C. u. A. Heiderich GmbH began in 1919, just after the First World War, and had humble beginnings; set up by two cousins, Carl and Albert Heiderich, which is where the business gets its name, the factory the company occupied in those early days measured only 30 metres squared. Considering how far Heiderich has come since then, a great deal of credit must be attributed to the determination and effort of the family; strengths that the company carries to this day.
The history, values, and traditions that are the foundations of Heiderich were something managing director Harald Weissflog discusses: “We are nearly 100 years old, and the company was founded by my great grandfather – I am the fourth generation in charge. The company started out very small scale, but after a few years the company started to specialise in rollers, small pulleys, all of which are products we still produce to blocksthis day. The business continued to grow over the subsequent years, and then in the 1960s there was the very important step for us in which the company began the production of steel sheaves, and this is now one of the most important products that we produce – together with bottom hook blocks for cranes, and many others.”
Heiderich currently has a wide selection of products, but these largely fall into two categories; there are the welded rope sheaves and hook blocks, which the company has made for over four decades; these are produced for the most diverse materials-handling technology requirements and the business takes great pride in providing products that are tailor-made for a client’s situation. The second main area of Heiderich is the provision of blocks and rope accessories for hardware retailers; this is an even more diverse section and ranges from rope pulleys to tackle blocks. Within these areas there is an extensive array of options, all of which come with high quality and specification guaranteed.
Safety and reliability are a priority of the company, as the rope sheaves and blocks that it produces are often used for lifting high value goods. The quality of their products and Heiderich’s determination to provide the most reliable and highest standards is regularly certified by classification societies such as ABS, DNV-GL, LRS, RINA, and others. To ensure such high standards for its clients is the foundation of Heiderich’s reputation in the market because a breakdown of crucial components or even an unplanned standstill of heavy lifting equipment can have severe consequences in any aspect.
There has been one specific new major innovation that Heiderich has created which is anticipated to become a key feature in many cranes and lifting appliances: the wear safe system. “Every crane and other lifting appliance has to be checked on a regular basis by experts, such as Lloyds Register, ABS, and many others – they will check nearly everything, the only thing that until now could not be checked is the groove wear on a rope sheave. To estimate the extent of wear after some time of operation is very difficult: investigations in the past have shown that even if you have two cranes of the same type operating in the same environment that still doesn’t mean that the sheaves or components on these cranes will have the same wear,” Harald explains.
“Also different environment conditions are wear determining factors, for example if you operate cranes in a maritime environment you will have wet and salty conditions, whereas if you operate in a very dry area you may have sandstorms which would result in small hard particles getting in, so it is nearly impossible to estimate how fast the wear is and if a sheave is still safe to use. Through discussions with our customers we saw this as a critical gap in the surveillance of cranes and lifting installations – they would ask what they could do to monitor this issue and wanted to ensure that they were in control of the wear, as it can be very dangerous and costly to have these unknown variables in their machinery,” he adds.
It was Heiderich that provided the solution in wear safe, and Harald continues to elaborate on the innovation: “During these conversations with our customers we had this idea of the wear safe system – which we have a patent on. The system is actually very simple, we bring a wear body into the surface of the groove, it is a red dot that we bring into the sheave, and this wear body demonstrates the depth of admissible wear. If for example calculations show that the admissible wear in the rim is 4 mm, then we bring this wear body to exactly that depth. The material of the wear body is not as hard as that of the rim around it and it wears together with the rim surface. This means that all you have to do is to look into the rim, and if the red dot can no longer be seen the sheave is worn out and should be replaced soon. Clear, visible marks on the outer side of the rope sheave rim indicate the location of the wear body, making a visual inspection of the entire rim unnecessary. Simply clean the respective point on the groove: if the wear body is still visible, the rope sheave can continue to be used, if not, it has to be replaced. The result is that there is no need to evaluate oneself and it is not even necessary to measure anything, you don’t have to assess whether it is still okay or not okay, or how unsafe it might be, even untrained personnel can just have a look at this wear safe system and they will know.”
How was it that Heiderich were the company to see the issue and then were able to address it, was something Harald answered: “We believe that you can always make even well proven products better if you listen to the needs of your customers. We have the extensive experience of the manufacture side of our products, but it is the customer that is in the field using them, so we must utilise their experiences. After the feedback we began to work and the development of the wear safe system began. Another key factor in us being able to achieve this development was the fact that we have the right people, which is always essential to success; our company gains a great deal from the strength and experience of our people.” The wear safe system has only recently been introduced to the market and asked for the reaction Harald explained: “Many big crane companies are realising the potential of the wear safe system as a crucial safety add-on to their products, some of which are already in the process of changing their standards and applying the system. Every month more and more sheaves with the wear safe system are leaving our factory and we think that in the time ahead a major part, if not all of our products will carry the feature. Our customers are global players and operators and to explain the system and its advantages we approach the purchasing, design and engineering as well as the quality people there. We tell them what we can do to reduce the risk caused by unnoticed sheave wear in lifting operations and how simple and inexpensive our solution, the wear safe system, is.”
There can be no doubt of the strengths of Heiderich, if there were then it seems inconceivable that it would be nearing its centenary, or that over that period it had managed to maintain some customers for over 70 years. This cannot be achieved if a company does not follow through on its promises to provide a customised, high quality, and reliable product. In everything that Heiderich designs and builds, but particularly in the wear safe system, there is a promising future, one that seems likely to see the system adopted by more and more crane manufacturers and users.
There are many important values and beliefs at the company, and Harald provides some of the most important: “We are a modern company but we know where we come from, we have a traditional approach and the first thing we think about is how we will make a good product and how we will tailor it to the customers needs.” Always looking to innovate, always looking to improve, always looking to please.
C. u. A. Heiderich GmbH
New ‘wear safe’ system
Utilised customer feedback