140 years of extraordinary discoveries that helped shape the world as we know it.
The era of engineering
The era of engineers, industrialisation, modernity, global vision, the creative urge of founders, the power of innovation, electrification, the golden age of cement - everyone needs it to build modern society.
Frederik Læssøe Smidth opens the 'Teknisk Bureau' on Margrethevej in Copenhagen, Denmark. Winning 2,000 crowns in a lottery gives him the opportunity to travel in Europe to seek inspiration.
The company gets its first large order. FLSmidth is given the task of building a large cement factory at Limhamn in Sweden.
FLSmidth establishes a cement plant in Aalborg, northern Denmark, together with a local consortium. To this day, Aalborg Portland is a major global supplier of cement. Through the years, it has been a crucial test facility for FLSmidth in the development of new inventions and innovations within cement production.
FLSmidth opens an office in the United States. The first skyscrapers were built in the late 1800s and there is an endless need for cement.
FLSmidth builds Valby Maskinfabrik, a factory and assembly site near the centre of Copenhagen. Today, no industrial production remains at this site and parts of the area have been converted into residential and commercial properties, but it is the current location of company headquarters.
Frederik Læssøe Smidth dies at just 49 years old and the company loses its founder and developer of many technological innovations that have given the company a leading position in the cement industry.
FLSmidth sells the first rotary kilns, which drastically increase productivity and lower production costs. Today, FLSmidth has sold more than 2,000 of these types of kilns worldwide.
A major earthquake in San Francisco leads to a sharp increase in demand for cement. A wave of investment washes over the cement industry, later nicknamed 'Cement Fever'. In 1906 alone, 4 new cement factories were built in Aalborg, Denmark, and the surrounding area.
Alexander Foss, a founder of FLSmidth, delivers a prophetic speech to the Danish Industry Council, making an appeal to strengthen the nation’s industry by focusing on exports, citing plenty of niche markets around the world. It’s a strategy that FLSmidth and others have followed to the benefit of the Danish economy.
Many similarities in the production methods needed in cement and mining are identified, and FLSmidth begins to supply equipment and services to the mining industry.
Expansion amidst global uncertainty
As a global company especially affected by the world wars and challenges in maintaining normal operations, FLSmidth develops solutions for other industries, which helps to retain employees and maintain the spirit of innovation.
The Unax cooler is FLSmidth's latest invention, which recycles heat from the 1,450-degree Celsius raw materials, taking it back into the kiln, thus reducing resource consumption.
FLSmidth invents the Symetro gear, which replaces mechanical features with various motors that can operate huge machinery. The Symetro gear has proven itself with unprecedented durability, with some still in use to this day.
The company turns 50 and a dinner is held for the management at the fashionable Hotel D'Angleterre in Copenhagen. Celebrations include speeches and music and a cold buffet in the Louis XVI Hall.
Bernhard Arp Sindberg, the Danish administrator at FLSmidth's factory in Nanjing, China, opens the gates to thousands of civilians fleeing from the Japanese army during the Japan-China war. He is later nicknamed 'The Danish Schindler '.
FLSmidth buys the small Danish island of Hesselø. The island's four houses are made available for employees as holiday homes. Until 1981, the island was accessible by the mail boat 'Tunny'. Access to the island was difficult, however, and the two-hour trip was often canceled due to bad weather. Visitors started flying to the island instead. The island is sold in 2002.
At the outbreak of World War II, many of the company's drawings were shipped to FLSmidth's offices in New York and London to ensure business could continue.
World War II was a difficult time for an export company like FLSmidth. Our engineers threw themselves into new inventions that could help the community through the war, including a wind turbine made of concrete and two rescue service aircraft.
FLSmidth invents the SYMETRO™ gear, which replaces mechanical features with various motors that can operate huge machinery. The Symetro gear has proven itself with unprecedented durability, with some still in use to this day.
The first SYMETRO™ Gear Unit is installed.
MADE TO LAST
SYMETRO™ Gear Units are still manufactured today, delivering high efficiency, durability and easy maintenance.
1954 - 1987
FLSmidth enters the digital age
Computers, automation, less manual operations in production and administration: technology takes over. As the world divides into two broad socio-political spectrums, FLSmidth navigates both sides of the Iron Curtain.
FLSmidth's current headquarters are inaugurated. Designed by the Danish architect Palle Suenson, the building is built of the high-quality materials: specially designed bricks, window frames of bronze, and stairs of Greenlandic marble.
As FLSmidth celebrates its 75th anniversary, 40 percent of the world's cement is manufactured in the company's machinery and factories.
FLSmidth builds the world's largest rotary kiln for Dundee Cement Co. in USA. At a length of 232 metres, it reaches the limit of how large a kiln can be without it collapsing under its own weight.
On July 15, a plane from the US lands in Copenhagen with cargo heralding the start of a new era: a computer system to replace punch cards for processing and recording data.
The same year that the first person set foot on the moon, FLSmidth develops a digital solution that automates quality assurance in cement production. The small computer could store up to 16 Kb. The computer that transported the astronauts to the moon and back had a maximum capacity of 72 Kb.
FLSmidth develops Fluxomatic, a fully automated packaging system for filling bags with cement, significantly reducing customer costs.
FLSmidth introduces Atox – the vertical cement mill heralding a breakthrough in the industry, breaking from the traditional horizontal cement mill design and giving customers a much more efficient mill.
The civil servants' association of FLSmidth publishes the booklet 'Travel tips for FLS – wives' with good advice on snake bites, homemade licorice and maps of Kastrup Airport.
FLSmidth acquires the English company Lovaux and establishes the company FLS Aerospace specialising in aircraft maintenance and operation.
1990 - 2021
A green transition
With minerals and metals crucial to the green transition, mining plays a major role. FLSmidth’s objective is to be a leader in the cement and mining industries, providing solutions across the entire value chain. The company focuses on developing energy-efficient solutions and maintaining a truly global view with local operations providing employment opportunities all over the world.
FLSmidth intensifies its focus on the mining industry, starting with the acquisition of US-based Fuller Company. Further acquisitions and mergers of specialist mining companies over the coming years see the launch of the 100%-owned subsidiary FFE Minerals.
FLSmidth develops a robot ‘Robolab’, which performs chemical analysis and ensures cement quality without the need for human intervention.
FLSmidth develops HOTDISC® – a technology that enables the use of waste products in heating when producing cement. This greatly reduces the amount of fossil fuel required to heat to the necessary 1450 degrees Celsius.
A new corporate strategy is launched. The conglomerate strategy is abandoned and divestments of subsidiaries begin, focusing on core business within cement and mining.
For decades, FLSmidth has sought a solution for capturing dust from cement production, which easily spreads over a long distance. FLSmidth Airtech is launched to reduce environmental impact and improve the working environment in cement and mining.
Under the new strategy, Aalborg Portland is sold to the Italian cement group Cementir. With the divestment of the company's only cement plant, a part of Danish industrial history comes to end.
FLSmidth introduces 'Bomgar', a 'remote customer support portal system'. Engineers can service and analyse plants around the world 24/7 via the internet, without leaving the company’s headquarters.
FFE Minerals changes its name to FLS Minerals and a large number of acquisitions make FLSmidth a major supplier to the global mining industry.
FLSmidth builds the world's largest cement plant in Missouri, US, which can produce 12,000 tons of cement a day.
FLSmidth completes the last of 13 strategic acquisitions over a five-year period, which means that FLSmidth has companies at all stages of the value chain in the production of raw materials and minerals.
FLSmidth introduces its 'MissionZero' strategy, which aims to provide technologies and solutions for the mining and cement industry to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2030.
The coronavirus spreads around the world with huge consequences for people and commerce. FLSmidth is exposed early in some badly affected areas. 9% of staff were infected in the first year, with two fatalities. FLSmidth runs vaccination campaigns for staff and families. Ways of working are changed, with Teams meetings and working from home becoming the new normal. Digitalisation is accelerated, sites are commissioned remotely, and support and maintenance further automated. Amidst the disruption, sustainability gets even greater focus in the mining and cement industries.
FLSmidth acquires Thyssenkrupp AG's mining division – becoming one of the world's largest suppliers of technology and know-how to the global mining industry.
Our digital solutions and innovations in data-driven optimisation are enabling customers to meet their sustainability and productivity goals.
Early automation innovations in the 1960s transformed raw material blending and quality analysis.
Today, digitalisation is at the heart of sustainable productivity in mining and cement.
2021 - 2030
Looking ahead towards 2030
We are on track to help move the mining and cement industries forward, drastically reducing emissions and the environmental impact of operations.
The first commercial launch of carbon capturing. In collaboration with Carbon8 Systems, we enable the safe and permanent storage of captured CO2 in products for the construction industry, while diverting bypass dust from landfill.
The MissionZero Mine concept outlines current and near-future solutions and technologies, supported by next-generation digital systems, which will improve throughput, carefully manage resources and enable sustainable operations. This is a clear vision of sustainable mining that can help meet society's growing demand for minerals while decreasing the environmental footprint.
The promise of alternative fuels in cement production is real. Cement producers no longer need to supplement, for example, waste fuel and refuse-derived fuels with fossil fuels to ensure consistent fuel supply. Complete fuel flexibility removes reliance on a single source of fuel. Consequently, there is great demand to integrate alternative fuel-burning technologies, such as the HOTDISC-S, into pyro processing lines.
Mining companies can significantly cut energy requirements by up to 45% through new flotation cell technology. coarseAIR™ technology, together with the REFLUX™ Flotation Cell are the two technological innovations revolutionising the separation area of the minerals processing flowsheet.
Clay calcination is proving its potential and cement producers globally are looking to adopt it as the norm. Not only is calcinated clay used to replace clinker, it is also significantly reducing carbon emissions. Further decarbonising the industry, too, electrification of industrial-scale clay calcination is a viable alternative to fossil fuels and early successful forays have been made into solar and nuclear power and heat-free calcination.
Dewatering mining operations reaches a new milestone with the commercialisation of innovative technology allowing coarse particle flotation and a novel filtration method. There is a concurrent increase in the adoption of dry-stack tailings solutions. Such innovations are crucial to satisfying the demands of local communities and investors to reduce the burden on scarce water resources and reduce risk.
Deploy geopolymers to commercialise a process solution for cementitious binders with extremely low clinker content.
The construction industry has embraced circular models with game-changing demand for recycling by replacing limestone with cement recycled from old concrete structures. Co-creation of solutions by technology and process experts has been essential to build momentum. Thanks to our own innovations and burgeoning collaborations with specialist technology partners, full-scale carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) solutions are widely deployed in the cement production industry.
The global mining industry witnesses the full vision of sustainability in mining with the launch of a MissionZero Mine pilot plant. The plant demonstrates how the combination of the latest developments in IPCC, dry grinding, dry classification processes, flotation technology and filter presses changes the game in mining, making the zero-water mine a reality by 2050.
One industry’s waste is another’s treasure. Process emissions captured from cement production is being recycled with power-to-X technologies into synthetic fuels for use in other industries, such as aviation and maritime. This is largely possible due to continuing innovations in alternative fuel gasifier technology, which efficiently converts production waste into valuable hydrocarbons.
Thanks in part to our MissionZero programme, the mining and cement industries have significantly reduced their environmental footprints. Some plants are already operating at net-zero emissions and water resources are managed much more efficiently. FLSmidth’s ‘game-changer’ and ‘lighthouse’ technologies and solutions of the early 2020s are proven in the field and setting the standard for further innovations to protect our world and the integrity of mining and cement production operations all over the world. FLSmidth’s own operations globally are carbon neutral. We have halved our landfill waste from 2020 levels, and 50 percent of our wastewater is treated and reused.