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In the fast lane of growth

Ever since Harburg-Freudenberger, Farrel Corporation and Pomini Rubber & Plastics integrated their business to become HF Mixing Group in 2010, the company has consolidated its operations to become a global giant in rubber processing and tyre producing machinery. With an illustrious engineering tradition of over 150 years, the MF Mixing
Group which is credited with the invention of the Banbury Mixer has become an innovation powerhouse.

Global rubber and tyre manufacturers turn to the German company for cutting-edge technologies. Today, setting HF Mixing Group’s growth agenda is its team leader Prof Dr-Ing Andreas Limper, Member of the Management Board.

His vision is to make the Group the unassailable leader in the segment it operates. HF Mixing’s management strategy is to become a close associate with all its customers so that it can understand their specific requirements and come up with holistic solutions. “We would like to be a partner to our customers,” Prof Dr-Ing Limper told Polymers & Tyre Asia.

“We offer a holistic view of all questions concerning mixing,” he said in an interview. In the tyre industry this means mainly batch mixing, he explained. “Apart from steel and iron, we also offer sophisticated solutions for plant engineering, control systems, peripheral equipment along with mixing line.” The Group offers a full range of
mixing equipment and systems to tyre manufacturers, technical rubber goods producers and rubber compounders.

Another big item on Prof Dr-Ing Limper’s growth agenda is to act global but also to be a local service partner. “In Asia, we have three newly-established service  companies in Bangalore, Kuala Lumpur and Qingdao. We are also using the wellknown Singapore sales and service office which had been developed by Farrel years ago,” he pointed out.
“In our company we are putting together the best ideas of Pomini, Farrel and HF engineers to accomplish fi rst class solutions for intermeshing and tangential mixers and twin screw extruders,” he said.

The HF Mixing Group consists of Harburg-Freudenberger Machinenbau GmbH in Freudenberg (based in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia), Farrel Corp and Farrel Ltd in Ansonia, Connecticut (USA) and the United Kingdom and HF Rubber Machinery Inc in Topeka, Kansas (USA).

Last November, HF Group acquired the Slovakian company HF Najus.

“With our new acquisition of HF Najus just last November, we have installed a sustainable elongated working bench
with cost advantages against high cost countries.” The acquisition will be adding muscle to the Group’s rubber mixing technology division. It makes specialist machinery and produces welded structures, mechanical processing and the assembly of complex components.

Talent consolidated The HF Group believes that this acquisition, which it says is an ideal fi t, offers an additional manufacturing site with expansion potential that can offer customers competitively-priced, high-quality machines in the future. HF Najus can also manufacture all core components without loss of its core expertise.

HF Mixing Group has modern process laboratories for continuous mixing located at Rochdale in Greater Manchester (England) and Ansonia.

The group companies are coming out with breakthrough mixing technologies. They are supporting customers with cuttingedge solutions. The Group’s batch mixing machinery manufacturing centre is located in Freudenberg. These centres enable the Group to offer customers “quite decent places to test the newest technologies or to tune-up existing procedures,” he said.

IN THE FAST LANE OF GROWTHElaborating the company’s directions, Prof Dr-Ing Limper emphasised that its “strategy is to use the strengths of our team to keep its world leading position.” This means excellent engineers, a worldwide operational network that  covers everything from procurement to developing a production concept.

This is characterised by the right mixture of in-house developed components. Farrel produces tangential mixers or Banbury, HF Freudenberger leads in intermeshing machines and Pomini produces twin screw machinery.

In spite of the fact that MF Mixing Group is leading in the segment it is operating, it is intensely aware of the fiercely competitive global market, which is also facing the ups and downs of economic cycles. However, the company is continually developing strategies to keep ahead and come with innovative solutions by working closely with rubber and tyre industry partners.

Commenting on the uncertainties facing natural rubber and how HF Group will be preparing to meet the challenges of tomorrow, Prof Dr-Ing Limper said his company’s products such as mixers are designed to work with each and every raw material. “To ease process developments, we offer a modern automation system, which gives a high degree of process transparency and allows our customers to quickly react to new challenges. In our process lab in Freudenberg, we support our customers in the development of new mixing procedures for new recipes.”

He thinks that marketing will continue to be a challenge as consumer perceptions vary. In the case of tyres, the fi eld is diversifi ed. In Europe the importance of silica tyres is rising as they are also supported by the car industry. Driven by the tyre-labelling regulations of the European Union, consumers now take a very intense look at the quality criteria such as rolling resistance, braking properties and noise emission.

“For us, silica tyres and S-SBR (Solution Styrene-Butadiene Rubber) mean more sophisticated mixing procedures which require fi rst class mixers and a very good process control. The newly developed Tandem Mixing is in this respect a huge success and we expect its importance will even rise in the near future.”

HF Mixing Group, evolved over 150 years, has a strong reputation among customers because of its global leadership as a pioneering technical developer and machinery maker for the tyre and technical rubber goods industry worldwide. This leadership is sustained along with the technological growth that is being witnessed in the tyre industry.

Its HF TireTech Group offers a range of technologies for tyre manufacture and rubber processing that covers everything from planning, design engineering,
manufacture, commissioning right up to complete maintenance of customers’ systems. It is in keeping with the changes taking place in the tyre industry.

“Consumer perception will be more focussed on measurable criteria, which are quantifi ed in the tyre labelling,” feels Prof Dr-Ing Limper. This means that in a certain aspects, ‘branding’ of tyres has to take into account the changing circumstances.

“In total I think the quality aspect of tyres will gain more importance at least in countries where a neutral institution is performing tyre tests and defining the scores for tyres,” he said.

As Prof Dr-Ing Limper strategises HF Group’s vision, the core element that drives its stupendous growth is its commitment to quality and working closely with tyre companies as partners in the development of an industrial sector
that is always in the fast lane.

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