German engineering has deservedly secured a tremendous reputation around the world for its innovation, quality and reliability. With top class universities turning out highly qualified graduates, the country’s engineers and the products they design are in high demand across the globe. Witte Barskamp KG, located in Bleckede near Lüneburg in northern Germany, is a perfect example. With its roots in the aviation industry, the company is today one of the world’s leading specialists in modular fixing systems, and is characterized by its focus on quality, accuracy and reusability. In 2019, Witte Barskamp will celebrate its 50th anniversary.
The family-owned firm was founded in 1969 by Horst Witte as a contract manufacturer of aircraft parts. The company grew very quickly, adding new business areas to its portfolio, and Mr. Witte, who was later joined by his son Andreas, has led Witte Barskamp to an enviable market position within the world’s top three manufacturers in its sector.
Today, the company specializes in three distinct product areas. Contract manufacturing for the aviation industry still features strongly within the portfolio, and Witte Barskamp has a particular USP. “We work with large format aluminium sheets measuring up to 6 m long and 2 m wide,” says Managing Director Jens Düffert. “Not many companies have the know-how to mill these huge sheets and process them with absolute precision; you have to take several technical parameters into account.” The firm’s second area of expertise is vacuum clamping technology used for the fixation of non-magnetic parts such as wafer plates. “We launched this product in 1982, and it now has many different applications,” explains Mr. Düffert. Together, these two business areas account for one third of Witte Barskamp’s 37 million EUR annual turnover. The company’s core business however, is in modular fixturing systems. Introduced in 1987, the Alufix system is a practical solution which can be assembled, dismantled, reassembled and reused as required. This area is split into two: the classic catalogue business with standard parts, for example for measuring equipment, and the project business for complete systems, fixtures, or such as fenders for cars. “Due to their aluminium construction, our modular fixturing systems are extremely light, and are built with a high degree of precision,” stresses Mr. Düffert. The theme of reuse is one that is very close to the Managing Director’s heart. “Sustainability is very important to us,” he emphasises. “We have developed a re-tooling concept involving the recycling of customers’ equipment. For example, if a customer wants a newer device, we can use many of the components from the first one they purchased. This adds value and saves customers’ money.”
Besides the aviation industry, the automotive sector – from major brands such as VW, Opel, Mercedes and Fiat to Tier 1 and 2 manufacturers – is a key client group. Witte Barskamp exports goods across Europe, and worldwide via sales subsidiaries in the US, Singapore and Mexico.
Mr. Düffert believes the company’s success is due to its clear philosophy. “We offer solutions, not products,” he says. “The quality and precision of these solutions are, of course, a crucial factor.” Despite its ongoing success, Witte Barskamp is continuing to innovate, with two new groups of ‘solutions’. “We have just introduced TopPos, a very flexible fixturing system which we have developed inhouse and patented,” reveals the Managing Director. “This year, we are aiming to further develop our driverless transport system which we launched in 2010. Our ultimate goal is to remain market leader, and maintain our reputation as an idea generator.” The proof of this claim is clear. Witte Barskamp’s Alufix system was a forerunner and, over the years, has been copied by many other manufacturers. For precision and quality, however, Alufix is unbeatable.