Steinen, Germany -- The roller door lifts, and a large, beeping truck rolls in. The latest batch of VACUDEST systems will be loaded onto it – the forklift whirrs across the hall as employees in blue overalls load the products, wield welding tools, tighten screws and make measurements, all to the distant humming of test runs being held on other systems. This is where VACUDEST vacuum distillation systems are currently manufactured, a space alive with hustle and bustle. Here at the headquarters in Steinen, over 100 employees work together to create around 100 VACUDEST systems per year. This enterprise boasts a successful 30-year history – in other words, 30 years of experience. VACUDEST vacuum distillation systems are turning 30 years old this year.
The first VACUDEST product came onto the market in 1986. It was initially designed as a vacuum evaporator for treating used solvents. As increasingly stringent environmental regulations led to a decline in the use of industrial solvents, VACUDEST technology started to be used to evaporate industrial wastewater.
“I started working at Mannesmann Demag Wittig in 1995. I quickly realised how much potential vacuum distillation had for the industrial sector, and passionately worked towards achieving the vision of a wastewater-free industry,” recalls Matthias Fickenscher, one of the current Managing Partners of H2O GmbH. After several financially challenging years, the subsidiary Wittig was sold along with VACUDEST to an American Group, which divided up the company. VACUDEST was put up for sale.
“We were still young and fresh out of secondary school, but we believed in VACUDEST,” says Fickenscher. And so the three then-employees Wolfgang Schneider, Frank Schlegel and Matthias Fickenscher founded H2O in 1999 and acquired the rights for VACUDEST. “We were full of enthusiasm and new ideas. We kept continually developing the system. We made it more powerful and energy-efficient as well as easier to adapt and use,” adds Frank Schlegel, another Managing Partner at H2O GmbH.
Today, H2O GmbH holds a total of 15 property rights and patents for VACUDEST. 1,300 systems have been sold since 1986, in 46 countries around the world.
VACUDEST systems are available in six system sizes and 18 output sizes. The VACUDEST XXL, which was launched in 2015, is the latest addition to the VACUDEST family. At over 30,000 m³/year, it boasts the greatest vacuum distillation capacity to date in the VACUDEST range’s 30-year history. “Who would have thought that the little VACUDEST would grow up to be so big!” says Fickenscher with a grin. The two Managing Partners add: “Our success is down to our bold ideas and the hard work of our employees. We’re very proud.”
About H2O GmbH - The experts for zero liquid discharge of H2O are worldwide technology leaders in the field of efficient and reliable evaporators for the treatment and recycling of industrial wastewater. Thanks to modular technology, the systems are tailored individually to the customer needs. With 30 years of experience in the industrial wastewater treatment H2O GmbH develops innovative products that set new technological standards. Since the spin-off of the Mannesmann Demag Group in 1999, sales grew by an average of 15 percent to 16 million euros in 2014. H2O employs more than 100 people worldwide, including 80 at its headquarters in Steinen, Germany.