'We Have the Power'

In June of this year, SCHOPF Maschinenbau GmbH, located in Ostfildern, Germany, celebrated the milestone of 60 years in business — a business that began not in aviation but in mining.

SCHOPF dates back to 1945 when Mr. Jörg Schopf — a mechanical engineer — opened a design office in order to develop shovel loaders. SCHOPF Maschinenbau GmbH was formally founded in 1948, when production began. During the 1950s, SCHOPF began to focus on the heavy duty mining sector and developed the first four-wheel-driven shovel loader. The company initially specialized in vehicles for the construction and quarrying industries, with quarrying equipment in particular being a great success. Later, wheeled loaders were designed for use in underground mining and are still in service today worldwide in almost all areas of mining including salt, coal, iron ore, copper, gold and other minerals.

Aiming Skyward
With the advent of the growth of civil air travel, the company quickly diversified into aviation, and by the 1960s SCHOPF delivered its first aircraft tow tractor. Nearly a decade after Jörg Schopf’s retirement in 1983 and under new British ownership, management decided to broaden Schopf’s airport equipment and GSE scope to include cargo equipment and aircraft passenger stairs — successfully introduced through acquisition. Another addition was the PowerPush, a remotely controlled towbarless pushback tractor, working on the main landing gear without lifting the aircraft, for aircraft with up to 100 metric tons weight. Later, SCHOPF began redesigning the new line of seven-ton container/pallet loaders — the Loadstar. Other recent additions to SCHOPF’s product range are the all-new F110, F160 and F300 aircraft tugs; while the high-end F396 tractor has been developed further to meet the demand for new Airbus A380-capable tractors.

In 2003, the company was returned once again to German hands. CEO Dr. Hermann Brüggemann and Finance Director Claus Habeil took ownership of Schopf through a management buyout and have led it back to independence again. Today the company has 140 employees, many of whom have been with the company for years and have built up a rich fund of technological know-how.

During the following years, substantial investments were made to replace and extend buildings as well as other facilities. These investments enabled SCHOPF in 2006 to win large orders from two British customers with a total volume of 80 tow tractors.

SCHOPF focused on the development of new underground loaders and launched the SFL 60 XLP at the Bauma exhibition in April 2007. The low profile machine with a height of 1.38 m and a pay load of 6 tons will mainly be used for excavation of precious metals in South Africa and Russia. Today, products supplied for both civil and military aviation include a complete range of tugs to handle aircraft in every weight range, the PowerPush remotely controlled pushback system, container/pallet loaders and passenger stairs. In supplying to major airlines, ground handling companies, airports around the globe, as well as to NATO and other military organizations, 90 percent of SCHOPF’s aviation-related production is for export, with deliveries to more than 160 countries. Product conception, design, manufacture and sales are carried out by a “lean team” of 130 specialists, all based at facilities in Ostfildern near Stuttgart in south western Germany.

Teaching Pride
The task of instilling young people with a sense of pride and responsibility is one SCHOPF has taken seriously, and it is why they offer youth training courses and practical workshops in their various departments. Trainees can learn business and technical skills in a dual system. SCHOPF offers opportunities for students to “come to grips” with the practicalities of life. They can do a six-month internship or complete their graduation assignments with SCHOPF’s assistance. In cooperation with Esslingen Polytechnic, they also support post-graduate study projects. In addition, apprenticeship candidates can gain their first professional experiences in orientation workshops. All of the courses are closely linked to the professional specializations of the various departments at SCHOPF.

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