150 years of company history

Freiburg company writes technical history with innovative pump solutions


Everything started with the delicious juice of the grape. In 1866, Wilhelm Lederle developed the first manual wine pump in Endingen am Kaiserstuhl. From the “Mechanical Workshop” he founded, came numerous other groundbreaking pump designs under different company names. 150 years later, the company, which has meanwhile become one of the leading manufacturers of hermetically sealed pumps, under the name of “HERMETIC-Pumpen GmbH”, can look back on a successful company history, which is also a piece of the story of German technology. Even today, for HERMETIC everything revolves around the pumping of valuable, critical and dangerous fluids using pumps built according to the hermetic principle and to the latest technical standards. There were milestones on the journey from a one-man operation to an international pioneer of pump technology that characterise the company to this day.

The ability of the company’s founder, Wilhelm Lederle, to identify requirements and react to them with technical innovations was decisive for the company’s success. With his very first invention, the 22-year-old was able to give evidence of his entrepreneurial spirit Coming from a wine-growing region, he realised that special pumps could facilitate the bottling and decanting of wine significantly. As such pumps did not yet exist at that time, he developed a manual wine pump in his “Mechanische Werkstätte” in Endingen am Kaiserstuhl, which was designed specially for this special area of application. He responded to a challenge he had identified in his day-to-day with great inventiveness. The manual wine pump proved to be such a great success that, seven years later, Lederle was able to buy a piece of land on the edge of Freiburg to build several workshops and a house to live in.

Pioneer Lederle: Development of different combustion engines at the same time as Daimler and Benz
The young entrepreneur was bubbling over with ideas and inventive energy. At the same time, he attended to expanding his workshops by developing and producing piston pumps, rotating displacement pumps and compressors. The strong growth of the steel and chemical sector at the time offered the few producers of pumps the perfect preconditions for implementing new ideas. A significant milestone in technology history also opened up new, undreamt-of opportunities for Wilhelm Lederle: the invention of the combustion engine. So it wasn’t just Daimler and Benz who are pioneers in its development. Lederle also took advantage of the new opportunities and devoted himself to building benzene, diesel and generator engines. His commitment paid off: 17 medals and awards from this time were awarded to the inventive Lederle. In October 1899 the patent DRP 118035 was granted, with which he contributed decisively to “Controls for Explosive Force Machines”. He had already implemented this in a two-cylinder engine he had developed.

To take account of the additional focus of his company, Lederle renamed his “Mechanische Werkstätte” in 1899. From then on, it traded under the name of “LEDERLE Pumpen-und Motorenfabrik”. In his “new” business, he produced cars, buses and motor car fire engines. At the same time, Lederle identified a practical use for cars: he installed one of the first proven “trolleybuses”, thereby not only making life in the region more comfortable but also securing for himself once again a place in the technology history books. When, shortly before the turn of the century, the electric motor came into industrial use, Lederle once more proved himself to be an ideas generator. With the development of centrifugal pumps, he was one of the pioneers in the area of hydrodynamic machines.

1906: Moritz Lederle takes over the company from his father
In 1906, the inventive company founder died From then on, Moritz Lederle – at 22, still as young as his father Wilhelm when he founded the company – was responsible for the company’s destiny. He decided to focus on the automobile segment and concentrated exclusively once again on building various pumps of the highest quality. Lederle expanded the centrifugal pump, piston pump and rotary piston pump business. In addition, he had the first communal water supply systems built. The outbreak of the First World War put an end, meanwhile, to the rise of the company, which was now called “Pumpen- und Maschinenfabrik LEDERLE”. LEDERLE was brought into armaments production. The machine park came under a lot of strain through the extremely high production numbers. Only in the “Golden Twenties” were new investments possible.

Hermann Krämer, builder and developer of hermetically sealed, leakage-free, canned motor pumps
When Moritz Lederle died in 1934, his wife Hedwig took over management of the firm. She was supported by a long-term employee, Hermann Krämer, who was later to be responsible for the development of the family company’s most important product. From 1945, the young, enterprising engineer took control of the company’s destiny and the other companies that were to be founded later on, as Managing Director and co-owner. Through him, new technical ideas were realised in the delivery program which were reflected in numerous patents.

In November 1944, fortunate circumstances connected with the deployment of employees prevented the destruction of the LEDERLE plant from a bomb attack in Freiburg. The production of pumps was able to be taken up again only a few days later. The local population, which had also suffered greatly from the destruction of communal and operational water supply systems, also benefited. At that time LEDERLE was engaged intensively in the building of water plants for towns, councils and commercial businesses. With the construction of modern, economic centrifugal and rotating displacement pumps, the company succeeded in entering the export market.

In 1954, Managing Director Krämer achieved what is probably his most important contribution to the success of the company with the trend-setting development of a completely new type of pump generation: the innovative, hermetically sealed, canned motor pump, which was a decisive step forward in the economic and ecological operation of pumps. With foresight, the engineer recognised the need of the chemical and related industries, more than anyone, for leakage-free pumps. Therefore, Krämer developed a pump, based on the hermetic principle, that met the safety requirements of this industry and at the same time contributed to maintaining a healthy, livable environment. In addition, with this new type of machine, procedural processes could be tackled, which hitherto could not be carried out.

1967: development of leakage-free pumps with permanent magnetic coupling
With its development, Krämer had struck a chord. The demand for new hermetic pumps was so great that machine capacity and space soon had to be expanded to be able to meet the demand. To create sufficient space for the production, the materials refining company, founded in 1956 as “Guss- und Stahlveredelung”, relocated in 1967, under the new company name of “HERMETIC-Pumpen GmbH”, to Gundelfingen on the outskirts of Freiburg

In 1973, a further subsidiary settled in Gundelfingen, “LEDERLE GmbH, Wasserversorgung und Abwasser”, a branch of the parent plant. Six years later, the company was able to record a new success: the development of an hermetically sealed pump with a magnetic drive which was distributed by “HERMETIC-Pumpen GmbH”. The following year, the parent company, “LEDERLE GmbH Pumpen- und Maschinenfabrik”, relocated from Freiburg to the same premises in Gundelfingen with extensive expansion possibilities.

2 becomes 1: Merger of LEDERLE and HERMETIC
When “LEDERLE GmbH, Wasserversorgung und Abwasser” became insolvent in 2006, the traditional company, “LEDERLE GmbH Pumpen- und Maschinenfabrik”, merged with “HERMETIC-Pumpen GmbH” in 2007 to become “HERMETIC-Pumpen GmbH”. All of the staff were kept on. The main business areas of the now-united company are still today the supply of raw materials for the chemical industry through raw materials and intermediate products, as well as industrial refrigeration technology. The products of the leading manufacturer in Europe of hermetically sealed pumps are mainly developed through solving the individual problems of its customers. Off-the-peg, mass-produced goods were never an option for HERMETIC. One of the most significant milestones of the new millennium for HERMETIC was the building in 2015 of the world’s biggest canned motor pump for supercritical ethylene with the impressive weight of 20 tonnes and a height of 6 metres. Thanks to the hermetic construction principle, the greatest possible protection of people and the environment is guaranteed even with these record designs. To cope with the increasing demand, the company has in recent years expanded its production capacity and reorganised different company divisions such as new pump production. Ongoing restructuring enables the company to maintain its competitive edge.

HERMETIC: a step ahead! At present, HERMETIC is arming itself with the project “Growth” for a successful future. Production processes are optimised, shopfloor management and lean production are being introduced. In addition, a new factory building is under construction. The theme of sustainability plays a special role here, as the company not only sees itself as obliged to consider environmental protection through its hermetically sealed pumps but also through energy-saving lighting or insulation, for example. In 2014, HERMETIC was DIN ISO 14001-certified for its efforts in environmental protection.

The traditional company, HERMETIC, with its 740 employees worldwide, 20 sales branches, 11 service centres and 75 representative offices, keeps up with the times and will position itself as an ideas generator in the future too: with customer-specific pump solutions, new management approaches and with innovations that are based in tradition. In this way, HERMETIC will endure. A step ahead!