The history of the Coburg compressed air specialist, Kaeser Kompressoren truly is a remarkable story. Although many a company celebrates its centenary, they cannot all boast such sustained and continuously positive development. A look behind the scenes.
Kaeser is active all over the world in its centenary year, 2019. However, the general public rarely comes face to face with the compressed air specialist’s products. Only the portable compressors catch the eye with their black and yellow livery and attractive design, when used for road construction work. Compressed air stations tend to be hidden away in outbuildings. Yet Kaeser compressors are just as likely to be found in power stations in Australia as in Peruvian gold mines, used by aerospace engineers in the US, fish farms in Norway, car manufacturers in Germany, at the Cern particle accelerator in Switzerland, on ski pistes in Austria, on Arabian oil fields or the weaving mills in Asia. Compressed air is just as vital as electricity. No company with an industrial production line can get by without compressed air. Today, Kaeser has a global presence. Its customers range in size from craftsman’s establishments to large-scale industry.
It all began in a small workshop in Coburg’s Hahnweg. The old buildings are still standing in which Carl Kaeser senior started producing spare parts and engines for cars, along with gear wheels and special machines for the glass industry, with a team of eight employees and two apprentices in June 1919. Business was booming. Within a few years, the company was to employ a 150-strong workforce. After World War II, virtually the entire customer base fell by the wayside as most were located in Thuringia and Saxony – and thus on the other side of the border. Taking advantage of the available automotive expertise, production was adapted without further ado to similar products: reciprocating compressors. Thus began Kaeser’s successful focus on compressed air. In 1948, the first reciprocating compressor rolled off the Hahnweg production line as the company continued to evolve.
Further challenges emerged during the mid-1960s. In retrospect, it may perhaps be described as the first technological shift. Screw compressors came onto the market. Once again, Kaeser spearheaded the change with its very own invention: Sigma Profile was born. Developed in-house, it is a rotary screw airend with a special energy-efficient rotor profile that was groundbreaking at the time. Since then, Sigma Profile has been the centrepiece of every Kaeser rotary screw compressor; needless to say, it is also refined on an ongoing basis. Screw rotors are interconnected spirals with helical lobes.
This innovative spirit pervades the company to this day, resulting in a steady stream of innovations in compressed air technology and applying equally to hardware, software and services. From the refrigeration dryer to revolutionary controllers (Sigma Air Manager 4.0), from the portable compressor to completely new business models, where the customer basically only purchases the compressed air, through to digitalisation and Industrie 4.0, Kaeser still blazes a trail in the industry for the cost-effective, reliable, efficient generation and use of compressed air, thanks to its innovative, top-quality products and services. Most production facilities are located in Germany, with sales and service available in every corner of the globe.
The company’s early international expansion was a vital aspect of its growth. The first branch opened in Switzerland in 1978, with Austria and France following hot on its heels. Today, Kaeser has more than 50 own subsidiaries and is represented by exclusive contract partners in over 100 countries. Kaeser Kompressoren employs in excess of 6000 staff worldwide, many of whom have been loyal for decades.
How was this achieved? The company’s secret recipe is an unwavering passion for innovation, sound engineering expertise, close customer contact and an awareness of their needs, combined with exceptional quality standards, a good dose of common sense and the main ingredients: excellent teams and strong family ties. However, family does not just refer to the owner family, Thomas Kaeser and Tina-Maria Vlantoussi-Kaeser, now the third generation to manage the company, while the fourth has also just come on board, in the form of their son Alexander Jan Kaeser. All staff are considered family at Kaeser. This is evident in the high apprenticeship rate, well above average, and the extremely long service record of the employees, usually more than 30 years. But it is also reflected in the company’s business development: for 100 years without fail, the operating result has been positive. Even in 2009, the year of the global crisis. From Anchorage to Auckland, Coburg or Kauai, Kaeser is a family-owned company with strong ties to Germany; it views the entire world as its home turf and offers ‘Made in Germany’ quality from start to finish. The next innovative chapter is just waiting to be written.
Measurement, Instrumentation, Control & Automation Mechanical & Thermal Processes News Plant Construction, Engineering & Components
Virtual Annual General Meeting planned for June
Due to the spread of the coronavirus (Sars-Cov-2), Bilfinger is planning to conduct its regular Annual General Meeting on June 24, 2020 as a virtual general meeting without the physical presence of shareholders. The protection of the health of employees, shareholders and service providers is given the highest priority.
The framework for holding a virtual Annual General Meeting is provided for by the regulations created by the German legislator for the year 2020 to mitigate the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Annual General Meeting shall only be accessible to shareholders who have registered in due time via the company’s website. By using a previously established online portal, these shareholders shall be able to observe the entire Annual General Meeting and to exercise their voting rights electronically (postal vote) or by granting a proxy. The online portal will in addition enable them to submit questions on agenda items up to two days prior to the Annual General Meeting.
Merck, a science and technology company, announced that it acquired the Oled patent portfolio for display applications from Konica Minolta Inc., a global technology company that provides innovative solutions to businesses and society. The acquired portfolio comprises over 700 patent families.
“Adding Konica Minolta’s patents to our already strong portfolio will further boost our Oled development pipeline”, said Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Performance Materials. “With this step we will further strengthen our power to drive innovations in the fast-growing market of Oled displays.”
For more than 15 years, Merck has conducted research and development in the Oled technology field, and, as a result, became one of the leading Oled material suppliers.
The acquisition of Konica Minolta’s Oled patents for display applications is effective immediately. Financial terms were not disclosed.
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Bilfinger to become a DFKI shareholder
Bilfinger, through its subsidiary Bilfinger Digital Next, is joining the group of shareholders of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). The DFKI is an industry-focused research institute in the field of innovative software technologies incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and is considered one of the most important “Centers of Excellence” in the international scientific community. The purpose of the stake is to develop innovative solutions based on AI for the process industry. Bilfinger is the first industrial services provider in the DFKI shareholder group, which also includes companies like Google, Microsoft and SAP. Franz Braun, CEO of Bilfinger Digital Next: “Artificial intelligence technologies give companies in the process industry groundbreaking new opportunities to manage and maintain their plants with a greater degree of efficiency and effectiveness. Plant operators can generate substantial competitive advantages using AI. We want to demonstrate these possibilities to our customers and support them with future-oriented solutions based on the broad range of advantages delivered by artificial intelligence”.
Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger, CEO and Chairman of the DFKI Management Board: “We are pleased to be taking the next step towards a lasting partnership on the basis of the success we have enjoyed in our joint project work to date. Bilfinger’s commitment attests to our cooperation and underscores the industrial relevance of the work DFKI researchers are doing. DFKI’s circle of shareholders will be strengthened by the addition of an ambitious industrial services provider, with whom we plan to continue implementing the results of AI research into products and solutions for the process industry”.
Bilfinger has been collaborating successfully with the DFKI for some time on the development of digital solutions for the process industry. Joint developments that have been launched on the market include PIDGraph, a software for the digitalization of plant documentation. Through the application of AI methods, the software is able to digitalize piping and instrument flow diagrams (P&I diagrams) that are only available in paper or PDF formats. The symbols, texts and lines of the diagrams are converted into a digital format with the help of neural networks trained to recognize patterns. The software records the corrections made by the user and thus continuously improves itself. The digital formats created by PIDGraph can be processed by any modern engineering and asset management system, thereby forming the basis for creating “digital twins” of industrial plants, for example. The digitalization of P&I diagrams is not only significantly cheaper with PIDGraph, but also much faster than conventional methods.
“The AI algorithms recognize the complex elements in the plant diagrams, analyze them, assign them semantically, making them readable for the computer. PIDGraph shows how mature AI methods can comprehend complex corporate knowledge and make it available for digital use,” says Prof. Dr. Andreas Dengel, who started the cooperation with Bilfinger and leads the research area Smart Data & Knowledge Services at the DFKI.