Stefan Leuchtenberger (left) and Thomas Schäfer

When a pump specialist, like Stefan Leuchtenberger, becomes a pump manufacturer, then he exactly knows what he is doing. Since the middle of this year, he has been responsible for Technology, Production and Services at Habermann Aurum Pumpen GmbH in Bochum, Germany, and underlines his ambitions with a clear message: “Habermann is back”. We have managed to clarify what he means by this in an interview with him and his management partner, Thomas Schäfer, responsible for Sales and Operational Activities at Habermann Aurum Pumpen GmbH.

Leuchtenberger describes himself as ‘fanatic about pumps’. Those who know him personally know that he is certainly one of the most experienced pump experts in Europe. He has been responsible for all of the pumps in a large chemical company for more than a decade. Following that he worked for almost another decade repairing pumps. Leuchtenberger has recently become a pump manufacturer. As was the case in his entire working life, he did not choose the easy path for this step. Since 1 May 2019 he has been a member of the management board at Habermann Aurum Pumpen GmbH in Bochum.

“It was the chemical industry, where  I designed, purchased and operated pumps, that laid the foundation for my pump craziness. I was also a Habermann customer. Once I took the next step and became involved in maintenance, from my wealth of experience, the only thing lacking was one pump manufacturer. I am now looking forward, in the next few years, to bringing my experience to Habermann Aurum Pumpen and of course being able to leave an impression.”

Schäfer on him: “Habermann has always been focused on understanding and offering solutions from a user’s point of view. Stefan and I have known each other for a long time and the fact that he has added his wealth of experience to Habermann Aurum Pumpen’s focus on the user’s point of view, fits perfectly well. We talk to pump operators and look closely at what’s going on both in front of and behind the pump. The search for a solution is always the search for a suitable solution for the user, without having to operate from a standard. That’s why Stefan fits in well with our team. Thanks to his experience, now more than ever, we are speaking the language of pump operators. Nowadays, we have a deep understanding of the needs of pump operators and have therefore focussed our in-house processes accordingly.”

The new facility of Habermann Aurum Pumpen GmbH in Bochum, Germany

Leuchtenberger on his ambitions: “The exciting thing about this assignment is that we have a lot of freedom here to set a young and very dynamic company, with a world-renowned, long-standing reputation as experts for liquid-solid production, on a future-oriented way. The main challenge is to form a real team and to take everyone on that journey in order to be able to grasp completely new things. Thomas and I have known each other for so long that we do not demarcate our fields of responsibility, but approach them cooperatively. We solve the problems of our customers together and pull together. I am sure that sets us apart from other companies, because in our current 50-strong team, we set no limits to our competence.”

Schäfer adds: “This type of cooperation runs through the entire company. All our employees think and act as a team so that we are able to quickly develop solutions for our customers.” Leuchtenberger adds: “We are shaping this company into a very modern medium-sized company. So we are currently in the process of establishing a suggestion system. In addition, one of our employees has just started his apprenticeship as a pump specialist engineer.”

“Also, we are expanding technologically speaking,” says Schäfer. “We complement our existing polyurethane and rubber qualities with polymer casting to coat our pumps. This lining variant, consists of a more than 80% silicon carbide filler mixed in a vinyl ester resin and expands our solution options. This liner is mixed under vacuum and placed in our existing cast housings to ensure a firm connection of the housing and liner. A key benefit of this new liner is that it can be used as an option in all of our existing HPK series pumps. This gives operators the opportunity to replace a Habermann pump in an existing system 1: 1 with the polymer cast variant. At the same time, this optimises our solution options, because in the future we will be able to better protect highly-stressed components against wear and ensure less-stressed components with more cost-effective linings. This will provide us with even more opportunities to optimally solve operational challenges.”

“We can therefore also offer completely new solutions,” says Leuchtenberger, “by analysing which component of the pump is exposed to particularly high demands and then providing this specific component with an optimised coating. It makes sense to look at each individual case and ask yourself which component fails first. This is exactly where we start with our solutions. It takes a lot of experience to recognise this, but that is our strength.”

A quick look at our history and our future

In 2015, Aurum Pumpen GmbH, the long-standing sales partner of Arthur Habermann GmbH & Co. KG, seized the opportunity to take over Habermann’s division of solid matter pumps. This began with a small core team of former Habermann employees. In the last 4 years, the company has grown significantly. The foundations were laid by former Habermann employees, who brought their experience from all areas to the new company.

Therefore, almost nothing of Habermann’s competence in solid and sludge production, which has been world-famous since 1927, has been lost. Schäfer on this: “We were, and still are a real niche supplier. It is very important that we can, on the one hand, draw on the know-how of experienced specialists, and, on the other hand, that we have an entrepreneurial framework today that is clearly oriented towards new and further developments. Today, we are fully capable of providing solutions for all existing pumps, including the supply of spare parts, using all of Habermann’s expertise. And at the same time, on this basis, we are working on further developments and also on material modifications to make our pumps future-proof.”

Leuchtenberger: “Habermann pumps have always been a niche product for complicated solutions. Today, we are working on alternative, much more resistant materials or digitalisation solutions, to enable predictive maintenance. We also optimise and streamline our product range by broadening standards. Individual solutions based on these standards are our top priority and reflect our customers´opinion: if Habermann develops a solution, then we will buy this solution. Conversely, if a customer comes to us with a specific problem, then we will solve it.”

Schäfer gives a recent example: “In 2017 we received a development order from an international construction company, which told us that they had been looking for a solution partner for a long time, but – so they said – you are the only one – providing both the right expertise and a real technological advantage. We implemented this task by constructing and delivering four prototypes just-in-time, which we now continue to support during their trial operation.

“This is exactly how anyone can approach us with their solids recovery problems. We are looking for solutions for abrasive and chemically aggressive challenges, which may also include high delivery pressures for suspensions,” adds Leuchtenberger. “We look forward to assignments from all sectors of industry – from chemistry, pigment chemistry, mineral raw material extraction and processing, to infrastructure projects with tunnelling or mining. Goodies include, for example, solid matter pumps with extreme operating depths of more than 200 metres of liquid coverage. Such solutions require comprehensive know-how. A tunnel pump is not just a pump, it must fit exactly into the assembly conditions and the specific operating conditions of the machine. This brings us back to our claim at the beginning that we speak the language of our customers and understand their problems.”

Another of Leuchtenberger’s areas of responsibility is the expansion of service offerings: “The biggest challenge for sure, is that our pumps are used worldwide. If one fails, this is usually associated with high costs for the plant operators. So we have to be able to react very quickly and act competently. In all instances, our customers receive original parts so that they can be sure that their pump will look the same after repair and have the same performance as when new. At Habermann Aurum Pumpen, service means much more. In the future, we also want to help users to optimise their repair process, their spare parts warehouse or even the process itself.”

Success speaks for itself: In 2018, in the solid matter pumps division, Habermann Aurum Pumpen generated a turnover of over EUR 10 million, and subsequently almost reached the volume that the former Arthur Habermann GmbH & Co. KG achieved with twice as many employees.

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