Annual Report 2014

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GF Piping Systems

Fresh water for ocean giants //

Products for modern shipbuilding must meet the very highest standards. GF Piping Systems supplies this industrial sector with long-lasting plastic piping systems that are flexible to mount, very light, and highly corrosion-resistant. Moreover, the division provides individually tailored services for shipyards and ocean carriers. 

GF Piping SystemsThomas Runge grew up at the North German coast and has been involved with ships for half his life. After training at a shipyard, he studied marine engineering and was then at sea for years. So as Market Segment Manager Marine with GF Piping Systems, he is very familiar with the business area of Meyer Werft.
Quantum of the SeasThe Quantum of the Seas on the premises of Meyer Werft just before delivery.

Ocean giant // The Quantum of the Seas is anchored in all of its majesty in the port of Nassau in the Bahamas. The newest vessel of the shipping company Royal Caribbean Cruises completed its maiden voyage in the Caribbean in November 2014: over 374 meters long, it is currently the third largest cruiser in the world. Its 18 decks hold 4 180 passengers and
1 550 crew members. For guests’ entertainment there are 18 restaurants, twelve bars, pools, and even a theater. The GF Piping Systems products installed throughout the ship ensure that passengers enjoy clean drinking water at all times. 

Three new ships // The Quantum of the Seas was built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg (Germany). It is the first of three new cruise ships of the same size to be commissioned by Royal Caribbean International. The keel-laying of its sister ship Anthem of the Seas has already taken place and is set to be
delivered in spring 2015. The third liner, the Ovation of the Seas,
is planned for 2016. 

Long partnership // “Seeing these huge ships grow piece by piece over many months is always fascinating to me,” says Thomas Runge, Market Segment Manager Marine with GF Piping Systems in Germany. Once a week he drives to Meyer Werft from his sales office in Hannover to support his customer. Meyer Werft and GF Piping Systems enjoy a long-standing partnership. The shipbuilding company has used Instalex for hot and cold water distribution in all its new ships since 2006. “The system’s enormous lexibility strongly appeals to us because we have a high degree of standardization when installing components,” explains Thomas Spekker, who is responsible for procuring piping systems at Meyer Werft. 

Simple installation // The system’s components are simple to mount with an electrical welding system. “This allows us to prefabricate large sections easily while remaining flexible because we can still effortlessly compensate for tolerances during subsequent installation,” explains Spekker. Instalex and Instalex Big pipes are installed in the Quantum of the Seas, with diameters of 25 to 225 mm. “A ship of this size has at least 20 kilometers of piping just for the drinking water,” says Spekker. 

Inspection of new products // Other GF Piping Systems elements are also used in the three ships. When it comes to water processing for the swimming pools and the main cooling water systems for the air conditioning, the adhesive piping system ABS, automatic fittings, and valves are used for example, as well as measuring instruments made by GF Signet. “At the beginning of a ship project we talk to Meyer Werft about which products or systems are best suited,” explains Thomas Runge. As a result, the shipbuilders used polyethylene products made by GF Piping Systems for the first time in the flue gas cleaning system of Quantum of the Seas’ main engine system. 

Correct installation is crucial // Every potential component is assigned its own ID number by Meyer Werft – including the GF Piping Systems products. “We therefore have all information on every component at the press of a button,” says Thomas Spekker. For each item, GF Piping Systems and Meyer Werft also jointly draw up shipbuilding standards, design guidelines, and installation instructions for shipyard employees and subcontractors. “About 600 to 700 people are involved in installing pipes on a ship like the Quantum of the Seas,” estimates Spekker. Each one of them must first train with GF Piping Systems in order to be able to install the system components without error. The training programs are usually conducted by Thomas Runge of GF Piping Systems personally at the shipyard. “As many as 200 fitters take our courses every year,” he says. There are also training programs for the shipping company’s inspection officers. They, too, must know how the piping systems are correctly installed. 

Intensive support // Thomas Runge supervises production on site at Meyer Werft throughout the entire construction phase of the ship and is available to the various installation departments if questions arise about the products. Shortly before the ship is delivered, he helps draw up a list of spare parts and prepares other documents for the shipping company. Furthermore, he provides training for the crew so that they can carry out any repairs and necessary maintenance work themselves at sea.

Tailor-made services - a key success factor for Meyer Werft

1 Technical support
GF Piping Systems supports customers in planning with sound expertise and information on products, systems, and materials.

2 CAD library
One important planning instrument is a product database containing over 30 000 drawings and technical details.

3 Online tools
Online tools facilitate material and product selection as well as calculation of all central factors for the relevant application.

4 Mobile calculation tools
Useful apps provide a quick overview of GF Piping Systems products, allowing on-site calculation of values like pipe diameters and low speed.

5 Training courses
Comprehensive hands-on training programs are provided for handling systems and products.


GF Piping Systems offers a large selection of individual components for shipbuilding and marine applications. This includes the piping system Instalex for water distribution. The system components of the plastic polybutene are corrosion-and incrustation-free in operation. The durability of Instaflex also ensures reliable and economic operation.

Instalex piping systems of highly resilient plastic are ideal for cold and hot water distribution on large ships.

GF Automotive

Teamwork – a key factor for success //

When it comes to Caterpillar, GF Automotive offers outstanding services far beyond standard offerings. The close collaboration between Caterpillar and GF Automotive has grown rapidly and created mutual trust.

GF AutomotiveAs Sales Manager for GF Automotive in Leipzig, Norbert Pomplun literally gets the big wheels turning. He is responsible for projects with the US company Caterpillar, which makes huge trucks and wheel loaders designed for extreme use under the Cat brand.
GF AutomotiveMachine-formed, freshly painted axle parts for Caterpillar vehicles at GF Automotive in Leipzig.

Combination of extremes // In 1998, US manufacturer Caterpillar presented the world’s largest off-road truck with a load capacity of 393 tons – a record that is held by the company to this day. The tires alone have a diameter of at least four meters. The yellow giants with the white-on-black Cat lettering are seen frequently on large construction sites and also in mining scenarios. In addition to the trucks, the company has also made a name for itself worldwide with huge wheel loaders. Caterpillar has axles for a number of its models made by GF Automotive in Leipzig (Germany). “For us it was important to ind a company that could handle the size of our components and had the necessary production capacity – as well as the expertise, of course. That was the case here,” emphasized Al Augustine, Global Purchasing Strategic Sourcing Leader Advanced Component System Division for Iron Castings with Caterpillar in Peoria (USA), the company’s headquarters.

Automated production of large cast parts // In Leipzig, GF Automotive also has an extreme to offer: here the division operates a foundry with Europe’s biggest molding flask for machine-molded casting. “The automated production of components like the big Caterpillar axles is unique worldwide,” explains Norbert Pomplun, Sales Manager with GF Automotive in Leipzig. “They’re usually produced by hand molded casting due to their size. We’re able to make them by means of an automatic casting process, which is far more cost-efficient.” GF Automotive has supplied the giant parts since 2008. The Leipzig foundry mainly makes axle components for Cat wheel loader models ranging from the 980 through the 994K – twelve components all in all, tipping the scales between 254 and 1 195 kilograms each.

Closely dovetailed development // “We optimized some of the components together,” explains Al Augustine, who has often made the trip from Illinois to Leipzig himself. “But there are some which are developed from scratch – requiring a partner to ofer particularly close collaboration and much more lexibility than when optimizing existing components.” Caterpillar and GF Automotive developers now form a highly efective team. Half a dozen engineers are involved in the projects on both sides. Meetings are held in the USA or Germany to maintain close contact, interspersed by regular video conferences. “But face-to-face is best,” as Norbert Pomplun underscores. “On this type of project you can’t just send e-mails. There has to be a sense of mutual trust – and that has grown very rapidly between Caterpillar and ourselves.”

Identifying optimization potential – not only on request // GF Automotive produces the single-piece axles for the Cat models on an automatic molding facility. This is much more cost efficient than welding together several pieces of steel, and spells weight and cost savings for Caterpillar. The company also benefits from process optimizations. In the case of a new edition of a wheel loader model, for example, Caterpillar reinforced the axles with additional consoles. “We were asked to make the same axles for the new series, but with the same consoles that had no longer been required for the predecessor model,” Norbert Pomplun recalls. “So instead we presented Caterpillar with a new reinforced axle without consoles – more resilient but not heavier. This enabled Caterpillar to dispense with one stage of the process that would have made production unnecessarily expensive.” Caterpillar had neither requested nor expected this new development. “But it’s important to support your customers wherever you can,” says Norbert Pomplun. “This is what close, trusting collaboration is all about.”

Tying in with the process chain // In fact, the engineers at GF Automotive are always thinking ahead. In addition to producing axles, the Leipzig plant also makes transmission casings, planetary carriers, and chassis parts. “Of course we always take a look at the Caterpillar plants where final assembly takes place so as to jointly identify new potential, or we call in local machining suppliers when we only supply raw parts,” as Norbert Pomplun explains. “The better we can support all those involved on site, the smoother the entire operation.”

Tailor-made services – a key success factor for Caterpillar

1 Design
In close collaboration with Caterpillar, developers constantly adapt components to new models so as to reduce weight while maintaining identical stability.

2 Process
The automated GF casting process offers unique solutions. Combined with the dedication and focus on quality, GF delivers consistent, high-quality products.

3 Material
The right material at the right place. Materials from GF Automotive are the basis for solid and light castings.

4 Validation
Will the prototypes really meet actual demands? Before a component enters series production, it is tested extensively in realistic conditions.

5 Delivery
GF Automotive supplies the various Caterpillar production facilities worldwide from Leipzig.

6 Support
GF Automotive supports developments beyond project completion and is capable of responding to production queries 24/7.

Wheel loader axleWheel loader axle

A Cat 980H wheel load is not for small fry – with its huge excavator shovel lifting up to 20 tons and an operating weight of 30 tons. The GF Automotive wheel loader axles for this model series have to be very robust. They are manufactured by way of an automated casting process and can support weight in excess of 15 tons.

Harnessing the biggest molding box in Europe, the Leipzig plant can produce wheel loader axles for the various Cat models far more economically than by hand molded casting.

GF Machining Solutions

Perfect service – pit lane style //

GF Machining Solutions provides an integrated service package that helps Lotus F1 Team optimize their resources and ensure their manufacturing potential can respond to the innovation challenges they face every day – from purchasing consultation and machine training through to rapid-response aftersales, regular maintenance, and supply of original spare parts.

GF Machining SolutionsPhil Parkin is Key Account Manager with GF Machining Solutions in Coventry (UK) and ensures his customers get what they want. Lotus F1 Team is an especially interesting case. Phil Parkin keeps the Formula 1 team’s operations in Enstone regularly updated with the latest GF Machining Solutions products and services.
GF Machining SolutionsWhen the Lotus E22 pulls into the pits, the crew has to be able to react rapidly.

Every second counts // When the Lotus E22 turns into the pit lane, things happen lightning-fast. Lotus F1 Team’s mechanics take just a few seconds to change the tyres before the V6 engine catapults the car back onto the track. The race team travels to every race event with 35 tons of equipment.

Top precision required // “Downtime within our machine shop can have enormous consequences for the team and the race outcome,” says Luca Mazzocco, Head of Partner Management with Lotus F1 Team. Every part of the E22 is produced individually at the team’s Technical Centre in Enstone (UK). Most of the bodywork is made of carbon fibre. Metal parts are made of titanium or special alloys. Since top precision and performance are crucial, Lotus F1 Team uses machines and services supplied by GF Machining Solutions.

Long-standing partnership // GF Machining Solutions has been a technical partner to Lotus F1 Team for nearly 20 years. The history of the team dates back to the eighties with Toleman and continued with Benetton and Renault until 2011, when it was renamed Lotus F1 Team. The team won its first Constructors‘ Championship title in 1995 under the Benetton name; ten years later it went on to win back-to-back championships in 2005 and in 2006 as Renault F1 Team. In the mid-nineties the team introduced the first EDM machines by AgieCharmilles, a key technology in mold and tool making with the needed precision of detail. Before the 2014 season, Lotus F1 Team enhanced its capability at the Technical Centre with six new Mikron HPM 450U 5-axis machining centers – as they were deemed as the ideal tools to respond to the complexity of modern Formula One designs. With their integrated automation, pallet and tool changer, the HPM 450U machines give Lotus F1 Team maximum flexibility. “The new machines have enabled us to boost productivity significantly,” says Luca Mazzocco.

Individual solution // Phil Parkin provided in-depth consultation for Lotus F1 Team in selecting and configuring the new machining centers. “As a sales consultant, it’s my role to identify the customer’s needs and find a tailor-made product solution,” he says. Lotus F1 Team was able to test the machines extensively at the GF Machining Solutions premises in Coventry in advance. “We even had the opportunity to produce some parts with their machines,” says Mazzocco. GF Machining Solutions provided an in depth customer specific training program to ensure that Lotus F1 Team staff would be able to use the full potential of the new machines right from the start.

Immediate response // Lotus F1 Team produces at least 50 000 metal components for its cars during a season. “Our machines run virtually around the clock. If one fails, this can spell a serious problem – especially just before a Grand Prix,” explains Luca Mazzocco. This was why the quality and rapid response capability of GF Machining Solutions aftersales was critical for Lotus F1 Team. The team can contact technical support in Coventry any time – also outside regular office hours. “If there are problems with a machine, all we do is contact support. The staff respond right away,” says Mazzocco. “We rely on GF Machining Solutions reacting immediately, so that any issue can be resolved within 24 hours.”

Real-time diagnosis // The diagnostic system is a very helpful feature, and provides the GF Machining Solutions service experts with online access to the machines’ system data. In the case of smaller errors, they can often help the customer find a solution themselves. If there is a more serious issue, a service technician can be in Enstone in no time. If necessary, GF Machining Solutions can supply original spare parts within a day. GF Machining Solutions carries out annual maintenance and technical overhaul to ensure the machines available to Lotus F1 Team are always in excellent condition.

Top-class accessories // GF Machining Solutions naturally supplies Lotus F1 Team with the best consumables and original wear parts such as wire and electrodes for the erosion machines, lubricants, cleaning agents, and filters for the new milling centers. Phil Parkin also informs his customers regularly about upgrades and new accessories so that the machines continue to provide excellent performance. “This means Lotus F1 Team is always on top of their game,” he says.

Tailor-made services – a key success factor for Lotus F1 Team

1 Operations support
Operations support ensures optimum day-to-day performance with a comprehensive range of consumables and original wear parts.

2 Machine support
Technical aftersales, original spare parts, and preventive services such as inspection and maintenance ensure that the machines remain in perfect condition.

3 Business support
Business support includes solutions, application studies, training programs, and technical upgrades to ensure first-class operations.

4 GF Machining Solutions Academy
GF Machining Solutions Academy ofers tailor-made solutions for its customers. Training is the key to constantly raise the technological knowledge and motivation of employees.

Lotus F1 Team’s manifold for gearbox control systemLotus F1 Team’s manifold for gearbox control system.

The Mikron HPM 450U meets all Lotus F1 Team’s needs. 5-axis simultaneous machining enables milling of complex metal shapes in a single operation. Integrated automation, including a pallet changer with seven positions and tool changer with 120 positions, ensures superior flexibility.

The Mikron HPM 450U is used for the production of the Lotus F1 Team’s manifold for gearbox control system. It is built from a solid aluminum block and measures 100 mm x 70 mm.