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Tragedy and Triumph: KTR in the 80s

Tragedy and Triumph: KTR in the 80s
25/10/2019

The 1980s were a transformative decade for much of Europe and our office in Rheine, Germany was no exception. It was a tumultuous decade characterised by growth, tragedy, adaptation, and ultimately, triumph. The 80s has become a decade we are very proud to look back on as it tested the very character of KTR and helped to shape the company we’ve grown to be today.

Continued Product Expansion & Corporate Changes

Automation progress prompted KTR to enter the 1980s with a burgeoning product line. Based on the popular ROTEX jaw coupling, we developed a highly accurate, backlash-free plug-in coupling, the ROTEX GS. The new design was granted several patents, with a particular interest in our innovative thermocalibrating process. As part of the new process, the spider was pressed into the coupling hubs under pre-stress and artificial aging which was mimicked with temperature. As a result, backlash between spider and coupling hubs could be avoided when applied at certain temperatures and torque. A few years later, we also launched the CLAPMEX which included clamping elements and sets. The new product was particularly suitable for cycle and variable speed drives with continuously alternating loads and speeds. KTR precision joints were also launched during this time, which permitted angular shaft connections up to 45 degrees.

By 1985 our product range for hydraulics was supplemented by aluminum hydraulic tanks with an oil collecting rim, which proved to be very useful for our customers. Additionally, we introduced the highly flexible flange coupling BoWEX-ELASTIC and the BoWex-ELASTIC HE, which was comprised of a vulcanised rubber element sandwiched between two flanges. This BoWex flange coupling could be used as a torsionally rigid and torsionally flexible coupling in various kinds of shore hardness.

Many corporate shifts also took place at this time including, partnerships, acquisitions, and rebranding. As we continued to strive to expand outside of Germany, we realised that our official company name ‘Kuppulungs Technik, Rheine’, was difficult for non-Germans to pronounce. As a result, the more concise KTR became the basis of our company’s imprint. The honeycomb logo which still influences our branding today became our official company logo. We also made it easier to identify our various product lines using colours; Red represented the ROTEX range, blue was used for BoWEX, green for LAMEX, orange for hydraulics, yellow for CLAMPEX, and purple for electronics.

The Big Fire

Unfortunately, we faced a major setback when our test centre caught fire on July 7th, 1989. A fan inside a wall became stuck and caught fire, which spread rapidly throughout the building. Although heroic members of our staff attempted to extinguish the fire, it was beyond their control. The fire brigades from Rheine and surrounding areas took over with 120 firemen and 17 fire engines on site. Since the test centre, shipping department, and inspection department were engulfed in flames with no chance of survival, the firefighters focused their efforts on saving other areas of the building. A fire brigade was built to ensure the fire did not spread to other parts of the building which was aided by two existing fire doors we had installed for this very reason. At the time of installation, many thought the addition was unnecessary, but of course, we were all elated that the doors helped to save our offices. The fire damages amounted to nearly 8 million DM.

For more information on  Tragedy and Triumph: KTR in the 80s  talk to  KTR U.K. Ltd

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