To the north of Herrlishöfen, near Biberach, the IGI Rißtal association, which the Biberach, Warthausen, Schemmerhofen and Maselheim municipalities are members of, plans to designate a new industrial zone – the Rißtal inter-municipal industrial estate (IGI). Handtmann supports these plans.
Key questions and answers
How much additional area does the Handtmann Group of Companies need?
What exactly is being planned?
It will need between 10 and 15 hectares in medium term. This will mainly involve office buildings and production spaces for mechanical machining and assembly, in all likelihood for the Light metal casting/Systems engineering division. Currently, the plans do not include a light metal foundry at this site for the time being. Primarily office buildings are to be constructed along the L267.
Ideally, the new corporate site will be on an industrial estate which will provide sufficient space for additional production halls in the future. Empty halls, scattered around a variety of sites, or unused spaces in existing industrial estates are not suitable for this new location with its long-term focus, as adjacent areas are required due to economic and logistical considerations. The company is hoping for flexible, additional spaces at the planned IGI Rißtal and has informed the town of Biberach of its requirements.
What is the opinion of the Handtmann Group of Companies with relation to the IGI Rißtal?
The Handtmann Group of Companies has a workforce of 2,500 employees in Biberach. This also includes approximately 100 trainees who, as future specialist staff, are important for maintaining the company’s level of competitiveness. Due to its bond with the region and to secure the jobs at this location, the Handtmann Group of Companies prefers an area near to Biberach. The municipalities involved have carried out a preparatory investigation of several locations for a new inter-municipal industrial estate and have reached the conclusion that only the site near Herrlishöfen is suitable for being designated as such. The reasons cited for this included the possibility to erect a rail stop and the fact that the site on the B30 is easily accessible by road. As the area is near to the Group of Companies’ headquarters, the company would be able to also use the existing infrastructure.
Why does the company need additional spaces?
Handtmann needs production space to be able to process new orders. The need is currently most pressing in the systems engineering division. The parts produced in this context are complex and are made up of up to 30 components. The production machines deployed are four to five times larger than those used previously. Space requirements will thus increase dramatically. And these requirements can only be met with additional m².
The Light metal casting/Systems engineering divisions are extremely important to Handtmann in general. They account for two thirds of the sales of the Handtmann Group of Companies. Also, two thirds of the staff work in these divisions.
Furthermore, development in the field of casting is difficult to forecast due to the current situation in relation to electric mobility. We therefore expect a constant or even slightly declining number of employees in the long term. In contrast, Handtmann will be able to double its sales in the area of systems engineering over the next ten years. This will be coupled with an increase in staff numbers. Once the required, additional production spaces are available in the Biberach area, new orders can also be located there. This will give Handtmann the chance of employing staff from the casting division in systems engineering if required.
For new systems engineering contracts, why can’t the Handtmann Group of Companies build at the Arthur-Handtmann-Straße site or use existing workshops – i.e. consolidate?
We have already developed and implemented consolidation concepts at the Arthur-Handtmann-Straße site. We have now reached the point where additional construction measures are no longer commercially viable. Additional spaces are therefore indispensable.
Why do the additional spaces have to be available already, even though there is not a definite contract yet?
As a commercial enterprise, the companies in the Group must be able to adapt flexibly to market developments and to answer to our customers’ expectations. However, approval processes take a great deal of time. To be able to win new contracts, a company has to prove that it has the appropriate production spaces and capacities at its disposal. If this is not the case the contracts are awarded to competitors. And then the company will be faced with the challenge of not being able to win follow-up contracts for expiring contracts in Biberach for a part of the workforce.
What will the Handtmann Group of Companies do if it cannot find a new site in the Biberach region?
The first new orders already have to be produced at other sites in Europe because there are no opportunities for expansion of production spaces in Biberach. Starting in autumn 2018, for example, a hall for the Light metal casting and Systems engineering divisions will be built in Annaberg-Buchholz (Saxony). The company owns additional spaces there and in Košice (Slovakia) and these have already been designated as industrial zones.
The Handtmann Group of Companies has a close bond with the region and would prefer to be able to locate future systems engineering orders also in the Biberach area. Another factor in favour of a location near to the main factory is that, there, it is easier to develop the know-how required, as experts already work in Biberach.
Will the expansion involve creating new jobs or securing existing ones?
It will primarily involve securing existing jobs. At the present time, the company has to win new contracts to continue to ensure long-term employment for the workforce in the existing plants. Otherwise, jobs will be gradually and persistently lost – including in Biberach, where the company currently employs approximately 2,500 people. A new contract will initially be staffed by the existing workforce. Human resources planning may be adjusted upwards or downwards. The scale of this adjustment in any specific case will depend on the number and volume of new contracts in comparison to expiring contracts.
What impact would the new corporate site at IGI Rißtal have on the traffic situation in Herrlishöfen?
Of the workers employed at the IGI Rißtal site, only approximately half of the 200 to 300 employees planned for the medium term would drive through Herrlishöfen, as the other half would approach the industrial estate from the north. It must also be taken into account that the shifts would begin/end counter to the current rush hour periods. Handtmann is also campaigning for new public transport stops, which would further decrease the number of commuter vehicles.
All incoming and outgoing deliveries would use the B30 junction until a rail link has been provided. We also expect that traffic between the new location and the main factory on Arthur-Handtmann-Strasse will mainly use the B30.
At the existing Handtmann Group of Companies sites in Biberach, are there already rail stops that are used for incoming and outgoing deliveries or for passenger transport?
The Arthur-Handtmann-Straße site is located next to the “Biberach Süd” rail stop. It is also used by our employees. Incoming and outgoing deliveries are not made by freight transport there as there is no space available for a freight station or an additional platform.
Would a Handtmann corporate site at IGI Rißtal affect residents with noise pollution or an impairment to the air quality?
In all likelihood, systems engineering with the mechanical machining and assembly production areas would primarily be located at a Handtmann corporate site at IGI Rißtal. As shown by current noise level measurements at the existing sites of the Handtmann Group of Companies, the statutory limits there are complied with outside the halls and on the rest of the factory site.
Mechanical machining and assembly do not produce any emissions. Locating a light metal foundry on the IGI Rißtal site would also not create any emissions, as high-performance filter systems would be used. However, a facility such as this is not currently being planned.
What role does the Handtmann Group of Companies play in relation to the approval of the IGI Rißtal?
The company has informed the town of Biberach of its need for additional spaces and has explained the situation to the Tübingen regional council. The company has no influence at all on the approval process, which is governed by law and also requires expert environmental reports and public involvement measures. The Handtmann Group of Companies will accept the outcome of this process – whatever it may be – and, of course, comply with all existing guidelines and regulations for new buildings. Handtmann is a family-run company which bears responsibility for the staff, the economic development of the region and the environment. The aim is to meet all the demands as well as possible and thus to safeguard the continued existence of the company.
What is the Rappenhof? When and why did the Handtmann Group of Companies purchase the Rappenhof?
The area of the former Rappenhof (country estate) comprises approximately 17 hectares within the boundaries of the municipality of Warthausen. It is located within the area where the IGI Rißtal is planned to be designated. The former owner offered Handtmann the opportunity to purchase it. Before the purchase contract was signed in September 2014, three developments coincided. Firstly, the Handtmann Group of Companies recorded considerable growth. Secondly, it became evident that no suitable spaces would be available on the industrial estate at Biberach airport. And thirdly, the Warthausen municipality announced their intention of investigating the development of an industrial estate within its boundaries. Handtmann thus purchased the plot as an investment for the future. Should it not be possible for Handtmann to use this area economically for industrial purposes, the company has the option of selling the plot back to the Warthausen municipality for the purchase price.
Has the ownership situation in connection with the Rappenhof had an influence on the site for the IGI Rißtal?
The site for the IGI Rißtal was decided upon by the municipalities involved. The ownership situation in connection with the Rappenhof was not a part of the evaluation criteria as far as we are aware.