The Schalke story is one that shows that true success is born out of evolution.
Experience is valuable, and most certainly in mining, where mining equipment and mining engineers come together to form a team where safety is of the highest priority. Experience may not lead to success however, it is the addition of wisdom, the ability to identify problems, design products and offer mining solutions that truly offers the best promise of success. This combination is not infinite, so eventually a mining company needs to continue to evolve. To truly become a company that will stand the test of time, there needs to be innovation. The story of Schalke is what happens when a company that provides underground mining solutions revolutionizes the field. After all, Schalke is known for its enduring strength and reliability for more than a hundred years.
On August 21, 1872, Friedrich Grillo founded Schalker Eisenhütte Maschinenfabrik GmbH, a company that manufactured machinery and spare parts for use in underground mining. These included brakes, trucks, winding drums and tempered cast steel for the wheels of mine cars and trucks as well as coke oven equipment, castings in clay/sand — even hard iron castings.
Ten years later, Schalke innovated and evolved to build the first coke pusher machines. These gigantic steam-driven “monstrosities” were the forerunners of a series of coke oven machinery that also included transfer cars, guide machines and quenching cars. Then, Schalke once again found a way to evolve, by building the locomotives that were used to pull the coke oven machinery. Next was the move to coke-quenching cars and transport locomotives, creating a promising future market. By 1937, Schalke was producing 70-tonne catenary wire locomotives for mining brown coal in the Rhine district. By 1954, and with enough wisdom and experience to know that working with exceptional partners can create exceptional mining engineering and design, Schalke partnered with Siemens, AEG and BBC. Schalke had built a total of 34 locomotives, and with these renowned electric companies, manufactured the first dual-mode catenary wire and battery-powered mining locomotives. Schalke’s expertise in the field of locomotives therefore grew continually, particularly when it came to inventive and alternative drive systems.
The understanding that true innovation comes with collaboration led to Schalke beginning their working relationship with Bochum-based Gebr. Eickhoff Maschinenfabrik u. Eisengießerei GmbH in 1968, a company that also specialised in building strong, sturdy machinery and had its origins in mining engineering. Schalke continued working on coke oven technology and increasingly on locomotives, beginning with units specially designed for use in coal mining worldwide. With six locomotives for LKAB in the early 1970s, Schalke also started producing locomotives for ore mining. Coal mining locomotives reached their peak in the 1990s with more than 120 modular Ruhrkohle AG standard locomotives for Germany’s hard coal mining starting in 1993. There were more than 20 ore mining locomotives made for two different mine operations by CODELCO in Chile starting in 1997, nine locomotives for LKAB starting in 2012 and more than 10 locomotives for Freeport’s Grasberg mine starting in 2014. All these projects let the company gain worldwide reputation and made the name Schalke a synonym for dependable rail haulage vehicles in the mining sector.
Consistent and foundational innovation then led Schalke to expand its range of mining products to include multi-purpose service locomotives for urban rail transport systems, welding vehicles, rail grinding machines and platform vehicles, such as those produced for the Berlin public transport system (BVG). In record time, Schalke also built the “CargoTram” rail freight vehicle for the environmentally friendly and economical transportation of car parts to VW’s “Gläserne Manufaktur” car plant in Dresden. Whether above ground or underground, in mines or in major cities, customers benefit from Schalke’s incredible flexibility in finding custom-made solutions and experience that spans three centuries.
But regardless of the past, the future calls with a new direction for Schalke – one that offers the benefit of working with a company known for their expertise in horizontal and vertical mining solutions: Nordic Minesteel Technologies (NMT). NMT acquired all rolling stock assets of Schalker Eisenhütte Maschinenfabrik GmbH, including all intellectual property rights, as well as many of the employees who offered the chance for NMT’s German subsidiary, Schalke Locomotives GmbH, to continue with the 149-year-old locomotive history of the brand Schalke. The acquisition enables NMT to combine German and Canadian mining innovations and expand its market to industrial and urban transportation.
This collaboration allows Schalke to move into the future, providing creatively engineered mining solutions for the growing population and infrastructure of the world. More specifically, ability to contribute to global urbanisation and extraction of raw materials.
Getting cities on the move
According to the United Nations, up to five billion people will be living in cities by the year 2030. New mega-cities with millions of inhabitants will develop, with new needs in terms of infrastructure and mobility, particularly in Asia and Africa. This urbanisation will lead to a growing demand for public transportation. New metros and underground rail systems will be needed to cope quickly and smoothly with the growing numbers of people. This is where the reduced loading gauge locomotives made by Schalke come in. They can be used for a wide range of service tasks that help keep the lifelines of the new mega-cities flowing.
Extracting mineral resources
At the same time, mankind needs increasing volumes of raw materials. Alongside conventional sources of energy, ores are in demand, which are again being increasingly searched for and mined below ground. In order to work both safely and economically in this environment, semi and fully automatic systems are required with transport solutions capable of working 24-/7– even under the most difficult conditions. The current and future mining locomotives made by Schalke are utilised wherever the tunnels are lower, the gradients steeper and the curves tighter. Schalke is in continual collaboration with the global players of the sector, busy developing complete systems for rail transportation that are custom-built with amazing precision to suit the situation at each mining site.
Intelligently preserving resources
The mega-trend towards greatest possible efficiency has always driven the company’s development. Schalke has a long, proud tradition of creating innovation and has always looked for intelligent ways of using resources sparingly as well as new drive technology and energy supply options – like Schalke ModuTrac locomotives, for example. Systems such as the in-house developed power pack, a highly efficient energy module that can be replaced within a very short time, help to utilise energy intelligently and can precisely adapt to suit each individual situation. One of Schalke’s inherent strengths moving into the future is the ability to devise individually tailored solutions, with a passion for performance and the strength gained from experience.