Positive engineering

Founded by Friedrich Heinrich Wolff in 1945, Armaturen Wolff is a German manufacturer of valves for the marine and other industries. It began as a trader of sanitary piping equipment but during the past 67 years has evolved to include many specialist bespoke valves as well as filtration technology and accessories; the company has also remained within the Wolff family, today led by Friedrich’s grandsons Hendrik and Mathias Wolff. Reliability in service and quality in manufacture have gained it a widespread global client base.

Mathias talks to Shipping & Marine in more detail about Armaturen Wolff’s range of products today: “We are quite famous for our quick closing valves and valve systems. They are unconventional, meaning they are not only pneumatically, manually and hydraulically operated but also electrically. There are also other lines such as the filtration technology focusing primarily on mud boxes, the valve chests, and the flexible reach rods. We are an authorised economic operator (AEO), meaning we have got a number of procedures for handling customs, for example can we ship emergency spares internationally without taking too much time.”

Hendrik explains the advantages of the electrically operated quick closing valves: “One product that we invented and remains unique to our portfolio is the electrically operated quick closing valve system. Conventional quick closing valves are pneumatically or hydraulically operated, which means you need pneumatic or hydraulic piping in order to operate them. Electrical valves use cables instead. When looking at regular ships that use 20 to 25 quick closing valves, the total length of piping can be anywhere up to 1000 metres. In that instance, the installation of cables is much easier than the installation of tubing. Cables can simply be coiled and carried on the back, for example, whereas tubing needs hydraulic presses and heavy tools and is a lot more cumbersome. It also offers ease of monitoring, making failures easier to identify and to minimise them.”

The product was launched in 2008, so that the company can look back on some years of use in practice. With an increasing number of installations on board, the electric system is becoming attractive to more and more customers. Accordingly, Armaturen Wolff expects the technology to become even more successful in future in the marine industry.

Armaturen Wolff’s valves have become popular within the conventional merchant ship, offshore, and megayacht sectors. Apart from manufacturing, the company has also heavily invested in the design and development of solutions and handling all required documentation. Its diverse supply chain means it is able to meet highly complex requirements. Among a large number of projects Armaturen Wolff is working with a Japanese client at present, for example, to design a niche valve chest that requires custom designing to operate in extreme working conditions.

The last few years have seen jobs in the megayacht sector become increasingly numerous for Armaturen Wolff, with the company establishing a separate division to handle projects: Wolff Yacht Equipment. The often very ukdemanding requirements for this sector – focusing not only on niche functions and high performance but aesthetics as well – have proved a positive challenge for Armaturen Wolff’s engineers. At present, megayacht projects form a notable portion of the company’s overall order book and this looks set only to grow.

“There are a lot of opportunities throughout the market right now,” Hendrik says. “We continuously focus on the possibilities. At present we are engaged in building a line of remote-controlled hydraulically operated valves, for example, and have also begun building up suitable professional relationships in this context. We are also working together with numerous well-known partners to improve the sustainable and environmentally friendly qualities of our valves in line with the shifting outlook of the industry.”

Going forward, these improvements complement the company’s strong international order book. Furthermore, the reduction of manufacturing costs to meet a strongly price aware market will be achieved through co-operation with companies in regions where labour is at a different level. Though not working exclusively in the marine industry, Armaturen Wolff still views it as one of its more important business streams and will continue improving its presence within the sector.

“There are always key projects that we are working on,” concludes Mathias. “Currently we have significant jobs for clients in China, India, Greece, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Singapore, the Middle East and the US. Over the coming years we are keen on establishing more local partnerships in countries such as those because it is important for us that we have people who know the market, speak the language, and know the culture. We couldn’t do all of that ourselves so we are successfully forging strong links with partners that can.”

Armaturen Wolff
Unique electrical valves
Strong megayacht business
International cusomer base