Walter Wettstein designs and builds mid-sized to large industrial cooling installations, deep-freeze warehouses and heat pumps for the food, process and chemical-pharmaceutical industries. In addition the company manufactures heat pumps for district heating systems that provide the heating for entire neighbourhoods and cooling systems for ice rinks.
“Our systems are maintained during their entire life span by our highly motivated and educated employees,” says Managing Director Raymond Burri. “The systems’ operating costs far exceed the investment costs, and they can be kept low with the right maintenance.” In addition to installing new systems, Wettstein takes care of refurbishments and conversions of existing systems to make them more efficient.
The company was founded by Walter Wettstein in Gümlingen, Switzerland, in 1953. For many years the company focused on building small to mid-sized refrigeration systems, mostly for the food industry. Walter’s son Urs Wettstein took over in 1975, and since then the company has also been building larger industrial systems. The business grew, and in 1984 Wettstein moved to a different premises, which has been adapted and expanded to accommodate changing requirements throughout the years. Since 1998 a new generation has been leading the company. In addition to Raymond Burri, the people in charge now are Norbert Heinemann and Toni Sigrist. They remain in close contact with Urs Wettstein and the founding family.
Wettstein manufactures its own system components, but also buys components from other suppliers, which are then integrated into the Wettstein systems. Almost all refrigeration installations are tailor made for the individual client. The same goes for the heat pump segment. The energy sources that are used vary widely, for example water from wastewater treatment plants that already has a temperature of 15 ˚C. Wettstein has a large spare parts storage facility containing over 13,000 items.
“That is open to our clients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Mr. Burri explains. “This is great added value for our customers because it means they do not have to keep anything in stock themselves.”
Mr. Burri, Managing Director since 2012, has been with the company for about 30 years. “I actually started out as a service technician,” he says. “I have always found Wettstein technology very interesting. It provides a lot of opportunities for innovation. For any new development, we aim to take long-term and sustainable decisions.”
These include investing in employee training and modernizing equipment. For instance, Wettstein has its own team of diagnostic specialists with all the latest instruments. The company has also invested heavily in state-of-the-art control and monitoring systems, which send clients’ data directly to the Wettstein portal. Process conditions and temperatures are closely monitored and provide the input for any measures that are needed to keep energy use low. The most recent investment was in a new ERP system that greatly simplifies operational processes. All service technicians now have tablets with them so that they have access to all the necessary information when working on-site with clients.
There are many different refrigerants on the market. For environmental reasons Wettstein uses only natural refrigerants. In the 1980s ammonia became increasingly important in the industry, and the company chose to focus on that because of its high performance reliability. Another refrigerant that Wettstein uses for the food industry is carbon dioxide.
In 1998 the company was one of the first in the market with a system that uses CO2 as a cooling agent. Industrial cooling systems are responsible for a large part of the worldwide CO2 production, and by carefully monitoring the systems’ performance and making adjustments where necessary, Wettstein contributes to global CO2 reduction. “Even small adjustments have a big influence on a global scale; therefore, system optimization is very important,” Mr. Burri explains.
The Managing Director is optimistic about the future of the company. “We are a partner to our clients, not just a supplier. I am convinced that a fair and sensible business partner with a good price-performance ratio has a strong position in the market,” he says. “You always have to stay alert, be innovative, make the right investments. If you sleep, you will soon lose your leading position.”
In this issue: Futura Robotica S.r.l. - End-line technology at its best / Erik Thun AB - Dine at the captain’s table / Spendrups Bryggeri AB - Drinks at the heart of the occasion / Skanem AS - Smart labelling solutions
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