Wien/Ludwigsburg – The AICHELIN Group, international technological leader in the field of thermal and thermo-chemical heat treatment and part of Berndorf AG, is celebrating its 150-year anniversary this year. For this occasion, the group with headquarters in Mödling near Vienna has revamped the visual appearance of its twelve subsidiary companies and defined new perspectives for the future. The industrial furnace manufacturer and its 1100 employees currently generate more than 200 million euros worldwide.
The company’s roots lead back to Germany. In 1868, Jakob Aichelin bought a stove factory in Stuttgart. It was as early as at the turn of the century that coke and coal-fired furnaces for the heat treatment of steel parts were added to the production program next to cooking stoves; then according to the licenses of American Gas Furnace. During that time, carburization as a new process first came up.During the inter-war years, Aichelin succeeded in building its own universally applicable furnace. With the drum retort furnace, Aichelin first succeeded in constructing a furnace with gas atmosphere for the heat treatment industry. This type of furnace became legendary and was sold all over the world. Aichelin thus became pioneer in the field of modern protective gas and gas carburization technology.
During the post-war years, the company advanced to become a specialized industrial furnace manufacturer and their headquarters moved from Stuttgart to Korntal. After the destructions from World War II and thanks to the increasing motorization, the demand was enormous. During the “Economic miracle” period in the 50ies and 60ies, Aichelin experienced a rapid boom. In a fifth generation, Heinz Berger extended the company further. In a politically divided Europe, its Eastern part became an important market. In 1960, the resourceful Swabian businessman took over the Victorin works in Mödling near Vienna - a factory for the construction of slow combustion stoves - and extended this first international location to become a high-performance modern industrial furnace manufacturer, especially for the Eastern European market. With that, the company has had two production sites for all of Europe.
Even before the upheaval in Eastern Europe, AICHELIN entered the rapidly growing Chinese market in 1983 as one of the first European companies. In 1986, a representation sales office was opened in Beijing, a first production facility shortly afterwards. Right from the start, Aichelin emphasized comprehensive training of its employees and strict quality control. This has paid off; Aichelin is now among the market leaders in China and is a real heavyweight within the group, too.
While expanding internationally, Aichelin launched an in-house technology offensive at the same time. After the German reunification, Aichelin started developing and producing gas burners in Oederan (Saxony) in 1992, with what is now Noxmat GmbH. Simultaneously, they continued their development and expansion in other strategic fields.
The Austrian Berndorf AG recognized the future potential of AICHELIN and secured majority ownership of the company in 1997. Under the new roof of Berndorf AG, warrantor of financial stability and sustainable structures, the complete internationalization of AICHELIN Group got underway. After moving its headquarters from Germany to Austria, AICHELIN acquired Heidelberg induction specialist EMA Indutec shortly after in 2000, with over 200 employees. This made Aichelin the first and only manufacturer worldwide who is able to produce conventional and inductive heat treatment facilities.
As of 2004, the entire production of new plants has been centered in Mödling. The German site in Ludwigsburg has since focused on After Sales services. In 2007, AICHELIN acquired belt furnace specialist SAFED with sites in Switzerland and France. In 2012, the Slovenian furnace manufacturer BOSIO, with a focus on forged and steelworks applications, joined the Aichelin Group. In 2016, Aichelin makes its biggest expansion step to date in its company history, by purchasing Atmosphere Group in the US. Next to two heat treatment facilities, AFC Holcroft, US market leader for heat treatment plants with 100 years of experience, became part of the group. Even before that, in 2010, the Austrian-Indian joint venture AICHELIN-Unitherm with headquarters in Pune was established.
Peter Schobesberger, CEO of AICHELIN Group, explains the sustainable success of his company over so many decades with the involvement of its employees and leaders: “AICHELIN’s leader have set the course into the future, and the employees have shown unbelievable adaptability, curiosity, and amazing solidarity. That way, they have been able to meet the challenges of the market time and again.”Shaping the upcoming years and the future is especially close to his heart, says the AICHELIN CEO: “Digitization, changes in our mobility behavior, demographic changes, and increasing global interconnection - these are all topics that we are addressing. I am optimistic that we will be able to take on these changes as opportunities for us and thus ensure our continued success.”
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