CLEVELAND—German machinery companies Troester Machinery Ltd. and Gerlach Maschinenbau GmbH are extending a cooperative agreement to the U.S. that will give rubber processors the opportunity to try out their equipment in combination.
A full-scale Gerlach vulcanization line has been set up at Troester's facility in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, outside Akron, and a latest generation Troester extruder will be installed, according to Gerlach General Manager Jens Moeckel and Michael A. Neubauer, president and CEO of Troester Machinery. They discussed the equipment and agreement while exhibiting at the ACS Rubber Division Rubber Expo, held Oct. 13-15 in Cleveland.
Neubauer said by early next year the line will be ready for evaluation by customers and to run production-condition trials.
The development is another step in cooperation between the German companies that began in 2014. The firms worked together long ago but went their separate ways as Gerlach began making is own curing equipment.
It's a good match for both privately held companies, the executives said.
“For many years we built our own curing equipment, but two years ago we decided to exit that market,” Troester's Neubauer said. The firm has focused on the tire business, where it provides extruders and calendering machinery.
Meanwhile, Gerlach has built its business of supplying manufacturing technology for vulcanization. The company sold machinery in North America in the past, and while it can be found at facilities in the U.S., Gerlach quit marketing on the continent in 2006, Moeckel said.
“That is why we looked to a partnership with Troester,” he said. “They will be handling sales and service in North America.”
Gerlach's customers typically manufacture synthetic rubber sealing profiles for the industrial, automotive, building construction and civil engineering areas, Moeckel said. The firm touts the heat transfer capability of its equipment that allows for shorter production lines, saves floor space and uses minimum amounts of gas and closed circuit heat recovery. That aims to keep operating costs down.
Troester, serving the rubber industry for nearly 125 years, is known for developments such as the pin-type extruder.
The line in Cuyahoga Falls will be equipped with the newest compact extruder from Troester, with vacuum capabilities. It will be a 31/2-inch extruder with an L/D ratio of 20:1, an individually driven feed roll, and be able to run vented or non-vented.
Gerlach is providing an in-feed conveyor, preshock unit, shock channel with microwave support, hot-air channel to uphold temperature until curing is reached, and a cooling channel with air blow-off and caterpillar.
“This is a typical configuration of a Troester extruder and Gerlach curing equipment,” Moeckel said.
All the equipment is manufactured by the companies in Germany.
“We do all the key components in-house. There was a big push 25 to 30 years ago to outsource to the former Eastern Bloc or China. We really don't do it—we want to have our own control,” Neubauer said.
Troester, which has subsidiaries in China and Switzerland, and offices in Russia and France, has 80 people working in China, he said, but the business there is strictly for that market, and not shipped abroad.
The executives said the companies don't compete, are both research and development-oriented, and have a philosophy of developing everything themselves, not through third-parties. “We want to be the judge of our own quality,” Neubauer said.
The partners plan to hold an open house at the Cuyahoga Falls facility next year as soon as the equipment is installed and commissioned.