The Rupp Report: Dilo: From A Blacksmith To A Complete Lines Supplier

It all started from a humble background and developed over the past 100 years into the Dilo Systems Group, a leading supplier of complete production lines for the nonwovens industry. In an exclusive interview, owner Johann Philipp Dilo told the Rupp Report how it all happened.
Eberbach, a picturesque village in the beautiful Neckar Valley in Germany, is the location of the company’s headquarters. The Dilo family was active over many generations as artsmiths and locksmiths before they started with the construction of machinery for spinning preparation for the local horsehair spinning mills in the year 1902. This was the foundation stone for the present company.
The First Diversification
The machinery program was gradually expanded to include machines for the upholstery and bedding industries. Among these machines were bale openers, tow stretching machines, cards, aerodynamic web formers, web lappers, quilting machines, and spraying and drying facilities, as well as cutting, wrapping and stacking machines for readymade cushion mats. Such products at the time were fabricated from coconut, sisal and palm tree fibers — relatively cheap but available raw materials. The first lapper for the mattress and upholstery industry was already in production from 1950 — even before the needlepunch machines were produced. And at the beginning of the 1960s, the first needlefelt machines were added to the portfolio.
The Constitution Of The Group
Over the years, the company grew to become one of the leading providers in the sector of needlepunch machinery. However, the trend in the 1990s moved steadily toward complete lines due to customers’ increasing requirements for  production and, basically, for the end products. Compatibility was demanded along the complete process line, so it was not surprising that the former Oskar Dilo Maschinenfabrik wanted to change. And the first acquisition of a company into the new Dilo Group didn’t take a long time.
Rupp Report: When did the Dilo Group make the first company acquisition?
Johann Philipp Dilo: This was in 1996, when Dilo acquired shares in Spinnbau Bremen.
RR: What was the motivation for this step?
Dilo: The trend was clear: The intention was to achieve a professional entry into the complete lines business in the nonwovens industry in order to offer all equipment from a single source and a single responsible supplier.
RR: And when did you make the next acquisition?
Dilo: That was in 2005, when Dilo became the main shareholder of Temafa Maschinenfabrik GmbH, a leading supplier of machinery for fiber opening and blending.
The General Contractor
That’s how Johann Philipp Dilo came closer to the target of becoming a full line provider for the production of fiber-based nonwovens, which consequently led to formation of the Dilo Systems Group. Today the group is built on four areas:

  • Dilo Systems as a general contractor;
  • Dilo Temafa as a specialist for opening and blending;
  • Dilo Spinnbau as a leading provider of card and web-forming technology; and
  • Dilo Machines as a specialist for lappers and needlepunch machinery.

RR: And why did you choose exactly this configuration?
Dilo: The acquisition of Spinnbau, which began in 1996, and the majority holding of Temafa GmbH in 2005 were significant steps toward becoming a total supplier of complete nonwoven plants from one source with a single responsibility. Of course, we understand complete lines if they are complete systems for needlepunched nonwovens production. The production of needled nonwoven fabric made of staple fibers is the most important branch within the different bonding technologies.
Positive Enhancements Without Technical Weaknesses
RR: What were the results of this development on your business?
Dilo: Well, this extension of our program with the buildup and expansion of the system and total plant business — so to speak, the development from an individual machinery specialist to a general contractor for complete systems — was critical to the positive development of Dilo. It was an historical milestone that influenced and sustained our success as a leading company in this sector in addition to the quality of our mechanical engineering. Without this decision and the expansion, we instead would have shrunk as a specialist in needlepunching technology, instead of growing.
Temafa, Spinnbau and Dilo form a group of specialists, each offering cutting-edge technology. In the coordinated cooperation on all important business fields, it is the foundation of our large global success. Each group member with its respective single machine program offers leading technology, which is multiplied to the total customer value. There are no weak points in our technical components, and, therefore, we can offer highly productive and reliable complete DiloSystems production lines.
Market Situation
RR: How do you judge the current market situation for nonwovens?
Dilo: For Dilo, the entire world market is vital. Our export share is 80 to 90 percent. The main markets are Germany, Europe, the USA, Mexico, Brazil, China, Taiwan, and Japan. The Far East, including Southeast Asia, as a whole has great potential. In addition, there is a focus on Turkey, where last summer we opened our own subsidiary in Istanbul. Likewise, India must be mentioned, where we recently placed again a large plant.
RR: Are there any distinctions and demands among the different end product markets, which you serve with your bonding technology?
Dilo: Ultimately, in most countries, all technical nonwovens are in demand, including products for automotive, geotextiles and filter media. In addition, other important application areas are artificial leather made using nonwovens; however, this is mainly the case in the Far East. On top of that, wipes for household and industrial end-uses are in demand, as well as our web-forming machines and large carding systems for hydroentanglement lines. DiloSpinnbau builds the largest cards, with a working width of more than 5 meters and the highest web running speeds.
INDEX 2014 And ITMA Asia + CITME 2014
RR: What do you expect at INDEX?
Dilo: Traditionally, INDEX is for us one of the most important forums for networking with our global clientele. The focus of INDEX is still on the sector of hygiene and disposables. However, technical nonwovens are also in demand. INDEX in Geneva and Techtextil in Frankfurt are the main events taking place between the European ITMAs.
RR: And what do you expect at ITMA Asia + CITME?
Dilo: ITMA Asia is of great importance for Dilo because it takes place in the country with the largest share of sales. Since the early 1980s Dilo has been very successful in China, and we operate our own branch in Shanghai, which is now being expanded up to a service station with a warehouse of spare parts. However, we focus on the European ITMA when it comes to the presentation of new machinery technology because the development cycles in mechanical engineering can hardly be less than the rhythm of four years. Despite the current decline in China’s overall economic situation, growth rates are still very much above average. That’s why we hope that ITMA Asia in Shanghai will generate again new impulses.
April 8, 2014