Müller Opladen Gmbh is a German engineering and manufacturing company that sold its first pipe profile-cutting machine in 1953. Since then the company has been manufacturing the world’s best CNC profile-cutting machines, for the 3D cutting of steel pipes, vessels and structural steel workpieces, and welding machinery. In 2023, the company considers sustainability and clean energy as the key to keeping itself as relevant and important as it has remained for the last 70 years. At the Steelfab Sharjah exhibition in Sharjah, UAE, Mr. Jan Sulimma, Mueller’s Director of Sales and Marketing, indulged Tube & Pipe India to share about the company’s journey, products, and future plans. He also shared Mueller’s outlook on industrial trends and how they plan to stay on top of their game.
Tube & Pipe India: Could you please give us a brief outline of your business journey and crucial milestones?
Jan Sulimma: Mueller Opladen, a more than 100 years old German company, has been one of the key players in the market since the 1950s, with an industrial experience of about 70 years. In 2016, we entered with capital Watts Specialties, an American company, which now goes by the name of Watts Mueller. We now have two active facilities in Germany and USA from where we cater to our customers worldwide. Although we manufacture a wide range of mechanized solutions for the tubes and pipes industry, CNC pipe profiling machines are our focal products. We are among the biggest manufacturers of CNC profiling machines in the world.
TPI: Kindly cast some light on the infrastructure, manufacturing capabilities, and machinery installed at your facility.
JS: We have two fabrication units in Germany and the USA. In Germany, we outsource industrial services, which is a common practice there. We engineer and design our machines, but get the fabrication and finishings outsourced. However, in America, the industrial service infrastructure is not as economical and developed. Hence, at the facility, all our manufacturing operations are performed in-house. This includes welding, cutting, powder coating, etc. We manufacture an average of 50 CNC pipe profiling machines every year. Apart from CNC machines we also manufacture welding systems and robotized beam cutting machines.
TPI: Tell us about your product portfolio along with its key strengths and applications.
JS: We manufacture a wide range of pipe cutting machines. These can be used for the smallest to highest diameter ranges in round, square, or rectangle shapes. To give you a clear idea, our machines could be used to cut pipes of diameter 2-12 inches, 50-300 millimeters, and up to 160 inches, 4 meters. We also engineer and manufacture systems for making tank heads, domes, and dished ends for pressure vessels. Dished ends cutting machines are among our major business products along with CNC profiling machines. Additionally, we also make a range of robotic 3D cutting machines for cutting I-beams, angles, channels, etc.
TPI: What are the recent developments and future plans at your company?
JS: Our recent developments are focused on regular upgrading and updating of our existing machine software and HMI. We have built strong in-house software support. It helps us import information from any CAD/CAM system, irrespective of its location worldwide. This is a major help in case of breakdown or servicing. We also use the information to update our machine software system so that our new products are better than their predecessors. Upgraded machine software system helps us make our machines and HMI more user-friendly. In the upcoming future, we might eventually venture into enhancing our product range from oxyfuel and plasma pipe cutting into engineering and manufacturing as well fiber laser and waterjet pipe cutting machines.
TPI: Please shed light on your market footprint and clientele.
JS: We have customers in over 80 countries worldwide. We have sold between Müller Opladen and Watts Mueller almost 2000 CNC profiling machines. Our clientele includes companies from the oil and gas sector, all types of piping companies that require pipe cutting systems, refinery-building companies, ship-building companies, etc. Among all the sectors, in oil and gas are many of our major customers and we manufacture all kinds of machines that help them in their downstream, upstream, and offshore operations.
TPI: What is your outlook on the tube and pipe industry? What do you believe is its future?
JS: Having served the industry for over 70 years we have seen all kinds of trends and evolution that the tubes and pipes industry has gone through in the last century. Although the industry has been in a growth phase for the last 10 years we believe there is still a lot of growth potential and scope. The future of the industry lies in collaborating with the clean energy sector and we are slowly venturing into it. As sustainability takes the central stage, the long-term durable products and systems of our industry shall become highly relevant.
TPI: What is your technology and business roadmap for the future?
JS: We are the pioneers of this industry and plan to continue being so. We have the traditional industrial strength and we aim to gain a front foot in futuristic transformation as well. To achieve this we are relying on innovation, future technology like waterjet, sustainable manufacturing, partnership with the clean energy sector, and retaining our customers as we build new relationships. We have many repetitive customers as most of our products are customized to fit our respective customers’ requirements.
TPI: Do you have any dealers and distributors in India? What are your opinions about the Indian market?
JS: Yes, we have many Indian partners and customers and we have been working with JSK Engineering for many years. Also last year, we made prestigious sales to VK Group, which is set to establish four to five factories for the production of clean energy equipment in India. We are aware that our biggest competition in the Indian market is Chinese manufacturers, which export mechanical solutions at far much more economical cost. However, we are glad that VK Group saw the sustainability and benefit in purchasing better and long-term technology. We look forward to building a long-lasting customer base in India.