Quality exchanged for quality : Vecoplan's new generation shredder runs smoothly in Löhr’s door manufacturing company

A look into the company’s production, where pure carpentry craftsmanship is key.
© Vecoplan

Master carpenter Markus Löhr has transformed his family business from a traditional carpentry workshop into a door manufacturing facility. Customers receive high quality, impressive, unique pieces made from historic wood. The wood left over from production is used by the company to generate heat. For 30 years, Löhr has relied on a reliable Vecoplan shredder for the necessary shredding. Vecoplan has now replaced the ageing system with a new VHZ 800 equipped with a feed hopper.

“Every door we make is absolutely unique”, says Markus Löhr. The master carpenter’s family business in Höchstenbach in the Westerwald is now almost 160 years old and in its fifth generation. The company meanwhile employs 15 people, five of whom are master carpenters. “We manufacture customised solid wood doors. They can be modern if desired, but our focus is on historical doors,” he explains. His father still offered the classic range, including windows, stairs, front and interior doors. However, the competition from larger companies was strong. When Markus Löhr took over the business in 2004, he transformed the carpentry workshop into a door manufacturing facility – not only returning to “real” carpentry, but also finding a market niche in which he has been extremely successful for years. “Our annual turnover is around one million euros,” says Löhr. Customers come from all over Germany and neighbouring countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg, and France. The master carpenter even had a door delivered to Denmark recently.

Customized doors

In the workshop, Markus Löhr points to various doors, some still being made and some ready to be delivered. Some customers send us their suggestions, others provide photos of their houses, and I’ll take some pictures myself on site – then we develop the appropriate designs based on our analyses of these pictures and on discussions with the customer,” says the master carpenter. It's important that the result matches the style and design of the building - it makes a big difference whether the building was built in Art Nouveau or Wilhelminian style. Löhr also often has to reconstruct doors, a task for which he uses photos or old drawings. If necessary, these have to be coordinated with the monument preservation authorities. If required, his solutions can comply with current thermal insulation regulations, or his doors can be made burglar-proof or soundproof. "Our doors can meet specific climate classes and even the passive house standard if required," explains the master carpenter. He is also very proud to be able to offer his customers another craft, as his team includes a glazier who specialises in decorative and individually designed stained glass - as well as hand-carved decorations that are as unique as the customers' wishes.

Sustainability is a top priority for Löhr, who uses historic building materials, such as reclaimed wood from old oak beams, in the production of his doors. His craftsmen use these to create modern entrance door designs as well as historic replicas - and combine them with the latest security features. The first lorry load of reclaimed timber arrived at the yard about twelve years ago. Orders were a little slow at first, and he tried out a lot of ideas, but soon demand started to grow steadily. Today, much of the timber he stores and uses comes from old half-timbered and demolition buildings. But even though the stock is currently well filled, Löhr is always on the lookout for new sources.

Every door is unique – Löhr carpenters manufacture customised, solid wooden doors from historical wood. It’s crucial that the doors are stylistically accurate and match the building – or better yet, the era – perfectly.
Every door is unique – Löhr carpenters manufacture customised, solid wooden doors from historical wood. It’s crucial that the doors are stylistically accurate and match the building – or better yet, the era – perfectly. - © Vecoplan

The efficient shredding of residual wood

In production, the beams are sawn into planks, planed and glued. The moving part of the door - the door leaf - and the fixed frame are then constructed. The planks are glued together layer by layer, and then locks, strike plates and hinges are milled in. The production process inevitably generates waste: untreated residual wood, old wood, pieces of beams, wood offcuts and cuttings. “We use the waste material to fire our furnace system, which we recently modernised,” explains Löhr. This enables the company to heat its buildings efficiently. To reduce the wood to the required size, the facility relied on a Vecoplan shredder for almost exactly 30 years. With its headquarters just a few kilometres away in Bad Marienberg, Vecoplan develops systems that shred, convey, separate and store wood, biomass, plastics, paper and household and commercial waste. “Vecoplan was a customer of ours for many years, we knew them well,” says Löhr. “So it was only natural to buy a machine from them.”

The old shredder, from the small VAZ series, had been running reliably for many years without any major problems. A local locksmith was able to carry out minor repairs when necessary, the joinery carried out oil changes itself, and Vecoplan supplied new counter knives and concave knives. Apart from the various maintenance intervals, the owner is delighted that no maintenance has been required in 30 years. However, even the most robust system shows signs of ageing at some point in its working life. The control cabinet recently broke down and the electrician strongly recommended a new machine.

Untreated residual wood and old wood generated during production is fed into the furnace and used for heating.
Untreated residual wood and old wood generated during production is fed into the furnace and used for heating. - © Vecoplan

Suitable for any input

Florian Greb, Area Sales Manager at Vecoplan, supports the door manufacturer Löhr: “We advise our customers, plan the technology, and find the right solution together,” he says. “Of course, our tasks also include complete project management, assembly, commissioning and a comprehensive service programme.” Vecoplan offers the VHZ 800 specifically for carpentry and joinery businesses. This durable and robust shredding solution was specifically developed by the machine manufacturer for the needs of the wood processing industry and small businesses. The single-shaft shredder is an economical solution for customers, enabling them to feed various input materials and different quantities directly and undosed into the shredding process. Thanks to its VHZ-ESC drive (E=Electronic, S=Slip, C=Control), the machine operates energy-efficiently and cost-effectively compared to conventional drive systems. “We conducted trial shredding in our in-house technology centre,” says Florian Greb. Markus Löhr was present and provided his typical material for the machine in advance – and he was immediately impressed – “That machine went through the historical wood as if it were butter.”

The new VHZ 800 is standing in the yard. A forklift driver feeds the machine's feed hopper with input material measuring up to 200 x 100 x 500 millimetres. With a throughput of 100 kilograms per hour, the new machine processes the wood to a particle size of less than 20 millimetres. The machine is in operation for about two hours a day, two days a week. Master carpenter Löhr is convinced: "If the new machine works as reliably as our first shredder for the next 30 years, then we've made the right decision.

Master carpenter Markus Löhr (right) and Vecoplan’s Florian Greb: “We find the right solution together.”
Master carpenter Markus Löhr (right) and Vecoplan’s Florian Greb: “We find the right solution together.” - © Vecoplan

Doors built to last for generations

“Original historical front doors were originally made of wood. When restored, they’re still splendid ornamental objects that give the property entrance a face,” says Löhr. “However, aspects like energy efficiency and security no longer meet today’s standards.” The massive and multi-layer glued solid wood front doors made by the master carpenter can be passed down to the next generations, like their historical counterparts. “They are secure, impervious to all kinds of weather and incomparably valuable and beautiful,” he says.

To shred the wood to the required particle size, Vecoplan provided a durable and robust shredding solution with the VHZ 800. Forklifts can load residual wood into the feed hopper.

- © Vecoplan