a.m. and catering will of course be provided. A children's carousel is available for younger guests.

Kallfass anniversary 75 years

The Kallfass production hall as a party mile (Source: Revo Veranstaltungstechnik, Freudenstadt, Germany)

Over the years, Kallfass has undergone a transformation from a small workshop to a modern medium-sized company. With a great deal of hard work, development creativity and market knowledge, the company now plays on the international stage and, thanks to its wide range of activities, offers work and prospects to a wide variety of professions. The order situation remains good and production is fully utilised. For this reason, software developers, programmers, designers and technicians are being sought in both Wernigerode and Klosterreichenbach to help shape the future of Kallfass.