Tim Hulbert, managing director of Busch UK, explains how the acquisition of Vacuum Furnace Engineering (VFE) will help both brands to better serve their customers.
Across industries, vacuum plays a vital role in tackling the challenges of our future. But delivering solutions to meet these challenges requires more than just the right product.
From sustainability to the ongoing repercussions of the global health crisis, the key issues shaping today’s markets require long-term strategies focused on service and innovation if companies are to adapt their operations and improve their businesses.
“These challenges will impact every sector reliant on vacuum or advanced manufacturing processes”, explains Tim Hulbert, managing director of Busch UK, part of the global Busch Vacuum Solutions Group. “As a service provider first and foremost, we are committed to helping every one of our customers to future-proof their operations for the road ahead.”
Busch UK’s recent acquisition of Vacuum Furnace Engineering (VFE) brings both brands a step closer to delivering that promise. How does Tim see Busch UK and VFE operating, going forward? What makes the partnership so strong and how will your operations benefit?
Service first, whatever the future holds
“As we gradually navigate our way out of the pandemic, other external factors will become even bigger, in terms of what generates need over the next few years”, Tim explains. “Take sustainability, for example. As this once again becomes a topic of global conversation, many businesses will be reviewing the energy efficiency of their operations and their route to net-zero operation. Whatever the future holds, the Busch ethos is to take a service-first approach to help our customers meet their business objectives through the effective application of vacuum solutions.”
For existing VFE customers, this emphasis on service excellence will seem familiar. VFE has supported every one of its customers throughout the pandemic, adapting its project offerings and tailoring its services to meet their heat treatment requirements. That won’t change; as part of the Busch family, VFE will continue to be there by its customers’ sides, helping them to tackle tomorrow’s challenges and keep their operations running.
“We assess every customer's process to find the solution that will help them achieve what they need to”, Tim explains. “We always strive to understand what challenges our customers are facing and work back from there to uncover the best solution. We're as likely to propose a service solution, pipework modifications or control system upgrades as we are new vacuum equipment.”
A shared vision of innovation
A commitment to service excellence isn’t the only place in which Busch and VFE share values. Much like VFE, Busch has a strong heritage in innovation stretching back to 1963 when Dr Karl Busch first invented a revolutionary vacuum pump for food packaging on his kitchen table.
As more industries seek to adapt to the challenges generated by the global pandemic, innovation will take on new importance. Where heat treatment and vacuum solutions are concerned, VFE and Busch UK are now perfectly positioned to maximise their inventive spirit and drive innovation forward to help their customers improve their businesses.
“The aerospace industry is one example of a sector poised to benefit”, Tim explains, “and not just because of the recovery that will come as planes are flying again but also the need for these industries to become more sustainable. How can they embrace carbon-neutral fuels or move toward greener methods of operating? Questions like these will challenge the sector but they will also create exciting new opportunities for innovation. When you consider the vacuum processes that will be required to produce any such new solutions, it's a great opportunity for the combined Busch-VFE business to lead from the front. We have the right mix now of expertise and the broader capability to support every industry in the long term.”
As Tim is quick to highlight, it is Busch and VFE’s people that make this all possible.
“Just last year, VFE patented advances in diffusion bonding to innovate a more efficient production method of making heat exchangers for the aerospace industry. That wouldn’t have been possible without David Polito, deputy head of projects at VFE, who designed and led the research and development (R&D) study”, Tim reveals. “By bringing together Busch and VFE’s technical expertise, we now have a bigger business made up of a larger, more diverse group of people who can share their ideas and innovate to help our customers.”
Coming together to tackle the challenges of the future
The importance of service excellence and innovation have been core themes across VFE’s operations for many years now. During that time, VFE has built long-term relationships with many of its customers through the consistent delivery of the right services at the right time.
“As the two companies come together, existing Busch customers from every sector of the industry can look forward to innovative new solutions not previously available to them”, Tim says. “For VFE, we bring a global footprint, which means we can provide the sort of services that VFE's UK customers are accustomed to in other areas over time.”
The opportunities for growth created by the acquisition also extend beyond the core segments that VFE has traditionally served. “We can already see great potential to translate VFE’s calibration services and control system expertise to other critical market segments, such as Food, Medical, Chemical and Pharmaceutical, amongst others”, adds Tim. The coming together of Busch and VFE unlocks a broad relevance to trends that will drive service development and future growth across a wide range of industries, creating opportunities for their people as well as their customers.
“Yes, we have acquired VFE, but our long-term plans are based around a partnership ethos and the combined strength of our teams. The companies that have depended on VFE to keep their operations running, and the people who make VFE what it is, shouldn't worry.”
From the field service team to the technical expertise of its engineers, VFE’s people are the foundation of everything that has followed. Tim welcomes them all to the extended Busch family and the future opportunities that the acquisition will bring for them.
“This is not a change of direction”, Tim explains. “We're keen to build on VFE’s already firm foundations. The business will continue to trade under the VFE name with every customer who depends on, and has grown to trust, VFE over the last thirty-six years, helping them as VFE has always done to improve their businesses and keep their operations running.”
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You might also be interested in our guide to simplifying your heat treatment servicing and maintenance.