Grässlin – precision switching technology from the Black Forest for more than 60 years

The 1950s – the early days

In the early 50s, there was a strong demand for precision engineering products. Dieter Grässlin realised that he would only be able to put his revolutionary ideas into practice if he set out on his own, so in 1956 he began working out of his parents-in-law’s laundry room in St. Georgen in the Black Forest, partially assembling clockworks to order. His first orders came from local industry. However, this wasn’t enough for Dieter Grässlin. Soon, partial assembly gave way to complete clockwork assembly. The young business suffered strong fluctuations in demand, and Dieter Grässlin realised that the next step on the road to becoming independent was to develop and produce an original product.

And so he began producing his first hour meters. As the number of manufacturing companies increased, so too did demand for hour meters for machines. Requests came in for new variants. Direct current meters were soon joined by alternating current meters.

The next highlight in Dieter Grässlin’s young career was developing a vibrating hour meter. There was nothing comparable on the market at the time. Small designs with increasing functions. This was the task Dieter Grässlin set himself when he began working in time switch technology. Modules that can be integrated into a variety of applications – from heating through to controlling in industrial cabinets.

This gave rise to the SUM series of timers. A special variant of the Grässlin timers was developed to control electrical storage heaters: the AKKUMAT. As product volumes increased, the need for employees, production machines and production sites also grew. The result was 12 plants and production sites scattered all over St. Georgen.

History of Grässlin

The 1960s – starting to produce with plastic

By 1966, Grässlin products was being installed almost everywhere. Grässlin was an expert in precision engineering and was considered a specialist in his field. The first in-house injection moulding machine led to a surge in plastic technology at Grässlin. Working with plastic enabled much lighter, more precise and cheaper products. As the DIN supporting rail became established in building installations and industrial automation, it was only logical for Grässlin to begin developing products for this area too. By the end of the 60s, the company developed the world’s first timer for use on a DIN supporting rail.

 

The 1970s – expansion, and the death of the founder

In 1971, the long-expected move to a factory building finally became a reality. Yet more products for new applications were now being developed under a single roof. New products developed included the MIL 2001 universal timer for industrial applications, as well as smaller UNI 45 modules. A skills shortage in the St. Georgen area and the initial moves towards an international positioning resulted in the opening of a second manufacturing site in St. Antoni, Switzerland, in 1975.

In November 1976, Dieter Grässlin died unexpectedly. He was no longer there, but his idea lived on. Following in Dieter Grässlin’s footsteps, the company’s engineers continued to search for new solutions. The future was in electronics. Their vision soon became reality: The first result was the digi 127 with 127 freely programmable switch commands and four switchable channels. Straight after this, quartz technology was launched. The first application of quartz technology was the MIL2008 QFRT universal timer. After 25 years, Grässlin had grown into an internationally significant company.

Grässlin Founder Dieter Grässlin

The 1980s and 90s – internationalisation and advancing digitalisation

To support the continuously expanding foreign business, Grässlin branches were established in the USA and France in 1982, and Grässlin Far East was set up as a joint venture in Taiwan.

 

Each new technological step also meant a new type of motor. For this reason, Grässlin decided to start developing and producing its own motors. The standardisation of mechanical time switch modules in the FM series represented a further advance in the industrial field.

The two hexagonal buildings in St. Georgen had become too small for the company, so an existing factory building was bought in nearby Peterzell. Just like in the company’s early years, time switch technology and room temperature control continued to be the main focuses at Grässlin. After many successful years, Grässlin had grown into a large and complex enterprise.

 

The 2000s to today – the start of a new millennium

To ensure that the company’s focus stayed on what was essential, parts of the enterprise were sold off in 2000: the Grässlin precision technology division, Grässlin KBS, and the Grässlin automation systems division.

With the rapidly growing importance of global markets, it was becoming obvious that Grässlin could not keep up on its own. In July 2000, the company was transferred to the ownership of GE Power Controls. A new era dawned. The small business from the Black Forest had become a global player. The core aim of this new development was to design digital timers to be intuitive.

Since 2007, Grässlin has been a member of the Intermatic Group, a leading manufacturer of energy control systems with its headquarters in Spring Grove, Illinois, USA. Intermatic employs approximately 750 staff at six international locations. Owing to its globally unique competency in the field of time switches as well as light and temperature control, Grässlin makes a crucial contribution to Intermatic as a global specialist in the area of energy management solutions.

Both companies look back on a long tradition and continually invest in innovative and sustainable technologies for the purpose of improving their products and service for their customers.

Grässlin continues to develop its range of products further. The first simple, menu-driven operating philosophy for digital devices was followed in 2004 by the use of wireless technology for room thermostat timers. Today, timers communicate via Bluetooth and LAN networks. With the new talento smart product line, Grässlin launched a new generation of digital timers. At the same time, Grässlin is already working on the development of further devices for complete system control.

 


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