1990: VEB Kühlautomat was renamed „Kühlautomat Berlin GmbH“ and came under the jurisdiction of Treuhand Agency Berlin. This was followed by some radical structural changes and staff reductions.
1992: However, the first balance sheet of April 1992 was still positive. Immediately after the reunification of Germany, the development of a fixed series of screw compressors was started with the largest of which having a swept volume of 2750 m³/h. At the same time the associated screw compressor packages were launched. In April 1992, the series, comprising 10 types from S3-240 to S3-2750 was available. These type designations were later renamed with letters from C to Z.
By developing, manufacturing and testing a partially automated freezer line, having a capacity of 48 tons per day, in the incredibly short time of only 3 months during 1992, the staff of the development, manufacturing and prototype construction departments virtually raised a lasting memorial to their achievements. Even though both the capacity and functional reliability were demonstrated to the greatest satisfaction of the customer, this division could not be maintained. At that time, the company faced the serious problem of finding the appropriate market strategy. In August 1992 the traditional markets incorporating the area of distribution of screw compressor packages and freezing systems, especially for fishing and shipbuilding, had diminished due to depreciation of the Rouble to one thousandth of its value. The orders running into millions of DM finally at a level of 47 Million DM, and covered by Hermes insurance, were not even worth the paper they have written on. Penetration of new markets in the west proved to be difficult. The company soon learned that both the system of manufacture and distribution of components would cause problems and even turn out to be impossible. Nevertheless Kühlautomat Berlin GmbH did the impossible in those first years after the reunification of Germany and, besides a multitude of new developments, left some remarkable, and high value legacies. They include refrigeration systems for Europe’s largest fast frozen food stores and ice-making plants such as for „Langnese-Iglo“ in Heppenheim and Reken; both fitted with several two-stage ammonia screw compressor packages.
1993: The smallest screw compressors, C through to G, were awarded the „Golden Flame“ for innovation by the 13th International Fair of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning in Paris. The regulations for prohibiting the use of CFCs initiated the transition from the refrigerant R22 to ammonia for industrial refrigeration. Kühlautomat's experience with ammonia was immediately realized as an advantage over competitors by developing a series of ammonia liquid chillers covering a capacity range from 200 to 2400 kW. This was clearly demonstrated by the ammonia liquid chillers supplied for air conditioning of the building complex of the Hannover Fair, the Südwest-LB as well as process cooling for VW and Nestle.
After high losses in 1993, the sale of the company by the Treuhand Agency was inevitable.
A new field of business was serviced for the first time; that of gas turbine admission pressure control. This has now been developed into a new compressor series, the P series, for non-refrigeration power engineering applications. The second large product group, the screw compressor packages with all their components, were simultaneously developed into new screw compressors with single stage, two-stage and "DuoPack" models and were successfully launched on the market. The single-stage screw compressor package supply range consists of 22 sizes in three series: "small", "medium" and "large". The two-stage screw compressor packages – a unique selling proposition of Grasso - include 18 basic types in 4 series.
1994: „GEA AG“ took over„Kühlautomat Berlin GmbH“ on April 8, 1994. Kühlautomat Berlin GmbH became „GRASSO*KAB“. After the takeover, Kühlautomat Berlin GmbH was divided into five independent private limited companies each connected to the other as subsidiaries wihin economical and organisational boundries. Kühlautomat Berlin GmbH was reduced to the screw compressor branch (Grasso*KAB) and was at the same time the complete owner of:
- Kühlautomat Anlagenbau GmbH (ANL) (System Manufacture) - Kühlautomat Platefreezers GmbH (ING)
- Kühlautomat Kälte- & Rohrleitungsmontagen GmbH (MON)
(Refrig. & Piping Installation)
- Kühlautomat Teilefertigung GmbH (BMW)
On the occasion of IKK 1994 in Essen, the range of 12 screw compressors was complete.
1996: As a result of the move to Reinickendorf in September 1996, the names were changed into:
- Grasso GmbH Refrigeration Technology
- Grasso International GmbH (Refrigeration- and Air Conditioning Systems).
The remaining private limited companies became independent: - Kühlautomat Kälte- und Rohrleitungsmontagen GmbH (Refrigaration & Piping Installation)
- Beier-Metallverarbeitungs GmbH (Metal Processing)
- Teilefertigungs GmbH (Component Manufacture, among other things components for motorcycles for BMW). The Platefreezer GmbH was wound up.
In 1994 the ideal connection between Grasso the manufacturer of piston compressors in the Netherlands with its global distribution network and Kühlautomat Berlin GmbH with its modern screw compressors marked the beginning of a new history of success lasting up to the present day.
During the first two years following the takeover of Kühlautomat Berlin GmbH by GEA, the company undertook structural changes through its own efforts, which included the separation of non related components, reorganising stock management, concentrating on its core "know how" and absolute cost transparency. With the amalgamation of its name within the Grasso Group, the company's market focus also changed from that of "general store" with refrigeration plant construction and components business to that of a pure components supplier.
1994 to 1999: further compressors (M, N and XA, XB, XC, XD) were launched. The first XD was delivered to France in March 1999. The swept volume of 231 to 5800 m³/h was now covered by 18 sizes and an important prerequisite existed for an alliance with FES (USA).
March 1996: GEA decided to give up the location in Johannisthal and to use the 7000 m² production area of the GEA subsidiary Delbag that had become vacant in Reinickendorf as a new compressor factory. The structural alterations required to change the Delbag filter factory into a modern compressor factory were completed in only 6 months. The company changed locations with continuous on-going production and without losing an order. At this time, it was already producing around 500 screw compressors a year. On 27.9.1996, the first liquid cooler for Noske Kaeser was on the new test bench. After the move into the collective bargaining area with a 35 hour week, more holidays, holiday pay and higher collective bargaining wages, none of the employees wanted to take the risk of letting the new company slide back into the red and mutate into a doubtful player. This is why, in agreement with the works council, the 148 employees at the new location worked 100 unpaid hours in the first year and 50 in the second. This commitment was worthwhile.
1998: the DuoPack screw compressor packages were successfully developed. The market's acceptance of Grasso screw compressor packages, both at home and abroad, is reflected in the production and supply figures of almost 400 packages per year at present. As far back as 1994, development of ammonia liquid coolers began at GRASSO*KAB in Johannisthal. These "chillers" were initially equipped with their own screw compressor packages and since 1998 with Grasso piston compressors too. Since the takeover of the former ILKA Mafa Halle, all series are also integrated with semi-hermetic compressors, so that with 13 different liquid chiller series, we can now offer what must be the broadest ammonia chiller range in the world. The ammonia chiller series differs with respect to the heat transfer technique used and, apart from the standard designs, enable tailored adaptation to customers' wishes. The component range of the screw compressor packages and liquid coolers is unique. Technical competence and performance potential have been verified in major projects. The largest order from the refrigeration industry, involving the delivery of 32 large screw compressor packages for the four cold stores in Mecca, was completed without a hitch.
Entry to the USA market in 1999: was followed by a rapid increase in production output figures and the development of even larger compressors. New investments in machinery followed.
2004: The gaps in the compressor range for the US market were closed in 2004 by the introduction of 4 compressors T, W and XE/ XF. By 2004, the compressors from C to N had been made ready for CO2 coolant. Grasso GmbH therefore has a unique compressor range with a high technical standard for all refrigeration and air-conditioning applications.
Grasso GmbH's products are now represented the whole world over, in all industries using refrigeration applications. Looking back over a company history lasting more than 50 years, I would like to close with the thoughts of Rudolf Plank, who on the occasion of a 50-year company anniversary in 1929 said the following: "It is necessary to reflect back on the past in order to recognise the opportunities of the future. The look back on the past should not be taken with sentimental complacency and childish pride in that which has been created, mostly by others; no matter how successful the past may have been it lies behind us; a creative spirit can only grab the future, by realising the unsolved tasks, which appear in ever greater number, the further one advances." History will be written again, with optimism and team spirit, if we don't forget how to face the challenges.