Aluminium Laufen AG Ensures Smooth Landings
Aluminium Laufen AG has changed itself from a supplier of semi-finished products to a full-service supplier of tailor-made, ready-to-install extruded profiles. This benefits customers such as Europoles Suisse GmbH, which makes innovative mounting systems for streetlights and security cameras as well as helicopter landing pads. The two companies’ joint success story spans Europe, the Middle East and Korea.
A green meadow and a handful of industrial buildings lie next to the northern end of the runway at Mollis airfield, not far from Marenco Swisshelicopter AG. Aircraft noises approach and recede. South-east of Zürich, between the feet of steeply towering mountains, this is the home of Europoles Suisse GmbH.
Despite being surrounded by high mountains, Europoles Suisse has views stretching all the way to the Middle East. Founded 20 years ago as Nivatec, and for the last 10 years a fully independent subsidiary of Europoles GmbH & Co. KG, the 18-employee company has established itself as a technology leader in easy-access mounting systems for lighting and surveillance cameras, as well as lighting systems for airports, motorways and stadiums. Following a direct request from Swiss air ambulance service Rega, which operates a base in Mollis, the company has also manufactured helicopter platforms since 2015. The Europoles Suisse team also includes seven employees working at the Europoles parent company in Germany, plus three people in Dubai.
Whether it’s airport lighting for Zurich, Munich or Dubai, stadium floodlights (including the 2002 World Cup in Korea) or lighting systems for the Saudi king’s private airport in Jeddah (which has 14 parking spaces), Europoles Suisse’s solutions are in use all over the world. Managing Director René Vuillemin says: ”Aviation is currently a real driver in the Middle East. As a competitive Swiss provider, we supply turnkey systems to this region. Aviation’s share of GDP in the Middle East will soon rise from 28 to 35 percent, making it an attractive market.” René Vuillemin is also head of the newly established helicopter group of the Swiss Aerospace Cluster, a network with a branch office in Dubai.
Modular Design, Vibration-Free, Weatherproof
Aluminium helipads from Europoles Suisse have many advantages over competing products made of concrete: they are light, quick to assemble, can be quickly defrosted or cooled, and are not prone to cracking.
Designed with the help of finite-element modelling (FEM), the helipads can support two-and-a-half times the maximum weight of the helicopter, to ensure safety during a crash landing. They are fire-tested under a load of three tons of concrete, and feature separators for the safe disposal of water.
In addition, the helipads have a unique selling point in the form of an innovative building decoupling system that dampens both vibration and noise. In hospitals, for example, doctors and patients in the operating theatre depend on a completely vibration-free environment.
René Vuillemin continues: “Like all our other products, we have developed our own modular heliports. This means that we not only have a high-quality product on the market, but also a relatively low-cost one.”
Europoles Suisse must ensure that its helipads, which are made from aluminium profiles, are quick to assemble, stable, and can withstand wind and weather. In addition to lighting controls from its German partner company BATT GmbH, the company relies on tailor-made aluminium profiles from Aluminium Laufen AG.
The high-strength extruded aluminium alloy profiles supplied by Aluminium Laufen contain heating channels for the water-glycol antifreeze mixture used to remove snow and ice. Cooled variants are also available for the Middle East, to stop helicopters sticking to the platform in high temperatures.
Aluminium Laufen designs its aluminium profiles to meet the functional requirements of each user. Those destined for Europoles Suisse, for instance, feature overlaps and marking grooves to simplify assembly and the installation of insulation material.
Tonnage is a Thing of the Past
From the point of view of Aluminium Laufen, such challenges are not new. For a number of years now, the aluminium specialist has been taking advantage of the expert technical advice it can offer customers on material selection, profile shape and producibility. In many cases, this support begins at the design stage.
From its origins as a manufacturer of semi-finished products, Aluminium Laufen in recent years has increasingly developed into a one-stop shop that supplies complete assemblies, including surface finishes, and rapid samples for prototyping. In addition to intensifying its dialogue with customers, the Basel-based company is focusing on quick service and just-in-time delivery. Michael Späth, Sales Manager and Member of the Executive Board, adds: “We are able to produce profiles with high strength requirements as well as profiles with high demands on design or surface finish.”
Aluminium Laufen support its customers in terms of construction, function and logistics. Michael Späth explains: “We are the speedboat among semi-finished product manufacturers. We produce individually designed components and have specialised in the SME landscape, which requires flexibility. Because we are extremely fast and can deliver small batches, our competitors from abroad are often unable to keep up.”
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