How Brielmaier became the company it is today
Everything started with a name mix-up
Since the mid-eighties, the company Brielmaier + Fürst was run by Martin Brielmaier and Peter Fürst, after whom it was named. They specialized in state-of-the art sheet metal processing, and had established their enterprise as a successful supplier for many renowned companies in the Lake Constance area. However, there was a company in the nearby town of Friedrichshafen that made motor mowers - and operated under a very similar name: "Maschinenfabrik J. Brielmayer". People kept mixing up the companies, which inevitably led to the owners meeting.
From spare parts to motor mowers
Once the contact was established, Brielmaier + Fürst began to produce spare parts for Maschinenfabrik Brielmayer. The primary product of the machine factory was a classic old-school motor mower: made of mechanical parts, with little innovation, but robust, well-tried, and reliable. When the owner of the machine factory, lacking a successor, thought of discontinuing his business on grounds of old age, Martin Brielmaier had what many considered a crazy idea: He took over his quasi-namesake's company and suddenly became a producer of motor mowers.
A radical redevelopment.
And there he was, in 1992, with a product that was well outdated and certainly looking its age. If it was ever to reach a lasting optimal market position, it would have to be further developed. But instead of modifying or improving the existing product, Martin Brielmaier opted for a radical redevelopment. His approach was to ask: "If I were building such a machine from scratch, how would I go about it?" He considered what was technically feasible and reasonable, and eventually created the first mower that used hydraulic elements instead of mechanical ones.
Exemplary handling and safety thanks to a new concept.
Not taken seriously at first, it soon turned out that Martin Brielmaier had a keen sense of what his customers wanted. Slowly but surely, the number of farmers and municipalities opting for Brielmaier mowers due to their convenient handling and safe operation was rising.
The Brielmaier mower is optimized for steep slopes and terrains that are difficult to access. One of the most important aspects here is for the machine to have a low center of gravity. Previously, comparable products had been using a mechanical transmission below the engine. Brielmaier however decided to install his hydraulic pump and the corresponding hydraulic valve manifold next to the gas engine he was still using. This arrangement alone, resulting in a lower center of gravity, makes sure that on a slope the mower will only tip toward the person pushing it at a much later point, and accordingly requires much less strength to hold it upright. These previous machines also used a steering system where the wheels, using a mechanical drive, were also braked mechanically on the left or right side. The Brielmaier product simply has the hydraulic system increase the amount of oil in the right resp. the left wheel drive; both wheels can be controlled completely independently. Also, the attachment's drive is controlled through an entirely separate oil circuit – without any wear and tear on the clutch, drive, or brake linings. It was this principle that for the first time made it possible to turn on the spot: Turning the steering handle all the way will make one wheel move forward and the other backward - literally using no more than two fingers.
Today, other manufacturers are also using this concept, but someone had to take the first step – and that was Brielmaier.
Further development with electronics
Despite the increasing success, Brielmaier was never one to rest on his laurels. His passion being to tinker around and experiment, he saw room for improvement even in his established product: In 1998, a control system for the hydraulic block using an electronic board and push-buttons and control dials was introduced. Now the product was perfected enough to be produced for a few years with only minor modifications until 2006, when the control and operation were completely reviewed and updated. Previously unimaginable features are now easily feasible.
All important functions can be controlled using push-buttons on the steering bar without having to let go of it. Infinite variability allows optimal adaptation to the operator's needs. When moving diagonally on a hillside or a slope, the operator can program controlled countersteering by pressing a single button; the machine will move straight ahead without requiring any physical effort. When turning around, another button will "tell" the machine that now it's the other wheel, the one on the downhill side, that needs some more oil. There's another button for changing the direction – also, you guessed it, purely hydraulic, without transmission. The pressure and speed of the attached devices are also controlled with push-buttons. A central LED display shows the most important operating parameters.
From an amusing exotic to market leader
Continuous growth, word of mouth and last but certainly not least, happy and convinced customers are the reasons why Brielmaier, who was previously considered to be an amusing exotic within the industry, became the market and technological leader in the premium range of alpine farming, especially in the European Alps.
Unique feature: studded roller wheels
From the very start, Brielmaier machines were optimized for use in mountainous terrains. There were several tire options for better grip, but for steeper slopes, technicians have always been looking for a better solution. Grid wheels and metal rollers with welded-on spikes promised some progress, but the trade-off for improved grip was that it wasn't possible without damaging the soil.
In 2005, Brielmaier introduced its patented studded roller wheels with exchangeable studs - the first wheels featuring both: maximum grip on the slope, and minimum damage to the soil!
Today, Brielmaier's aluminum wheels are considered the best-engineered option, and definitely the product of choice for sloping terrains. Available in various widths and diameters, there is guaranteed to be a perfect size for every application.
By now, we are even producing Brielmaier wheels for other companies, with connections adapted to their own equipment carriers – is there any better sign of appreciation than others wanting to use our technology for their products?
Ultra-wide cutter bars – technology of the future
Always noted for efficiency, Brielmaier has been offering cutter bars of up to 3.50 m in length. This year, by popular request, a 4.30m double-knife cutter bar was added to our range of products. But Brielmaier likes to take everything one step further: 6 m wide cutter bars have been tested since 2011, and available for two years. They use the so-called "Duo" technology where two base machines are powering one cutter bar, stabilizing each other, and guaranteeing maximum efficiency.
The Austrian magazine "Der fortschrittliche Landwirt" featured a test where the "Duo 6" was pitted against a tractor that was much more expensive – the motor mower won by such a large margin that the magazine declared it the "hands-down winner"!
A "Duo 12" is currently in the test stage, giving an outlook on what might be expected in the future...
New applications and markets
Development means constantly rowing upstream - as soon as you stop, you start to drift back. So Brielmaier aims to always keep one stroke ahead. What makes the domain of mountain farmers larger and safer to work is also useful on steep slopes and hillsides. Municipalities and contractors quickly realized that highways, canals, levees and similar types of terrain could also benefit from the typical Brielmaier advantages. So these users have become another of Brielmaier's main pillars.
The studded roller wheels, originally developed for hillsides, eventually opened two entirely new fields of application no-one had even thought of: landscape protection and marsh areas. Here, Brielmaier uses wide or ultra-wide studded roller wheels, reducing the pressure on the ground to a fracture of what was possible before. Seven-row and nine-row roller wheels distribute the weight to a considerably larger area than any tires and, thanks to the rounded contact area, are more ground-friendly than any other technology.
This makes it possible for Brielmaier machines to be used on terrains that other machines either can't reach, or where they would do serious damage to the ground. In swamps, marshes, or on reed-grown terrain, Brielmaier mowers are often the only option for the care and redevelopment of long-neglected areas.
Brielmaier keeps expanding its range of products, constantly adding a variety of machines and equipment that complements our product lines. Currently, we are working on the 6-meter mowers, and testing the 12-meter Duo machines. Various prototype versions of the innovative experimental carrier "Q1" are being tested, and there are a few other interesting developments under way...
In addition to our technological development, we are also breaking new ground in sales and marketing, offering new and interesting perspectives in more and more countries. We are now represented in France, Belgium, Great Britain, and Scandinavia.