SPECIAL REPORT: Letsrecycle.com’s Rob Mowat recently visited two of the Liebherr Group’s facilities in Kirchdorf, Germany, to discuss business expansion plans for 2018/19.
The equipment manufacturer recently announced that it had acquired an extra 1,561 staff in 2017, bringing its total workforce to 43,869 employees. The figures were published in its latest end-of-year report, which cited a 9.3% rise in total sales for the 2017 calendar year, as with a turnover of 9,845m Euros.
The Liebherr Group has been supplying a range of industries, including waste and recycling, for almost 70 years, with its network now totaling 130 sites across 50 continents. It employs more than 43,000 people worldwide.
Founder Hans Liebherr established the business in 1945, and was a respected entrepreneur and inventor, notably for the creation of the first mobile tower crane.
Post-war, the businessman built his own refrigerator production facility in Ochsenhausen, Germany. The construction machinery range was also expanding and included machines for the production and transportation of concrete, built in the Bad Schussenried factory.
Liebherr commissioned his first production facility outside Germany in 1950, with the aim of expanding into the British and North American markets. In the 1960s, the first Lierberr site outside of Europe was commissioned in South Africa. Hans also set up the Liebherr-Aero-Technik GmbH company in Lindenberg, Germany, where the organisation established its aeronautical activities.
Following his death in 1993, three of Hans’ five children took over the management side of the organisation. Presently, the shareholders of the third-generation business are all family members.
On the team’s arrival, tour guide Hans Waber greeted them and provided a tour of the grounds. Now retired, he had worked for the company most of his life and recalled many memories of Mr Liebherr.
The tour started at the Liebherr Components Kirchdorf GmbH factory, a separate sub-division comprising of a 30,000m2 factory and 340 staff, responsible for producing the main components for the material handlers and excavators. This consisted of single and double acting hydraulic cylinders and dampers.
Liebherr-Logistics Gmbh is the International spare parts logistics centre, located a short drive from the factory. Established in 2011, the warehouse is 46,000 m2, containing over 80 forklifts, 400,000 part numbers and a 98% first time pick availability. “A total of 1,600 orders leave the warehouse each day”, said Mr Haber.
The logistics centre supports the earth-moving and component divisions with additional divisions to be integrated in due course. The brownfield site next door to it has been earmarked for a second warehouse to manage this integration.
The Liebherr Group comprises 11 divisions, which includes: Mining, Mobile Cranes, Concrete Technology, as well as Machine Tools & Automation Systems, Domestic Appliances and Earthmoving Equipment among others.
The Liebherr – Hydraulikbagger GmbH site produces around 2,400 machines a year, and is responsible for four product ranges, consisting of material handlers (22-222t) for scrap handling, port handling, waste management and recycling, and timber handling. Other products in the portfolio include wheeled excavators for the civil engineering and earth moving sectors (11-28t), along with railroad (22-24t) and working tools & quick-coupling-systems.
As the tour came to a close, the letsrecycle team saw a multi-coloured excavator, representing the production of the 75,000 machines completed by September 2017.
With additional machinery and warehousing in the pipeline, the Liebherr Group said its Kirchdorf operations will continue to expand.