Schaeffler has celebrated the 50th anniversary of its LuK clutch brand at a special ceremony in Germany.
An exhibition – entitled ‘The LuK Story. 50 years. Quality. Technology. Innovation’ – was opened at the LuK headquarters in Bühl with around 100 invited guests, including Winfried Kretschmann, Chief Minister of Baden-Württemberg.
The exhibition gives Schaeffler employees and customers an historic and technical insight into LuK innovations over the past five decades, which have seen the company produce more than 500 million units.
The ‘Gallery of Innovations’ is at the heart of the exhibition, which explores six key innovations from the company’s history, including the diaphragm spring clutch, the Dual Mass Flywheel (DMF), the self-adjusting clutch (SAC), CVT components, double clutch systems, and the integrated torque converter.
Norbert Indlekofer, CEO Automotive of Schaeffler AG, started his career 25 years ago at LuK in Bühl. He said: “We are very proud of our employees worldwide, who have made a decisive contribution to this success story, and we would like to thank the Schaeffler shareholders for their trust and the opportunity to work on long term projects.”
The LuK success story began when brothers Dr. Georg and Dr. Wilhelm Schaeffler invested in the Lamellen- und Kupplungsbau August Häussermann company, the initials of which went on to form the more familiarly known name of LuK, and its yellow and black logo.
Schaeffler shareholder Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler-Thumann said: “The Schaeffler brothers recognised the opportunities presented by the new diaphragm spring clutch, taking on this great entrepreneurial venture at the beginning of the 1960s and overcoming all of the associated challenges with a highly motivated team.”
The first manufacturing plant was built within just six months and by mid-1965 LuK was already supplying diaphragm spring clutches to VW – providing 25,000 units per month of a technology that was still relatively new in Europe.
In the mid-1960s, the diaphragm spring clutch replaced the coil spring clutch, and in the mid-1980s, the DMF made driving turbo diesel engines more enjoyable in terms of acoustics. From the mid-1990s, the self-adjusting clutch reduced the amount of pedal force in vehicles with increasing torque, and from 2000, the CVT made automatic transmissions even more relaxing to drive.
At the beginning of 2008, the LuK dry double clutch set new standards in driving comfort and fuel consumption reductions, and later this year, a completely revised, lighter generation of integrated torque converters with lower vibration levels will be introduced.
A central feature of this newly developed torque converter system is a lock-up clutch integrated into the torque converter turbine. The system is not only lighter, but it also creates space for more efficient torsion dampers, such as the centrifugal pendulum absorber design (also developed by LuK) which significantly improves vibration levels.
Matthias Zink, President of Schaeffler‘s Transmission Systems Business Division, said: “At Schaeffler, we have an unconditional desire to continue to develop our technological progress, so our pursuit of innovations is ongoing. Development engineers are currently working on solutions for ‘mobility for tomorrow’.”
Two years ago, a new product development department was opened in Bühl where the design and engineering of hybrid drives is now taking place.
In addition to LuK clutch products, Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket (UK) Ltd also supplies INA tensioners and FAG wheel bearings to the independent aftermarket, with all brands backed by technical support and repair installation tips through its industry leading internet site RepXpert (www.repxpert.co.uk) and a technical hotline; UK Tel: 08457 001100, Ireland Tel: +44 (0)1432 264264.