The history of the family enterprise RIEDHAMMER is a story of success, written by an innovative and reliable company policy.
In 1924, when Ludwig RIEDHAMMER, an engineer resident in Nuremberg, decided to start his own company, his goal was the development and construction of industrial furnaces for manufactured carbon. The aluminium and steel industry were growing rapidly, and large quantities of anodes made of graphite were required, which could only be manufactured by means of special baking processes. The pit furnaces developed by RIEDHAMMER were soon accepted throughout the world, and constituted the basis for the company’s success.
The recession of the thirties was overcome, and a new business branch was developed, namely the firing of porcelain.
Kiln plants pioneering new developments were designed by RIEDHAMMER.
The first electrically heated kiln plants for the decoration firing of porcelain were built. This kiln type made it possible to reduce the firing times and to improve the quality of the end product considerably.
Gas-heated tunnel kilns for the glost firing of porcelain became a milestone of firing technology.
The company expanded and started a worldwide export business extending to, for example, Japan and Manchuria. A license agreement with Mitsubishi, dating back to 1939, was to remain in force for more than 60 years.
In 1938 Riedhammer built the first tunnel kiln for glost-firing porcelain for the company Kronester in Schwarzenbach, Germany.
In 1940 Hans Riedhammer, the son of Ludwig Riedhammer, started to work for the company.
In the fifties, when electronic and electrical appliances became more and more a part of everyday life, RIEDHAMMER met the new challenges and the requirements of the market by developing kiln plants for calcining and sintering hard and soft ferrite, essential components of electronic and electrical items. Pusher-type kilns with tray conveyance and special adjustment of atmosphere and pressure during the firing process as well as rotary kilns became an indispensable means of production for ferrite manufacturers.
With new product fields and an increasing demand within Germany and abroad, the company continued to grow. Tunnel kilns for the production of structural ceramics and refractory products were developed and manufactured. The first oil heated shuttle kiln for abrasive wheels was built.
In 1965, RIEDHAMMER designed and delivered the first fast firing kiln for porcelain.
In 1974, on the fiftieth anniversary of the company, the number of employees had increased to 530 and subsidiaries in Switzerland and Brazil showed its international presence. A new test laboratory was constructed at the company headquarters in Nuremberg.
More than 700 tests were conducted in connection with "fast firing" within one year. Kiln number 4000 was commissioned, and RIEDHAMMER reached another milestone in production technology by constructing the first modular sled-type kiln.
For pre-sintering hard ferrite the pendulum kiln was developed and designed.
In 1976, a generational change took place: Hans Riedhammer retired from the business. Peter Riedhammer and his brother-in-law, Bernhard Urlichs, became the managing directors of the company.
Fast firing was the topic of the eighties. RIEDHAMMER was the leading company worldwide in this technology and received the "Innovation Award of the German Economy" for the development of fast firing roller kilns for porcelain and sanitary ceramics in 1986.
The extremely shortend firing times were the prerequisite for the automation of the processes "around" the kiln. In 1990 RIEDHAMMER constructed the largest single furnace in its history, a ring pit furnace with 52 sections for the baking of manufactured carbon in Canada. New strategic decisions were taken.
A branch office in Japan was founded, and in 1991 the company Georg Mendheim, a firm with a long tradition in the construction of kiln plants for refractory ceramics, was taken over.
In 1997 RIEDHAMMER was certified in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001.
The technological development continued. A newly developed sealing system allowed the construction of atmosphere-controlled dust-proof rotary kilns for a large variety of applications. Automation systems for porcelain handling and microwave technology for drying processes made the production processes "around" the kiln more efficient, flexible and faster.
In 2000 Bernhard Urlichs withdrew from the company management and went into his well-deserved retirement.
In 2003 the Italian Sacmi Group took over 30 % of the RIEDHAMMER shares, increasing the share to 90 % in 2004 and currentlys owns 94,9 %.
The restructuring process which had begun in the year 2000 was going on. In this connection the production at the Nuremberg headquarters was stopped.
The synergies from the merger with Sacmi and the various opportunities arising from the network of this worldwide operating company started taking effect. In this new environment RIEDHAMMER was able to consolidate its market position and to extend its market shares in various business areas.
With the acquisition of the kiln construction division of the company Laeis in October 2004 the Heimsoth and Kerabedarf kiln designs were integrated into RIEDHAMMER.
In the course of this overall development the company management changed again and was now taken over by Peter Riedhammer, Stefano Lanzoni and Pietro Cassani.
In 2005 RIEDHAMMER acquired from Alesa the “Open Top” technology for baking anodes and thus became the only worldwide independent supplier of any type of baking technology for anodes for the aluminium industry (the open and the closed type furnace).
In 2008 the first newly developed RIEDHAMMER “Low O2” tunnel and shuttle kilns for debindering and firing technical ceramics were commissioned successfully.
2008 the biggest transaction in the company history took place. RIEDHAMMER was awarded a contract for the supply of an anode baking furnace (OPEN TOP), baking furnace tending assembly, anode cleaning and conveying system and dry adsorption plant as well as the complete engineering. The plant was built in Kazakhstan.
At the end of 2008 Peter Riedhammer left the company management and went into retirement. Peter Riedhammer was nominated as honorary president of the company. Thereupon Matthias Uhl was appointed managing director and has been managing the company together with Stefano Lanzoni and Pietro Cassani.
In 2009 "TEAM by SACMI" was established within the SACMI group under the coordination of RIEDHAMMER. As the major new focus worldwide is on increased energy efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions RIEDHAMMER started to further develop and supply specific solutions for energy-efficient intermittent and continuous kiln plants to fulfill these goals. Despite the difficult economic conditions the CERAMITEC exhibition was a great success.
For technical ceramics a new marketing strategy for the USA along with a targeted expansion of the US agent network was realised by RIEDHAMMER in 2010. The company participated in the boom triggered in the field of eco-energy products and received orders for rotary and high-temperature shuttle kiln plants in the USA and Canada. In the refractory kiln market RIEDHAMMER supplied - much to the customers’ delight - tunnel kilns with maximum energy efficiency showing energy consumption values of about 50 % of the values reached previously.
In the year 2011 further success was achieved with "Low O2" tunnel and shuttle kilns for debindering and firing technical ceramics which enhanced RIEDHAMMER’s technological leadership in this sector. In the field of electrical mobility the company has benefited from the increasing demand for soft ferrite in Europe.
With a new technology and design for protective gas roller hearth and pusher type kilns RIEDHAMMER managed to enter two new market segments, the oxidic and metallic powder heat treatment, for example for sintering pigments in neutral atmosphere or metal powder under hydrogen atmosphere which helped its customers to face up to new market challenges.
The first anode factory "made by RIEDHAMMER" has been successfully put into operation.
Riedhammer with new orientation - Interview
With revenue of 72 million EUR in 2012 RIEDHAMMER achieved the highest turnover in the company’s history.
RIEDHAMMER also further extended its successful long standing student support program.
The worldwide first tunnel kiln with a fibre roof for a continuous application temperature of up to 1650°C was successfully put into operation at the beginning of 2012.
A very innovative, highly flexible double-way pusher plate tunnel kiln with an energetically efficient heating system for the firing of electrical components was established within the market.
As the world’s leading manufacturer of ring pit furnaces for baking electrodes and special carbon products, RIEDHAMMER extended the company’s portfolio in 2012 by building the first of a new and innovative design of car bottom furnace for the thermal treatment of electrodes and special carbon products. This development is aimed at offering a cost-efficient furnace plant with maximum production flexibility and minimum energy consumption which enables the customers to face strongly fluctuating market conditions.
RIEDHAMMER has heavily invested in R&D with a particular emphasis on the modeling and simulation of kiln processes so that the customers can be provided with detailed information for the selection of optimal thermal solutions for the respective product during the early project stages.
90 Years of Riedhammer: State-of-the Art Firing Technology for High-Quality Ceramic Products Worldwide
90 Years of Riedhammer_Interview
In 2017 the RIEDHAMMER branch office Riedhammer Japan Co. Ltd. celebrated its 25th anniversary. During these 25 years Riedhammer Japan has been very successful in increasing the sales of RIEDHAMMER industrial kilns and expanding the after-sales-service on the Asian/Japanese market.
In the Carbon sector RIEDHAMMER realized a comprehensive modernization project for anode baking furnace no. 3 with 68 sections at Aluminium Bahrain at the beginning of 2016. In not more than 100 days the refractory lining of baking furnace no. 3 was completely renewed during running production with RIEDHAMMER having the overall responsibility for the execution of all material supplies, construction work as well as adaptation of the existing baking system. Further large-scale projects follow, such as the planning and supervision of the construction work for an open ring pit furnace to be installed in a former potline and therefore requiring an extraordinary furnace configuration.
As for Technical Ceramics/Advanced Materials, RIEDHAMMER has continuously developed the production process of foam glass and today is considered the world’s largest provider of plants for the production of foam glass gravel and foam glass granules.
Besides RIEDHAMMER has enhanced and optimized its LOW O2 technology for products with a high binder content and complicated geometry for intermittent and continuous processes, and successfully installed this technology for many customers as state of the art, particularly for products like catalyst carriers or filters. Thanks to its low specific energy consumption, low operating costs, small space requirement and easy automation, this technology significantly contributes to environment protection.
The rapid development of Advanced Materials, nanomaterials and materials for mobile energy storage plays a crucial role in the plant development by RIEDHAMMER. The rotary kiln with its initially relatively basic design nowadays transforms into a thermal processing plant for the treatment of nearly all possible powders, specifically battery materials, under many different temperature and atmosphere conditions. Gas tightness, high O2 applications, the implementation of complex mixing and dosing procedures as well as dealing with sticking and condensation problems have meanwhile become standard features of these plants.
The roller kiln, which is the most widely used thermal processing plant in the field of Advanced Materials, undergoes a constant expansion of its production capacities with continuous extension of kiln length and kiln width. In addition, the kiln design considers the often complex and aggressive chemical composition of the modern products as well as the increased requirements with regard to temperature and atmosphere profiles.
Applications with up to 100 % H2 or > 95 % O2 atmosphere are standard roller kilns at RIEDHAMMER. Particularly for the production of high-grade cathode material for lithium-ion batteries the RIEDHAMMER roller and rotary kilns have proven successful in large numbers all over the world.