Fit for the Future

28.03.2018

Fit for the Future

No matter whether in Germany, China,  Turkey,  the  United  States,  Australia,  South Africa or Poland, investments in the world of FUCHS are in full swing. Take a closer look at the new FUCHS plant in Australia, investments in the Gliwice plant in Poland, the grease factory in South Africa and the 3E machine test bench in Mannheim.

Australia: New Factory in Newcastle

In February of 2018 the new plant of FUCHS LUBRICANTS (AUSTRALASIA) officially opened. The new building is located in Beresfield, a suburb of Newcastle in New South Wales. With a footprint of 25,000 square meters, the new site is two and half times the size of the old one offering triple the output capacity of the old plant in Wickham, which is only a 25 minute drive away and will close its gates soon. “Production facilities in Wickham had reached their limit with no further opportunities for expansion,” explains Wayne Hoiles, CEO of the Australian FUCHS subsidiary. “Since the old site is located adjacent to the city center of Newcastle with yacht harbor and beaches, the area is in the planning phase of being transformed from an industrial zone to a residential / commercial zone. One major benefit of our new premises is the close proximity to our old factory thus enabling our staff to keep their jobs. Easy access to the local freeway system connecting Newcastle to Sydney and Brisbane and the immediate vicinity to our mining customers based in Hunter Valley are important advantages.”

The new Beresfield, Australia plant.

Production in the new Beresfield facility has already ramped up.

Whereas competitors opt for importing their products to Australia, FUCHS continues to rely on local manufacturing using the highest quality standards. “Being close to the customers is critical especially when they operate 24 hours a day 365 days of the year like the mining industry. In this situation you need  to have products available in cases of emergency as it is a very costly exercise if a mine site closes down for any period of time. Given the large geographic area of Australia it is critical to have the infrastructure and the logistics available to supply and serve the customer,” says Mr. Hoiles.

33 million Australian dollars (€21 million) were invested in the new factory which is designed for high volume production. It features an automated high-speed filling system with stainless steel pipes and tanks thereby meeting the most stringent quality requirements. The factory planning was supervised by a global FUCHS engineering team which could tap from the experience made planning the new plants in Russia and China. High flexibility for potential diversification to new product portfolios ensures less working capital and on time response to customer demands.

“Since the area was native bushland prior to the erection of the plant, we went through a significant due diligence process before we could acquire the land in September 2015. However, it enabled us to tailor the plot to our own requirements,“ Mr. Hoiles recalls.

Currently, both Australian FUCHS plants in Melbourne and Newcastle cover 95 percent of the sold products (by volume) in Australia and New Zealand. “The boosted capacities blaze the trail for the implementation of our expansion plans and expectations,” emphasizes the Head of FUCHS LUBRICANTS (AUSTRALASIA). “And we foresee plenty of potential in this region.

FUCHS Beresfield, Australia Plant Employees

FUCHS Beresfield, Australia Production Site.

Poland: Prepared for new challenges

Sales revenues and production output of FUCHS OIL (PL) have increased consistently over the past years. “Our growth is organic, however, the summer 2015 acquisition of Statoil Fuel & Retail Lubricants which had been cooperating with numerous local companies in the CPM (Chemical Process Management) business, provided significant impetus for this expansion,” says Christian Ohligmacher, Vice President Central & Eastern Europe. FUCHS took over altogether 300 employees in Central and Eastern Europe and migrated the Statoil production from the Nynäshamn plant near Stockholm to Gliwice, Upper Silesia, the main location for the FUCHS production in Poland. “We now locally produce oils and greases for the most diverse applications demanded by the Polish market but also for our trading companies in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and the Ukraine,” Mr. Ohligmacher reports.

Since the production output grew by 50 percent and the number of staff members in Gliwice increased to 180 over the last four years, the subsidiary faced large challenges. “It was obvious, that we needed to raise the performance of the site to a level that meets the demands of our successful business operations in Poland, a country which has emerged to one of the most significant industrial nations in Europe,“ describes Mr. Ohligmacher.

In 2013 / 14, the 40,000 square meters large plot, where FUCHS started its business in Poland 27 years ago, was eventually acquired. In 2015, FUCHS launched a €4 million investment program comprising a completely new building for state-of-the-art drum filling stations, new mixing and raw material tanks as well as new warehouses and order picking halls. “We also modernized and expanded the central administration offices and provided the building with insulation and an attractive new facade,” says Mr. Ohligmacher. Currently, the production facilities are being upgraded with a process control system for automated production. All these measures have largely exhausted the capacities available on our premises,” Mr. Ohligmacher takes into account. “The acquisition of adjacent plots, however, will ensure potential expansion in the mid-term future.”

Significant investments were made in the FUCHS Gliwice, Poland site for modernized and expanded production.

South Africa: New grease factory

The new FUCHS grease factory in Isando, Johannesburg, is the most modern grease production facility in Africa. “Hot commissioning started at the end of November and we plan to launch production starting in the 1st quarter in 2018,” says Alf Untersteller, in charge for Africa in the Group Management Committee. German equipment featuring a high degree of automation and an encapsulated dosing unit for powder additives are the technological highlights of the new plant. The factory benefits from experience made with the grease factories in Kiel and Harvey.  As the new factory could be installed in an area of 622 square meters in premises already available at FUCHS LUBRICANTS (SOUTH AFRICA), new space requirements were minimal thus yielding significant cost savings.  Environmental concerns were taken into account, too, and the laboratory was completely modernized.

A team consisting of one supervisor and nine skilled workers operates production predominantly manufacturing mining greases. “The focus is on lithium, lithium-complex and aluminum-complex greases,” says Paul Deppe, CEO of the South African FUCHS subsidiary. “However, sufficient heating and cooling capacities are available to produce new grease grades based on calcium sulphonate.”

The team was trained in Germany. “Our maintenance engineer, the production manager, the production supervisor and five grease makers spent one week in Mannheim gathering information on the basic principles of grease production, quality control and the operation of the automation system,” Mr. Deppe reports. “The production training took place during the subsequent two weeks at the grease factory in Kiel where the in-house staff was very committed helping their colleagues from far away Africa. Some of them had never been on an airplane or even left their home country.”

“Thanks to the increased production capacities, we not only aim to strengthen our position in the grease sector on the South African mining market but also in the neighboring countries,” Mr. Untersteller emphasizes. “Given the expensive equipment used in this sector, top-quality greases are particularly in demand. That is why we foresee great potentials to increase our customer base.”

Point of departure for the decision to build a new grease factory in South Africa was not only the necessity to modernize and expand of the old equipment but also the acquisition of the LUBRITENE Group in 2014. “In the first quarter of 2018, we will shut down the LUBRITENE factory in Chloorkop, located only a few minutes away from our new site,” Mr. Deppe explains. “Its production will be taken over by the new plant in Isando.”

The team of the new grease factory in South Africa was trained in Germany.

Designed specifically according to FUCHS' requirements: the new 3E machine test rig.

Mannheim site: 3E machine test rig operational

The newly constructed building on the former site of Plant 1 at the FUCHS headquarters in Mannheim provides space for 15 new test rigs, the first of which have already been installed.  Some have been relocated from the neighboring “old” building with space for 35 test rigs. A particular highlight was delivered in November 2017 and is now operational: the 3E machine test rig with a power of approx. 3 x 500 kilowatts takes up 200 of the 1,200 square meters of total floor space, and was installed on an additional 40-centimeter-thick steel foundation.

“This test rig is designed specifically according to our requirements,” says Dr. Christian Seyfert, test field manager. “The reason: we want to use it to test a wide range of different transmissions for both passenger cars and trucks and depict realistic driving profiles for them.” Now, for the first time, FUCHS has a full in-house gearbox test rig and no longer needs to rely on special service providers. “We can insert different gearboxes into the 3E machine test rig, and thus measure energy consumption, service life and wear, for example. This data will help us to select and optimize the best ‘candidates’ for our lubricant formulations,” says Dr. Seyfert, explaining the procedure.

The test rig was ordered about a year ago. It took eleven months for the machine to be assembled by the manufacturer. In autumn 2017, it was tested on site for a week by Dr. Seyfert and his team, before being delivered to Mannheim. “With our test rigs and our associated complex technological know-how, we act as a service provider for the entire FUCHS Group,” says the head of the test field in Mannheim. “We have now improved this service even further.”

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