Uni-Cardan moves into the building on the private Siegburg premises of the deceased Jean Walterscheid.
Entry into the Far East: the Matsui-Walterscheid joint venture is established in Tokyo in 1980.
Electronic data processing arrives in the 1980s and changes many workplaces. The design department uses CAD computers for the very first time and moves between the computer and the drawing board. Even the shipping department uses computers.
The tractor attachment system (TAS) combines the lower link, top link and stabilisation system. It can be attached to the rear and/or the front and quickly develops into a successful model.
Walterscheid strengthens its commitment to North America by purchasing a plant in St. Thomas (Ontario, Canada).
Football tournaments, runs and hikes support the cohesion of the workforce.
Reunification, up close and personal
Beginning in 1993, the company takes the name GKN Walterscheid; the first name of the company founder, “Jean”, has to make way. Just like its parent company, GKN Walterscheid GmbH relies on a divisional structure. The Management Board is convinced that a new structure will enable independent strategic solutions to be better developed. “In addition, costs are easier to assign and are therefore more manageable.” The sites in Kirschau and North America (Rodney/Burr Ridge) become separate divisions. In Lohmar, Walterscheid divides its products into the APD (Agritechnical Products Division) for agricultural engineering, CV (Constant Velocity) and TF (Tube Fittings) divisions. The Service and Distribution division also operates independently. In 1994, the Management Board takes the next step and transforms the Tube Fitting division into a separate joint-stock company: Walterscheid Rohrverbindungstechnik. Within the APD, the DLS (drive technology) and TAS (attachment systems) divisions are given more and more independence. The TAS division is concentrated in plant 2 on the Lohmar premises.
The new structure is also felt in the production area. While similar work processes and machine types were previously pooled based on the workshop principle, work groups are now responsible for the overall production of a family of parts. Product-focussed production also requires the group to provide all the equipment at a single location where possible.
In 1997, the primarily agriculturally-focussed companies Sankey – with its wheels production sites in Telford, Great Britain, Nagbol, Denmark, and Carpenedolo, Italy – and Walterscheid merge within the GKN Group as the result of an initiative from Lohmar. Peter Röttgen is convinced that the “agricultural engineering companies” are too hidden “behind the automotive facade”, which is preventing them from realising their full potential. The companies involved are suppliers for off-road vehicles – tractors, agricultural and construction machines – and so, beginning in 1998, the new division is called GKN Off-Highway.
In 1997, Walterscheid introduces Power Drive, its third drive shaft generation.
Under the new structure, all Walterscheid divisions develop innovations. The new Walterscheid Rohrverbindungstechnik GmbH modifies its connection technology. The system launched in 1995 under the brand name WALFORM no longer requires a cutting ring; the specially shaped tube end connects directly to the fitting body. WALFORM opens up new sales opportunities, as the system is also useful for machinery in hazardous areas (such as foundries and steel mills). The leading assembly technology manufacturer for mechanical engineering, Mannesmann Rexroth (now Bosch) uses WALFORM to construct the BMW plant near Birmingham, among others. “No more fumbling with chains, no more fiddling with screws, no more complicated hose sets”, promises Walterscheid at the agricultural trade fair Agritechnica in Hanover in 1997.
On 20 February 1998, the early shift in the CLV division produces the 50 millionth CV joint. Long-term group spokesperson Adolf Funken, who assembled the first pieces 30 years before, hands over a symbolic “golden joint” to Manfred Arntz to mark the occasion. However, a short time later the CV production department within the group is restructured and entirely relocated to Italy. Walterscheid is now focussed entirely on agricultural engineering.
The new Powerlift 2000 TAS system, developed together with the Technical University of Braunschweig in 1999, combines established hydraulic components with electronic, in some cases even computer-programmed, control. At Agritechnica 1999, the industry is very impressed with this cutting-edge system.
From the year 2000, Walterscheid continues to grow in international markets. In 2000, it opens a sales office in Brazil, followed by an office in China in 2001. In 2002, the agricultural engineering part of Glaenzer Seurre (Belgium) becomes the logistics centre for Western Europe and, the following year, Dansk Uni-Cardan becomes the logistics centre for Scandinavia. A newly constructed operation located in Woodridge (Illinois), 15 kilometres to the west, replaces the plant in Burr Ridge. In Germany, the Kirschau plant is no longer large enough to service the demand for agricultural gearboxes. Walterscheid once again decides to construct a new plant nearby: the transmission plant in Sohland commences operation in 2003.