Efficient processes for grinding and separation

For 95 years now, Christian Pfeiffer Maschinenfabrik GmbH has been developing system components for grinding plants. The company has always been characterized by its process-controlled approach, which ensures the greatest possible flexibility in plant planning.

Company history

In 1925, Christian Pfeiffer founded the company and set up a workshop in Beckum for the production of vendor parts for the cement industry. Five years later, the first Christian Pfeiffer mill diaphragms were registered for patent approval.

In 1939, the Heyd separator technology was established on the European market. Another milestone followed in 1960, with the development of the first diaphragms for ball mills with a diameter of 5 m. The first high-performance separator QDK was developed in 1987, and a year later Christian Pfeiffer opened his first subsidiary in the USA. 2001 saw the opening of the South American subsidiary in Santa Cruz/Bolivia.

The fourth generation diaphragm featuring separation of air and material flow was introduced in 2004. The next-generation separators with a 10 % increase in efficiency  were marketed in 2010.

In 2008, the mill diaphragm production facility  opened in Changshu/China. In 2012, an office was opened in New Delhi/India to expand the worldwide presence.

The headquarters in Beckum with around 100 employees consist of the following departments: laboratory and test centre, administration, sales, engineering, project management, production of mills, mill internals and separators.

The location in Liezen/Austria covers the areas of sales, engineering and project management, employing around 25. Today the company operates at 45 locations worldwide.

Range of services and product portfolio

Christian Pfeiffer not only designs and builds customized grinding plants, but is also involved in treatment processes for mineral raw materials.

Although the company’s origin is on plants for the cement industry, the mills and systems are also used in the power station industry, ore processing, industrial minerals and in coal grinding.

Up to 90 % of the mechanical engineering company’s output goes to the export market.

Christian Pfeiffer’s main focus today is on the development of turnkey plants, taking care of the engineering, procurement and the entire construction. The company prepares and develops EP systems, i.e. individually adapted complete systems, as well as EPC systems, turnkey grinding systems with a ready-functioning infrastructure, like e.g. the EPC-project for the Egyptian Amreyah Cement Company (AMCC).

The initial consultation with the customer collects all the  important information about the respective requirements. Subsequent semi-industrial tests, simulation systems and laboratory analyses of the materials determine all the important parameters for a future grinding plant. Knowledge of the feed material and end product serves to determine the use of the most efficient grinding systems and mill sizes. Christian Pfeiffer has been working with universities and research institutes for years in order to continuously optimize mill and separation technology.

Against the background of new knowledge about throughput and energy saving, efficient and long-lasting grinding systems have been developed. The Christian Pfeiffer portfolio in the mill sector includes: ball mills, compact mills, roller presses and vertical mills. Another product sector is mill internals: transfer diaphragms, discharge walls, end wall plates, slotted plates, progressive lifter plate lining, classifying lining, drying chamber elements and grinding balls.

Separators have been part of Christian Pfeiffer’s portfolio since 1939 and are part of the core portfolio. The first separator was invented at Christian Pfeiffer by engineer Jakob Heyd and has been continuously further developed. Today, the QDK high-performance separator is widely used in the cement industry.

Process-driven approaches

The basic principle of the Christian Pfeiffer company philosophy is a customer-oriented approach and the resultant flexibility. The customer‘s problems and requirements form the basis for the individual solutions required at the plant site. Even after the initial consultation, the essential close contact with the customer is maintained in order to be able to respond to individual solution requirements. Christian Pfeiffer’s flexibility and quality management often lead to long-term customer contacts.

In addition to customer orientation, the process-controlled approach is a cornerstone of the company‘s business culture. In order to be able to adequately address current topics, such as energy saving, Christian Pfeiffer also works closely with various institutes of applied sciences and universities in its product development. Inquiries for particular machine requirements and collaborations with other bodies result in new product developments.

Innovation: Ball mill optimization – Cerablu

In the cement industry, one of the main topics is reducing the energy consumption. In the cement manufacturing process, cement grinding accounts for approximately 40 % of the specific electrical energy requirement.

Two-compartment ball mills operating in closed circuit comprise the primary technology for grinding cement. The highest potential for energy savings and best operation occurs when these mills are equipped with perfect internals. Therefore, Christian Pfeiffer has developed Cerablu, an optimization package, based on the exchange of the steel ball charge for a ceramic ball charge, to substantially improve the energy efficiency of the second compartment and thus ensure a more cost-effective operation of existing systems. In the production of white cement, ceramic balls have been successfully used for years.

Tests have shown that the use of Cerablu leads to savings in specific power consumption of up to -25 %. The grinding media lifetime can be increased by up to +50 %, while the steel contamination sees a decrease of up to -50 gr/t. In addition, the ball mill noise emission of the second chamber, the coating effect in it as well as the use of grinding aid can also be significantly reduced. Another effect is a lower grinding heat and therefore a reduced cement temperature after the ball mill.

The company is currently also focussing on the processing of industrial minerals. A new test center installed in Beckum is carrying out optimizations for ultra-fine technology products in the range of up to <2-3 μm and for the development of further grinding equipment.

Development of young talent

As there are many medium-sized companies in the Beckum area, this North Rhine-Westphalian town in the district of Warendorf offers a wide range of professional opportunities for young engineers. Local marketing also ensures that Christian Pfeiffer has a good name in the region. In addition to apprenticeship training, dual studies are possible in cooperation with the Münster University of Applied Sciences. In addition, the company is a member of the Beckumer Industrie e.V. association, which was founded in 2001. This is an association of 19 industrial companies whose aim is to strengthen the Beckum location. The core tasks of the association include the creation of attractive jobs in the region, the provision of well-founded training opportunities and the promotion of culture, science and sport.

Christian Pfeiffer in the Corona crisis

30-40 % of the employees worked in their home office until the beginning of June, especially those in the areas of sales, design and order processing. Manufacturing continued in two-shift teams. Video conferences replaced physical-presence discussions with customers, but also guaranteed normal communication with the branch in Liezen.

Despite the adverse circumstances, the company‘s normal close customer contact made it possible to bring forward maintenance work or wear repairs in order to avoid a work bottleneck in autumn. For this purpose, the company developed a current campaign with the title “Become a mill inspector”, which involves the customer in checking and visual inspection of the mill condition. For Christian Pfeiffer, in-depth exchange of information with the customer remains an essential element of good cooperation.

For the last 13 years, Christian Pfeiffer has been hosting an annual customer seminar. This year, due to covid-19, the seminar will not take place, but hopefully next year the company can welcome customers again. The 4-day technical process training will provide application-oriented knowledge and answer any questions the participants may have. The seminar is addressed to professional process engineers, maintenance engineers, production managers and plant operators, enabling them to better understand their own plant and to optimize production operations.
The training delivers an overview of the grinding processes. Furthermore the following contents will be presented:
Comparative cost of ownership of the different grinding systems
›› latest design of the ball mill and internals
›› latest design of high-efficiency separators
›› mill audit and axial sampling
›› impact of material characteristics & grindability
›› cement additives
›› influence of the grinding process on cement quality
With the slogan “Become a mill inspector” Christian Pfeiffer wants to draw the customer’s attention to the condition of the mill. Particularly with the current situation concerning Covid-19 in mind, this action aims at involving the customer’s staff in the checking of mill shell linings as well as slotted and end wall plates. The degree of wear and tear depends on many factors, making a regular check necessary. The customer may send pictures of the wear parts as well as information about the state of the lining. The Christian Pfeiffer engineers will then analyze the degree of wear and the condition of the mill, giving recommendations for action and if necessary, sending a spare parts offer.
The measures to be taken may include:
›› securing the fixation of the slotted plates so that they remain functional and do not cause damage in the grinding process
›› checking the residual thickness of the mill shell lining, so that the grinding process remains efficient
›› constant diaphragm wear monitoring, because without regular maintenance the wear and tear can be extreme

Related articles:


On 11.09.-14.09.2017 the Christian Pfeiffer Seminar will be held in Beckum/Germany. During this technical process training Christian Pfeiffer engineers will provide application-oriented knowledge and...


Christian Pfeiffer will supply two grinding plants for a new cement plant of the YD Madencilik A.S. (Üstyapi Insaat Group). In the Düzce region, 200 km east of Istanbul, a new cement plant of the YD...


Following the very successful realization of our last process-technological training courses in the past, customers are welcome to participate in our next three days intensive training held at...

Issue 2014-09 MALAYSIA

In spring 2014, Christian Pfeiffer received the order to erect a turnkey cement grinding plant including silos and packing facility for Caha Mata Sarawak (CMS) in Kuching/Malaysia. The order at a...

Issue 2015-9 EGYPT

The Christian Pfeiffer Maschinenfabrik from Beckum/Germany signed a contract for the delivery and construction of two complete coal mills on 03.06.2015 at the head offices of the Amreyah Cement...