Krohne Profile

May 2014 News Flow Measurement & Control

The early days

Krohne, long established in the field of industrial measurement, and well known in our mining, chemical and other industries, was started almost by chance in 1921, after a friend commissioned the founder Ludwig Krohne, to manufacture some simple measuring instruments for him. The Krohne family was more involved in craftsmanship than entrepreneurial activities, but it was probably this family interest in the arts, especially creative painting, which was to later see many innovations and world-firsts coming out of the Duisburg-based company. The first products of the company were variable area flowmeters for gas flow measurements, widely used in industrial furnaces of that era. This type of flowmeter, greatly refined over the years, is still manufactured in Duisburg.

The Krohne business (Ludwig Krohne & Sohn) survived the depression in the 30s, and the first company-owned production shop was constructed in 1936 in Duisburg. Unfortunately World War II soon descended on Europe, and incendiary bombs destroyed this building in 1943, while the son, Karl Krohne, died in another air raid only days before the cessation of hostilities. This was tragically followed by the death of Ludwig Krohne himself just two years later.

Post war growth

It was Ludwig's wife Anna, assisted by members of the Krohne Rademacher and Dubbick families, who rebuilt the workshop again after the war, and it was she who in 1949 decided to make Kristian Rademacher-Dubbick, her grandson, responsible for the company. Kristian, then only 28, was to oversee the development of Krohne from a workforce of a mere dozen people into the multinational measurement business it has become. Today there more than 3280 employees, of which 550 are still located in the headquarters in Duisburg (in a purpose-built factory opened in 1969) located in a street renamed Ludwig-Krohne-Strasse in honour of the company's founder. While Kristian remained on the board of Krohne, he relinquished the position of chairman to an engineer, Prof. Rolf Theenhaus. The growth of Krohne during the 1950s can be largely attributed to the company's innovative response to the needs of Germany's burgeoning chemical industry during this period. Today the company is managed by Michael Rademacher-Dubbick (Controlling and Human Resources) and Stephan Neuburger (Sales and Marketing).

As a company Krohne has a long list of firsts to its name, particularly in the fields of flow and level measurement. These acclaims go back to 1953 when Krohne produced the first commercial magnetic flowmeter. 1973 saw Krohne launch the first pulsed DC electromagnetic flowmeter, while the world’s first ceramic (sintered aluminium oxide) flowmeter (which could operate in the most corrosive and abrasive environments) appeared in 1982. The 90s have seen many innovations, in 1996 the Altosonic V the first ultrasonic liquid custody transfer meter in the world for multiproduct hydrocarbons which can measure rate to better than 0, 05%, and is approved by the OIML (the world's legal metrology authority) to 0,15%, all that is legally required.

Another relatively new innovation from Krohne (1997) is the Tidalflux system, which combines magnetic flow and capacitive level technology to allow accurate flow measurement in partially filled pipes, previously a problematic measurement. Tidalflux was presented with the award for "the most innovative product in the water industry" at an international exhibition held in the UK during November 1997. Innovation is one of Krohnes’ strong points: 2007 the OPTISWIRL 4070 C first vortex flowmeter with integrated pressure and temperature compensation in 2-wire technology was introduced. 2008 the ALTOSONIC V12, the first 12-chord ultrasonic gas flowmeter with compensating and diagnostic functions. A further development for the water sector was the WATERFLUX in 2010, a battery powered water counter offering a 15 year battery powered meter that allows for an installation without straight inlets and outlets. Most recently, Krohne launched SMARTSENS, the worlds’ first series of 2-wire analytical sensors with an integrated transmitter in 2013. The same year, a set of unique PP/PTFE Wave Horn antennas for OPTIWAVE radar level meters in corrosive environments was presented.

The company today

The production facilities of Krohne each specialise in different areas of expertise 'Centres of Excellence'. Duisburg, besides being the head office and centre for research and development, still manufactures variable-area (VA) flow meters, Vortex flowmeters, electrochemical analytical sensors and systems, and all electronics required for the company's other products. The 'Centre of Excellence' for electromagnetic and ultrasonic flowmeters is the Altometer facility in Dordrecht in the Netherlands. This centre is unique in Europe as it can build 'Mag' meters up to 3,2 m in diameter, and has a number of calibration rigs traceable to the NMi (Netherlands), one of which can calibrate flowmeters up to 3,2 metres in diameter. Krohne operates more than 120 calibration facilities for volume flow, mass flow, level; temperature, density and pressure to (wet-) calibrate any device manufactured. For example, every flowmeter is wet-calibrated using water or air as standard before leaving the facilities. The unique 3,2 metre capability was duplicated at their joint venture company in Shanghai in China in 2004. The plant in the United Kingdom specialises in single straight-tube and that in the USA, in bent-tube Coriolis massflow meters. In the latest development Krohne again sets the standard with the OPTIMASS 6400, the new standard, high-performance Coriolis mass flowmeter for liquids and gases to handle high temperature, high pressure and cryogenic applications, in addition the new 6400 series features Entrained Gas Management (EGM) – the new standard for entrained gas immunity. With EGM, the flowmeter can tolerate and measure entrained gas up to 100% of volume and continues to present an actual stable measured reading, together with an indication. Krohne France manufactures all related level products including mechanical and time domain reflectrometry and FMCW 'radar' devices. In the latest developments Krohne has entered the Temperature with the acquisition of INOR (now KROHNE Inor) in Malmö, Sweden, and pressure markets with the new facility in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany. Krohne has also entered the market with specialist analytical products. SMARTSENS the first family of analytical sensors for PH, ORP, conductivity that no longer require transmitters due to the transmitter is now built into the sensor head, reducing cost of ownership to the end user. Specific industry analytical products likethe innovative OPTIQUAD which utilises a unique combination of four optical measuring principals in one system to measure the protein, fat, lactose and dry matter in milk products as well as COD levels in dairy waste water, opens up new possibilities in process optimisation and huge savings for dairy and cheese industries.

The expansion of Krohne outside of Germany started in 1961 with the acquisition of Rheometron in Switzerland and Altometer in the Netherlands. Thereafter the company grew rapidly with the creation of production facilities in France, the USA and the United Kingdom. Krohne also followed the route of joint ventures and technology transfer in Japan (1982), India (1982) and China (1986). During 1978 the decision was taken to establish a fully owned subsidiary in South Africa, and Krohne (Pty) Ltd was established. By that time the company through representatives, already had a major share of the local market for flowmeters, particularly in the mining industry, where it continues to lead the market to this day. Krohne continued its international expansion with further joint venture companies in Russia (1992) and Brazil (1996), while numerous wholly owned sales offices were established in other countries, including Austria, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong and Australia.

Krohne maintains its leading edge over its competition through encouraging creativity amongst its own development staff, and by maintaining close relationships with local universities, which over the years in collaboration with the company, have developed impressive measurement skills and expertise.

Recently The European Commission published its 2013 EU Industrial Research and Development (R&D) Investment Scoreboard. It is based on a sample of 2000 companies representing more than 90% of the total expenditure on R&D. With R&D spend of EUR 27,2 million in 2012, KROHNE has been ranked 480th in the EU top 1000 for large investments in R&D, and 1,773th in the list of the world’s top 2,000 investors.

The South African company

Krohne had been represented in South Africa since 1967, so the decision to invest here was a sound one based on the company's increasing involvement in mining and other major industries.

John Boxley, General Manager/CEO
John Boxley, General Manager/CEO

While some specialist manufacturing was initially carried out in South Africa, this activity was suspended in 1996. The benefits still remain in that the company retains the expertise to carry out a substantial amount of flowmeter refurbishment, and very important, instrument calibration and in-line verification. While Krohne operates autonomously under General Manager/CEO John Boxley, the parent has strong board representation including Michael Rademacher-Dubbick, a regular visitor to our country. Michael is the son of the late Kristian Rademacher-Dubbick.

While the local company’s prime focus is on the Krohne range of equipment, it has expanded its value to its customer base by representing some other leading companies who offer complementary measurement products. The principals represented by Krohne in South Africa are, Hycontrol, P.T.L Hermann and ProComSol.

Krohne in South Africa has many notable achievements, a milestone was the installation and calibration of massive 2,5 m diameter electromagnetic and ultrasonic flowmeters in the Lesotho Highlands Water scheme. These meters, one continuously checking the other, is what determines the payments South Africa makes for the supply of water from this landmark African engineering project. In the latest Coup KROHNE supplied the largest electromagnetic flow meter in Africa to Rand water, a massive 3 meter diameter electromagnetic flow meter that is used as the custody transfer point from the DWAF Vaal Dam to the Suikerbosch water treatment plant owned and Managed by Rand Water. This high spec meter was wet calibrated and witnessed by Rand Water.

Krohne is proud to have achieved of the SABS custody transfer certificate for Krohne Optimass 7000 mass flowmeter as well as the Altosonic III Ultrasonic flowmeter. The Altosonic V, a 5 beam ultrasonic meter, is also now approved and is used to verify various hydrocarbon meters used on bunkering barges to transfer lubricants and refuel fuels in other vessels in harbours in Durban and Cape Town.

Krohne has a flow verification facility in Midrand, and although this is not accredited, this is verified using the company's own accredited facility in the Netherlands using reference meter method that are checked and recalibrated if necessary every six months.

The original focus of Krohne in Germany was on the measurement needs of the chemical industry, Duisburg being located nearby the concentration of this industry, including the now international conglomerate, Bayer. While the chemical industry is still its largest single client, Krohne now services the needs of the mining industry, the water industry, petrochemicals and the general process control industry. In fact anywhere where it is necessary to make measurements of level, flow, or other physical properties on liquid and liquid-like (e.g. slurries) substances. The local company has obviously made major inroads into the pulp and paper industry, local customers including the giants Mondi and Sappi.

Amongst its other customers are specialised plants of Eskom such as Koeberg Nuclear power station, with Krohne being one of the few nuclear accredited instrument manufacturers, the gold, platinum and coal mining industries and more process industry customers including Unilever, Clover SA and Sasol, Nampak. Krohne recently upgraded the metering facility SFF for the measurement of bulk crude oil into South Africa as well as supplying many ultrasonic meters for NMPPP project and three meter provers for Transnet. The Krohne ALTO V was recently given the nod of approval for KPC, Kenya Pipe Line Company.

Krohne southern Africa services its customer base through its head office in Midrand and branches located in Natal, the Free State and Cape Town, while sub-distributors have been appointed to service Limpopo, Botswana, Mpumalanga and Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Ghana.

Krohne celebrated 75 years as a privately owned company during 1996. The anniversary virtually brought the company's hometown of Duisburg to a standstill, and a major feature, close to the heart of the controlling family, was a major display of works of art. Krohne is a major sponsor of art and a major buyer, with these acquisitions being displayed at its companies throughout the world. In a succinct answer as to why Krohne should collect art, Michael Rademacher-Dubbick quoted from the 75th Anniversary Brochure. There it states "All these different art trends offer a glimpse of new dimensions of existence, hoped for and longed for, shaped by humans even if not always understood by all". What better axiom could a family owned business, striving for excellence in products and care of its staff, ever hope to have. "Employees who, whatever their motivation, are able to be influenced and stimulated by creative work, constitute an ever-increasing company asset that will continue to bear fruit in future"

An anomalous post-war perspective Krohne, which had worldwide revenue of EUR 462,3 million in 2013 was visited by an MI6 'Instrumentation & Control' team on 6 May 1946. Their report, intended to allow America to make best use of technology existing in Germany in the post war era, stated: This firm makes a crude form of rotameter that has been supplied mainly to makers of furnaces for heat treatment. The tapered glass tubes for these instruments were obtained from Jena (Schott) in sizes up to about 10 mm bore. Larger sizes were obtained by selection from glass tube makers' scrap. The instruments are crude in style and finish, and display no features of technical interest. The methods of calibration and design are empirical. Out of this 'discard' business, the Krohne and Rademacher-Dubbick families have built a company which is unique in the process control business in that it has maintained a tight market focus and market domination for an extended time and ranks amongst the industry's leaders.

Krohne – Achieve more with innovative solutions in flow, level, pressure, temperature and analytics


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