Hot dip galvanizing

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A Joint Effort Saves the Day

When buildings get old, it is time to bring in the specialists. They solve many a renovation problem with their expertise and innovative ideas – for example for Knorr-Bremse in Munich.

The Knorr-Bremse head office is located in an impressive ensemble of three identical glass cubes in the middle of Munich. The world market leader for braking systems has been based here for 13 years and found itself increasingly struggling with material wear: parts of the glass façade were damaged, only some of the blinds worked; not an acceptable condition for a company that stands for quality, safety and reliability – and whose employees need sun protection.
Which is why Knorr-Bremse commissioned the star architect Werner Sobek. He was to develop a construction that would integrate the intact façade parts and combine them with a new sun protection system. His bold design met all the aesthetic requirements, but presented the contractors with some problems: the external steel framework that was to support the blinds had to be welded directly to the building – all while the 2,500 or so employees kept on working on the company’s daily operations. In addition to the logistical challenges, this meant a high fire risk on the 7,200 square metre façade, a risk that neither Knorr-Bremse nor the steel constructor Hillebrandt wanted to take.

The design was in danger of failing until Hillebrandt had an ingenious idea: they developed a kind of connection system for the steel construction. The steel profiles were bolted together in joints, which made welding on site unnecessary, thus reducing the risk, costs and saved time. The steel elements could be prepared and transported better at the factory; everyone wins.

7,200 m2

The facade surface had to be provided with a new sun protection.

Nevertheless, the façade cladding remained a huge undertaking. Not only was it the largest assembly project in the history of Hillebrandt, but it also placed special demands on hot dip galvanizing and coating. "The profile length at 14.50 metres was no problem for the Seppeler Group, but the height of 3.10 metres completely maxed out the colleagues' dip bath in Rietberg," explains Sales Manager Pascal Monkenbusch from Osnabrück. "We galvanized a total of 420 tonnes of steel for this project, and within a very tight time frame."
The coating also required a fair share of skill, as the chosen colour's micaceous iron ore particles can quickly become blotchy when reworked. "With a façade, the visual appearance naturally comes first, in addition to corrosion protection," says Sales Manager Karsten Wietheger from Rietberg. That's why we could not afford to make any mistakes. Fortunately, we have more than 30 years of experience in coating. The Rietberg and Osnabrück locations worked together closely to prepare all the components for assembly. " Nonetheless, the project was a challenge," says Monkenbusch. "If we were to lay out all the steel profiles in a line, we would end up with a distance of 1.5 kilometres, which we had to hot dip galvanize and coat quickly and flawlessly – and all coordinated with several involved project participants."
The fact that the project was completed on time is not only due to the expertise of everyone involved, but also thanks to the great mutual trust between Seppeler and Hillebrandt. More than 45 years of successful cooperation unite the plant in Osnabrück and the steel constructor, who has all its components galvanized at Seppeler. "This business relationship is exceptional in how long it has existed, the level of mutual trust and reliability," says Monkenbusch: "Theo Hillebrandt closely followed our company's developments even as a child and is therefore also part of the long history of hot dip galvanizing in Osnabrück."


Theodor Hillebrandt founded his farriery and wainwright's workshop in 1930, which was then expanded to include a smithery and metal construction in 1962.
In the 1970s, the company began producing the ASP type hazardous goods transport containers – the portfolio was gradually expanded, as was the production space. In 2008, the company moved to its current location in Greven, where 70 employees now manufacture products of the highest quality on an area of 6,500 square metres under the management of Theo Hillebrandt.

The Knorr-Bremse Group
Georg Knorr founded his company in Berlin in 1905, which soon made a name for itself in Europe with air brakes for goods trains. In 1945 though, the Berlin head office was expropriated and the business was moved to Munich. Since the change of ownership in 1985 the company, which later expanded rapidly, has concentrated on brake systems for rail and commercial vehicles. The Knorr-Bremse Group is considered the world's leading manufacturer in these segments today and has more than 120 locations in 30 countries.


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