Gebr. Pfeiffer was founded in 1864 as a small machine factory in Kaiserslautern/Germany. Today, it is a globally active company with subsidiaries in India, in the United States and China and about 500 employees worldwide. In the founding years steam engines, mills for food production and malting equipment were the main products of the company, but the focus very soon turned to machines and plants for the basic materials industry as we learn from an exhibition catalog “Machines for Hard Comminution” published in 1892 (Fig. 1).
Gebr. Pfeiffer – GPSE today – has always strived to supply its customers with particularly efficient and reliable machines. In retrospect, it is not surprising that you find superlatives again and again like “the first mill”, “the largest mill”, “the best workmanship”, “the longest durability” (Fig. 2). True to his motto that “If you rest you rust!” the company founder Jacob Pfeiffer motivated his employees time and time again to perform to their utmost ability. The first air separators for the cement industry (1890) were manufactured during his active business life. Before the beginning of World War 1 in 1914, Gebr. Pfeiffer already employed 500 people in Kaiserslautern and exported 75 % of its machines.
The two World Wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945) saw Gebr. Pfeiffer, which was an international and export-oriented company, suffer serious setbacks, in its entrepreneurial development: Sales markets were no longer accessible, and production plants were destroyed by the war and disassembled afterwards as reparations. Yet, after each setback Gebr. Pfeiffer recovered quickly and today in the 150th year of its company history Gebr. Pfeiffer demonstrates its technological leadership through the world´s largest cement mill, an MVR 6700 C-6 with an 11,500 kW MultiDrive®, currently under erection in Barroso, Minas Gerais/Brazil for Holcim Brazil.
Gebr. Pfeiffer sold its first own vertical mill in the year of 1956, which has become a success story under the name of the MPS mill. It was a significant contributing factor to the company’s current success and the mill has been sold several thousand times over the years by GPSE and its licensees. The MPS mill was also the world’s first vertical mill for cement grinding that was installed in Germany in 1979 (Fig. 3).
Today, in terms of reliability and cost efficiency, the MPS mill is worldwide considered the best solution for small and medium capacities in the field of raw material, coal and cement grinding. For large and extra large capacities, starting with an installed power of 5000 kW, the MPS mill acquired a big sister, the MVR mill, which was put on line for the first time in 2008. Nowadays, MVR mills for raw material and cement grinding are operating to the entire satisfaction of Gebr. Pfeiffer’s customers in Europe, Asia and Australia (Fig. 4) and more MVR mills will go onstream shortly in North and South America and in more countries in Asia.
In addition to the technically excellent product range, Gebr. Pfeiffer’s endeavour is always to render the very best services concerning the mill to its customers. This starts with the planning and construction of complete grinding plants, reaching from training programmes and plant optimisations through to repairs, modernisations and upgrades. Moreover, the portfolio includes the supply of spare parts which for mill components can be made available 40, 50 or even 60 years after their delivery, thanks to GPSE’s own flexible workshops in Kaiserslautern.
Apart from continuously working on innovations to the benefit of the customers and true to its company’s motto “Progress is our tradition”, another success factor of Gebr. Pfeiffer has been continuity – free from management fads – of staff and management. Many staff members at Gebr. Pfeiffer celebrate their 25th, 40th or even 50th anniversary with the company (Fig. 5). Staff fluctuations are not an issue and over the 150 years of the company’s history the average employment period of the executive board members is 18 years.
The customers. however, who decide over and over again in favour of Gebr. Pfeiffer’s machines and plants, sharing their positive experience with other customers, are the most important factor for the company´s success. On May 8th/9th, 2014 Gebr. Pfeiffer will celebrate the company’s 150th anniversary with these faithful customers and thereby not only look back on past achievements but also make plans for the future true to the company founder’s motto “If you rest you rust!”.