PLOKE Engineering AG – the heritage of P&S (Ploke & Steinbock) Vorspannsysteme AG
By Robert Ploke, PLOKE Engineering AG (former Managing Director and Board Member of P&S), son of Gerhard Ploke, founder of P&S and co-developer of "Superbolt®".
The development of the technology of mechanical pretensioning systems with multiple jackbolts and the close relationship with their inventors and founders of Superbolt® and P&S Vorspannsysteme AG:
Gerhard Ploke and his wife Helga emigrated from Germany to Canada, where I, Robert Ploke, was born in 1964.
In Edmonton, Alberta, Rolf Steinbock was the first superior of Gerhard Ploke in the design department of a mechanical engineering company. The two German families became good friends. I, Robert Ploke, already played there with the sons of Rolf Steinbock, Robert and Allan. This friendship has been cultivated by both sides over the years and will later be the foundation stone for the success story of P&S.
The Ploke family moves to Switzerland, while the Steinbock family moves to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Gerhard Ploke works in Switzerland as a mechanical engineer.
In 1984 Rolf Steinbock founded the company Superbolt Inc. in the garage of his own home. He is the real Superbolt® inventor, mechanical pretensioners with Multi-Jackbolt Tensioners (MJT).
The sons of Rolf Steinbock, Robert and Allan Steinbock, work at Superbolt Inc. after their mechanical engineering studies and successfully continue the company after the death of Rolf in 2001.
We meet regularly and work closely together.
Rolf Steinbock asks his old friend Gerhard Ploke to found a Europe-wide sales, engineering and production company for the marketing of Superbolt®, the mechanical pretensioning elements with multiple jackbolts. Inspired by the product and the idea of being able to set up his own company, Gerhard Ploke decides to take the step into self-employment with the approval and support of his whole family. I promise my father that I will join the company after studying mechanical engineering at HTL Rapperswil. Already during my studies and in addition to my later employment in a mechanical engineering company, I actively help in the small family business.
The company P&S Vorspannsysteme AG (Ploke & Steinbock) is founded in St. Gallenkappel in the home of the Ploke family, with Gerhard Ploke and Rolf Steinbock as shareholders. The purpose of the company is to design, produce, assemble, distribute and sell Superbolt® mechanical pretensioning systems under licence from Rolf Steinbock.
In the beginning, the American products – with inch dimensions – were sold.
Soon I recommend to my father and Rolf Steinbock to Europeanize the products and to manufacture them in Switzerland: «Swiss Quality» as a product feature. The result is an European Superbolt® range with metric units, designed according to European design rules (DIN standards) and produced from European materials.
As promised, I join my parents' company and work both in administration and production.
P&S Vorspannsysteme AG is slowly picking up speed: The first employees are hired to satisfy the increasing demand.
I also participate financially in the company: Robert and Allan Steinbock sell me part of their shares for this purpose.
I am being elected to the board of directors.
Over the years, a one-man business has grown into a recognized engineering company for bolting solutions and a comprehensive range of pretensioning systems with multiple jackbolts – with around 50 employees!
The trio Gerhard, Helga and Robert Ploke run the Swiss company ideally with the support of the Steinbock family.
Superbolt Inc. is sold together with P&S Vorspannsysteme AG to the Swedish Nord-Lock Group. Nord-Lock AB thus takes over two well established companies in the market with a total of around 150 employees at the two locations Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in the USA and St. Gallenkappel in Switzerland – with highly motivated sales staff in sales companies and agencies worldwide.
As the NordLock Group increasingly focuses on the mass business with standardized products, I found the engineering company PLOKE Engineering AG in Rüeterswil SG with the aim to offer specific solutions for large bolted joints in demanding applications. The long-standing know-how of the P&S® and Superbolt® designs will continue to be available. Special solutions for large bolted joints were already in great demand in P&S's times and accounted for around 50% of the company's activities.
Meanwhile, various copies of the mechanical Multi-Jackbolt Pretensioners are available on the market, all based on the original design by Rolf Steinbock.
Since 2014, PLOKE Engineering AG has again decisively further developed this technology and obtained new international patents.
The well-founded know-how as a technology leader for large bolted joints based on the principle of mechanical Multi-Jackbolt Pretensioners is thus available to a demanding international clientele in an optimized form.
As a direct descendant of the Ploke and Steinbock families, I am still enthusiastic about the mechanical simplicity of the basic idea and convinced of the great potential of these bolting solutions.