15.09.2020

For 60 years on the the road around the world

When you can't see the wood for the trees, it’s time for modern forestry machines. They are extremely robust and powerful and work as sustainably as possible, even on the most difficult terrain. A mammoth task in which the axles and gearboxes play a central role. NAF Neunkirchener Achsenfabrik AG meets these extremely high machine requirements with regard to applications, climate conditions and task definition with competence and commitment. The family business relies on modularity. The ingenious modular system has received international acclaim for many years. NAF drives can now be found in almost all forestry machines in Europe, and the latest successes in the USA and Russia also show a significant increase in market share, also in international comparison.  

With its modular business concept, NAF has become the market leader in drive trains for self-propelled forestry machines. Today the company has a large number of assemblies available for gearboxes, steering, rigid and bogie axles; when selectively combined, they open up a wide range of possible applications in construction, forestry and agriculture, from forestry machines to combine harvesters and excavators. NAF produces approximately 10,000 bogie axles, 26,000 steering and rigid axles and 8,000 gearboxes annually. Most of them are used in forestry. “Over the course of time we have developed a modular system that allows us flexible series and customised production and sets us apart from many competitors," explains Peter Illig. “Instead of presenting products in catalogues, we seek direct contact with customers and ask them for details about what they exactly need for their machine. What do the machines have to do? We use this information to develop tailor-made drive solutions with the aid of our modular system.”

ONE CONCEPT, MANY OPTIONS

With its modular concept and the resulting gearbox and axle solutions, NAF sets new standards. The company is the world market leader in the field of tandem axles and can achieve axle loads from 10 to 50 tonnes with this axle design in numerous variants and options. NAF stands for customer-oriented, far-sighted action and has grown constantly on the basis of its extensive experience. The axle specialist was founded in Neunkirchen in 1960 and this year can look back over 60 years of company history.

What began with axles for construction vehicles such as cable excavators and wheel loaders gradually developed further true to the maxim 'Standing still is moving backwards', which still points the way forward today. The aim is to consistently improve existing solutions to further optimise customer benefits. Through the development of new products, which are integrated into our modular system, the axle range is constantly growing to meet customer and market requirements. As early as 1970, a development office was founded in Munich. Today work is ongoing on the drives of the future using the very latest technologies. To be able to meet the market requirements of tomorrow, NAF AG invests about five percent of its annual turnover in research and development. The design of new drive solutions is based on many years of experience and state-of-the-art calculation methods. NAF also showed innovative spirit in the early 1970s, a time when hydraulics became increasingly important and replaced cables and ropes.

„NAF then started to use the new technology advantageously, not only in excavators. The development of the tandem axle for vehicles operating in difficult terrain was a real breakthrough. The NAF products are primarily used in off-road machines.”

One innovation was an encapsulated brake system developed for these tough operating conditions and which meets the high demands made of heavy machinery in rough terrain and difficult working conditions. In the 1980s and 1990s NAF was able to access additional markets. The axles produced in Neunkirchen impressed an increasing number of manufacturers of forestry, construction and agricultural machinery at home and abroad. To be able to guarantee proximity to customers on an international level, the first international subsidiary was founded in 1999 – NAF Drive in Canada. In 2007 a subsidiary in Russia followed, and in 2011 the Asian market was opened up by a strategic business partner.

SOLUTIONS FOR TOMORROW

The growth trend has continued to this day. NAF now has 580 employees and achieved record sales of EUR 181 million in 2019.

"Made in Germany" is in demand internationally. It stands for quality, service and reliability – exactly the values that NAF represents. In 2019, a state-of-the-art coating plant with robot technology was installed to enable the company to meet the high demand for its products and also satisfy growing requirements with extremely strict environmental directives in the future.

One task and challenge for the next few years will be the expansion of production and assembly capacities to ensure growth in the market.  

The gearboxes and axles are in international demand, especially in Scandinavia, Russia, China and the United States.

The export share is 85 percent and will in all probability continue to rise. Development of business with the USA, China and Russia is particularly dynamic. “Especially in international business, NAF focuses on proximity to customers, and sees this as an important growth driver to establish and maintain long-term partnerships.

The main advantage of NAF is its ability to work on a customer-specific basis. A high degree of axle specialisation is also possible for small and medium series production. This flexibility and therefore a wide variety of options is a decisive plus. As partners of our customers, our sales specialists keep in close contact and are in demand as consultants. This is why we know our customers very well and also what they want and really need.”

HIGH NICHE PERFORMANCE

Customer proximity and flexibility are key assets in meeting the demands of the market such as for greater loads or higher speeds that are constantly increasing, and modern machinery has to boost its performance in response. At the same time criteria such as environmental friendliness and low consumption are becoming more important. These topics are playing a greater role and create significant hurdles, especially for small and medium-sized vehicle manufacturers. With its modular approach and qualified employees, NAF AG has made it possible to use modern, high-performance drives.drives.