Ascending to industry elite with help from aluminium

Aluminium suits the market-leading products manufactured by Günzburger Steigtechnik, and not only for its material and functional qualities. “We buy with our eyes,” says owner and managing director Ferdinand Munk. “With aluminium, I can make beautiful products.”

May 23, 2011

Günzburger Steigtechnik is one of the premier European suppliers of ascending systems, from garden-variety ladders to aircraft maintenance platforms.

Its market success is highly satisfying for Ferdinand Munk, who is building upon traditions that his great-grandfather started 112 years ago. 

He says that while the history generates pride among employees, the company is “always trying to look far ahead. We have many new products waiting in the cabinet drawer. Our goal is to enjoy healthy and consistent growth and to be at the top in special solutions.”

And aluminium is his material of choice.

“Firemen often choose wooden ladders because metal absorbs heat to a greater extent, but aluminium is the main material we use in our total product range,” he says. “It is flexible and unbreakable, unlike plastic and wood, and this function is extremely important. It is also attractive.”

Moving higher

Leopold Munk began selling his first handmade ladders in 1899, right around the time Ferdinand von Zeppelin brought his first airships to the skies.

Ferdinand Munk is still selling ladders, but his company is also producing maintenance docks tailored for commercial aircraft. The platforms are rolled against the sides of the aircraft, enabling employees to work directly on the wings, fuselage or tail – making maintenance more comfortable and safer. It is a concept that is growing popular in other industrial applications as well, including trains and commercial vehicles, like buses.

Special constructions require special solutions, and when Günzburger Steigtechnik was developing its newest construction for the aerospace industry – its customers include several well-known international airlines – the company went to Hydro for help with one of the key pieces.

Aluminium profiles – and a special challenge

Günzburger Steigtechnik uses around 300 different aluminium profiles in its range of products, but the company needed support in developing a new profile for maintenance solutions in the aerospace segment, one which could meet certain regulations.

The profile needed to have a non-slip surface with special qualities. It needed to be slightly open, so snow or sand or liquids could fall through. It needed specific static performance. And it needed to be pleasing to the eye.

Günzburger Steigtechnik expects quality, flexibility and reliability from its suppliers. But purchasing manager Reinhard Müller, who worked closely on the project, says the firm also wants to sit with experts who can challenge and trigger ideas. “We have to fit together,” he says.

Technicians from both companies worked together and solved the problem.

“In addition to meeting the requirements, we helped them achieve the top standard in the anti-slipping class,” says Christian Witsch, who manages Hydro’s extrusion and value-adding facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic. Both sites are supplying Günzburger.

“This is a new and important product area for them. Our job is to help them succeed.”

Updated: October 11, 2016