Bethges weathers the storm with the
help of Monforts
Monforts finishing ranges were installed in record time for a
Swiss mill to mark its 185th anniversary.
Switzerland’s long hot summer of 2017 – the hottest for over
a century, with temperatures soaring as high as 34°C throughout
May and June – was violently interrupted in the first weekend of
July when heavy storms finally broke.
Frank Katzenstein, Bethges Plant Manager .
Particularly badly affected was the town of Zofingen in the
canton of Aargau, where Bethge AG Textilveredlung has operated
as a commission fabric finisher since 1834.
“It started with the hail,” recalls the company’s plant
manager Frank Katzenstein, “the most fierce hail storm I’ve ever
seen, with stones as long as four centimetres. This was enough
to close all of the local roads and then the rain started and
just didn’t stop – and the flooding and landslides began.”
One of the two Montex stenters installed at the
Bethge plant is equipped with the latest Monforts
texCoat system, as an extension of Bethge services
to its customers.
Nestled in the foothills above Zofingen, the Bethge plant was
in the direct line of a 1.6-metre-high wave which thundered down
onto the town when a dam above it finally burst its banks.
“It was unbelievable in its ferocity,” said Mr Katzenstein.
“It crashed right through the steel doors of the plant and
completely engulfed our machines. Almost everything was
More than 450 rescue workers were mobilised to deal with the
chaos in Zofingen, with the electricity down, the railway
station underwater and the motorway around the town closed in
both directions for many hours. Miraculously, although a number
of people were taken to hospital, nobody was killed, but the
freak storm had caused millions of francs worth of damage, with
the Bethge plant taking the brunt of it.
The following week a crisis meeting was held by the directors
of the family-owned company and it became clear that its
finishing lines – including the existing Monforts stenter and
shrinkage range – would have to be completely replaced.
“It really looked like the business was finished unless we
could resume operations in a very limited amount of time,” Mr
Katzenstein said. “For many years we have specialised in the
finishing of woven textiles for third party brands and
distributors, primarily based on cotton and linen, as well as
some polyester and polyamide. These are destined for the home
and hotel tableware and bedding markets in Switzerland, Austria
“Hospital linen is another key end-use sector for our
fabrics, and as one of the few remaining textile finishing
operations in Switzerland – where both costs and environmental
standards are extremely high – our just-in-time delivery and
quality guarantees have been crucial in our success over the
Intuitive automation and surveillance of the
machines is via the
Monforts Qualitex 800 control system.
“Thankfully, Thomas Päffgen, Monforts’ area sales manager,
and the company’s manufacturing and installation teams, were
able to pull out all the stops for us.”
Bethge opted to order two new energy-saving six-chamber
Montex stenters, as well as a Monfortex compressive shrinkage
range, which is characterised by a larger shrink cylinder
allowing for longer processing paths to achieve enhanced
The first stenter was manufactured at the Montex plant in
Austria and was delivered, installed and commissioned in a
record time of less than four months.
“We were able to salvage our existing air cleaning system and
after the first of the new stenters was up and running we were
able to resume operations and build up back to where we were,
month by month,” Mr Katzenstein said.
All of the Monforts lines have working widths of 3.4 metres
and benefit from the latest Qualitex 800 control system. This
has all of the familiar features of touchscreen smart phones and
tablets, making navigation extremely easy and cutting down the
time required for becoming familiar with the system. Operation
is via touchscreen and wheel-effect selection and the dashboard
can be individually configured to meet the exact needs of an
Bethge’s new Monfortex compressive shrinkage range
has a larger shrink cylinder for enhanced shrinkage
values in fabrics.
Monforts texCoat system
The second Montex stenter that has been installed at the
Zofingen plant is equipped with the latest Monforts texCoat
system, as an extension of Bethge services to its customers. As
the only manufacturer which is able to offer completely
integrated coating lines from a single source, the latest
Monforts coating heads are tailored to the company’s drying
technology for maximum benefits. Monforts offers
multi-functional coating heads for its texCoat units, with
modules that can be integrated into new lines or retrofitted
into existing ones.
In addition to its main markets, Bethge also manufactures
certain technical textiles, as well as Damask fabrics and voiles
destined for Africa’s apparel markets. The company is now back
to full production, finishing some three million metres of
“Ongoing service from Monforts continues to be excellent,” Mr
Katzenstein concluded. “We have had a long-standing relationship
for many years, but were really impressed with the service they
provided this time.”