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Issue October 2015

Dieselgate – Increased pressure!

Dr. Christian Potthoff-Sewing (CFO/prezident), Dipl. Ing. Rüdiger Faustmann (CEO)

The scandal at VW has made one thing very clear – the options for achieving continued significant reductions in exhaust gas emissions by further refining the combustion engine are almost exhausted. In addition to this, questions are being asked about whether the driving cycles used in exhaust emission tests bear any relationship to reality whatsoever.

The more realistic exhaust emission tests currently under discussion will result in modified development priorities for both diesel and petrol engines. The need to achieve optimum combustion via high injection pressure will, however, remain. Exhaust gas treatment may possibly become more complex, thus making engines more expensive.

P+P is well-positioned to handle such a scenario. The company is at the technological forefront of the production of rails and pipes for high pressure applications. We already supply rails and pipes for pressures of 3000 bar and more. All key processes within the value creation chain are located at P+P sites and our mechanical engineering department supplies the testing facilities used to test and validate these and many other relevant components. We thus have the capabilities required to react flexibly to any changes which may occur.

Even if the VW scandal should have an adverse effect on the future of the diesel engine in smaller passenger vehicles, P+P still has good prospects. The lion’s share of our diesel components are used in commercial vehicles and high-end passenger vehicles. In these segments, the diesel engine will continue to make an important contribution to enabling mobility which is as environment-friendly as possible.

Over and above this, our specialisation in the highest level of precision ensures that we have good opportunities for growth in markets other than the diesel engine. We are participating in development work on gas and hydrogen motors. R+W is also having great success in completely different markets and our pipe milling subsidiary is, surprisingly, the first P+P company to begin the transition to Industry 4.0.

At the technological forefront when it comes to high precision metal working; flexible and innovative in existing and many new markets – this is the basis upon which P+P plans to further expand. Allowing us to turn a crisis into an opportunity.

Poppe + Potthoff steps on the gas

Gaseous fuels such as natural gas, bio-gas and hydrogen are an environment-friendly and also competitively priced alternative to conventional diesel or petrol. The corresponding technology and infrastructure is, in some cases, still being developed. Nevertheless, the fleet operators and manufacturers of lorries and buses are showing considerable interest. Focuses in this context are the development of new systems and the retro-fitting of existing common rail engines.

The VDI (Association of German Engineers) magazine reports that natural gas, which can be obtained cheaply, has the advantage that it can lead to a 20 to 35 per cent reduction in fuel costs in comparison to diesel, as shown by studies commissioned by MAN. Mercedes Benz estimates that CO2 emissions are 20 per cent lower. In addition to this, the German Energy Agency (DENA) states that natural gas generates almost 90% less nitrogen oxides; emits virtually no fine dust particles and provides noise emission benefits.

Poppe + Potthoff develops common rails and high-pressure lines for gas and hydrogen engines.

Reliable even under high pressure

When developing components for gas and hydrogen engines Poppe + Potthoff can draw on many years’ experience with diesel motors, for which the company has been delivering common rail subsystems since the 1990’s. Studies show that the materials and designs used for these systems are also perfectly suited for gas applications.

Even when used with highly volatile hydrogen the interfaces of Poppe + Potthoff components remain fully sealed. Source: Poppe + Potthoff

“The smaller molecular structure of natural gas means that system seals to prevent leaks are far more important than is the case for diesel fuel,” explains Burkhard Harhoff, Head of Engineering at Poppe + Potthoff. “We can demonstrate that our interfaces remain fully sealed even when highly volatile hydrogen is being used and that they remain safe and reliable even after being reassembled 25 times.”

Tested prototypes

The series of tests were carried out by German testing organisation TÜV Saarland. In the case of Poppe + Potthoff components the interfaces between the rail and the pipe performed significantly better than other systems with classic O-ring seals at extremely low sub-zero temperatures. “This represents a major advantage in terms of safety for applications involving highly compressed gases,” adds Harhoff.

Burkhard Harhoff, Head of Engineering, Poppe + Potthoff GmbH

Poppe + Potthoff is now supplying customers in the USA, Canada and Europe with common rails and pipes with internal diameters ranging from 3 to 6 mm and validated for gas pressures from 300 to 700 bar. All prototypes undergo extensive tests at the Technology Centre in Werther and the data is forwarded to customers for evaluation. The state-of-the-art production plant in Ajka, Hungary makes efficient serial production possible.

Poppe + Potthoff is leading the way in the “it’s OWL” technology network – Intelligently networked measuring and control technology will enable continuous optimisation of tube production.

Tube manufacturing 4.0

Poppe + Potthoff is the new partner of the “it’s OWL” excellence cluster. The abbreviation stands for Intelligent Technical Systems OstWestfalenLippe (East-Westphalia-Lippe). At the company’s main plant in Werther a drawing plant for precision steel tubes is now being modernised to reflect the latest standards in measuring and control technology. The reference project is laying the groundwork for an “intelligent factory” which enables highly automated but simultaneously highly flexible, customer-specific manufacturing.

On 8 September 2015 the project partners came together for the official kick-off meeting. Together with experts for mechatronics and automation & control technology from the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT) and the University of Paderborn’s Heinz Nixdorf Institute Poppe + Potthoff will be equipping a precision steel tube production line with intelligently networked measuring and sensor technology to make it “fit for the future” – Industry 4.0.

When the project has been completed it will be possible to gather and analyse extensive process and quality data as well as to develop statistical models and rules to allow quasi-online control of the production line. “The system will not only make it possible to optimise process reliability, productivity and product quality but will also create the basis for innovation,” says Bengt-Henning Maas, CEO of Poppe + Potthoff Präzisionsstahlrohre GmbH.

Schematic flow chart of the project phase focuses.

Versatile prototypes

Automotive components of the future have a home – the cutting-edge Technology Centre at Poppe + Potthoff’s main plant in Werther, where the company is bundling development of next-generation products. “Every year we develop, manufacture and validate 300 to 500 new product variations for customers from all over the world. Testing of small quantities of these products is carried out with the objective of mass producing them one to two years later,” explains Norbert Retzlaff, Head of Prototype Construction.

Norbert Retzlaff, Head of Prototype Construction and Michael Rieger, his deputy and a master craftsman.


Design and engineering specialists, skilled workers and test engineers work in hand in hand at the centre to turn sketches and specification documents into usable products in just a few days. Poppe + Potthoff is often able to present new common rails, high pressure pipes and numerous complex high precision milled parts such as high pressure pipes at first meetings – customers value this flexibility and speed.

Transparent, well-organised and clean. The prototype manufacturing facility seen from the inside.

At the Technology Centre all the processes of the value addition chain are grouped around the central quality laboratory – from construction using cutting-edge CAD and FEM programmes to precise metal working on near-series machines and autofrettage. Customers are able to see the relevant production steps and receive expert measuring and validation reports at a very early stage.

In addition to dimensions, the hardness, surface roughness and the contours of the components are measured precisely. Bending and vibration tests as well as dynamic pressure tests – for example pressure pulsation testing up to 6000 bar or bursting pressure tests up to 12 000 bar – are also carried out.

25 years – R+W celebrates with DRIVE

Thanks to its customer-oriented creativity and commitment R+W Antriebselemente has developed from a start-up company to a world leader in precision and industrial drive couplings in just two and a half decades. The requirements of highly specialised customers resulted in the company growing into numerous markets and industries and today R+W has close customer relationships in over 50 countries, with half of the around 200-strong workforce employed outside of Germany.

One focus of the company, which was acquired by Poppe + Potthoff in 2011, is on servo drive technology which, for example, enables the highly dynamic, precise movements of industrial robots. In such applications the torque to be transmitted is continuously increased.

In addition to precision couplings for applications from 0.5 to 25 000 Nm R+W has also expanded its product range to include industrial drive couplings with current capacities of up to 348 000 Nm.

Whether in marine or mechanical engineering; transportation or medical technology; wind power or automation systems, drive elements from R+W ensure reliable, safe transmission of power in numerous variations. “In the bellows couplings segment we are currently the world market leader,” says company manager Frank Kronmüller. On 17 October R+W will be celebrating its anniversary in Klingenberg with a culinary journey around the world, showing that even after its first 25 years the company is still full of “DRIVE: Dynamic, Reliable, Innovative, Versatile and Expanding”.