On April 24, 2002, Pall Corporation successfully concluded the purchase of the Filtration and Separation Group (FSG) from US Filter Corporation, a fully owned subsidiary of Vivendi Environment. This acquisition includes the enterprises SeitzSchenk, Filterite, Fluid Dynamics, Schumacher and Exekia. Today this integration enables Pall to offer almost any filter material in various constructional designs for multiple filtration tasks. In Bad Kreuznach we spoke with Thomas Ballnat, Director Pall Fuels and Chemicals Central Europe, and Christoph Ecker- scham, Marketing Manager Pall Fuels and Chemicals Central Europe, about the company structure and the technical objectives.
cpp: Almost two years ago, the Pall Corporation acquired the Filtration and Separation Group from Vivendi Environment. How is this newly established company structured?
Ballnat: The Pall Corporation is divided into two different areas: Life Science and Industrials. The Life Science group consists of the pharmaceutical (BioPharmaceutical and BioScience) and medical segments. The Industrials sector comprises the activities of Fuels and Chemicals, Food and Beverage, Machinery and Equipment, Water Processing, Aeropower, Power Generation and Microelectronics.
cpp: How did business develop during the last fiscal year?
Ballnat: In the fiscal year 2003 (August 2002 to July 2003) approximately 11,000 employees of the Pall corporation produced a turnover of roughly 1.6 billion US$, including the turnover of the FSG companies. The Industrial sector achieved 58 % and Life Sciences 42 %. The turnover rose by approximately 25 %, the profit even by 47 %. The Pall Corporation succeeded in reducing the liabilities of 360 million US$ necessary for the take-over by 50 % within only one fiscal year. Last year the price of a share increased from 14 US$ to currently 26 US$. We’re really proud of this development. The development of both turnover as well as profitability is very positive. For the next fiscal year we even plan to achieve a growth in the double-digit range.
cpp: Which are the strategic goals of your company?
Ballnat: Our vision is that one day all liquids will flow through a Pall medium: a Pall membrane or a Pall filter. Pursuing this goal we plan to strengthen and gradually increase our market leadership. Our company clearly focuses on both turnover as well as profit growth.
cpp: Pall is the largest supplier of filters worldwide. On which filtration areas do you focus in particular?
Eckerscham: Our main feature is without doubt the fine filtration. In fact, our portfolio also contains metal baskets and bag filters for coarse filtration, however, generally the operating ranges of our filter elements and filter systems ranges from approximately 100 µm and finer through to reverse osmosis. In my opinion a lot of business can be generated, particularly in cross flow filtration, starting with micro filtration, ultra filtration, nano filtration and reverse osmosis, due to the fact that membrane systems are gaining more and more importance. The Pall Corporation completely covers this business area, which requires a wealth of know-how, which only a few suppliers can offer.
cpp: Joining the products of the former Pall Corporation and FSG surely resulted in many product crossings. Which actions have to be taken?
Eckerscham: We have to analyse our product portfolio particularly considering polymers and glass fibre reinforced cartridges. In earlier days Filterite and the former Pall Corporation indeed were direct competitors in this range. Momentarily we are testing the materials according to standardized methods to find out which products show clear advantages both in use as well as manufacturing costs. Taking the market requirements into consideration the cartridge range of supply will be adjusted in future.
cpp: How do your customers profit from the merger of Pall and FSG?
Ballnat: In the area of depth filtration, system variations, and equipment our portfolio is essentially larger today. Thus we can cover more applications than before. In this way we can also meet the customers tendency to minimize the number of filter suppliers. Pall has a wealth of engineering know-how at its disposal. We provide Scientific Laboratory and advisory services, where experienced scientists and engineers offer interdisciplinary support to our customers with their special knowledge. We analyse and optimise filtration systems in our modern equipped laboratories or directly on customer site. It is our objective to offer efficient, economic, and safe solutions to difficult filtration tasks.
cpp: Amongst others Pall SeitzSchenk Filtersystems offers tailor-made complete solutions in the area of product and media filtration to manufacturers in the chemical and petrochemical industry. Which product developments do you plan at the moment and what did you present at the Achema exhibition?
Eckerscham: During the last Achema fair it was our intention to demonstrate the outcome of the Pall/FSG integration and to present our complete program. This consists of filter elements made of metallic, ceramic and polymeric materials, of the filter housings and different filter systems like the centrifugal discharge filter (ZHF), the sheet filter Membraplan DGM, and our coalescer technology used for liquid/liquid respective liquid/gas separation. A further technical development in the area of bag filtration is, for example a pleated filter element that can be used as a substitute for bag filters. The filter element fits into all bag filter housings. Due to the pleating the filtration area is larger, which is particularly advantageous for capacity extensions. Moreover we introduced a porous sintered stainless steel element under the trade name of AccuSep, suitable for the use in cross flow, blowback and backwash applications. After coating with additional layers this material can be used for gas/gas separation. In contrast to previous metal membranes AccuSep is manufactured fully automatically in a continuous manner. This manufacturing technique essentially lowers the costs. We pass on this advantage to our customers, and it also allows us to try to find usage for this material in for-merly uneconomical applications. Besides stainless steel the AccuSep elements can be manufactured in other alloys like Hastelloy or Inconel. Also displayed was the well proven centrifugal discharge filter ZHF. We still expect a large market potential for this filter. The essential parts of this filter are a vertical pressure vessel and a centric hollow shaft on which disc-shaped filter elements can be horizontally stacked with specific, free choosable spacing. The filter pack can be rotated. For cake discharge and cleaning purposes a motor rotates the filter pack. A dust-free cake discharge is another important feature of the ZHF. The filter remains closed. This filter system offers a large number of automation possibilities.
cpp: In future the multiple sheet filter Membraplan DGM will be used in the chemical industry more frequently. Which adjustments have been made?
Ballnat: The development of the Membraplan DGM was the start for a new generation of sheet filters pointing the way ahead for pharmaceutical and biotechnological productions. The operating range reaches from solid/liquid separation via prefiltration to clarifying filtration. In order to profit from these advantages also in the chemical industry a low budget execution without stainless steel clad chassis was developed. All parts of the Membraplan DG(M)C not in contact with the product are made of carbon steel covered with a corrosion resistant coating. The plate pack remained unchanged and can be delivered either made of stainless steel or polypropylene. Further alternative materials are in development. Besides that we are trying to use fluoric polymers and special synthetics with are able to withstand aggressive media at high temperatures. Using the Membraplan DGM a further drying of the filter cake via membrane is possible. These characteristics minimize product losses and increase the operational safety. It is our wish to offer all necessary filtration equipment to our customers.