Apart from the original plant in Mannheim, in which around 80 percent of the approximately 900 employees are located, the German FUCHS subsidiary also produces at two additional sites, as Stefan Knapp, CEO of FUCHS SCHMIERSTOFFE, reports. Back in 1883, Friedrich Harmsen, an innkeeper from Kiel, founded his own mineral oil plant and sold his vehicle and machine grease in the entire North German area and over the Baltic Sea as far as Königsberg (now Kaliningrad). The grease factory in Kiel has belonged to the FUCHS Group since 2002. The road to the Mannheim lubricant specialist led through a joint venture between FUCHS and DEA Mineralöl AG, to whom Max, son of the founder, had sold the company in 1951. After this cooperation had ended, the grease factory remained in the hands of FUCHS, and today the entire grease production of FUCHS SCHMIERSTOFFE is concentrated at this site.
Pentosin-Werke, headquartered in Wedel, was founded in 1927, and taken over by FUCHS in 2015 and incorporated into FUCHS SCHMIERSTOFFE GmbH. “This acquisition allowed us to expand our portfolio, particularly in the field of dual-clutch transmission oils,” says Knapp. The original plant in Wedel, with its research and development laboratories, as well as the test area for transmission oils, is still operational, while the second plant in Dormagen was sold at the end of last year.
The fact that the sales of FUCHS SCHMIERSTOFFE managed to continue to grow over recent years even in a saturated and competitive market such as Germany can be attributed above all to the acquisition of Pentosin. “In our domestic market, it is above all a case of maintaining our current strong position. Demand in the majority of our product groups remains high,” says a satisfied Knapp. Potential is generated first and foremost through innovation – a topic that is high on the agenda at FUCHS SCHMIERSTOFFE in light of the pending shake-up of drive concepts. “Even though the current proportion of electrical or hybrid vehicles is still very small, the new drives of our key German OEM clients already play a huge role. This is perhaps a glimpse of what things will look like in five years’ time – and we have to be ready for that,” confirms Knapp. A specialist in e-mobility monitors the trends and developments in this field as part of a newly created post. Formulations for lubricants that meet the requirements of electrical vehicles are being developed in laboratories, and entirely new products are also in the pipeline. “The lubricants may gain importance in this context,” says Knapp. “This is an area in which we are currently very successful, thanks to new developments in cars such as power steering and the electric parking brake.”
The challenge FUCHS SCHMIERSTOFFE has set for itself is to stabilize and expand existing business in the various market sectors, while still providing the resources needed to explore new areas in greater depth. Aside from new drive technologies, digitalization is particularly high on the agenda in this regard. We would like to offer our clients in the industry the service of digitally monitoring the state of their cooling lubricants using sensors in order to allow proactive maintenance. This is not a short-term growth strategy. Rather it’s about increasing the efficiency of our processes and that of our clients.”