The danger of the eyes suffering from conjunctivitis during welding is well known. However, welding fumes are not considered harmful to health. At that time, no one was yet considering statutory limit values, just as no one was considering effective extraction technology. In Sweden, Gerd Kemper discovered his first extraction units after his business vocational training period at a company with a technical background. There, the hazards caused by welding fumes were actually known - even if this was rudimentary compared with today's knowledge. Gerd Kemper brought this knowledge back to Germany. In the garage at his home, he constructed the first spot extraction system in the German-speaking countries - a filter unit which collected and extracted the welding fumes directly where they were created. To this day this principle of welding fume extraction is being recommended by the employers liability insurance associations. Gerd Kemper founds KEMPER GmbH on 17 March 1977. The company is still considered to be a pioneer in welding fume extraction.
Thanks to the success of the company products, KEMPER grew in both contract volume and number of employees - the company had 10 employees by as early as 1979. The capacities were too small at the old location. Six years after its founding, KEMPER expanded to a major extent for the first time. The manufacturer invested in a new location. The company set up its first production building covering 3600 square metres. This provided more space for an extended range. In addition to welding fume extraction, KEMPER started producing extraction solutions for cutting applications using thermal cutting tables.
The breakthrough is achieved in the home market of Germany. The quality and benefits of the KEMPER extraction systems are becoming known outside national borders. The company's good reputation is the main reason for this - especially at automotive suppliers. This takes the company increasingly abroad.
This fact allows KEMPER to enjoy completely new potentials. The company follows this path and establishes new markets. More than 10 years after its company founding, KEMPER opens its first subsidiary companies in France and the USA. This is the start of a whole series of new establishments - including one in the neighbouring Netherlands in 1990. Internationalisation picks up the pace.
4industry trend is heading in an clear direction: Depending on the deployment location, welders require different extraction solutions during their work and mobile for changing workstations, stationary for fixed work. KEMPER can already provide solutions for this in its range. In 1989, the company presents a completely new generation of devices at the SCHWEISSEN & SCHNEIDEN main industry trade fair. The new welding fume and electro-filter devices enjoy considerable acclaim. They can be used individually, whether mobile or stationary. This enables KEMPER to extend its range with extraction solutions for varying application-specific locations of use.
KEMPER goes into three figures at the beginning of the 1990s. In 1991, the manufacturer employs more than 100 staff. This means that the company has become an important employer in and around Vreden. The company hurries ahead of its continuous growth. A modern administration building is constructed in the Von-Siemens-Straße in Vreden in 1992, which remains the company headquarters to this day. In the same year, the workforce moved to the new location.
At the same time, KEMPER continues its technical progress. For the first time, the company develops a compact central extraction system - the System 8000 - in addition to its mobile and movable extraction units. Even today, the unit, fitted with its own control unit, forms the basis for further development in the central extraction system sector. System 8000 is suitable for the separation of hazardous substances over a wide range of processes such as welding or cutting. The system can be adapted to the individual welding requirements thanks to the building block principle.
KEMPER also carries out pioneering work in the filter technology sector this year. The manufacturer achieved an enormous technical leap in the separation of welding fume particles from air. KEMPER is the first company to offer special membrane filters. These are micro-porous and can therefore even separate nanoparticles with a size of 100 nm out of the air. This filter property was further developed with the KemTex® ePTFE membrane filters later on.
Internationalisation continued in parallel. The new subsidiary company in the Czech Republic is the fourth foreign company in the KEMPER Group. This became particularly meaningful a few years later.
Up to now, the welding market only provided mobile filter units using nonrecyclable filters, which resulted in high follow-up costs for replacement filters under permanent use.
KEMPER addressed this problem. With its "System 9000 mobile", the manufacturer developed the first mobile extraction unit with a cleanable filter. This new development is still the basis for effective, cost efficient filter technology to this day.
Even today, they are part of the basic fittings on extraction arms right around the world: the flange-shaped extraction hood from KEMPER. The first drawings were produced in 1995 and the market launch followed a year later.
The objective: to make handling the welding fume extraction as comfortable as possible for the welder during the actual welding process. It wasn't only in the design that KEMPER set new standards. Thanks to the properties and shape of the new extraction hood, it can collect 40% more welding fumes than conventional extraction hoods. Its capability of rotating through 360° provides the welder with the highest-possible flexibility. KEMPER also developed a completely new extraction arm in parallel. This can be more easily adjusted by hand and continuously remains in the intended position as a self-supporting unit. Up until then, the arms were fixed to external joints and very stiff.
Since then, the extraction hood has been sold around 130,000 times.
KEMPER extends its in-house production capacities and constructs a new international production location in the Czech Republic. A modern hall is constructed.
With the expansion, KEMPER provides answers to the pressing questions of globalisation. The good availability of specialist workers in connection with cost-efficient production convinced the company to make the decision to invest in the Czech Republic.
KEMPER celebrates its anniversary. After 25 years, the company is now employing around 150 staff and has developed itself to become a leading provider and specialist for systematic air cleaning at the workplace.
KEMPER continues to focus on international production in the Czech Republic. For reasons of the excellent order levels the company invests in the extension of the works there. A production hall of 10,000 square metres in size is the result. This means that the Czech subsidiary company has become the most important location next to the headquarters in Vreden.
At the same time, the financial crash in the USA forces the company to start short-time working. The sales tumble by more than 40% from one year to the next. "The most difficult phase in my time as an entrepreneur in a family-based environment" said founder Gerd Kemper in retrospect. Management and staff pull together. The company emerges from the crisis invigorated.
Indoor ventilation systems only played a small part in the welding fume extraction market up to now. Spot extraction systems must be used to make welding fume collection effective, according to the employers liability insurance association's recommendations. However, the demand increases.
KEMPER enters the indoor ventilation market with its KemJet. The company recommends it as a supplement to spot extraction systems and for cases in which spot extraction systems are not feasible. The market, which was initially demand-driven, increasingly achieves a major share of the range. With the CleanAirTower, the company develops a displacement ventilation system, which can be individually relocated, in 2013. The importance of indoor ventilation systems increases in front of the background of increased consideration of the overall hall air compared with individual workplaces.
KEMPER thinks the hazardous material chain further. It's not just true to say that the company has a wide range of extraction and filter solutions.
In 2013, the manufacturer produces a solution which avoids contact with hazardous substances during their disposal. This development is called contamination-free dust discharge and collection, and is applied to a range of solutions. This enables KEMPER to close a gap in its extraction technology.
Industry 4.0 reaches industrial safety With KEMPER Connect, the company develops a concept in which extraction systems and indoor ventilation systems can automatically network with each other and communicate with one another. The AirWatch air monitoring system, also launched in 2016, forms the basis for this. This permanently measures the fine particulate content in the air, compares it with limit values and switches extraction systems and indoor ventilation systems on or off automatically as required for as long as the saved limit values are observed. KEMPER also developed an in-house independent radio network for communication between the units.
Welding fume extraction has only one name in Germany and beyond: KEMPER. The company is still considered to be a pioneer in clean air technology to this day.
The manufacturer now employs around 300 staff worldwide 40 years after its founding. More than 1000 operations in around 50 countries on all the continents are counting on KEMPER's clean air technology. "40 years ago we were simply glad that welders understood the health risk at all. At that time nobody had considered that we would be able to determine the size of fine particulates by today" said founder Gerd Kemper. The company considers the future to be consideration of the overall hall air over and above individual welding workstations - and that also in other sectors away from metal processing. "A clean working environment with pure hall air will be a convincing argument for a decision to go for a specific employer in the future, especially considering the fine particulate problem" said CEO Björn Kemper. "And, on the other hand, companies will also profit from increased productivity."
The KEMPER mission continues …