16/05/2022 | Press release

Rheinmetall’s Hartha plant celebrates its 100th anniversary

And three decades of cutting-edge innovation

On 13 May 2022 Rheinmetall AG celebrated the 100th anniversary of the foundation of its plant in Hartha in the German State of Saxony. Among the well-wishers expected at the official ceremony were Michael Kretschmar, premier of Saxony, and Rheinmetall’s chief executive, Armin Papperger.

The Hartha plant has belonged to Rheinmetall for thirty years, during which its innovative products have repeatedly gained the attention especially of the automotive industry. Breakthrough technologies for e-mobility came in 2020. Today several newly developed products from Hartha are helping to widen Rheinmetall’s lead as a pioneering supplier of solutions for alternative drive systems, accelerating the broad shift from the internal combustion engine to electric motors and fuel cells.

The Hartha plant is home to Pierburg Pump Technology GmbH, a subsidiary of Rheinmetall AG, a publicly traded corporation based in Düsseldorf. It is a byword for outstanding expertise in thermal and fluid management applications in the worlds of mobility and industry. First and foremost, the company focuses on developing and producing innovative pumps and thermal management products which – especially when it comes to internal combustion engine products – contribute significantly to reducing harmful emissions.

Innovative prowess has characterized Pierburg Pump Technology GmbH for decades. A patented electric water recirculation pump developed at the Hartha plant back in 1996 proved to be major bestseller, with nearly 100 million units sold to date. Production of hydrogen recirculation blowers has already begun, and plans are in place to produce the high-voltage CWA 2000 water pump for fuel cell applications in the near future. Tapping into new, future-oriented fields such as hydrogen technology and achieving CO2 neutrality by 2030 remain important strategic goals for sustained lasting success.

Occupying a total surface area of 45,000 square metres, the company currently employs around 460 people in various areas. It also offers a variety of training opportunities. Over the years, the plant has won multiple awards recognizing its quality as a parts supplier.

A long and tumultuous journey to success

A hundred years ago, businessman Emil Oemig and engineer Gustav Richard Sander founded the company Sander & Oemig, whose 25 employees were soon producing electric motors in the Dresdnerstrasse in Hartha. When the company went bankrupt in 1927, Emil Oemig’s relatives Alfred and Rudolf Oemig founded it anew with engineer Paul Groschopp the same year, renaming it Alfred Oemig & Co. AG. The company grew to 280 employees, moving to a larger location at today’s Sonnenstrasse 29 in Hartha.

At the end of October 1945, the company’s shareholders were dispossessed on the orders of the Soviet military government. Three years later, the plant became a “Volkseigener Betrieb”, or nationally owned enterprise: the VEB Elektromotorenwerk (“Elmo”). By the end of the 1980s, the company had grown into one of East Germany’s largest manufacturers of electric motors, producing a wide variety of electric motors in small production runs for the entire Eastern bloc.

With the political demise of East Germany in 1989 and its integration into the West German economic system, the former VEB was subject to foreclosure proceedings. But it was not long before things started to look up again at Hartha: thirty years ago, Pierburg GmbH bought the Hartha plant from Germany’s Treuhand trust, transforming it into an in-house centre of expertise for electronics.

The development and production of electric motors and motor components such as plastic intake manifolds and vacuum pumps helped to foster the rapid growth of the Hartha plant, leading to a steady increase in the number of staff. But it was the development of pumps and the company’s innovative strength that led to the swift rise of the plant in the Sonnenstrasse. After vacuum pumps (1992) and electric motors for fuel pumps (1993) and secondary air pumps (1995), the plant caught the world’s imagination with a new type of water recirculation pump – the first in-house development from Hartha to be patented by Pierburg.

But it wasn’t just the company’s water recirculation pumps that were steadily improved: electric coolant pumps made a decisive contribution to the plant’s success as well. Current products include the WUP3L water recirculation pump and the CWP35 electric coolant pump, produced in series since 2018, together with an innovative electric drive for pedal electric cycles, or pedelecs. Innovative products like the hydrogen water recirculation blower and the CWA 2000 water pump for fuel cell applications (developed inhouse) play an increasingly important role when the task at hand is “getting onboard” with vehicles powered by alternative drive technologies such as electric motors and fuel cells, enabling the company to continue making valuable contributions as a technology driver for automakers and other industries in future.


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