“Reliability, quality and our understanding of the complexities of control systems – these are our key strengths,” underlines Director of Site Operations Andreas Pinkepank, who joined the company nine years ago. “Of course, price, the products themselves and our employees are also very important factors in our success.”
RTK is the ultimate professional when it comes to industrial control valves and control systems, and electronic and pneumatic actuators. The company produces valves which, although based on a high degree of standardization, come in many different variations to suit multiple applications.
“Through different configurations, we can create valves for many different uses,” explains Mr. Pinkepank. “It’s a little bit like a car, where there is a lot of technology which can be adapted for different situations. Industrial processes involve many different pressures, materials and fumes, which all need to be controlled. We provide solutions for everything from swimming pools to power stations, ships to factories. The foils that are used in food and clothing packaging for example, are manufactured using control valves. We are not a specialist in one particular sector, which means that we are not dependent on particular customers and markets.”
The company has recently released two new series of actuators, REact and ReActron. RTK prides itself on its focus on continually improving its products, as well as its lean production processes.
“We try to keep stocks in our warehouse as low as possible, while at the same time ensuring that our products are available to customers when they are required,” Mr. Pinkepank points out. “Short delivery times and a high level of reliability are a priority.”
RTK generates 75% of its 24 million EUR annual turnover through the European markets. However, with its access to the worldwide network of CIRCOR, which boasts 30 business units specializing in valve control systems, RTK also undertakes significant levels of business in North and South America, India and China.
“We work with reliable partners in each region, who understand our technology and philosophy, and help us to develop our customer base in those territories,” notes the Director. “Our next goal is to enter the North American market with our new REact actuator series. We already have approval to sell them in the USA and Canada.”
RTK’s 130 staff are critical to its success. In the car industry region of southern Germany, competition for employees is intense; however Mr. Pinkepank is convinced that RTK offers something special in a world of mass employment.
“We don’t have a super-sexy product like, for example, Porsche, but we are smaller, and our flexibility makes us attractive,” he says. “We know all of our employees by name, as well as their family situations, and we can react flexibly and personally when necessary. Our employees really value that and stay with us; our staff turnover is extremely low. We offer quality training, including apprenticeships, dual degree courses, and ongoing professional training, and we also sponsor local organizations such as the children’s sport school in Kornwestheim.”
The market for valve control systems is fast moving. New trends are continually emerging, to which RTK is very quick to react. “We are seeing an increase in the use of different renewable energy sources,” Mr. Pinkepank observes. “We are already very strong in the bio-gas and solar power segments. In residential properties, there is a clear move away from gas and oil, in favour of district heating through an efficient local power station, whether that is wood, bio-gas or solar powered. In Germany, as well as the US, control accuracy is key, and electronic actuators are beginning to replace pneumatic controllers. There are many changes on the horizon, and we are very active in adapting to new directions.”
Industry 4.0 is another key theme. Internally RTK has already made huge progress; integrated communication spans the whole production process from contract and planning, to dispatch. The external facing infrastructure, including data mining, will be the next area of focus.
Between 2004 and 2017, RTK grew by 75% due, in part, to the establishment of the local representative network. The company’s goal is that growth should continue to reach a double-figure percentage each year, which will be achieved through expansion within the North American and Indian markets, and through technical innovation in response to emerging trends.
“In India, we are very focused on work safety and ethical work methods. We have controls in place against the exploitation of children and the environment, and against discrimination. We will grow by providing the right products in the right markets, for which we have already set a strong course,” sums up Mr. Pinkepank.