It was 1748 when Francois Boch and his three sons decided to open a pottery company in the small French village of Audun le Tiche. That little pottery manufacturer is still surviving and thriving today – though not without some significant changes.
For instance, in 1801 the company headquarters were relocated to Mettlach, Germany, where they remain today and, most significantly, in 1836 Francois Boch's company merged with Nicolas Villeroy's competitive outfit and became known as Villeroy & Boch.
Today, Villeroy & Boch's brand of ceramics, housewares, tableware and bathware is available in 125 countries, with global sales exceeding €766 million ($1.01 billion) in 2014. Helping Villeroy & Boch meet the global demand for its products is a network of 14 production facilities located strategically in Europe, Mexico and Thailand.
The heart of the system
One of Villeroy & Boch's most critical facilities is the Wellness plant located in Roden, the Netherlands. It is there that the company manufactures various bath and wellness products, such as shower floors, whirlpools and bathtubs for the worldwide consumer market.
The plant personnel at the Wellness facility are busy making its various products 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a production cycle that cannot be altered, with any delays due to equipment failures or breakdowns resulting in downtime that can mean added costs and lost revenue.
“Everything in this plant needs to be working 24 hours, seven days a week,” said Mario Nieman, project engineer for the Wellness operation. “If something breaks down the entire factory comes to a standstill with a lot of added costs. So, we must have reliable systems, and if we don't we have a lot of problems, a lot of expensive troubles.”
Specifically, the pumps used to transfer the various raw materials needed to manufacture Villeroy & Boch's wellness products must possess the ability to operate reliably during continuous-duty operations.
For 20 years, Villeroy & Boch has been relying on Wilden® Advanced Series™ (bolted) Metal Air-Operated Double-Diaphragm (AODD) Pumps to perform these critical tasks. Part of PSG®, a Dover company, and manufactured in PSG's Grand Terrace, CA, USA, facility, Wilden invented AODD pump technology in 1955. Supplying the pumps to Villeroy & Boch is Holland Air Pumps, Oirschot, the Netherlands, an exclusive distributor of Wilden pumps in Western Europe.
Reliability is a key characteristic of the Wilden Advanced Series AODD Pumps as a single pump is required to pump base polymers to 11 different machines around the clock in Villeroy & Boch's Wellness manufacturing operation. One of the Wellness plant's key activities is pumping base polymer to various production areas where it is needed to produce various styles of bathtubs and shower floors. Every drop of the base polymer that travels through the plant finds its way through a single Wilden Advanced Series metal pump.
“That is the heart of our company,” said Henk Kampijon, manager of maintenance for the Wellness plant. “If this pump goes down, then we have a lot of problems and no more production. This pump runs 24/7 and it is reliable, and it is necessary that it is reliable. It's pumping all of the materials around the company, feeding many different machines.
“The safety at this company is very important and that's another reason we have Wilden ATEX pumps,” continued Kampijon. “We don't have any problems with the Wilden pumps, no leakage, no spills.”
Wilden's Pro-Flo® SHIFT was released in June of 2013. The Pro-Flo SHIFT is an AODD-pump air distribution system (ADS) that effectively eliminates the main hiccup in AODD-pump operation, namely the air that is wasted at the end of each stroke. The Pro-Flo SHIFT accomplishes this by incorporating an air control spool that automatically meters the air to prevent overfilling at the end of the stroke—with no corresponding reduction in product yield.
Holland Air Pumps and its commercial director, Gerrit Klaassen, introduced Kampijon and Nieman to the Pro-Flo SHIFT ADS technology in 2013.
“For the Pro-Flo SHIFT, Holland Air Pumps showed us what the savings could be in our particular situation,” said Nieman. “The return on investment is three months and that is a very short return on an investment period for any pump.”
The ADS has now been installed on all of the existing Wilden pumps in the Wellness plant.
“I think the Pro-Flo SHIFT also makes the pump's construction better, it's not over-expanding the membranes (diaphragms),” said Nieman. “At the end of the cycle, the air pressure is always getting lower and not putting that much stress on the membranes at a critical point, so we expect to have less maintenance costs. The Pro-Flo SHIFT also makes the pump somewhat quieter because at the end of the cycle there's less strain, less pressure; it sounds better.”
Joining a fleet of 15 Wilden pumps on the plant floor are three CHEMICOR Series AODD Pumps from Almatec®. Like Wilden, Almatec is a product brand from PSG, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, USA. Almatec AODD pumps are manufactured in PSG's Kamp-Lintfort, Germany, facility. Used to pump oils and color pastes for Villeroy & Boch, the CHEMICOR pumps feature a solid-block plastic design with soft product chambers that deliver smooth product flow with no dead spaces.
Villeroy & Boch utilizes three Almatec CHEMICOR Series AODD Pumps to transfer various oils and color pastes at its Wellness plant.
Two decades ago, Villeroy & Boch decided that Wilden AODD pumps were the right pump technology for the production operations at its Wellness facility and the partnership with Wilden continues to pay dividends.
“Wilden is always doing a lot of modifications on its pumps, and now they have the Pro-Flo SHIFT, which brings a lot of savings to the operation,” said Kampijon. “We've been using Wilden pumps here for 20 years and we have had a very good experience with them.”