Building international bridges – Europa-Union visits PFEIFER

PFEIFER Seil- und Hebetechnik GmbH is a genuine global player. The family-owned company from Memmingen has developed over the past decades into a worldwide operative group of companies and leads in wire rope technology, lifting technology, connecting and lifting systems, cable structures and rockfall protection products. PFEIFER is represented by 31 companies in 19 countries in Europe, Asia and America and thus builds numerous international bridges – not only in the figurative sense.

Reason enough for the local district association of the Europa-Union to pay a visit to the traditional company in Memmingen. "Alongside politics, economy is one of the most important bases of international cooperation", says Burkhard Arnold, chairman of the Memmingen District Association of the Europa-Union. For this reason the association, whose members campaign for a united, democratic and peaceful Europe, also concerns itself with economical aspects and the influences of the EU and globalisation on regional companies.

PFEIFER's international alignment is therefore just as important a topic on this day as the company's history that stretches back more than 430 years and its versatile ranges of activity. The 44 visitors learn that PFEIFER's products have to meet strict European and international standards. "Quality is our top priority", stresses PFEIFER employee Georg Hanz during his presentation, "because all our products and services revolve around safety-relevant applications such as the lifting, securing and connecting of loads."

Roof constructions of stadia and sports facilities

PFEIFER's portfolio includes crane ropes, elevator ropes and ropes for industry. Chains and lashing straps for securing goods during transport as well as avalanche protection products made of cable nets also belong to the product range. "We are also well known for our cable structure projects", says Hanz. For example, the roof constructions of numerous football stadia and sports facilities in Europe and the world are supported by PFEIFER cables. One of the most famous examples is the roof of the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa, which was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. "The first so-called cable support structure in which PFEIFER was involved was the roof of the Olympic Stadium in Munich."

Elevator ropes in the world's tallest skyscrapers

Cable structures from PFEIFER are also used with glass facades and membrane architectures. as well as in bridge construction with which the Memmingen-based company connects Europe together in the truest sense of the words. For example the Mariensteg footbridge over the River Inn between Germany and Austria and the Dreiländerbrücke (Three-Country Bridge) between Weil am Rhein and France are supported by PFEIFER ropes. Over and above that, the visitors learn that PFEIFER ropes are also used in further major projects. For example, elevators in seven of the world's ten tallest skyscrapers operate with PFEIFER ropes. Further fields of application are, for example, mining and deep-sea exploration.

18,000 square metre production hall

During a guided tour of the company's site and the almost 18,000 square metre production hall, the guests also get a look inside the company and experience the workings of PFEIFER at first hand. At the company's headquarters in Memmingen, for instance, crane ropes are made up, wire rope eyes for the transport of precast concrete elements are produced and steel is processed to make lifting clamps, grippers and spreader beams for the lifting of heavy loads.

There is an odour of machine oil and hot metal in the hall. Welding, assembly and painting is going on. The members of the Europa-Union Association stop in front of a cable drum that stands higher than a man. "Cables up to 14 centimetres in diameter are wound up and transported on such drums", explains PFEIFER employee Dr. Ulrich Weiskopf, the group's guide. On being asked by the visitors, he adds: "Such wire ropes are used amongst other things in the construction of bridges and stadium roofs."

The fully automatic high-bay warehouse offers room for around 1600 cable drums

A few metres further on stands one of the highlights of the guided tour: the fully automatic high-bay warehouse, which is unique in its size and mode of operation: "Around 1600 cable drums can be stored", explains Weiskopf. And there's even more to marvel at. For example, the model of a so-called stranding machine illustrates how the PFEIFER steel wire ropes are manufactured at the production site in Mülheim. The test tower, which can be seen from afar on the company site, also arouses the visitors' interest. As they find out, that is where the performance of the crane ropes is tested in endurance tests.

"It's astounding how versatile PFEIFER's task areas are", one of the Europa-Union members declares at the end of the tour, and he adds: "That was really impressive." Another of the visitor's agrees with him: "The logistics behind the individual production processes alone are incredible." The association's chairman Burkhard Arnold also draws a positive conclusion: "We really enjoyed ourselves very much at PFEIFER. We were able to learn a lot of interesting things."

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