Alfa Laval AB is a Swedish company, founded in 1883 by Gustaf de Laval and Oscar Lamm. The company is a leading producer of specialized products and solutions used to heat, cool, separate and transport products such as oil, water, chemicals, beverages, foodstuffs, starch and pharmaceuticals.
Alfa Laval’s history goes back to the late 19th century. With the help of some of the most important milestones the company's history, you can follow its growth from a small Swedish firm to the large international group of today.
1845 Gustaf De Laval is born in the province of Dalarna, Sweden. At the age of 27 he is awarded a doctorate from the University of Uppsala. He then spends a number of years working as a technical engineer at a steel mill in his home village.
1877 After reading an article in the German periodical, Milchzeitung, Gustaf de Laval starts to work on the development of a centrifugal separator.
1879 The first continuous separator is demonstrated at the office of Gustaf de Laval’s partner, Oscar Lamm, in Stockholm, Sweden. This separator has a capacity of 130 litres per hour and operates at a speed of 5.000 revolutions per minute.
1882 The centrifugal separator is first used for an industrial application – fish oil in Norway.
1883 Gustaf de Laval’s and Oscar Lamm’s trading firm is incorporated under the name of AB Separator.
1888 The first pumps are sold. They are used to pump skimmed milk from the centrifugal separator.
1889 The patented Alfa separator is shown for the first time by its German inventor, Clemens von Bechtolsheim, at an agricultural fair. This is a separator in which a stack of conically shaped discs are inserted into the separator bowl, making separation quicker and more effective. The Alfa patent was acquired from Clemens von Bechtolsheim.
1890 The first milk pasteuriser is introduced.
1894 A small inexpensive machine, the Colibri separator, is constructed – the starting point for future success.
1898 Around the turn of the century, many important new applications and products are introduced, e.g. the first yeast separator.
1910 Around 1910, Gustaf de Laval begins to work on the design of a milking machine.
1913 Gustaf de Laval dies at the age of 67. During his lifetime, he acquires 92 Swedish patents and founds 37 companies. His memorial is engraved with the inscription: “The Man of High Speed”.
1917 The one millionth separator is produced.
1918 The American company continues to develop the milking machine and introduces a new type unequalled to this day.
1926 A total of 384,000 farm separators are produced in Sweden this year – a huge success and an unbroken record.
1938 Alfa-Laval introduces its first heat exchanger. Pontus Hytte, the son of the famous Swedish painter Carl Larsson, moves the development and production of heat exchangers to Lund.
1945 Separator success – more than 12 million separator models are sold in the period up to the end of World War II.
1951 A decision is taken to begin marketing the “self-cleaning” centrifugal separator. AB Separator also starts selling decanter centrifuges.
1958 The first automatic “CIP system” (Clean In Place) is installed in a Swedish dairy.
1961 The first sterilization processing system is delivered to Italy. This marks a major breakthrough in the food and liquid food processing sector.
1962 AB Rosenblad’s patents are acquired, bringing the spiral heat exchanger as well as a series of industrial plate designs into the possession of AB Separator.
1963 The company changes its name from AB Separator to Alfa-Laval AB. The name “Alfa” derives from the alpha discs and “Laval” from the founder of the company.
1965 The first large computerized system is delivered to a dairy in Switzerland. The automated system makes it possible to supervise and control the entire plant.
1969 Plans for a Fluid Handling Division begin to materialize.
1971 Alfa-Laval acquires a majority interest in the Danish company Lavrids Knudsens Maskinfabrik (LKM) marking Alfa-Laval’s move into the sanitary flow business.
1976 The Thermal Business Area starts the construction of new offices and an international production centre in Lund, Sweden. This plant is the international headquarters, the site of the R&D department and the production site.
1978 Alfa-Laval introduces a completely new snap-in construction that makes it possible for customers to change the gasket of a heat exchanger themselves.
1982 To strengthen Alfa-Laval’s core business, a number of acquisitions are made, Pagès in France and LKM in Germany in 1982. Tri-Clover and Sharples in the USA are acquired as well as Reginox in Brazil, and in 1987, Saunders Valves in the UK.
1991 Tetra Pak, owned by the Rausing family, acquires Alfa Laval. In 1993, Alfa Laval becomes an independent industrial group within the Tetra Laval Group. Liquid food processing activities are integrated with Tetra Pak’s business. Farm equipment and systems are reorganized into a new industry group, Alfa Laval Agri (now DeLaval).
1998 Alfa Laval implements four Business Segments besides the Separation, Thermal and Flow Business Areas.
1999 Alfa Laval launches a new and revolutionary oil treatment system on board ships, the ThinkTop Separation Unit. Alfa Laval introduces the ThinkTop Control & Indication Unit. ThinkTop offers the most advanced automated control of valves in the industry.
2000 Change in ownership. Industri Kapital 2000 Funds buys the Alfa Laval group. Tetra Laval retains a minority interest in the business. Industri Kapital's intention is to further develop Alfa Laval as a global leader in equipment for Separation, Heat Transfer and Fluid Handling, with a view to listing the shares publicly within a five-year period.
2001 Major restructuring of Alfa Laval into market oriented divisions with distinct customer focus. The new business mission: “To optimize the performance of our customers’ processes. Time and time again”.
2002 Alfa Laval returns to the Stockholm Stock Exchange. The main strategy is to create profitable growth both organically and through acquisitions, such as the Danish Separation Systems A/S (DSS) and the Toftejorg Group in Denmark; and bioKinetics in North America.
2003 Launch of AlfaNova, heat exchangers that tolerate high temperatures and stress.
2007 Launch of Alfa Laval Reactor Technology(ART® ), a range of modular plate reactors dedicated to pharmaceutical and fine chemistry industries. By integrating a continuous flow with advanced plate heat exchanger technology, the Plate Reactor goes beyond batch reactor limitations to enable safe, environmental and cost-effective process intensification. With its dedicated sub-millimetric reaction channel geometry, the ART® positions itself in the context of microreaction and like a serious challenger for classic microreactors.
September 2007 Alfa Laval offer contract to renowned IT professional Stuart Townsend, which is accepted after a round of negotiations. He will be based in Camberley, England.