A desk and a phone were all that the owners of a garage and a basement office in Kitzbühel, Austria, needed to found solar thermal manufacturer Tisun (formerly known as Teufel & Schwarz) 25 years ago. Today, Tisun exports 83% of its products to over 40 countries worldwide. The company has about 80 staff at its headquarters in Söll, Austria, and engages more than 90 sales representatives all over Europe. According to the company, Tisun has just had “the biggest product relaunch of its history. At the beginning of August, the company exchanged 70 % of its products into new and innovative state-of-the-art items.” Tisun also invested in a semi-automated collector production unit featuring CMT (Cold Metal Transfer) welding for the tray (see photo).
“We started off as a wholesaler for heating appliances,” Gerhard Schwarz, one of the company’s Managing Directors, says. “In the early 1990s, we began selling solar heating appliances delivered by suppliers before we had our own production a couple of years later.” In the eyes of Tisun’s management, the increasing customer demand pointed to a trend towards solar heat, and the company expanded its product range in the 1990s and registered several key patents.
Solar heat could cover half of Europe’s energy demand
Over the following years, Tisun offered its customers both training and seminars. “We also worked with local communities and neighbouring regions in order to get more subsidies for solar heat,” Schwarz explains. “Meanwhile, the heating industry has changed significantly. Our customers want to get rid of fossil fuels and use renewable energies instead. When it comes to renewables, the customer has plenty of options, but we are convinced that solar heat could cover up to 50 % of the total European thermal energy demand.”
With the January 2006 launch of the Tisun brand and the arrival of Managing Director Robin Welling, the company was able to open up new opportunities on the international market. “The added corporate identity was essential for Tisun being recognised by many players in the international heating and renewable energy market,” Welling explains.
Challenge for logistics and production
The next milestone in the company’s history was the product relaunch at the beginning of August. Tisun has simplified its choice of product options and offers a new collector, the Plug & Flow Module (PFM). According to the company, the PFM offers installation flexibility thanks to the new and patented fitting concept – a “plug and flow” with no tools required for installation. Another advantage of the module is that up to 33 m² of collectors can be combined into one flow line. The collector panels also have a reduced height of only 62 mm and a watertight frame construction thanks to a patented CMT (Cold Metal Transfer) tray welding process. The glass cover is glued to the frame. Tisun not only aligned production processes with product design, but also reduced the number of available collector models to just three sizes (2.01, 2.55 and 3.30 m²) and two versions, all of them vertical and horizontal. “These changes are a challenge for logistics and manufacturing, but they increase the motivation of the entire company staff,” Schwarz explains. “Tisun is set for the future.”