Milestone Separation Technology
Pumps Gea Launches Hilge Hygienic Pumps for US Markets
“Go West”: German machines and process equipment manufacturer Gea brings its hygienic pump solutions to US markets. To support user industries right on the spot, Gea has built up the service network and a local assembly. Now, the company wants to bring its proven hygienic Hilge pumps (which are among the market leaders in Europe) to the US dairy, pharmaceutical, food and beverage markets.
Dusseldorf/Germany – Gea had acquired Hilge, a leading German pump manufacturer, in June 2015. Since then the company has been integrated and has benefitted from the group's engineering experience and global network of customers, suppliers and agents. Martin Zickler, the product manager for hygienic pumps in Germany., had worked with Hilge before the acquisition: “The old company had no footprint in the USA,” he says. “But now that we have the backing of Gea and a comprehensive service and distribution network in the country, we are ready to take on the challenge.”
“Our pumps are strong, reliable workhorses but, for the American market, service is critical,” Michael Brandt, Gea's business development manager for hygienic Pumps in North America, explains: “We need to be able to respond quickly to our customers and provide a fast spares service. We also needed a reliable distribution network as customers need to know that if they require assistance, they can get the relevant expertise quickly.”
Hygienic Approach Becomes a Must-Have
The centrifugal pumps have a unique design that places the impeller at the pump's front, the pump combines efficient operation with an easy cooling of the seal. This setup mimics a closed impeller but can still be used in the pharmaceutical industry and wherever sanitary conditions are required, making the pump easier to clean and enabling it to handle a much wider range of liquids.
In addition, GEA pump housings are manufactured by deep drawing, not casting. This provides a much higher quality surface finish without blow holes in which bacteria can collect. Although this has been a feature demanded largely by the pharmaceutical industry in the past, the food and beverage market is increasingly requiring a more hygienic approach throughout all aspects of its production.
Engineering Excellence that Allows Pump-Customization
Dave Medlar, head of sales valves & pumps USA and his team have been working hard to get the support network in place before the product launch. “Of course, providing excellent service is always work in progress but I am now confident that we are ready,” he states. “We have a global reputation to maintain; when people buy a Gea product, they know it’s going to be supported well, also during the entire service life of a pump.”
Although the product’s unique features are impressive, and it has a great reputation for reliability, business development manger Brandt sees an even stronger sales proposition in the engineering experience of the group. “It’s like an engineer’s toolbox,” he said. “We know that all applications are different and it’s flexibility that our customers need. Because we are engineers, not just suppliers of components, we can adapt the pumps to fit virtually any application. This might include, for example, different fittings or mountings, a more robust design or even providing the pump on a trolley. We look at the application, then work out what the customer needs are.”
Key Target Markets in the Dairy Industry
Gea sees perhaps the greatest immediate opportunity for their hygienic pumps to be in the dairy industry. “For example, our pumps are ideally suited for transferring cheese curd,” Martin said. “This is an application that usually employs a positive displacement pump, but our unique impeller and pump design makes our centrifugal pumps (e.g. the Hilge Hygia) perfect for the job. They are less expensive to buy than positive displacement pumps, have fewer parts so are easier to maintain, and the spare parts are much cheaper too. This is going to be a very strong market for us.”
Of course, there has to be a question as to whether now is the right time to be tackling a new market especially as the main target, the dairy industry in the USA, has been on a slow-down for some time. But Gea takes a positive view. “The lower level of activity will give us time to settle into our new role,” Brandt believes. “The next upswing will come soon enough and we will then be prepared to make the best of it when it does.”