Wares for the World

EMPL, IONICON and planlicht are three companies who do their bit to contribute to the above average growth in Tyrolean goods exports experienced over the last 15 years. Goods amounting to almost twelve billion euros leave Tyrol each year, bringing light to Israel, analysis technology over South Korea and fire engine red to the whole world.

In June 2016, a modified Douglas DC-8 set out from Osan Air Base, an air defence base belonging to the United States Force. There were no military personnel on board, however, but 34 scientists with high-tech devices worth millions of euros. The aim of the 20-flight measurement campaign was to record the air quality over South Korea as accurately as possible, with the greater Seoul area and its 25 million inhabitants being the second-largest metropolitan region on earth. There was also a team on board from the University of Innsbruck, led by Armin Wisthaler - and two special measurement devices from IONICON Analytik GmbH developed in Tyrol. "This device measures the faintest traces of gases that form fine dust and ozone in the atmosphere and is the best of its kind anywhere in the world", reports Wisthaler. IONICON was established in 1998 as a spin-off of the University of Innsbruck; today, says IONICON managing director Lukas Märk, the company exports its trace gas analysis devices all over the globe.

In spring 2015, the new office building of the First International Bank of Israel was completed in Rishon Lezion. The office of Peleg Architects designed 40,000 m2 of modern architecture with an extraordinary entrance - an atrium 40 metres high. A challenge for the Israeli lighting designer Ofer Fridman, who decided on the Tyrolean halo design lights in different sizes, in some places with suspensions up to 27 metres long. He also chose a solution with multi-coloured halos for the food hall - for Felicitas Kohler, managing director of the Tyrolean family-owned company planlicht, one of her favourite projects, where the designer lamps made in Vomp were used "in significant quantities". The fact that her favourite project is based abroad is also no coincidence - exports have exploded since Kohler took over the post from her father and company founder, Johann Findl, in 2013. Today, foreign business accounts for 70%. In March 2016, four semitrailers left Zillertal in the

direction of Leuna, a town in Sachsen-Anhalt - all in classicfire engine red. The transport's destination was the chemical site Leuna, one of the largest of its type in Germany. The contractor was the plant fire brigade of InfraLeuna GmbH, which had a vague idea for redesigning the new trailers belonging to the Tyrolean company EMPL. Together they found a special individual solution, an innovative and unique construction method in the fire brigade sector. "We produce the structures for 1,800 to 2,000 vehicles a year", outlines company director Joe Empl. His grandfather started out after World War II with trailers for agriculture, HGV structures were soon added with power plant construction and the economic upswing in the valley. The Empls transported oil abroad, says Empl grinning, and his father used the boom to attract first Saudi Arabia and then the neighbouring countries to the special Empl vehicles. Today, over 65% of production goes towards export.

IONICON, planlicht and EMPL are three companies who do their bit to contribute to the above average growth experienced in Tyrolean goods exports over the last 15 years. Where export revenues totalled some 6.1 billion euros in 2000, in 2014 this figure reached 11.2 billion euros, with 11.8 billion euros projected for 2016. The goods manufacturing businesses export around 40% of their goods, while industry exports just shy of 75% of its production. Tyrolean goods - whether crystal jewellery from Swarovski, marmalade from Darbo, woodworking machines from Felder, fridges from Liebherr or blinds from Hella - reach the entire world and comprise an "export tradition" whose roots lie in the Middle Ages.

In 1409, so the saga tells, the maid Getraud Kandlerin was watching a bull plough up the earth of a soft mountain meadow with its horns and saw it uncover shimmering shards of stone - Eiblschrofen bei Schwaz gave up its first silver. Mining was already daily business a few kilometres further down the Inn river in Hall: salt has been mined there since the 13th century. The salt from Hall reached Switzerland, the Black Forest and the Rhine territory, but the silver in Schwaz reached the whole of Europe. But then Tyrol began to grow poor as the silver began to dwindle. In the 18th century, the population could no longer make a living with transit trade, salt mining and agriculture. They began producing ironware, glass products as well as brassware and sold these

all over Europe as travelling vendors. Then the Napoleonic wars and the industrialisation of England put an end to the small craft economy. The saving grace came from the construction of the railway in 1858. The new transport route was used by new businesses who began producing in Tyrol due to the cheap hydropower. The railway also brought guests into the land though, and thus laid the foundation stone for the Tyrol brand of today, a brand from which Tyrol's export economy also profited.

"Regardless whether it's Germany or France, almost everyone knows Tyrol", says Felicitas Kohler in confirmation of the brand's added value: "And when I say I produce 100% of goods in Tyrol, that's a promise of quality." A promise on which planlicht customers - primarily lighting designers and architects - can build. Light, says Kohler, has accompanied her all throughout her life and has always fascinated her: "I'm especially interested in what a lamp can produce in technical output." An interest which is also reflected in the company philosophy - 14 employees are active in technical development in order to capture current trends such as biodynamic light in planlicht products.

"Here, we're adjusting daylight with a lamp, you might say, from cool morning light through to warm evening light", explains the planlicht boss; "healthy light" is apparently optimum for kindergartens, schools, care homes and generally for spaces "where people work". The programming of the lamps corresponds to the development of light throughout the day, but it can, explains Kohler, be individually tailored to the customer. Customers who planlicht increasingly finds abroad. "Austria is a good market", says the businesswoman, "but definitely not the only one." And so after 2013 she began putting emphasis on export for the purpose of minimising business risk - which brought a 70% increase in turnover and an almost doubling of their employee base from 90 to 160.

The family business EMPL also emphasises export and uses its alpine roots in its own way because, laughs Joe Empl, "the Tyrol brand has still never sold me a single HGV structure." An EMPL sale will be finalised in Zillertal, after the vehicles have been shaken up and checked over on the company's own testing strip, "then the special manufacture accepted by the customer is carried out in the factory."

And the fact that the landscape here, continues Empl, is

an experience - especially for those who have never seen it before - could be thoroughly helpful in securing a follow-up contract. Contracts, says the company boss, that extend far beyond EU borders "in the areas of fire brigade and logistical products". Joe Empl: "China is doing well, for example, whereas here we are only active in niches such as tunnel vehicles and special fire engines."

EMPL works from the tiny Kaltenbach together with all European chassis manufacturers, where - whether its structures for distribution haulage, municipalities, plant fire brigades or recovery and towing companies - the specialists of the currently approx. 450-strong company (325 at the Kaltenbach site, 125 in the German Zahna-Elster factory) are in demand when it comes to individual customer solutions. "We've focused ourselves on the customer from the beginning, manufacturing individually and not developing our structures into standard series production", says Joe Empl looking back on the company's beginnings. And the niche market has a future, the company boss is convinced, but it means increasing automation "to make the niche bigger".

Servicing their niche perfectly and flexibly is also the approach taken by IONICON. The PTR-MS technology developed in the 1990s at the University of Innsbruck for real-time measurement of fleeting organic compounds in the gas phase is still IONICON's core competency. "We're the leaders in this area and are constantly developing", states Lukas Märk. The area of application for the instruments constructed in Innsbruck may be special, but it's multi-faceted. For example, Airbus, explains the IONICON managing director, uses Tyrolean expertise to test the quality of cabin air, the Innsbruck ion physicist Armin Hansel is using it to investigate cloud formation at CERN, research is being conducted in Finland on the emissions from floor panels made of wood-plastic mixes, and research is being performed on inhaled and exhaled air for a Dutch e-cigarette producer. Europe and the USA, Korea and increasingly China are the main markets for IONICON - this makes the company part of the Tyrolean export trend, so to speak.

Around 60% of Tyrolean exports go to the EU, the rest of Europe accounts for 20%, 7% flows towards Asia and 6% to North America. Split by country, its immediate neighbours constitute the top 3: Germany, (27%), Switzerland (15%) and Italy (10%), followed by France,

the USA and now China. The primary exports are machinery and apparatus (worth €2.3 billion) as well as pharmaceutical products (€2.1 billion), the division "Optical and Photographic Instruments and Measuring and Inspection Instruments" totals €500 million. Since 2014, this also includes a totally self-developed complete system from IONICON.

"The core of our devices is a mass spectrometer which we've been buying in addition up to now and also continue to buy in addition for high-end devices", says Märk. In the meantime, when it comes to routine operations they build the mass spectrometers themselves, with the advantage that they can produce them cheaper and more flexibly for the customer. The 30th unit is currently being built - they're already booked up until the end of the year - with one reason being that IONICON can now also supply solutions for special markets and thus is increasingly focusing on customer applications.

Felicitas Kohler is certain that the family company's flexibility also separates planlicht from the big names in the lighting industry: "We can respond quickly and deliver swiftly." Sales subsidiaries in Austria, Germany, France, Finland and Sweden guarantee good customer service; "In the product group", says Kohler, "we look to ensure that we're always at the forefront of technological developments". It's not really possible to compete with many due to the economic framework agreements in Tyrol, "but I don't want to either. We don't want to be the cheapest, we want to keep producing the quality in Tyrol that our clients value."

Joe Empl also recognises that from Tyrol "it's not about the price and thus you have to keep constantly developing". At EMPL, for example, with an intensive and broad apprenticeship and the company's own academy for employee and customer training. Trained personnel are what IONICON needs too, where the proximity to the university is an advantage. "We do lots of projects with the University of Innsbruck, lots of our employees come from there", says Lukas Märk. Highly-qualified employees would also expect a high quality of life and an environment to match, says the IONICON boss. He looks out of window at the mountains that surround the Tyrolean capital and laughs: "Like we have right here."

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