The Early 20th century
The years before the First World War
Carl Schenck remained a director of the company and its sole authorised signatory until 1895.
Because the existing workshops were not big enough for the electrically powered cranes, these had to be built outside. The Darmstadt factory could not be enlarged because it was right beside the Main-Neckar railway line, so in 1897 the company bought a 30 000 m2 site near Arheilgen station. Between 1898 and 1900, spacious new workshops were built and a siding was laid connecting to the main railway line.
The funds for the investments and building work at the Darmstadt factory in 1895, the land purchase and the construction of the Arheilgen plant were raised by adding new partners, so the company's capital was continually increased from 395 000 marks in 1895 to 775 000 marks in 1900.
In 1899 the partners opted to appoint a supervisory board, which came into being in 1900 under the chairmanship of Carl Schenck.
As well as station cranes, turntables and transfer tables for the railways, the new factory in Arheilgen produced heavy cranes, mostly for the iron and steel industry, which flourished in the late 1890s. Around 40 such cranes were produced before the economic downturn shortly after the turn of the century. The number of orders received at Arheilgen fell dramatically and the few railway orders could not fill the gap.
The busy weighing machine business compensated for some of the losses, but the situation at Arheilgen deteriorated to the point where the company considered selling off the factory.
Amid the crisis, help arrived in the form of a licence to make a new kind of conveying equipment to supply coal to power stations. The team had to learn the hard way before the design was ready, but then success came quickly, with over 100 pendulum bucket elevators being delivered over the next ten years.
Annual turnover increased again: in 1903 it amounted to 1 million marks and by the outbreak of the First World War it had more than tripled.
In 1902 the factory began making belt weighers and bucket elevator scales, for which a licence had been obtained from Sam. Denison & Son in Leeds. The idea was a good one, but it was Schenck's engineers who first created a workable design, which was used with great success in coal handling in power stations. From this point onwards, conveying and weighing technologies began to be combined. This combination would continue to develop and result in the design and delivery of complete weighing and loading systems for bulk material and finally the construction of blending systems for the various branches of the raw materials industry.
Notable developments during this period included the coal check weigher for boiler houses, the multi-arm and ore mixing scales for cupola furnace charging and, in 1908, the "Securitas" safety arm to prevent false weight readings.
Finally, in 1912, Carl Schenck's old dream was fulfilled with the successful design of a fully automated steelyard with complete weighing capability: the CORONA apparatus with four sliding weights. It was successfully delivered in a range of designs, but owing to the long weighing time, it never achieved more than modest financial success.
As the price of construction parts plummeted, the foundry switched to template casting and making very heavy castings. Armature housings, magnet wheels, flywheels and similar products were delivered in large quantities, mainly to the electrical industry.
The Second World War leaves its mark
The Darmstadt factory was seriously damaged by bombing raids on 5 and 12 December 1944, which also caused loss of life. In response to the growing threat, the accounts department was moved to Ludwig Büchner's house, which was covered with a makeshift roof, the design department for testing and balancing machines was relocated to a room in the Heilig-Kreuz Restaurant on the outskirts of town, and the power brakes and test rig department moved into a guesthouse in Traisa.
The production of small balancing machines, with the necessary machine tools and personnel, was moved to the premises of Rexroth in Lohr am Main.
On 23 March 1945 the city of Darmstadt was occupied by American troops, with no further damage to either factory. Two days later the Americans also occupied Lohr am Main. This time the fighting around the Main crossing caused severe fire damage, destroying almost the whole inventory, including valuable machine tools. Fortunately, there was no loss of life. When the Americans marched into Darmstadt, 35% of the converted space in the Schenck factory had been completely destroyed and could not be used without major restoration.
The difficult post-war years
In May 1945 Schenck was granted permission by the American military government to employ 80 people to manufacture iron decimal scales to supply the agricultural industry, which had been neglected during the war years.
Once the most urgent restoration work had been completed, the small workforce also began making hand carts and fruit presses, which allowed the factory canteen and the workers to obtain basic foodstuffs by trading.
Over the course of the summer a few repair jobs were received for previously delivered equipment. Towards the end of 1945 new orders began to flow in again, mostly for scales. To begin with material could only be obtained by swapping with other companies, and even after this, procurement was hampered for a long time by transport problems, zone boundaries and complicated new economic control and quota regulations.
Currency reform ushers in a new phase
The eventual economic recovery and subsequent growth began after the currency reform in May 1948. Links with other countries were mended and new business relationships were formed.
The expansion of the Darmstadt and Arheilgen plants - as shown in contemporary site plans - and large-scale investment enabled a continuous growth in production. The share capital was increased on several occasions, both to enable this rise in production and to acquire a number of subsidiaries and holdings.
Technical progress in all areas enlarged the scope of the company, demanded the introduction of a central data processing system, and required large-scale reorganisation.
The successful development of the last three decades was due partly to the many inventions in all areas (there are 671 Schenck patents and patent applications and numerous utility models worldwide) and partly to the company's decision to start developing and manufacturing measurement, control and regulation devices. The first steps in this direction were taken back in 1952. This led ten years later to the establishment of a central department combining the development of electronic assemblies and devices for control and monitoring systems.
This allowed Schenck not only to deliver individual programme-controlled machines, but increasingly also to manufacture complete systems.
In January 1974 the company was renamed Carl Schenck AG.