“Our Customers Determine Our Actions”
In an interview with Gerd Hexels, Managing Director and Chairman of the Executive Board, HEXONIA GmbH, MONCh is informed that the company has been successful in building stable, reliable partnerships in this domain over many years.
The defence and security market is a very important one for HEXONIA GmbH, a technology leader in the design and manufacture of functional textiles and ballistic protection systems. The company also makes specialised equipment such as mounts for night vision devices, system components for helmets and equipment for combat training centres. “Our customers appreciate the capabilities of HEXONIA, especially in the field of innovation and product quality, as well as the ability to receive system solutions tailored to their ultimate needs. Our aim as a team is to provide armed forces and security organisations with modern equipment that can protect them in all situations,“ Mr Hexels states.
He points to a share of around 90% of production that is destined for German security forces and the Bundeswehr. “ […] This will certainly continue to be the case in the upcoming years,“ he adds, confirming that this is supported by good corporate growth. With existing projects, Hexonia expects to achieve sales of approximately €50 million in 2019 and to invest significantly in its production facilities. This provides the company with the capability and freedom to be able to serve sustainable projects in neighbouring countries, particularly the Netherlands. Right now, the focus is on Germany, however. Here, the company has larger projects and orders that will require several more years‘ hard work.
MONCh: What innovations lie behind your system solutions as currently used by German customers?
G. Hexels: To be innovative it is, of course, necessary to realise ideas and to have the courage to implement them technically. The whole team does a great job of developing and improving products. Furthermore, we are committed to not only keeping an eye on the state-of-the-art in terms of materials, processes, and tools, but also to be at the forefront of new system approaches. We achieve this goal by using state-of-the-art production facilities at our [manufacturing] sites in Nettetal and Jahnsbach [Saxony].
The digital age has long since made its way into our production. The programming of systems, as well as the control of [manufacturing] processes, is of great importance to the design and cutting department. Current innovations can be found primarily in seamless design, textile component manufacturing and the seamless combination of different materials. The areas of functional textiles, flame retardants, vector protection and camouflage printing have also been constantly optimised, all under the premise of multifunctional use in combination with other equipment and clothing.
MONCh: What do you offer for current and future procurement projects for the military customer?
G. Hexels: Compared to other medium-sized companies, HEXONIA owns a very diverse [product] portfolio, taking into account the customer’s needs and requirements. Although the textile component is the premier focus, it is supplemented by a large number of our own components, such as mounts for night vision devices, system components for helmets, and equipment for combat training centres. In the clothing systems arena, we develop, produce and deliver products fit for purpose, from underwear to combat clothing for different climates and various application scenarios.
In addition, we take care of the area of ballistic protection for users, from underwear against blast effects and micro-splinters to protective vests in different protective classes, as well as helmet systems and accessories. Currently, we are dealing with a large order in the field of [the armed forces] KBS-SK combat clothing [set], which is procured as cross-sectional combat clothing based on the Bundeswehr’s IdZ [Infanterist der Zukunft] system. It is important for us to provide the best possible quality, so that soldiers can carry out their orders professionally.
MONCh: How quickly can you offer your own product solutions for rapidly developing or evolving needs in Germany and in other countries?
G. Hexels: I think that this is one of our strengths – that we can realise the tools described above. We are able to develop product solutions very quickly and independently and manufacture them in a short period of time. This happens, especially if it needs to be done quickly, in an intensive and interactive dialogue with the customer. In some projects, we have managed to follow a common path together with the client within only a few months from development to delivery of the product. However, good, structured planning in the fields of certification and detection is often crucial in the introduction of new products. I think that on this point, in particular, we are doing a great and reliable job for our customers.
MONCh: What is the story behind the recently announced acquisition of Nautilus?
G. Hexels: The production facilities and employees of Nautilus were acquired by HEXONIA. The production facility in Jahnsbach already had high production utilisation, due to orders from HEXONIA before the takeover. Thus, from our point of view, this was the right strategic step to adapt to current development [in the market]. This includes the installation of a completely new seamless knitting [process] in Nettetal, which in the meantime is not only established as a back-up system, but is also in intensive use with new products. We also benefit from the know-how of the highly experienced employees in Jahnsbach. The company now has significantly higher production capacity in the seamless knitting sector. A further expansion will come with the creation of the industrial park in Nettetal, which will be in operation [this year].
MONCh: Thank you.