It may sound a little boastful at first glance when we say: Berghof is one of the most fascinating and innovative companies in Germany.
But we think it's more than justified. Because we were often ahead of our time with our ideas and have made history time and time again with our pioneering achievements.
See for yourself - on a journey through more than 50 years of success and innovation!
A very special year for Georg Zundel, the young scientist inspired throughout his life by his grandfather Robert Bosch: He submits his habilitation thesis - and founds the "Physikalisch-Technische Laboratorium Berghof" [Physical-Technical Laboratory Berghof] in Tübingen. Two employees start their research work with a founding capital of DM 400,000. The beginning of an unusual success story, marked from day one by a great passion: the pursuit of new things.
On behalf of Bosch, Berghof develops a method for manufacturing porous films for fuel cells, which Bosch then applies for a patent. The basis is the high-performance plastic polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) - commonly known under the name Teflon®. This lays the economic and technological foundation stone for today's Berghof Fluoroplastic Technology division and for Berghof's successful development into a technology company. Today, porous PTFE as a pressure compensation membrane is successfully used in many technical applications: to protect vehicle headlamps, electronic assemblies, high-voltage accumulators and sensor systems.
The unique properties of PTFE - such as the excellent chemical resistance and the extremely non-stick surface - make this material also of great interest for laboratory use. And so Berghof begins this year with the production of round and Erlenmeyer flasks made of PTFE. In 1974, complete laboratory equipment is added - the birth of today's Berghof Products + Instruments division.
Berghof continues its research into innovative membranes - and sets out to conquer new fields, such as medicine. For example, Berghof capillary membranes are an important component of the first artificial kidney that is being clinically tested during these years. Since 1975, Berghof has also been developing tubular membranes for the filtration of process and waste water - the technological foundation for today's Berghof Membranes division, which has since proven its great ability in more than 2,000 projects all over the world.
In order to support the existing areas, Berghof sets up another branch: analytics. This year, the first publication on the determination of trace elements in drinking water is published, naturally with a system developed by Berghof. The core competence of Berghof Analytics, since 2022 part of the EUROFINS corporate network, is to reliably and safely analyze, especially delicate materials, and to recognize and explain interrelationships. It is a competence which many years later forms the basis for the development of another area: As more and more potentially contaminated areas, such as former military sites, are to be analyzed for construction projects, Berghof Environmental Engineering provides this very special expertise starting in 1990. However, Berghof had already made initial efforts in this area in 1977 - and had thus already gained important experience.
Since 1971, Berghof has held a stake in a company specializing in switch cabinet construction, which covers the electrical engineering side for the Berghof companies. This year, Berghof takes over this company, expands its joint competencies - and presents the "FPS 76," the first freely programmable microprocessor controller for industrial applications in Germany. The "FPS 76" is a great success and the birth of today's division Automation technology of pur subsidiary Berghof Automation. This makes Berghof one of the pioneers in the field of programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Berghof control solutions have proven themselves in a wide variety of industries across all industries.
The know-how in the field of control systems will soon bear more fruit. At the beginning of the 1980s, Berghof also established itself as a developer of software solutions for logistics facilities. In 1982, it was again an order from Bosch that gave the initial spark for establishing another division: Berghof develops a test system for testing alternator regulators for Bosch - and uses the existing and new know-how to adress another field. Customers from the automotive industry in particular to this day still appreciate the intelligent and efficient Test and inspection technology from Berghof Automation, in which our experts combine high-quality industrial standards of measurement technology with our own products - thus ensuring the highest product quality and thus safety and reliability.
Speaking of combining: Reunification opens up the possibility of combining competences from both parts of Germany. Thus Berghof starts a joint venture with the successor company of VEB Mikroelektronik Mühlhausen in Thuringia. The result is today's division Process control and logistics of our subsidiary Berghof Automation whose sophisticated system solutions make logistics, material flow and security more dynamic and transparent. Today there is no larger transshipment station of the Deutsche Bahn without the Berghof operations control system "BLU."
With the patent application for the non-contact in-situ temperature measurement method, Berghof Products + Instruments continues to successfully develop its own laboratory instruments. Later, the company develops a patented optical print control process. The big advantage: The instantaneous temperature and pressure measurement directly in the vessels offers significantly increased safety - because this allows spontaneous reactions to be intercepted before potentially serious and expensive accidents occur.
Berghof Fluoroplastics is continuing to develop symmetrical-porous PTFE and is successfully establishing this material for use in optical applications where particularly high diffuse reflection is required. Unique properties that cause a sensation in many industries in the years to follow - and which spread all the way to NASA: Since 2018, this material has been protecting the sensitive measuring instruments of a NASA satellite from disturbing influences during the 'OSIRIS-Rex mission.'
Another world's first, again Berghof Products + Instruments: With the first top-loader microwave, Berghof not only makes working in the laboratory more convenient, but also safer. In addition to the patented optical measurement methods for pressure and temperature already mentioned, Berghof microwaves thus offer additional important advantages.
For Prof. Dr. Georg Zundel, the founder of the Berghof group of companies, a close connection between natural science and ethics and the resulting responsibility of the individual researcher is an essential maxim of his actions. In 1971 he founded the "Berghof Foundation for Conflict Research" - today: Berghof Foundation. In 2003, he was awarded the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, above all for his great commitment to peace and conflict research.
A completely different field, another great award: The experts from Berghof Environmental Engineering receive the "Baden-Württemberg Land Recycling Award" for the successful renovation of the "French Quarter" in Tübingen. With this "accolade" and the "KALEV" database modules, developed in-house and successfully used since 2008 to calculate disposal and recycling costs for contaminated subsoil and "GEBIS," the building information system for deriving deconstruction costs, Berghof Environmental engineering established itself in the following years as one of the specialists for the assessment, renovation and revitalization of small to large areas as well as building and industrial complexes.
Prof. Dr. Georg Zundel dies in Salzburg on March 11 at the age of 75. His sons Johannes, Georg and Ulrich Maxim Zundel, who joined the company in 2005, take over the family heritage and continue to run Berghof in his spirit: Even with the generation change, innovation remains a priority in order to advance Berghof's growth.
The high performance and reliability of the "Operations Control System for Transshipment Stations" developed by Berghof - in short: BLU - is also causing more and more of an international sensation. In 2011, the division Process control and logistics from Berghof Automation secures the contract to equip a transshipment station in Poland. In 2016 the BLU from Berghof also conquers Norway: The state's rail traffic administration has the Berghof experts from Mühlhausen in Thuringia equip twelve Norwegian freight handling stations with intelligent and efficient electronic control technology.
Berghof's innovative and often unique solutions are increasingly in demand internationally, not only in the field of logistics, but also in all other business areas of the Berghof Group. Berghof establishes a branch office in Singapore to optimally serve the increasingly important Asian markets.
Under the motto "50 years of innovation," Berghof celebrates its anniversary with numerous activities - and gives itself a new website as the crowning glory of its completely renewed image since 2013. As early as 2011, Johannes, Georg and Ulrich Maxim Zundel, in the spirit of their father, had worked together with the management team to develop a vision for the successful continued development of the Berghof Group in order to promote visionary ideas through the intensive exchange of creative minds from a wide variety of fields and the intensive partnership with customers - expressed through the common guiding theme: "Your Innovation Hub."
The Berghof Group today: These are the six subsidiaries Automation, Fluoroplastics, Gigahertz-Optik, Membranes, Products + Instruments and Environmental Engineering at eight national and international locations. These are around 400 highly trained and motivated specialists. And for more than 50 years this has been a dynamic environment for innovative and bright minds capable of thinking outside the box. We are a family-owned technology company with long-term vision and your partner for the development and production of innovative services. Our goal is to strengthen the competitiveness of customers and partners in their markets. Our lived values of partnership, versatility and high standards form the basis for an intensive and trusting cooperation. Since our early days it has been considered a research laboratory: Striving for something new is not a burden for us, but rather is a passion. This enables us not only to cope with the ever more rapid technical change, but also to play an active role in shaping it.