Oberbruch Industry Park

Oberbruch Industry Park

Oberbruch Industry Park (German: Industriepark Oberbruch), is a former 110 ha large site of Akzo Nobel in Heinsberg, the most western district in Germany near the Dutch border. Founded in 1891 as a location for fiber technologies and birth place of the German rayon and man made fiber industry it is today a diversified multi-user site comprising companies from various fields of industry such as high-performance fibers and new energy technologies as well as from industrial biotechnology. Oberbruch Industry Park is the competence center for carbon (fiber) technology in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Since 2000 the industry park has been operated by the Dutch energy company Nuon, the first independent industry park operator not to come from the chemical industry. Since 01.07.2009 n.v. Nuon Energy has been part of Vattenfall.


Development of the German rayon and man-made fibre industry

Rheinische Glühlampenfabrik Dr. Max Fremery & Co

Today's Oberbruch Industry Park was founded as "Rheinische Glühlampenfabrik Dr. Max Fremery & Co.“ in 1891. Dr. Max Fremery, chemist from Cologne and Johann Urban, engineer from Austria chose a former paper mill to search in secret and hidden from competitors for a hot filament that offered high efficiency in production and energy consumption and a longer life. In 1892, for the first time, the two scientists were successful in producing filaments in substantial quantities through precipitating from cellulose dissolved in copper oxide ammonium solutions. At first, the copper rayon was used as incandescent filament in bulb production. The process was constantly improved in order to refine the first rough and uneven filament, to increase its strength and elasticity enabling the spinning of a material that compared to natural silk. In 1897 Fremery and Urban applied for the patent of their method. In the history of the textile industry, the so-called "Pauly Patent" is considered the beginning of the German rayon production. Although the bulb production was discontinued in 1902 due to carbon filaments being replaced by tungsten filaments, the production of rayon advanced on an industry-wide scale.

Vereinigte Glanzstoff-Fabriken AG

In 1899 "Vereinigte Glanzstoff-Fabriken AG" with headquarters in Elberfeld was founded. Eventually the Bergische trimmings & braidings industry with its "Barmer Articles" became the most important buyer of rayon made in Oberbruch. As early as 1900 a hall accommodating 18 spinning machines was opened; for the first time a joint spinning vessel was set up in a nearby room and from there the material was pressed to the individual spinning frames and further to numerous capillary tubes. This formed the foundation of the continuous spinning process still used today. The inventor was Dr, Eduard Boos, engineer and son-in-law of Dr. Max Fremery. Despite the economical success of the copper rayon (tenfold increase of annual production, sixfold increase of turnover, fivefold increase of manpower until 1912) the future belonged to the viscose process invented in England. In 1911 Glanzstoff acquired the viscose patent which advanced to production line status in Oberbruch. The original copper rayon was completely withdrawn from the product range in 1916. During the First World War Oberbruch was the only Glanzstoff plant to continue production at a limited level despite a declining demand and due a lack of labour. A lack of raw material forced the rayon industry to take new steps. Staple fiber as replacement for cotton was the new product, waste threads of man-made continuously spinnable filaments cut to staple length. In 1916 the first staple filament spinning machine was put into operation, a development of Dr. Emil Bronnert, chemist and Dr. Eduard Boos, engineer.

This positive development did not last long. The Great Depression at the beginning of the 1930s hit the Glanzstoff particularly hard. Declining demand led to extensive dismissals. At the peak of the crisis in 1932 the company had a workforce of 2,200 employees compared to 6,300 in 1925. Streamlining was the order of the day. The only innovation was the introduction of perforated aluminium rollers enabling the production of even bigger weaves. This remained the last expansion for many years to come. The strategic economic planning of the National Socialist Government prohibited investments and company expansions in borderline regions. The Oberbruch plant took over the role of a research and development facility for the whole Glanzstoff Group, forming the heart of research of post-war years. In 1935 the first tests for the production of rayon for tyres and driving belts were performed. A pilot plant for continuous spinning, washing and drying of viscose silk was put into operation in 1937, whilst a process for the recovery of carbon disulphide in the rayon staple plant was developed.

During World War II Glanzstoff Oberbruch went through its most difficult years. Until September 1944 the factory continued to operate without any severe disruptions, but on 19 September, the 45th anniversary of the works, all machines had to be stopped, Oberbruch was now in the front line. After the end of the war, in February 1947 the allied forces allowed the resumption of the production. At the end of 1948 Glanzstoff's workforce had grown to 3,400. In December 1951 the first machine for continuous viscose spinning was set up to replace the glass-roller spinning process. In 1953 the last glass-roller spinning machine was turned off.

Perlon - pure chemistry in filament form

Apart from textile and technical rayon ("Cordenka“), which due to its raw material was considered a natural fiber, Oberbruch entered the world of fully synthetic fibers and introduced with Perlon (polyamide, PA6) the history of man made fibers in West Germany. The fast growing synthesis division changed the structure of the plant putting another complexion on it. Old departments had to close down, construction work was going on everywhere. 1958 saw the start of Diolen (polyethylene terephthalate, PET) spinning which gradually replaced Perlon. Diolen advanced to the main product at the site. The production of Perlon completely discontinued in 1971. Diolen had outstripped it because of more comfortable properties.

Steel cord

At the beginning of the 1960s the first tests for the manufacture of steel cord was undertaken. The company wanted to include tire reinforcement material into the product range, as there was a demand for steel cord as reinforcement. A large-scale production was established in Oberbruch in 1969 which Akzo ceased again in 1991 for reason of international competition and establishment of tyre manufacturers' own capacities. In the second half of the 1960s the number of employees reached a peak of 7,088. Glanzstoff remained world leader in the production of man made fibers and their basic products up to the 1970s.

Diolen (PET)

The corporate policy at the beginning of the 1970s focused on investing in modernization and streamlining. Only in this way the increasingly brisk competition could be encountered. The group's management decided that the Oberbruch site should pioneer this modernization trend, since it had gained a great strategic importance with the textile polyester yarn Diolen. With an annual production of more than 43,000 tons it became the biggest polyester filament plant of the Group. Innovative spinning techniques now comprised high-speed melt spinning and spin-stretching. Advancing polyester condensation was another target. The first oil price crisis 1973/74 however put a severe damper on the realization of the investment programme, only 4 of the new high-speed melt spinning machines were installed.

Crisis in the man made fibre industry

The crisis in man made fiber production shook the synthetic fiber and textile industry in the middle of the 1970s to an unprecedented extent. Short-time work, downsizing, limited production output, investment cut-back and restructuring were the consequences. First steps towards the establishment of an industrial park were taken. In 1978 "Spinneret Center Oberbruch“ changed into "Enka tecnica“. The product range included spinnerets, components and testing equipment for the man-made fiber, textile und plastics industry.

Successful 1980s

On 13 September 1985 the foundation stone of the state-of-the-art Diolen spinning mill was laid advancing Oberbruch to become the largest and most efficient European plant of polyester filament yarns. In 1986 Oberbruch was again pacemaker of the latest technical innovation. The production of high-performance carbon (fiber) Tenax started. In 1983 Enka AG, a company of the Akzo Group signed a license agreement for the production of carbon fibers with Toho Rayon Co. Ltd., Tokyo. Since 1986, carbon fibers with an initial capacity of 360 tons per annum have been produced in Oberbruch. 1990 saw the operation start of the research facility. In 1993 Akzo Nobel Faser AG includes the carbon fiber activities in a joint venture with the licensor Toho Rayon Co. Ltd. Toho Tenax Fibers GmbH & Co. KG is established. Today, Toho Tenax Europe GmbH, a subsidiary of Teijin, Japan, boasts production with 4 lines at the Oberbruch site and is market leader in Europe.

Difficult 1990s

On 30 June 1993 the Cordenka production was discontinued. Due to worldwide over-capacities the production had to be cut down. Oberbruch as the smallest Cordenka site within the Group was closed. In the 1990s the site was confronted with a generally difficult situation. Over-capacities, an often unpredictable market and the competition from low-wage countries led to a change of thinking. The company was turned upside down, radical streamlining and restructuring measure followed. The workforce decreased to well below 2,000 employees, the former technical equipment and installation division and the central workshops of the former Akzo Nobel site were outsourced in 1993 and re-established as Hima, today BIS Maintenance Südwest GmbH. The former Group parent Akzo Nobel parted completely with the man made fiber division in the 1990s whilst the diverse operative business units at the site became autonomous enterprises. As independent companies they looked for new partners initiating the change from a homogenous synthetic fiber location to an open industry park.

The Oberbruch site has advanced from Glanzstoff's production site via Enka-Glanzstoff, Enka, Akzo, Akzo Nobel, Acordis to Oberbruch Industry Park. The relationship to the Netherlands has always been close, in 1911 Algemeene Kunstzijde Unie N.V. with works in Arnhem and Ede was founded, with Vereinigte Glanzstoff-Fabriken AG as principal shareholder.

Founding Oberbruch Industry Park

Since 1998 the site has traded under the name Oberbruch Industry Park. Industriepark Oberbruch GmbH & Co. KG, (IPO), was at that time the service provider for the enterprises at Oberbruch Industry Park. Administration of the industry park, customer-oriented marketing of the entire infrastructure and expansion of new settlements were the main tasks and objectives of IPO which had its origin in the service departments of the former Akzo Nobel site. The services to date comprise supplies, disposal, quality, security, environmental protection, logistics, personnel, project and real estate management, as well as communication.

As Akzo Nobel/Acordis' last operative business unit at the site a new owner was needed for the service provider. They decided in favour of an independent industry park operator outside the chemical industry, i.e. the Dutch energy company Nuon, which took over the site in 2000. Since 01/07/2009 n.v. Nuon Energy with headquarters in Amsterdam has been part of the Swedish Vattenfall AB. The industry park management division of Nuon specialises in the operation of industrial parks. In Germany, Nuon currently operates Oberbruch Industry Park in Heinsberg and Niederau Industry Park in Düren, in the Netherlands De Kleef Industry Park in Arnhem and EMMTEC Industry & Business Park in Emmen.

Oberbruch Industry Park is now a diversified location including about 20 companies from the fields processing chemistry, plastics and new materials with approx. 2,000 employees. It is operated by NUON Energie und Service GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of n.v. Nuon Energy.


Originating from a production site of the chemical industry Oberbruch Industry Park boasts an infrastructure oriented to chemical production. NUON Energie und Service GmbH offers the companies a wide array of diversified industrial and chemical-related services.

Energy supply

In 2006 the newly established gas & steam turbine power plant (CHP plant) with a high efficiency rate was put into operation featuring a furnace thermal capacity of 40 MW, a waste heat boiler with 20 MW, a gas turbine generator with 14 MW and a back-pressure steam turbine with 7 MW. The supply of energy further includes natural gas, technical gas such as compressed air, oxygen, nitrogen. Water is provided as drinking water, desalted water, cooling water and special water qualities for production. Further, refrigerants such as cooling brine and ammonia complete the range.

Waste management

In 1978 the chemical-biological waste-water treatment plant started its operation on the site cleaning the entire industrial water, waste water and surface water. The plant is dimensioned for the sewage disposal of about 150,000 inhabitants, whereby roughly a half of it is currently utilized.

Site logistics

The logistics services at the site include incoming and outgoing goods control, stock-holding for raw material and consumables, as well as primary products and finished goods. In addition, Oberbruch Industry Park has its own rail connection.

Companies located at the site (2010)

The textile fiber production has completely left the location. The polyester production of Kuag, a subsidiary of Textilwerke Deggendorf was abandoned in 2006. Enka, manufacturer of viscose was sold to the Chinese company Jilin Chemical Fibre Stock Co Ltd. and moved to Jilin, China in 2007. Enka technica, manufacturer of spinnerets also left the location in 2007 and shifted its production to Übach-Palenberg, to the location of Oerlikon-Schlafhorst, which is part of the Saurer Group.

Today Oberbruch Industry Park prides itself of a diversity of products. The only fiber that is today manufactured in Oberbruch is the high-performance carbon fiber of Toho Tenax Europe GmbH, a material used among others for aerospace, automobiles and racing cycles. Carbon fibers are light-weight, tear-resistant and robust. They reduce the weight of vehicles and lower fuel consumption and emissions.The so-called black gold among composites enjoys great market potential. Toho Tenax Europe is Europe’s number one carbon fiber manufacturer, around 5,100 tons of carbon fiber a year are manufactured on four lines at Oberbruch Industry Park.

With the Australian Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd settling at the site in 2006 new energy technologies moved in. The worldwide first production of solid oxide fuel cells for coupled power heat generation is being established at Oberbruch Industry Park.

Since 2009 GNT Europe GmbH has produced colours from renewable raw material at the industry park. GNT develops and produces high-tech products from eatable fruits, vegetables and plants for the food industry.

Since 2007 SAXID GmbH has produced brake linings at the industry park.

With BIS Maintenance Südwest GmbH, today part of Bilfinger Berger Industrial Services GmbH (BIS Group), a leading provider of industrial services with focus on process industry and energy management is domiciled at the industry park. Since 1993 the company has contributed to making maintenance an independent solution-oriented sector.

Alliander AG emerged as grid operator from the separation of the grid and producing sector of the Dutch n.v. Nuon in 2008. Since 1 July 2009 the company has been fully dedicated to the operation and modernization of the electricity and gas grids, which more and more advance to smart networks and are an essential part of the future-oriented energy strategy.

Lekker Energie GmbH, part of the Enervie Group since 1/1/2010 originated from Nuon Deutschland GmbH, the German branch of nv. Nuon. The EU Commission had imposed the sale of Nuon Deutschland in 2009 on the Swedish energy group Vattenfall as a condition to allow the acquisition of the Dutch parent company N.V. Nuon Energy (formerly n.v. Nuon).

The enterprise Essedea texolutions established in October 2003 devoted itself to the development and production of three-dimensional textiles. The company E&K has produced printed circuit boards at Oberbruch Industry Park since 1995.

Meckling CNC-Präzisionsbearbeitung has been active at the park since 1994 in the series production of CNC lathing and CNC cutting of workpieces.

PolymerOberbruch GmbH, formerly Kuag's Polykondensation and today owned by the Indian Group Zoom Developers (P) Ltd., Bombay, plans - apart from matted chips - which were already produced by Kuag, the production of brilliant and supra-brilliant chips, chips for medical applications, chips on heavy-metal-free catalyser basis and for foils as well as flame-retardant chips and chips for the production of PET bottles.

Atos Origin a worldwide leading provider of IT services.

NUON Energie und Service GmbH, operating company of Oberbruch Industry Park.

Prospex, a workshop for mentally handicapped people who - thanks to the integration in the park - can develop skills in a craft and technique under the realistic environment of a workshop however under protected conditions.

The company health insurance funds BKK Euregio existing since 1 July 2003 was founded in 1896 as health insurance funds for the employees of Dr. Max Fremery & Co. and Vereinigte Glanzstoff-Fabriken.


Industriepark Oberbruch GmbH & Co.KG (Ed.): Industriepark Oberbruch - ein Standort wird 100. Heinsberg 1999.

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