Innovation and reliability
Operating as a family owned, joint stock company, Wandfluh is a market leader in the design and manufacture of hydraulic valves and electronic control systems. The roots of the business date back to 1946, when at the age of 22, Ruedi Wandfluh established a small mechanical workshop located at Rybrügg in Frutigen. Together with Ruedi and two further employees, the workshop undertook general repair work and developed various machines for the efficient machining of watch stones and produced knitting machines. Following the unexpected death of the company founder during 1954, his widow Gertrud focused the business to enter into the development, production and sale of hydraulic valves.
Over the following years the company enjoyed continued growth and development, through the introduction of new products and expanding offices. During 2001 for example, Wandfluh established its first sales office in France from a location in Paris. Later in 2002 the company extended its production space by 50 per cent, optimising the new facility for both production and assembly activities. In 2003 Wandfluh expanded its manufacturing programme to include hydraulic valves with integrated electronics and this successful introduction was followed by the founding of a Wandfluh company in China during 2005.
Today Wandfluh employs around 400 members of staff, 300 of which are based in Switzerland. The company’s products are deployed globally in a variety of applications and industries wherever force is required to move, press or hold equipment. Clients include operators within the machine tool and the material handling sector, including applications such as container handling, forklifts, skylifts, forestry equipment and cable cars. Within the energy market, Wandfluh products are applied within turbine controllers, the actuation of disc brakes and the adjustment of rotor blades of wind turbines.
Through the application of close to seven decades of industry experience, Wandfluh has also established a firm presence within the global oil and gas market. As CEO Hansruedi Wandfluh elaborates: “Key products within this market include explosion proof valves, corrosion protected or stainless steel valves, spool valves with low leakage, miniature valves and customer specific bespoke products. These are deployed in applications such as drill-head control; winch control; flap control on oil or liquid gas tankers; applications in the petrochemical industry; remote actuation of ball valves and butterfly valves in pipelines; and the steering of ROV’s that are used for servicing oil platforms and subsea equipment.”
Further specialised products include valves that are used in temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius and valves that can be used with less common fluids including water glycol liquids. These products are sold globally through a comprehensive network of daughter companies and trusted distributors throughout Europe, Asia, North America, North Africa, South Africa and Australia.
Throughout all of the industry sectors serviced by the company, Wandfluh is committed to supplying the highest level of quality that enable its valves and associated products to be deployed in even the most demanding environments. “We stand for the values, which are recognised within a lot of Swiss companies including quality, reliability and flexibility. This is very important for the oil and gas industry, where it costs a lot of money to exchange a valve on a platform somewhere in the ocean,” Hansruedi observes. “In addition the wishes of our customers give us the challenge to fulfil their needs, we have thousands of customer-specific products in our portfolio and we add new ones, day after day. More and more countries started to build up non-tariff barriers like asking for special, country-specific approvals like UL, ATEX, EAC, Inmetro, Nepsi, etc. For a lot of our products we have these certificates and we certainly also meet the international IECEx standard. That makes it possible for our customers to use these products worldwide.”
The company’s clients include several system suppliers to major oil companies such as Shell, BP, Petrobras, Gazprom and Exxon Mobile. Although activity within the oil and gas market is presently depressed due to the current low cost of oil, Wandfluh is protected by its broad base of clients operating within a diverse cross section industry sectors. By focusing its attention on where the market demand is strong and continuing to focus on delivering the highest levels of quality, the company is well placed to meet the needs of its clients within the oil and gas sector once projects resume.
“With the current oil price actually the market is low and oil companies in general are not investing money in new projects. However I anticipate that as soon as the oil price is back to a certain level, higher sophisticated oil production processes will become more and more important,” Hansruedi concludes. “In the meantime we will continue to focus on what we are strong at, especially in the oil and gas market. That means an explosion proof version of our stainless steel valves, including the electronics integrated directly into the valve. However, we will also intensify our activities in the other branches like industry, mobile or energy markets. It is our ambition to be among the top three players for hydraulic valves in the oil and gas business.”
Services: Hydraulic valves and electronic control systems