The history of Hydrema
Hydrema was founded in 1959 in a small 120 m² workshop in Aalborg with Kjeld Werner Jensen as a partner in an engineering firm that was involved in the project planning of district heating and the manufacture of hydraulic excavating and loading machines. Three years later, the production of earth-moving equipment designed for traditional excavating and handling of manure was split off from the rest of the firm and production was relocated to the current premises in Støvring. The “Phantom”, which was the name of the first excavating unit, was fitted onto both new and second-hand tractor chassis to meet a growing need in the agricultural sector for the mechanised handling of products such as farmyard manure. The machine basically replaced the hand-held shovel.
The 1950s was the decade in which hydraulics developed apace. As the techniques employed in Hydrema’s machines were based on hydraulics, the company name Hydrema was created based on an abbreviation of the Danish phrase HYDRauliske Entreprenør MAskiner (Hydraulic earth-moving machinery). The basis was thus established for the realisation of the enterprise’s business philosophy: “To develop, manufacture and sell hydraulic machinery of high quality at a reasonable price”. Today, it is still important and necessary for Hydrema to retain independent product development and its own sales organisation .
In 1962, when the enterprise moved from Aalborg to its current location in Støvring, the factory floor increased to 320 m2 and the enterprise had 15 employees. Just two years later, under the headline “Technical fairy-tale in Støvring”, a local newspaper reported on how the enterprise now had a factory floor of 900 m2 and numbered 26 employees. Since that time, Hydrema has expanded on an ongoing basis such that the current facility in Støvring covers some 25,000 m2. Today, Hydrema is Denmark’s only manufacturer of large earth-moving machinery and equipment.
Hydrema’s product development began in 1959 with the “Phantom”, which was launched as a “fully hydraulic farmyard manure loader”. The “Phantom” was characterised by its working range of 315°, double-acting cylinders and ability to enable appliances to be changed quickly. Initially, Hydrema’s products were fitted on used farm tractors (the customer’s own), until in 1964 they were mounted on the Danish-produced Bukh tractor. The successor to the Phantom was the C model, which was a combo-machine fitted with both a loader and an excavator. This model was innovative in that the excavating unit could be suspended in two brackets depending on the nature of the task at hand – “top-hung” for loading farmyard manure and “bottom-hung” for digging.
In 1968 the production of the Bukh tractor ceased and Hydrema was forced to look for an alternative tractor chassis. The choice fell on Volvo, which formed the basis for the majority of Hydrema models for the next 12 years. Problems with constantly-changing tractor models is perhaps best illustrated by the example of R12, which within a period of just 3 years was produced for two Bukh models and then on the Volvo 600. The V7 excavator introduced yet another innovation owing to the fact that the Volvo 621 (Volvo 650) enabled tractor excavators to be produced with a converter. Market developments had moved away from the traditional tractor-based excavator towards more emphasis being put on the properties of the front loader.
In 1975 the sideshift principle was introduced on the excavator, which enabled a 280° working area and the sideshift itself as an integrated working function.
In order to avoid the problems caused by dependence on the various tractor models, Hydrema introduced its first articulated loader-excavator in 1980, which broke with conventional thinking in many ways. Not only was it articulated – it also oscillated around the pivot. This enabled two rigid axles to be used, which resulted in superb off-road characteristics. In many ways, model 805/807 was light years ahead of its competitors. Moreover, Hydrema has developed and manufactured its articulated machines on its own chassis since 1980 – a choice that has helped to assure the enterprise’s success right up until the present day.
The fact that the 800 series was ahead of its time should be seen in light of the fact that in the mid-1980s the British Army bought no less than 350 units of model 806 – which was no mean feat!
1996 was also the year in which a factory in Weimar (Germany) was acquired, which doubled the product range at a stroke as both wheeled and caterpillar excavators and articulated loaders were added to the range of machinery.
In this anniversary year, it is the D-series that defines the profile of an enterprise that has grown from that of a small local manufacturer in North Jutland to a group of companies that has a reputation on an international scale.