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Pump it up

Pump it up

06/06/2011 | Channel: Manufacturing, Automotive, Engineering

Power-Packer is an important name in the automotive and truck industry and is now looking to expand into new industrial areas and strengthen geographic growth

Established in 1970 and launching its first product – a truck cab-tilting system – in 1973, Power-Packer has cemented its roots within the wider automobile and other sectors by forging long-term commitments to major industrial companies including BMW, Volvo Truck Corporation and DAF. Through its 41-year history, the company has adapted this experience in the automotive industry to become a key supplier in the agricultural, marine and medical sectors; it has also grown beyond its hometown of Oldenzaal, the Netherlands, to set up facilities throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America.

Undoubtedly, one of the core reasons for this success is a forward-thinking approach to product development that is reflected by the number of innovations in Power-Packer’s portfolio, including inventing regenerative hydraulic lost motion systems for cab-tilt systems and the first low-pressure convertible top system for the Toyota Celica. Today, as global sales and marketing leader Gert Boers illustrates, this spirit of advancement remains a key characteristic: “We have recently launched a number of new products throughout our business units: a low temperature cab-tilt system, dual function hand pumps, several convertible top drive systems and a manual multi-cylinder (MMC).

“The low temperature cab-tilt system has been developed to meet the requirements of Russian truck OEMs, a market that we have recently moved into. The temperature range specification in that country is different to those for our west European clients so we have developed low-temperature versions of our systems to handle different seals and oil types. We have also developed a new dual function hand pump for the same market, which can be used not only to tilt the cab but also to attach a spare wheel to its rear. For the medical industry we recently created the MMC that improves the performance of a foot pump by enabling between two and six cylinders rather than just one as in traditional models, widening the range of applications for operating tables and other equipment. We are now also looking at an electrohydraulic system for the same applications.”

As these recent products show, the truck and automotive market remains as important to Power-Packer as it was 40 years ago, but the company has also made excellent headway in gaining respect and market share in other sectors as well. Rather than working each industry individually, this has been achieved by an integrated approach that sees the cutting edge requirements and stringent regulations of the automotive industry applied universally. Whilst this often means being over-specified in other areas it also results in high scores during audits by, for example, medical manufacturer and major customer Siemens.

This commitment to quality and ensuing reputation has been an important element in forging long-term relationships with clients. “If you look at the markets and clients that we serve, there is no such thing as a quick break,” comments Gert. “You have to work on understanding the customer, the market they operate in, and their product platforms for the future. Many of these companies utilise a five to seven year lifetime cycle and plan not just for this but for the next three or four cycles. To serve this adequately, long-term partnerships are incredibly important to us.”

Being able to think in the long-term helped Power-Packer through the financial crisis. As an early-cycle business, it was heavily affected by the recession’s initial bite, now more than two years ago. During this time it went through an organisational restructuring that saw the unfortunate cutting down of its workforce; it did, however, manage ongoing investment into critical resources such as engineering and commercial development to ensure that it would remain competitive once the global economy has stabilised. This proved to be a wise decision. Being one of the first into decline, it was also one of the first out, and Power-Packer has seen positive revenue growth for the last 18 months and, for the last year, it has once again been hiring new employees.

This sets up a bright future for the company. Already established in Europe and US as a primary supplier to its existing markets, Power-Packer is now looking to secure similar recognition in emerging economies. China has been a major location for investment for the company over the last few years, and it has astrong assembly and sales operation in the country whilst its work in Russia has, as previously illustrated, been growing for the last three years. The other major growing market, India, is next on the company’s list and it has plans to establish an assembly line in the country soon. New geographic markets form one of the three key themes in the company’s current strategic plan. “Customer satisfaction will be another important theme in the sense of continuous improvement of our quality, delivery and costs because we want to deliver a consistently higher level of customer satisfaction,” Gert explains. “The third key factor will be what we call market diversification in which want to develop new applications around our core strength of hydraulic systems in areas such as boating, elevators, mining and alternative energy.”

With this, he concludes: “We love the automotive and truck industry and would certainly like to expand revenue there but as we have a fairly dominant position already, we would like the percentage of revenue to come a little more from other markets. We are looking at markets that have strong underlying trends that we can work with, and at companies that appreciate the kind of company we are: a supplier with a global mindset, strong application knowledge, and very process driven.”

Power-Packer
Employees:  1100
Products: Hydraulic systems for Motion Control